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Best British Locomotive

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Hermod, May 12, 2017.

  1. class8mikado

    class8mikado Well-Known Member

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    Seem to recall an interesting perspective in some book or another. Riddles was going, Harrison had installed himself at Derby and was making his presence felt in the design office and so people were minding their P's and Q's. As was usual practice with BR Standards certain components were specialisms of certain drawing offices so following protocol a request was sent to Swindon, (not Doncaster, not the Valve gear company), for a double chimney - because this was where Sam Ell was .. who was BRs Draughting expert.. It seems likely that Ell wasn't consulted and Swindon just found a chimney about the right size - hence 2 x Dean Goods, expecting that, as with all things Swindon it would be right, and if not Rugby would tweak it.
    When it got to Rugby and odd things were happening... well the chimney had come from Swindon so it must be right/ must be something else that's wrong.
    Seems to me that in a period of uncertainty the 71000 project fell out of ownership and things got missed, I don't subscribe to the conspiracy theories.
    By some educated guess work or inherited tweaking the draughting for some of the Standards was pretty good ( Brits, 9F, 4 2-6-0, and 2-6-4, 3,2) On others it was nearly right and benefited from tweaks official (5mt) or on shed (Clan). On the 4MT 4-6-0 and 71000 it wasn't right.

    Not sure what 72010 will prove other than the boiler is perfectly good and with the correct breathing apparatus it will be a good Class 6 rather than a poor one but Carlisle 'Jimmied' them and already knew this in the 1960's .
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  2. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    It also needs pointing out that the early prototype superheaters on the GWR had three rows of elements and rather larger heating surface then the design that was eventually introduced right across the fleet. Right or wrong, the decision to use moderate superheat was taken in the light of significant real world operational testing.
     
  3. The Black Hat

    The Black Hat Active Member

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    Huge step change isn't just the only criteria to be considered. Theres many things that could be said to prove an engine is best. If it were Locomotion No. 1 would be near the top of the list (another North Eastern machine!). But I would also think that ability and reliability to do the job would be a factor. That means doing it better than what came before, and being able to match and exceed the standards that were set previously. It could be in terms of power, or crew working environment, reliability, availability, economic performance - which could just mean that the margins of an engine replacing its predecessor could factor more, or as much, as the step change being considered. In that case, class 66 replacing 37, 47, et al, is one to consider, as is HST. Class 68 could be another, but so could K1... Does that mean that Duke is greater/better than a Duchess, A1 or Merc? Maybe, or some might say yes.
     
  4. Hunslet589

    Hunslet589 New Member

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    A significant factor that Swindon had to allow for when this took place was the state of lubricant technology at the time. Oils of this era did not take kindly to very high temperatures and the result was a lot of carbonisation of valve rings etc with subsequent leakage. By the 30's oil technology had moved on and oils where much better able to withstand the higher temperatures that go with high superheat making the latter a more practical proposition.

    I think it probable that the trials mentioned showed up this problem and as a result Churchward dialed back the superheat to compromise at something the lubricants available could cope with.

    Mike
     
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  5. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    @The Black Hat Do I detect an everso slight trend towards regional bias in favour of the birthplace of commercial railways (asks the bloke always banging on about Irish locos)? :)
     
  6. Tuska

    Tuska New Member

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    In terms of driver and fireman operability... was LNER Class W1 following its rebuilding into No.60700 with its spacious cab, a nice treat for engineering crews, and the best? Hmm.

    https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8063/8194785187_e114a3e936_b.jpg

    Or, was it a nuisance for the fireman to have to walk further to shovel coal from tender to firebox? I generally know from word-of-mouth drivers usually hate unique locomotives and machines, especially learning their ins and outs.
     
  7. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    It was definitely "not entirely liked" by LNER crews for the length of footplate, tender to fire hole door! It had its own long shovels provided as a result.

    Unique locomotives are in some respects an absolute pain for everyone. On the LNER, and later BR, the W1 and A1/1 were unique engines. In the A1/1's case, she shared components with the A4s and the other Thompson Pacifics. So parts wise, she was not in works too much longer than other engines in larger classes. She was however in works more often.

    The W1 had a unique boiler, and unlike the P2 rebuilds and A2/3s, no decision to fit more numerous Peppercorn boilers was ever taken. Thus she was always waiting for her boiler to be overhauled before returning to service, in turn making her time in works more lengthy. Even one spare boiler of the same type would have freed up workshop space as her turn around would have almost halved.

    My late grandfather loved the rebuilt W1. Unlined in his ABC book and photographed regularly. I remember a conversation we got into over her, and he repeatedly said she was Gresley's best loco on the basis of power and how she put that power down. In hindsight, he may have had a point. She proved an excellent performer - but as a unique locomotive, you are never going to win arguments for being good because the argument remains that if the rebuilt W1 was that good, they would have built more of them.

    The reality is that the Peppercorn A1 took the best development of the LNER and proved not wanting.
     
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  8. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    You have to wonder, had Gresley survived, whether the rebuilt W1 mightn't have formed the basis of a postwar, streamlined or otherwise, express loco development. I'd have thought, leaving aside power stokers, a slight tender mod would've brought the coal within regulation shovel length. Failing that, perhaps give firemen a quick dose of perspective on a Y7 or the U1 (and probably cause an ASLEF walkout in the process!).

