Class 17 (Clayton Equipment 900hp Type 1 Diesel-Electric)

A drawback with large steam locomotives is visibility when the locomotive is operating smoke box first. The large boiler can make seeing signals and on-track obstacles difficult. The first batch of Type 1 diesel locomotives like the Class 15 and Class 20 shared this problem as they only had a single cab at one end. The Class 17, known as the "Clayton", was an attempt to alleviate this problem with a new standard Type 1 which had a cab sandwiched between 2 smaller and low profile diesel engines [1].

Number built: 117
Built: 1962-5
Builder: Clayton Equipment
Engine: 2 Paxman 6ZHXL diesels (2 locos were fitted with Rolls Royce D diesels)
Power: 900 hp (672 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

As happened with a number of early British Rail diesel locomotives in the 1960s, amid a clamour to replace steam, series production was agreed and begun before much testing had taken place. In the event this was a real problem with the Class 17 as 117 of them had been built and they proved to be very unreliable. Availability of the fleet dropped to 50% (by comparison the Class 20 was about 90%) with numerous problems including cracked crankcases and oil leaks, some were put into storage straight from the factory.

As the reliability problems continued (even with a couple of examples retro-fitted with Rolls Royce engines), and the kind of light freight traffic they were designed for dropped post-Beeching, British Railways decided to withdraw them after only a few years of service. All were gone from revenue service by 1971.

No Class 17 saw 10 years of BR revenue service though a couple remained in departmental service until the late 1970s [2]. One of these, D8568, survived long enough to make it into preservation.
D8568 at Bewdley

D8568 is based on the CPRR at Chinnor

D8568 at Kidderminster SVR next to Class 35 D7029

D8568 brings a train into Chinnor

At Kidderminster, note how much of the loco length is taken up by the cab!

[1] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3 (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 74
[2] Colin J. Marsden, 25 Years of Railway Research (OPC, 1989) p. 79