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Best & Worst Locos to Drive

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Luke McMahon, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Probably more like driving the Q, but with no visibility in either direction while being gently sauna'd... :rolleyes:

    Tom
     
  2. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    For today's modern man it would be ideal then, a nice gentle sauna whilst exfoliating with natural minerals... ;)
     
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  3. jtx

    jtx Member

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    43106, like most engines, has its lovers and haters.

    It is an excellent machine and ideal for SVR work. It is very easy to prepare and does not need to be over a pit. It is a terrific steamer and is very easy to fire and drive. You have to be aware that the boiler is quite short, and that, especially first (cold) trip from Bridgnorth, you will have to have the injector on before opening up from Oldbury Viaduct, for the climb to the summit, which means you need a good fire in, which will steam against the feed.

    This is not difficult.

    It is very noisy and not a comfortable ride. ( No mid - range steam engine is). The injectors are deafening.

    The cab is spacious and comfortable and the engine does the work effortlessly. It may not be the prettiest, but, by God, does it do the biz!

    An admirer,

    jtx
     
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  4. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Thankyou for that appreciation @jtx , I know as enthusiasts we have our favorites, but always nice to hear from the folks who have to deal with them at the sharp end so to speak.
     
  5. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    And where exactly did I suggest "sticking a piece of metal round the inside of the top of the exhaust pipe", Peckett?

    From your post, I'd say you don't know much about what's inside a smokebox.
     
  6. peckett

    peckett New Member

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    How wrong you are .I spent 10years on steam loco fitting ,and any other work with loco's you can think of, working 6-7 days per week, had some lovely moments(I don't think ) taking exhaust pipes out to replace blown exhaust joints .What's your claim to fame.?
     
  7. Cartman

    Cartman Member

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    Didn't the Midland (and LMS in its early days) also insist that the wheelbase for a six coupled loco had to be 8 foot plus 8 foot 6? regardless. Just because this dimension dated back to something from Kirtley's time in the 1850s or whenever?
     
  8. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, although there is a certain logic in it. It allows sufficient wheelbase to keep the weight per foot run within the constraints of the Chief Civil Engineer. Kirtley found that he would accept this, and so future designs stayed with it. It might not be realised that the CCE - of many Railways, not just the Midland - would often reject a design proposal without giving any specific reason; it isn't acceptable and that's that. The CME would then need to start the design again, guessing which part or parts were unacceptable. If you found something you knew would go through, then it made sense to stay with it.

    This dimension was in any case quite valid: George Hughes used it when he had the Crabs drawn out (possibly for the same reason). While Fowler did make modifications to the Crabs' design, this was much later, and far after the coupled wheelbase had been fixed.
     
  9. Cartman

    Cartman Member

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    Didn't they come unstuck with this over the Fowler class 3 2-6-2 tanks though? It made the engine too big and heavy due to fixing its length
     
  10. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, playing safe doesn't always work. The 2-6-2Ts were intended for, amongst other duties, light branch line work. The excess length made them too heavy for this. The tanks and their water content didn't help matters.
     
  11. Cosmo Bonsor

    Cosmo Bonsor New Member

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    Hello.
    I helped on the overhaul of the Q1 doing mostly mechanical work and a fair bit on the boiler. It went into service in the summer of '92, I spent most of the next ten years firing it and occasionally driving it.
    When it was launched the Bluebell only ran to Horsted Keynes.
    It was easy to fire and steamed freely. In the HK only days, yop would put a nice big fire in and put your feet up for the round trip. When going further north it was necessary to get a bit more on after HK. The injectors had the nice 'trigger' valve on the boiler manifold but were small, 9mm from memory. I found the cab draughty and uncomfortable. You could watch the side rods whizzing round and see the wheels jump about on the rougher bits of track.
    The big tender was nice for the fireman going backwards ( much better than the C class at 40mph in February!). There are tender fillers on the front of the tender in the cab, some drivers made use of them.
    Driving it was much nicer. Serious amounts of tractive effort, a nice regulator the near end of which was very easy to reach. Good for shunting with the steam reverser which worked OK as I recall. I think it has a SSJ ejector ( I might be wrong). You drove it backwards by reaching over you shoulder and putting a finger in the end of the handle. It always felt under braked though.
    It was very good at turning burning coal into an accelerating train. A favourite trick of Driver was to offer a guest a run round and open the reg to full 1st valve. The acceleration always caught them out!
    A run up the hill to EG would be fun. Oh and it's noisier than some people say!
    I was sorry to find it on the turntable at the NRM, I'd like to have had a closer look at an old friend.
    Russ.
     