    Of interest, were there any turntable issues on mainlines away from it's regular stamping grounds?
     
  9. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    I think there's much in what you say. Contemporaneously, Hughes at Horwich tried proper superheat, and it produced excellent thermal efficiency, but on several classes the resulting lubrication issues were never really sorted. It seems to have worked better on goods engines (someone can probably explain why).
    I've always thought poor George H was rather unlucky there: he had the "right" answer but not yet the technology to make it practical.
    Meanwhile at Swindon the other George perhaps stuck with a less effective superheat while that was the limit of reliable practicality - but then Swindon stuck with it long after the lubrication issues had been solved.
     
  10. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    According to John Bellwood writing in Steam World issue 144 LNER A2 were Best British passenger locomotives.
    Same issue contains a letter from Riddles to mr C.P.Atkins 1965 where 4-8-0 for fast passenger trains are mentioned.
    Is it possible to contact mr Atkins where ?He knows something I do not (Yet)?
    In a foreword to a book (1961) of Pacific type locomotives mr Riddles expresses doubt of the Gresley wisdom using 6feet 8 wheels.
    And laments not having made 4-8-0s himself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  11. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Much trouble with british piston valves stemmed from using plug valves and worse .
    The Prussians put five narrow 6 times 6 mm rings on piston-valve heads from 1914 instead of leaky single wide rings promoted by mr Smidt.
    On the Royal Scotts this was done mid thirties and hailed as revolutionary.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  12. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    The 'plug' valves were those recommended by Schmidt for use with his superheater, having only a single broad ring. The heads with narrow rings were already in use on the Horwich Crabs from their introduction in 1927.
     
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  13. Forestpines

    Forestpines Member

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    Didn't he also invent an early type of FPL, albeit not the design most widely used? It locked the blade to the stockrail, a bit like a modern clamplock, rather than locking the stretcher bar.

    (Or am I thinking about somebody else? I think I came across this in one of Nock's books, which makes sense)
     
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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    Was Stroudley's use of the air brake specifically for safety reasons, or simply because he saw operational advantages? It has always struck me that the railways that took up Westinghouse brakes at the end of the 19th century included several (LBSCR, LCDR, GER etc.) working very intense suburban services, where presumably the operational advantages of a very quick-acting brake outweighed the licence costs of doing so. The LCDR made the LBSCR look wealthy, but were still willing to pay, so they must have seen a considerable advantage that I suspect has to to be explained by more than just a safety enhancement - welcome though that might be.

    Tom
     
  15. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    If it had just been the brake I might have agreed with you. However, add the passenger alarm signal, electric carriage lighting (people had been robbed and murdered as trains went through dark tunnels), the point lock and a pattern emerges. There was also the speed
    indicator, which prompted Anatole Mallet to give a detailed description in his account of No. 4o at the 1878 Paris Exhibition.
    Contrast this with the kicking against such things in other quarters on the grounds of expense.

    PH
     
  16. jtx

    jtx Well-Known Member Friend

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    I have been a diehard "Duchess" man all my life and long considered them the finest examples of British steam power and, pretty much the best - looking, (although that is, of course, subjective). Having now been lucky enough to have driven most of the biggest express passenger types in my preservation career, I have to say my vote goes to the engine in my avatar. When I drove it a few years ago, I was absolutely blown away. It was sublime, a dream to drive and a blistering performer. I did not want to get off it.

    Having said that, I have also driven 46229, 46201, 60009, 60153, 6023, 7029, 34007, and our current residents, 34027 and 34053, and I have fired all of them. They were, and are, in the case of the Bulleids, lovely machines to work on. As to the man who did not like firing "Tornado," it's an express passenger steam engine; what did he expect? The Bulleids have 44 sq. ft. fireboxes, the others must be similar; I think the Duchesses are 48 sq. ft.

    A couple of weeks ago, I fired a round trip on 34027; I was soaked in sweat when we reached Bridgnorth and needed a sit down and a brew, but I was fine to fire back: I am 68. The temperature in the cab was around 100 degrees F.

    With regards to the thread title; a few years back, when the engine was in service, I had several weeks over consecutive years on B. R. Standard Tank, 80079. I said to my driver, "With 6 of these, we could run a service. - full time." Easy to prepare, easy to fire and drive, powerful, economical on fuel, and quick to dispose. Close to prefection. It depends on your criteria.

    Regardless of the above flirtations, my love affair with 45110, and its sisters, remains true!
     
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  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Tornado has a 50 square foot firebox, for reference. Same as the original P2 no.2006s boiler and the same as no.2007 will have.
     
  18. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Thank You for writing wisdom from riding engines and not reading Cox-books.
    What is the fastest You have run on a twocylinder-engine?
    Especially 2-10-0?
    Pacifics are pure waste of adhession.
     
  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Given their usage across the globe I am not sure their adhesive weight or factor of adhesion was particularly important in pulling the trains that were rostered to them. Knowing only the LNER as I do, but without the Gresley, Thompson and Peppercorn Pacifics there was almost nothing else that could touch the work they did. Truly, the railway of the "big engine policy" speaking in British terms.
     
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  20. Cartman

    Cartman Member

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    Yes, the LMS could have done with a few more. Especially as they had Shap and Beattock to deal with too.
     
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