50517 Class 104 Driving Motor Composite Lavatory

Home Railway

Churnet Valley Railway

Location History

Churnet Valley Railway94-Nov 14

Current Location

Churnet Valley Railway


East Lancashire Railway Nov 14-Present

Current Status



Current Livery

BR Green (Speed Whiskers)

Visited Railways

Severn Valley Railway Oct 04

TRA Designation



Partner Vehicle(s)





Kevin Dowd & Robert Simpson






Record Last Updated

9 May 2015


Preservation Modifications
External fire extinguisher mounted below jumper cables on corridor end.

Preservation Information
50517 was preserved in 1992 in a bulk buy of 12 Class 104 vehicles by private individuals Kevin Dowd and Robert Simpson. The fleet was eventually distributed over three heritage railways and 50517 was located on the Churnet Valley Railway in 1994. The vehicle was moved from Chester where it had been in store since withdrawal.

The vehicle was recognised to be in the best condition of all the preserved Class 104 vehicles so was selected as the very first vehicle to be restored at the Churnet Valley Railway. From the start it was always intended to be a full restoration to a high standard rather than simply making the vehicle operaional.

Due to the lack of facilities at the time, it took seven years to strip the vehicle to a metal shell and complete the bodywork restoration. All of the windows were removed during this time and the metalwork attended to. A two year setback was discovered in the form of the whole front end of the cab being rotten beyond repair, an ailment now known to be common amongst preserved Class 104's but not known at the time.

However by 1999 the vehicle had emerged from undercover with a fully repaired body in primer, rebuild doors and a new cab end. The opportunity was taken to reinstate the 2-character headcode box during these repairs.

Between 1999 & 2002, the interior restoration was progressed in tandem with the restoration of partner DMBS M50455. Many components were removed and restoration of the myriad of individual interior bits and pieces completed. Mechanically, the vehicle was made operational with the revival of both of the engines. The vehicle also moved under its own power for the first time in a good few years during this period.

The big news for summer 2002 was the gloss painting and lining of 50517, completed in the shed at Oakamoor, which brought the external restoration of the vehicle to a close. The repaint was made possible following a final 3-week marathon of sanding and filling during May, and also after the final cleaning and painting of the roof.

During the diesel gala in September 2002, the vehicle was put on static display showing off its brand new paint scheme. Inside the vehicle, the new veneered panelling had arrived and was being fitted over the winter, in preparation for the “home straight” of seat fitting.

2003 saw the last of the interior work completed. The cab also received a final coat of paint. Mechanically, teething troubles were starting to be tackled in preparation for a return to service. The brake blocks were changed amongst other, smaller, components.

2004 saw a final push to make the vehicle mechanically fit for regular traffic. By August the unit was undertaking test runs having had final preparations such as new oils and filters. After one last external clean and polish, the unit was complete.

Five years after the start of the restoration project, during the last weekend of September 2004, M50517 was launched into traffic. M50455 was also completed at the same time, forming a 2-car "power twin" set.

In October 2004, the vehicle visited the Severn Valley Railway for the spectacular Railcar50 celebrations which involved a never-to-be-repeated line up of DMUs from all around the country at one gala event. This was only possible sue to geneerous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In 2005, both main vacuum cylinders were replaced with fully rebuilt examples.

During 2005 and 2006 the vehicle ran over 8,000 miles in traffic as part of an ambitious timetable where the set ran throughout the summer and during the low season when a steam service was not viable.

Since 2007 the vehicle has settled into a routine of roughly 30-40 days traffic a year, covering about 2,000 miles per annum.

2011 saw the No1 engine replaced with a fully rebuilt example.

During 2013 the sliding windows were all dismantled, resealed, drain holes redrilled, lubricated and refitted. This took several months as only one window could be undertaken per day. The work was deemed a priority as any water ingress was deemed very detrimental to the wooden interior.

Following discussions with the owning group's home railway where many issues that had arisen during ten years of running could not be satisfactorily resolved, 50517 was moved in 2014 to the East Lancashire Railway to join the operating fleet there as a 2-car set with 50455. It operated at its new home for four days during 2015 before partner 50455 was withdrawn from traffic in May 2015 for a bodywork overhaul and repaint. Whilst 50517 remains operational, it is currently out of use awaiting the return of its partner.

Future Plans
Once 50455's bodywork repairs and repaint is completed, 50517 will enter the workshops for similar treatment, after which it will join the operational fleet.


M50517/M50455 on its first day in traffic on the East Lancashire Railway, seen arriving into Ramsbottom with a Heywood service, 14/3/15. Frank Richards


M50517 on a road transporter at Froghall, preparing for the journey from the Churnet Valley to the East Lancs, 20/11/14. Chris Moxon


M50517 stands at Cheddleton prior to the start of the day's services during the beer festival weekend, 12/7/14. Chris Moxon


M50517/E59701/M50455 stand at Oakamoor (Jackson's Wood) whilst working a Canal Trust private charter, 6/4/13. Chris Moxon


M50517/E59701/M50455 on Thomas duty at Cheddleton, 25/8/12. Chris Moxon


M50517/E59701/M50455 alongside stored M53494 at Oakamoor, 2/6/12. Chris Moxon


M50517/E59701/M50455 stand at Cauldon Lowe, 20/5/12. Chris Moxon


M50517/M50455 in service at Cheddleton, 19/6/10. Chris Moxon


M50517/M50455 at Oakamoor, 10/10/09. Chris Moxon


M50517/M50455 floodlit at Cheddleton during an EMRPS photo charter, 3/2/08. Chris Moxon


M50517/M50455 & M79900 head north out of Consall during the Scenic Railcar Weekend, 30/9/07. Chris Moxon


M50517/M50455 pass Highley on a Bridgnorth service, 15/10/04. Brian Battersby