Vehicle Profile #2 – Test Car 2

Carrying on with our Vehicle Profile series, we have a vehicle you have already seen plenty about. Test Car 2 is currently in use as our mess facility while ADB977107 is receiving bodywork attention. We have previously opened the Test Car at Galas, something which we plan on doing again, though it currently remains to be seen when that will be. Thanks to Dave for pulling the summary together for Test Car 2.


TEST CAR 2 – ADB975397
This special coach was built in 1962 at Wolverton Works as 35386, a Mk 1 Brake Second Corridor [BSK] coach using Commonwealth bogies as part of lot number 30699. It was transferred to the Department of Mechanical & Electrical Engineers [DM&EE] at Derby in 1974 and renumbered ADB975397.

For the next 35 years Test Car 2 was used primarily for slip/brake testing, which was the preferred method of assessing the brake stopping distance performance of new or modified rolling stock. This test method allowed the brake stopping distance of a vehicle to be measured independently and not influenced by other vehicles coupled in a train.

The layout of the interior of the coach was adapted specifically for this role including the installation of:-

  • a Perkins 3-cylinder 20-kVA diesel generator,
  • 240v electrical installation, a distribution panel and shore supply,
  • test instrument racks,
  • large table top area,
  • on-board instrumentation systems,
  • slip-coupling,
  • oleo buffers,
  • specially modified air and vacuum brake system,
  • large drop-down gangway door window,
  • inward opening access doors,
  • test gauges,
  • heating,
  • lighting,
  • an underframe mounted 90-gallon fuel tank,
  • 10 bar air compressor with 150-litre air reservoir,
  • workshop area,
  • battery chargers,
  • secure storage for the instrumentation cables,
  • a kitchen with cooking facilities,
  • re-sited the toilet compartment,
  • additional body-end windows.

During its working life as a test car, ADB975397 is estimated to have been used in excess of 450 occasions for slip/brake testing. It remained at the Derby based Railway Technical Centre until its withdrawal in 2008; Test Car 2 was then moved to the Old Dalby Test Track in 2011 and stored by Serco until it was secured for preservation in 2016 by Matt Baker, and moved to the Great Central Railway. The decision was made by the Quorn Wagon & Wagon Group in 2018 that the unique Test Car 2 would be retained as a test car in preservation, unlike so many similarly preserved test coaches that have been re-converted for passenger use. The restoration work has been undertaken by the Quorn Wagon & Wagon Group at the Quorn & Woodhouse station yard. The interior layout retains the ambience of 1990s testing life whilst display boards provide visitors with an insight into the history of this Test Car, including details of how and why slip/brake testing was carried out.

Author: Ross Loades

Wagon Basher and Systems Engineer in the Rail Industry