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  12. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Thanks for that Cosmo, most intresting.
     
  13. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    Really? Taking exhaust pipes out of steam engines? The only engines I've ever heard of with exhaust pipes are diesels; steam engines have blast pipes, chimneys, and - sometimes - petticoat pipes. And if you think that a petticoat pipe is (and I quote your words) "a piece of metal round the inside of the top of the exhaust pipe", I can only say that you learnt very little in those 10 years. I suggest you visit your nearest railway, and ask the loco shed staff to show you a petticoat pipe. And you can also brighten their day, if you like, by showing them where a steam loco's exhaust pipe can be found . . .

    I don't have any claim to fame (or want it), but I worked on the Kent & East Sussex as a fireman for nine years - so I saw the insides of a lot of smokeboxes; also put in about 16 years as a steam loco fitter on the same line - which included overhauling and fitting the high pressure pipework in loco cabs; doing the casting drawings for a new blast pipe and designing and fabricating the linkages from the cab to the cylinder cocks on a Terrier (the originals having long since been scrapped), and fabricating a new blast pipe for another loco as the original had rusted to nothing.

    Now try answering the question I put to you, Peckett; where exactly did I suggest "sticking a piece of metal round the inside of the top of the exhaust pipe"? Go on; point me at the post.

    If you can . . .
     
  14. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    A guard I knew in Sussex said that, in one shed (sorry, I can't remember which), the crews lost their Maunsell 2-6-0s, and were given Q1s in place of them - and all hell broke loose when they tried them on the Hastings-London and Hastings-Ashford lines with heavy unfitted goods trains! At one point, some of the crews just point blank refused to use them, saying their brakes were nowhere near up to the job - unlike the brakes on the Maunsells.

    I can sympathise with their attitude, as the gradients on the Hastings line are pretty awkward to deal with. The landscape through the Weald of Kent and East Sussex is so hilly that if you aren't going up or down, you're turning sharp right or sharp left - and sometimes both! According to a retired local driver I met, trying to take a heavy unfitted coal train over that line in the dark was no picnic, even with a well-braked engine and a guard who really knew the line and the job; with iffy brakes, it was a nightmare.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
  15. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    As the Super Ds were intended to haul heavy, unfitted goods and mineral trains, one thing which should have been up to standard was the brakes. Yet, according to people I've met who worked them, the steam brake was notorious for being feeble until it was warmed up. Further, the same people (and a lot of enginemen's autobiographies) said you daren't get more than a half a glass of water in the boiler, or she'd prime, and being superheated, even if you instantly shut the regulator, she wouldn't stop till the elements and header had boiled off all the water. It seemed to be a standing joke that you could always tell a shed with an allocation of Super Ds by the hole punched in the wall where a D had primed and the brakes failed to work.

    As for them being effective, I think this story is worth consideration. Terry Essery (who is no mean fireman) was firing a Super D one day with an old North Western driver. They were crawling up a long bank at a snail's pace, and the driver said "Ah, these Super Ds will pull anything with a hundred pound on the clock!"

    "Just as well", Terry snapped back, "because that's all you're going to see on it today!"

    And how was the driver so sure that it would "pull anything" with the boiler pressure so low? I can only assume that such feeble steaming was a regular occurrence with Super Ds. I wouldn't call that "doing the job well".

    As to why they stayed in service so long, I think the reason is not because they were good engines, but because of the war, and the crippling economic after-effects on the economy in general and the railways in particular.

    You misunderstood me; I wasn't suggesting that fitters should do it off their own bat, but that higher levels of management should have known about problems such as the erratic and often poor steaming on the 4Fs - knowing what's going on at the sharp end is most certainly management's responsibility. If a senior manager doesn't know what's happening on his patch, how can he possibly make rational decisions for his department?

    I only mentioned that a couple of fitters could do the job to make the point that, if the loco department had decided to try it on one engine, it would have taken up a minimal amount of time and money to do so.

