AEC's Blue Triangle symbol [ AEC Ltd] is reproduced by kind permission of The British Commercial Vehicle Museum Trust.
The 4 wheel oil-engined Shunting Loco built by AEC in 1938 was destined to remain unique.  Possibly constructed as a prototype for general sale - AEC was an established manufacturer of diesel railcars - any further development work which may have been planned was interrupted by the onset of war.

Engine:AEC 4 cylinder diesel, bore/stroke 120mm/146mm
Output:78 bhp @ 1700 rpm
Gearbox:4 speed "each way" [i.e. forward & reverse]
Axles:2 "cannon" type, independently driven
Brakes:Screw down hand wheel; brake shoes on all 4 wheels
Weight:13 tons 5 cwts 2 qrs
Length:18' 1½" [over buffers]
Width:8' 1"
Height:11' 4"

To assess the Shunter's maximum capabilities, a series of thorough tests was undertaken in 1938 along the Brentford branch line of the Great Western Railway.

1st Test:3½ miles over an average uphill gradient of 1:290
Load:12 empty wagons plus brake van, total weight 96 tons
Result:Average speed 11 mph recorded
2nd Test:Level siding; test curtailed owing to length of track available
Load:32 loaded wagons, total weight 350 tons
Result:Achieved 4 mph; 2nd gear engaged after 50 yds
3rd Test:Tested in both directions; limited length of track available
Load:77 loaded wagons, total weight 900-1000 tons!
Result:Weight far in excess of normal operations, 2-3 mph was achieved

The Shunter entered service in October 1938, marshalling goods wagons within Southall Works.  The original engine has at some point in time been exchanged for the slightly smaller, higher-revving, AV312, which is understood to have been built by Maudslay.

The GWR Preservation Group acquired the Shunter upon the closure of AEC in 1979.  As so little has been published about the Shunter, the owners are keen to obtain any information which will assist in its thorough and accurate restoration.  The GWR Preservation Group would be interested to hear from visitors to this site who may have any information about the Shunter. Top of the list is a Technical Manual - if one was produced does it still exist?  Next priority is the livery. No one is sure of the Shunter's original body colour.

If you have any information please email Neil Fraser on

C L I C K   A   T H U M B N A I L   F O R   A   L A R G E R   I M A G E

Shunter stabled inside Southall Works; photo by Bill Cottrell (98k)
© Bill Cottrell [ 98k ]
Shunter stabled inside Southall Works; photo by Bill Cottrell (75k)
© Bill Cottrell [ 75k ]
Shunter stabled inside Southall Works (111k)

The two photos above left & centre were kindly contributed by Bill Cottrell and show the AEC Shunter, surrounded by stillages of new rear axles, stabled in its usual spot beneath the old footbridge in Glade Lane.

The third view [above, right] was taken from the steps of the footbridge.  Once out of the Works the tracks led onto the Great Western Railway Brentford branch line.

Shunter as originally restored (92k)
© GWRPG [92k]
Southall Railway Centre, 1996 (61k)
Southall Railway Centre, 1996 (67k)

After acquisition by the GWR Preservation Group when AEC closed in 1979, the Shunter was repainted in a light green colour as seen here at Merrick Road [above, left] close to Southall BR Station (date unknown).  By July 1996 at the Southall Railway Centre [above centre & right] the Shunter has reverted to yellow livery.  The exhaust stack is now mounted centrally between the windscreens; the AEC Southall Blue Triangle adorning the bonnet panels is handpainted.

J U N E    2 0 0 0
Shed doors open to reveal the Shunter (107k)
Radiator & panelling removed (82k)
Inside the cab (88k)
Renovated radiator grille (67k)

This is the view [above, left] which greeted visitors to the Railtrack shed at the former Southall Motive Power Depot, home to the Shunter during its restoration and just a stone's throw from AEC.  With the distinctive AEC radiator and bonnet panels removed [above, centre] the Shunter's motor is exposed.

A peek into the cab [above, right] shows the dual driving controls, gear lever for 4 forward & 4 reverse gears, and the handbrake wheel.  The original radiator grille [above, far right] awaits refitting ... and a replacement badge.

AEC AV312 (81k)
AEC AV312 (74k)
[74 k]

Power is provided by a 4 cylinder AEC AV312 engine [above, left] rated at 72bhp @ 2,200rpm. Bore is 112mm, stroke 130mm.  The photo above right is a close up of engine plate and AEC disc.

F E B R U A R Y    2 0 0 1
Bonnet panels & lid (72k) Bonnet side panels (63k) Panels await welding (68k)
New panelling for the cab floor (47k) New steelwork in place (51k) The cab roof has severe corrosion (65k)

The bonnet side panels and bonnet lid [top left, centre & right] were removed to allow access to the engine, fuel tank and fuel lines, exhaust, brakes, ballast weights and metal framework, all of which is gradually being renovated.  The hand-painted AEC Southall Blue Triangle could do with being replaced with the genuine article, but it is not known whether the original device was sign-written or a transfer.  Considerable progress has been made in fabrication and fitting new steel side members [above left & centre] to support the front body panels, but much needs to be done in the cab, especially the roof [above, right] which has suffered badly from corrosion.

Radiator back in place (69k) Radiator back in place (74k)

The restored radiator is now back in position [above, left & right] and a new AEC Blue Triangle badge has now been acquired.  The GWR Preservation Group christened the shunter "AEC N° 1", so this nomenclature is somewhat unauthentic.  It is not known if the Shunter was ever allocated any kind of fleet number in AEC's works transport department.

1 3 T H    J U L Y    2 0 0 2
July 2002 (114k)
July 2002 (93k)
July 2002 (105k)
July 2002 (105k)
[photo 1 & 2]With restoration work almost complete, the Great Western Railway Preservation Group ran the Shunter coupled to a GWR brake van up and down the sidings next to Southall Station.  Present were GWRPG members and the Mayor of Ealing Kieron Gavan.
[photo 3]The shunter being made ready for a run with GWRPG members Brian and Bill accompanying the Mayor on the footplate.
[photo 4]GWRPG member Brian Murphy has brought shunter into Southall 'New' Shed on road 7.

Many thanks to RAY HORSLEY and members of the GWRPG for providing the 1938 Specification and Test Results and for allowing unhindered access to the Diesel Shunter.

Visit the GWRPG website