New composite engine stone guards from Beakbane will save train operating companies money, time and fuel. Available as OEM or retrofitted components, the composite guards are lighter, more durable and easier to handle than fabricated steel guards.

Example of a composite stone guard

Beakbane offers composite guards in sizes up to 3m by 2m for applications including engine and bogie stone guards, carriage side skirts, covers for signaling equipment, inspection panels, filter covers and front valances.

With its in-house design capabilities, Beakbane can produce custom-made guards for any application where light weight needs to be combined with durability and impact resistance. The guards can incorporate moulded-in brackets for attaching ancillary equipment, such as TPWS antennae, are fire-retardant and can be supplied in any colour scheme.

The composite components are produced using low-cost tooling, which makes them cost effective to produce in small batches for retrofitting by maintenance depots.

On the Bombardier Voyager and Super Voyager trains operated by Virgin and Arriva, for example, the old steel stone guards under the Cummins power pack were fabricated from five steel components welded together. During maintenance they required five people to lift them and because of distortion and metal fatigue they could not be refitted after maintenance work and had to be replaced with a new guard.

Working together with Cummins and the University of Birmingham – with support from Advantage West Midlands – Beakbane developed a new one-piece engine stone guard manufactured from thermoplastic composite material.

The composite guard is light enough to be lifted by one person, which gives an immediate improvement in fuel efficiency and performance, and dramatically reduces the time and labour content required for engine maintenance. It takes just minutes to fit compared to half an hour for the steel alternative.

Composite stone guard fitted to Cummins power pack

Once fitted, the durability and impact resistance of the guard means that it will last the life of the train, however many times it has to be removed and replaced for maintenance. The result is a significant reduction in full-life cost.

Beakbane is the UK’s leading supplier of flexible bellows and machinery protection equipment and has been active in the rail industry since it was founded in 1954. The Rail Alliance member has supplied a wide variety of components to leading OEMs and operating companies including, for example, air intake bellows for Alstom’s Pendolino locomotive, HVAC air intake bellows for Bombardier’s Turbostar and brake actuator protection bellows for various locomotives.

Beakbane’s Managing Director Barry Reeves says, “When we developed our composite manufacturing capability, it was an obvious move to offer the benefits to our customers in the rail industry. The ability to have parts custom-designed and made, even in small quantities, opens up a wealth of cost and efficiency savings for train operators.”

Click here for further information on our composite products.

Click here to see additional protection solutions for the rail industry.

This press release was featured in the following publications:-

Composite ballast stone guard from Beakbane improves maintenance time and cost
The Rail Alliance – October 2009

Beakbane introduces composite stone guards
EngineeringTalk – October 2009

Beakbane Offer Lighter, Tougher and Longer Lasting Composite Stone Guards
Applegate – November 2009

Weight is time
Railway Gazette – December 2009