51397 Class 117 Driving Motor Second

Home Railway

Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway

Location History

Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway Apr 94-Jan 97

Current Location

Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway


Private Site: MOD Long Marston Jan 97-Oct 01

Current Status



Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway Oct 01-Present

Current Livery

BR Green (Plain End)



TRA Designation



Partner Vehicle(s)





Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway






Record Last Updated

1 January 2018


Preservation Modifications
Buffet installed.

Preservation Information
51397 was preserved in 1994 By Alan and Tracey Lear who based the vehicle, along with partners 59520 & 51351, at the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway.

It is not known if the vehicle operated in passenger service whilst at Chinnor.

In 1997, the vehicle was stored at the MOD’s Long Marston site, intended for the future Stratford & Broadway Railway scheme.

In 2001, the vehicle was sold to John Down and moved to the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway, where it was restored to operational condition, receiving a repaint into BR unlined Green livery. A number of areas of restoration were undertaken, including making good the guttering, re-panelling the interior and also the fitting of a buffet/bar area.

The vehicle was tentatively launched into traffic in 2008, although further restoration work was required to make the vehicle fully serviceable. However a change in the owner's circumstances meant the vehicle never saw much use in service, and was out of action the following year, “stored serviceable” and being unpopular for passenger duties on the line.

In June 2010, the set lost its centre car, 59520, which had been sold.

In April 2012 following the owner's death it was acquired by the railway itself and authorisation was obtained to embark on restoration to passenger service.

A replacement set of batteries were fitted followed by the sucessful starting of both engines and testing of the gearboxes and final drives. The period of inactivity threw up a long list of minor mecanical issues which had to be worked through. The vehicle moved under its own power for the first time in several years during October 2012. The vehicle was put back into store whilst work concentrated on 51351.

Future Plans
The list of work to be done to the unit is expanding all the time due to one hurdle being overcome and then finding a number of unexpected faults.  One of the next issues that will be addressed is the vacuum leaks which are stopping a full brake pipe being created and as such are causing the high side vacuum to remain at the same level when in reality the high side vacuum should be around 25-28 inches of mercury.  The initial work on this will concentrate on the rubber seals on the vacuum pipes as if a number of these are perished or split then an air tight seal is not available thus causing the issue seen.  The issue of the engines revving up to max revs is also high up the priority list although a pit may be required to assist with the investigation and rectification of this.

At some point all of the engines, gear boxes and final drives will need their oil and filters changing, the cost of which will be near a £1000 at current prices with some leg work required to get the necessary filters on site.  Whilst all this is going on, hopefully there will be some work carried out on the body work to smarten up its appearance as the weather has taken its toll.

All in all, the unit is not in a bad condition, there are problems with rust but it’s all treatable.  Most of the common problems, like leaky gutters has already been addressed leaving the more mundane body repairs and mechanical work still to do.  The end goal will always to be to get the unit back into traffic as it’s an ideal vehicle for running a service on the full line without the burden of having two locomotives in service (and potentially a third to operate the Big Pit Branch) or on the busier days just working the Big Pit - Furnace Sidings Shuttle.


51397 stored at Blaenavon, 28/7/13. Nick Baxter


51351 & 51397 coupled up in multiple for the first time in a few years, 30/9/12. Matt Callaghan


51397, now in railway ownership, sees renewed enthusiasm and increased restortion activity, 26/2/12. Matt Callaghan


51397 in use as a loco-hauled control trailer vehicle on the Pontypool & Blaenavon's new Big Pit branch, 18/9/11. Ben Salter


51397 in use during the DMU Gala, 20/4/08. Alistair Grieve


51397 under restoration at Blaenavon, 2/7/05. Stuart Mackay




Cab view. Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway


The front saloon. Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway


The front saloon. Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway


The middle saloon. Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway


The buffet counter. Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway