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Beakbane has announced that its composite engine stone guards will save train operating companies money, time and fuel.

Available as OEM or retrofitted components, the company said that these composite guards are lighter, more durable and easier to handle than fabricated steel guards.

Beakbane offers composite guards in sizes up to 3m by 2m for applications including engine and bogie stone guards, carriage side skirts, covers for signalling 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 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 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 reduces the time and labour content required for engine maintenance.

It takes just minutes to fit compared to 30 minutes for the steel alternative.

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.

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