How standard-gauge railway wheeldrop works, and what it's used for.


Wheeldrop at Ropley MPD


Graham Varney (seen here 5th May 1998) has constructed most of the wheeldrop, redesigning and fabricating parts as required to fit the re-designed dimensions of the reinforced concrete shaft (which is about 25 feet deep).  

What's it for?  It allows one axle of an engine to be lowered for maintenance (e.g. re-metalling axlebox bearing, replacing spring) even if the boiler is full and hot:  this would be hazardous by crane, or by jacking! 
To replace a spring, the wheel needs to be lowered only an inch or so to relieve spring tension. 

How does it work?  Four vertical threaded shafts lower the centre section of rail.  Just ahead of Graham's nose in the photo is one section of rail (there is another corresponding section the other side) that moves in when the drop is right down to replace the lowered part, so that the engine (minus one axle) can be wheeled off. The removed axle can then be raised and rolled away for attention.


 31st May 2006:   

The levers to withdraw locking bolts had become very hard to move, so Graham checked everything, and traced one problem to a bearing block on a control shaft. 
We put the block on a lathe and opened up the hole from 1½" to 1 17/32" to free the movement.

Now we have the wheeldrop shed it will protect the 600vdc motor from the weather and we can change from the present temporary (since 1998!) pneumatic to the proper electric drive.

Movie:  'Why the problem?' (4.6MB)  


     Two photos and a movie (31st May 2006):  Tony Wood


19th August 2008:   

Morley Slade was installing conduit and wiring up the limit stop switches. 

We re-set the table on its four long screws and ran it up and down using the electric motor    Movie (13.8MB, 19th August 2008): Tony Wood


Ropley,  16 Feb1999

Passengers on the service train drawn by U-Class #31625 see the wheeldrop in action as a driving axle is lowered from Urie S15 #30506


#12049 takes the wheels to the shed for axlebox checks, using ...


...Graham's new towbar.

The wheeldrop in action on 2nd February 2001 replacing Bodmin's leading tender set, just back from re-profiling at Eastleigh.

The view below is from under the footplate and the far set of wheels belongs to Class 11 #12049





Other photos of the wheeldrop in action may be found:  here   here   here   here   here   here     etc., etc.


Now the wheeldrop shed* is nearly finished, we can install the tram-type controller* for the 450v DC motor - not equipment that works safely outdoors!

*Photos of Charlie Bringlow and the controller he renovated (c.1998), and of cladding the wheeldrop shed roof (4th April 2006): Tony Wood



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