Can you save an Ex-BR Commando?

Posted by Chris Graham on 29th February 2020

Save an Ex-BR Commando?

Can you save an Ex-BR Commando? Can you save this amazingly original, 1978 Dodge Commando British Rail crewbus?

Can you save an Ex-BR Commando? I have a 7.5-ton lorry that needs a new home, and a new owner. We’re having to give up the yard where it currently is and, very unfortunately, the new place I’m getting is simply too small to accommodate it. The vehicle is a 1978 Dodge Commando British Rail crewbus. It’s a LWB chassis fitted with a re-railing body that would have gone out with a BRUFF, to attend derailments etc.

The Commando is totally original, in BR condition, and was based at the Reading Traction Maintenance Depot for its working life. Then, when that depot was closed and demolished to make space for the Reading redevelopement, a friend of mine – a project manager for Network Rail – helped to save it.

Save an Ex-BR Commando?

Inside, there’s crew accomodation at the front – complete with a heater, sink and cooker – while the space at the back is set aside for tool storage, with a crane and space for the oxy-acetylene bottles.

I think that it would be such a shame to see this lorry scrapped, as it’s a totally unique survivor. It has the crane in the back, and hasn’t been modified at all. It was last taxed in the early nineties, and languished at Reading TMD up to its closure. This is quite remarkable given that it’s a 1970s vehicle; the fact that it managed to survive through privatisation, untouched, is amazing. I would say that there are none left like this one, in such original condition. It’s even correct down to the 1980s tins of food in the kitchen area – the contents are long-gone, but the tins remain.

Most of these vehicles became traveller homes, and then, eventually, were scrapped. The LWB ones were even rarer, and this one is a one-off as the body style is different from the others. Inside, there’s crew accomodation at the front – complete with a heater, sink and cooker – while the space at the back is set aside for tool storage, the crane and the oxy-acetylene bottles.

The fittings and equipment are all original, and I know that the engine ran a few years ago. The body is in excellent condition, although the cab needs some work, but is essentially complete. Overall, the lorry is a bit greener than it should be now, it having spent a few years under a tree, but I’m sure that it would pressure-wash off very well.

Save an Ex-BR Commando?

It would be such a shame if that happened, especially given that it’s already managed to survive for so long.

The problem is that if I advertise it on eBay or in a classified ad, all I’ll get is scrap dealers wanting the engine and ‘box for export, and the rest of the vehicle will then be unceremoniously scrapped. It would be such a shame if that happened, especially given that it’s already managed to survive for so long.

So, is there an enthusiastic soul out there who would take it on? It’s located near Milton Keynes, and I have until the middle of March to get it moved. Sending it for scrap will be the last resort!

If you think you can help, please send an emailed enquiry to: CVC.ed@kelsey.co.uk

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