This class of 49 locomotives was built in two batches using English Electric components. The first six locomotives were built by BR at Eastleigh works in 1962 and were numbered E6001-E6006 and classified as type JA. With the introduction of TOPS in 1968 they were to have been classified as Class 72, to differentiate from the later built units. However, instead they became Class 73/0. In the early 1970s the locomotives were renumbered 73001-73006.
Following successful trials of the initial locomotives, a production run of 43 locomotives were built by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry between 1965 and 1967. They were initially classified as Class JB and numbered E6007-E6049. They differed slightly from the six earlier machines, most notably having an increased tractive effort as well as a higher maximum speed (90 mph as opposed to 80). Following the introduction of TOPS, they became Class 73/1 and were renumbered 73101-73142. One locomotive, E6027, had already been withdrawn following accident damage and so was not renumbered. Further changes were the use of large round Oleo buffers with a pneumatic withdrawal mechanism rather that the traditional coach style (oval) saddle buffer which relied on a pin and spring mechanism. As the JA examples came in for overhaul over the years, the saddle buffers were also replaced making visual identification of the differing machines almost impossible from a distance.
From new, all members of the class were fitted with the Pullman style rubbing plate between the buffers allowing them to close couple with Southern Region electro-pneumatically controlled electric multiple units and diesel electric multiple units for push-pull train operation - the reason for retractable buffers.
The narrow box-like body allowed use all over the Southern Region network including through the narrow tunnels on the Hastings Line.
Read more about this topic: British Rail Class 73
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