    Trying out a petticoat pipe on a single 4F would have been both easy and cheap - as the loco department proved on the KWVR.

    I said, in an earlier post, that I would not have expected the LMS to even consider doing that due to the cost and labour involved. Didn't you read that?

    Then we'll have to agree to differ on what constitutes "doing it's job adequately".

    I cannot remember now which book it was in, but it quoted Josiah Stamp as saying that the 4Fs had the lowest repair costs of any of their engines. The author, though, pointed out that in terms of the capital costs, the 4Fs performed very badly. I was a bit puzzled by this until the author explained that the 4Fs spent a much higher proportion of their time in the works being repaired than did other LMS classes, which meant that the company needed more of them to have sufficient engines available than they would have needed of a more reliable / robust design.

    That capital cost consideration was a key element in EMD selling the first batch of the Class 59s to Foster Yeoman. After their experiences with the Class 56 diesels, FY initially enquired about ordering five locos, but EMD (who had their sights on a lot more than just Foster Yeoman) pointed out to them that, with the long service intervals, quick servicing, and reliability of their locos, FY would only need four to do their job - and were proven right. Imagine how much capital outlay that saved FY!

    I'm sure the CME did have more urgent problems - but I can only repeat that if senior people in the Traffic department were completely unaware of the problems that crews had with the like of 4Fs and Super Ds, in my opinion they were not doing their jobs.

    As Terry Essery found out on his trip on the KWVR, he needed a lot less coal to do the job than he expected, based on his years of previous experience with 4Fs in all conditions. So by how much could the LMS have reduced their coal bill, for their 500+ 4Fs, over 25 years, just by being willing to get a couple of fitters to do what they did at Keighley - stick a petticoat pipe in one 4F, just to see if it would help?

    Even from a pure accountancy point of view, their refusal to even consider trying it makes no sense at all.

    I think we'll have to 'agree to disagree' on that.

    Jack
     
  16. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    IMHO a lot of this discussion ultimately comes back to the standard of management - and in some respects the railways were better than many other industries and availability of capital across UK Business's

    ie poor management &/or lack of funds for investment
     
  17. peckett

    peckett New Member

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    Easy. I had a very good friend and excellent work mate who was a driver on a Peckett 15 inch. He had a very well equipped workshop at home .He turned a piece of metal up on his lathe ,circular about half inch wide may bee less,that reduced the top of the blast pipe by nearly a inch, it was held in by studs back and front. Unfortunately do to back pressure ,it blew the the joints out between the top of the steam chest and the exhaust pipe ,the blast pipe bolted on top of this. Peckett loco 's from the steam chest to the top of the blast pipe had two castings ,unlike a lot of other makers which had one. We called the one that bolted to the steam chest the exhaust pipe. We tried every type of joint to try and stop the joint blowing out with no luck. However he dropped the blast pipe on the floor ,when removing one day, and broke the flange off.
    A new was ordered from Pecketts ,and our chief engineer who looked after about 12 loco's or so at two locations ,forbid the piece of metal to be put back in the top of the blast pipe.How ever ,due to the continued complaints about the poor steaming of his loco ,we got the old blast pipe off the scrap heap ,welded it up and replaced it .The joints blew out as regular as before ,but he was happy.
    I referred to the piece of metal ,as all types of jimmies that were place at the top of blast pipes to improve the steamining of a loco. Not nesserally your petticote.
    I thought the days of me brighten peoples days up were long past. Thanks for the reassurance. No I wont be visiting my nearest railway for advice, I had excellent advice from men who had worked on steam loco's from before WW One.
     
