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The Metro is the North East’s very own light rail network. It comprises of 60 stations located around the Tyne and Wear area and connects towns and cities such as Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead.

The service depot for the trains and carriages is situated in the heart of Newcastle, where the dedicated maintenance team clean and service a total of 90 carriages used on the network. Some of these carriages are over 15 years old, therefore it is vital for them to be routinely checked over and serviced.

Tyne & Wear Metro recently contacted Vixen to find a machine that could effectively clean resistance banks which act as both braking and accelerating systems on the carriages. These banks are made up of small porcelains that separate out copper buzz bars, where up to 1500V electricity is passed through to accelerate and slow down the carriage whilst it is travelling along the tracks. The banks can weigh up to 300kg, and over time are built up with layers of oil, grease and dust which can ultimately affect their performance.

One of Vixen’s sales engineers trailled a resistance bank in various machines to find the perfect way to remove all soiling, and found that two machines were particularly effective at this – The Vixen Agisonic and Jetwash. Vixen then came up with a roller- track design to connect the two machines together into a bespoke inline wash system.

Above: The two-tank inline wash system, made up of a Vixen Agisonic and Jetwash

Chris Holliday, Project Team Leader at Tyne & Wear Metro, said: “Before we invested in a Vixen machine, we used to use manual parts washers and paraffin washers – it could take over a whole day to clean just one. Whereas now, with the Vixen machine, we can get a large resistance bank cleaned in just 35 minutes, and the results are outstanding.”

The first stage of the inline wash system uses an Agisonic tank to remove stubborn soiling from the banks. The Agisonic system operates by moving the component up and down using a pneumatic ram whilst being submersed in a hot water based cleaning solution. The use of ultrasonics in this machine is particularly effective at removing debris in in blind areas and cavities. This works by vibrating water and liquid detergent using intense sound at high frequency, which in turn produces a scrubbing action against the components.

Above: Resistance bank before treatment (left) and resistance bank after treatment and paint (right)

The basket is then manually pushed over a track to the Jetwash, which removes any excess soiling missed in the Agisonic stage. This works by a series of spray booms spraying the banks in the basket using a heated cleaning solution. This method of cleaning parts is particularly effective as it does not damage the components as the parts remain motionless during the wash cycle.

Chris said: “The machine is so easy for our workforce to use; all the wash cycles are pre-programmed which is ideal in our busy workshop – it’s made everyone’s job so much easier.

“We bought a gold care plan from Vixen for this particular machine to ensure that it is serviced regularly in order to keep it in good condition as we use it so often. We are very happy with this and find that the machine performs excellently.”

Above: Before (left) and after (right) of carriage component finished in Vixen machine

Above: Before (left) and after (right) of carriage component finished in Vixen machine

The team at Tyne & Wear Metro also use the Vixen machine to clean other parts associated with the carriages, including actuator houses, braking components and wheels, all of which become built up with corrosion, grease and carbon.

Overall, Tyne & Wear Metro are very happy with their machine and are constantly finding new uses for it due to its versatility. They are currently in discussions with Vixen about further machines to purchase in the future.

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