  18. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Jack, it doesn't work that way. In these enlightened days, the welfare of the worker has a high priority. From my experience this means: a) Are we H&S compliant? b) Can we tick all the relevant boxes? Changes in working practices are invariably made for economic rather than personnel resons. It was the same throughout the days of steam; we were just a bit more honest about it. Ernest Lemon, after his rise to Vice- President level, began the overhaul of the shed system to bring it up to date. This made life much easier for the men – they now had roofs to the sheds – but that wasn’t why it was done. The provision of ash and coaling plants reduced the number of men needed (and so lowered the wages bill) and allowed a loco coming off its last turn to be serviced and made ready for traffic in a much shorter time. This meant fewer locos per train mile and allowed older, inefficient and costly locos to be withdrawn. The welfare of the men wasn’t the issue: they were doing the job. For example, an engine might be prepared outside in sub-zero temperatures and a snow storm in the dead of night. The driver examining the engine for fitness to run would have a duck lamp, a sort of oil can with a wick in the spout producing a smoking, flickering, weak yellow light. If he missed something causing the engine to fail on the road, you can be assure that he would find himself on the carpet to explain why, and attrocious conditions in the preparation pits would not be accepted as a valid reason. That went on to 1968, by the way.


    Josiah Stamp was one of the country’s leading statisticians when he was appointed as LMS CoE (the LMS management followed American lines) and introduced a very beaurocratic system of data collection to identify weak and / or costly areas. It was a system passed on to all Regions at Nationalisation and, you might say, was not well received. Among the statistics gathered were Casualties. A casualty was when a delay of more than three minutes (later five for passenger, ten for goods) to a train was debited to the loco. Insufficient steam could and would be cited as a cause. If a particular class turned up in the casualty reports on a regular basis (the 5XP Jubilees on introduction) an inquiry as to the cause would be undertaken and the problem rectified. The 4Fs didn’t show up badly as caualties, either for steaming of for hot boxes. The former was probably due to the heroic actions of the footplate crews in nursing their engines along and staying within the schedule, but that wasn’t the point. Unless a casualty was declared there was nothing for management to worry about. Likewise the axleboxes. There were no doubt casualties among the 4Fs from both causes, but unless they were sufficiently numerous they wouldn’t trigger the system. And unless the statistics were there, attempts at improvement would cause the accounts to question why money was being wasted solving a non-existant problem.


    There was of couse a desire to improve the efficiency of the loco fleet in order to reduce operating costs. If a component were likely to fail and cause the engine to sit down on the road, it would be tackled: dead failures with line blockage were expensive. If an improved component became available, it might be desirable to fit this as a replacement when opportunity arose, and such modifications were recorded by various codes on the Engine History Cards. But the modification would be looked at from three directions: a) How much will it cost? b) How much will it save per year? c) What is the life expectancy of the loco. Basically, the saving over time had to be more than the capital cost of the modification. If the saving would be recouped in five, even ten years it would probably go ahead. If it would require 25 years it might not: the loco might have been scrapped in that period, or at least ‘cascaded’ to lighter duties where the savinbgs were less apparent and possibly might not be recouped.


    In the case of the 4Fs, were the modifications worthwhile? The casualty reports said no, they were doing the job. Fitting a petticoat might not be expensive until you spread it over 720 or more engines. And while managers knew they weren’t good, they also knew that there were far worse. They would also know that the axleboxes would become over-stressed with any performance improvement, and that modification would have been too expensive to contemplate. The problem with the 4F wasn’t that it wasn’t good or bad, but it wasn’t bad enough.


    I’ll agree with most of what you said about the Super Ds. Their brakes were poor, the steam brake worse than the vacuum. And the were very inclined to lift the water if the level were even a bit too high. It was an engine you had to know how to get the best from, and men who worked them regularly had a grudging respect for them. Terry Essery was a Saltley - Midland – man and probably had little background knowledge to the class and possibly tried to fire it like a 4F. The Ds liked a thin, even fire and didn’t respond well to an overful box. But the driver’s comment is a indication of the certain respect.
     
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  19. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Well, i just happen to own a steam loco; not a big siny thing with a BR number , just a humble 0-4-0 but it's still a steam loco.
    Smokebox section.jpg
    Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you refer to those rather heavy pipes that connect the cylinders to the blastpipe 'exhaust pipes'? Perhaps you prefer to call them used steam connectors? Strange as it may seem, my loco isn't unique in this respect and i can post drawings of other locos if you want further proof. I suggest that your rather limited experience of steam locos does not qualify you to shoot down other people without proof positive that you are right. I've only 55 years experience of the things and I'm still learing that there are different ways of doing things and naming things, Perhaps you owe Peckett an apology?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  20. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Exhaust branch pipes within the smokebox saddle, 2968, Bridgnorth 04/03/16.

    [​IMG]
     

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