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Bulleid Pacifics - Past or Present

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 34007, May 13, 2008.

  1. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I've mostly kept out of the discussion the last couple of days - thank you all for the suggestions, pointers and offers to help.

    I have no intention of rushing to write anything, this is about seeing what material exists and where I can improve my knowledge - as treasurer of the MNLPS I consider it part of my overall duties to know the subject matter of our society's locomotive and to be frank, when researching Thompson the obvious comparisons to Bulleid came up and - for the first time - I saw exactly why the original locomotives were designed the way they were. The whole debate about the CMEs continues to be framed in a very narrow viewpoint and rarely does anyone ask if the railways did get what they actually needed?

    I used to have great reservations about the sanity of the decision making with the original Bulleid Pacifics. More now than at any point in my past, I get it. The chain driven valve gear, the oil bath, the flat sides and more. All makes complete sense when you realise the level of experienced manpower that disappeared literally overnight in September 1939 at the outset of war.

    I am sure you could have a great debate on whether what Bulleid did was too radical, or Thompson too conservative, but the fact remains they were trying to resolve the same problems in wartime and both by and large succeeded at producing locomotives suitable for the services required during and post war. When all's said and done, surely that's the measure by which we judge what makes a good CME by?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Noted!
     
  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Two of the more extreme fundamentalists that I knew are now carrying on their argument in the great drawing office in the sky so you’ll be saved their “advice” unless they contact you from the spirit world. :)
     
  4. Steamage

    Steamage Well-Known Member

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    Let me recommend "Master Builders of Steam" by H A V Bulleid (Ian Allan 1963), covering the railway works of H A Ivatt, H N Gresley, O V S Bulleid, G J Churchward, W A Stanier & H G Ivatt. HAVB was the son of OVSB, nephew of HGI and grandson of HAI.
     
  5. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Well-Known Member

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    I have this book, and Roger Mannion's work on the Stanier Pacifics too - I just can't get into his style of writing for some reason, same as I never could get into W.A. Tuplin's style. I read a Hell of a lot, but there are some books which I just don't find I can really get stuck into.
    I love "Master Builders of Steam" and "Bulleid of the Southern" though!

    Richard.
     
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  6. Steamage

    Steamage Well-Known Member

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    Definitely! I have "Nine Elms Engineman" by A E "Bert" Hooker (Bradford Barton), "The Somerset & Dorset from the Footplate" by Peter Smith (OPC 1987 - combines 2 previous volumes into 1) and "Man of the Southern: Jim Evans Looks Back" by Jim Evans, ed. Peter Grafton (George Allan & Unwin 1980). Bert Hooker's book covers his progression from cleaner to top-link fireman, until he went to learn to drive electric trains. His tales of the '48 loco exchanges are particularly engrossing. IIRC, he returned to drive steam later on. Did he write about those experiences? If so, I've not come across it.
     
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  7. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Seconded, very enthusiastically.

    Andrew Shimmin
    (Member: RPSI, FfRS, TRPS, RERPS, RHDRA, WLLRPC)
     
  8. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    For latter day reflections Clive Groome is your man
     
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  9. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    What I think you will need to explain Simon is how it can be right simultaneously to go for what is essentially a simplification and robustness strategy on the LNER and a daring innovative design strategy on the Southern. Would they really have been better off with some V2s which seemed to cope with the traffic requirements when called upon in the early 50s? Did they really need 30 class 8s and 110 class 7s? Was the problem correctly specified in the first place?
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    That presumes that Bulleid was right. I find him interesting because his genuine talent and creativity was combined with questionable judgement, meaning his legacy was mixed.
     
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  11. Hurricane

    Hurricane Member

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    Photos posted on one of the Mid Hants fb groups show that Wadebridge has been moved into the boiler shop for assessment ahead of a potential future overhaul.
     
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  12. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Sure. I think Simon is saying at last para post 4641 that he thinks Bulleid and Thompson were both right.
     
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  13. Bikermike

    Bikermike Member

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    It's not a case of "right" as that involves hindsight, but "reasonable"? "sensible"? (OK, we may need to put "Leader" on one side...)

    Don't forget the LNER and the Southern also faced slightly different circumstances - so what was right for one was not necessarily right for another

    Also, when Bullied was designing, dieselisation was clearly coming, but not set in stone - 10 more years of steam? 20 more? then what? V2s could cope pro tem, could they cope longer-term?

    V2s didn't have amazing route availability, so you'd still need something for the smaller services/lighter lines
     
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  14. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Reasonable/sensible in the circumstances faced --- agree, that's the acid test.

    Re RA, agree. I nearly wrote combination of V2s and B1s ; something a bit stronger than a class N but which fitted the loading gauge and civ eng rules west of Exeter for example.

    I suppose one counterfactual is--- what would Thompson have done if he had gone to the SR at that time?
     
  15. Bikermike

    Bikermike Member

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    Built a bunch more Arthurs and LNs I would think, with some detailed improvements - on the basis that they worked and were simple, and performed well. (in this world, he might well have been right as they would have lasted to the end of steam as was)
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My gut feeling is that Thompson on the SR would still have built what he did best: simple, rugged, get-atable designs. Which the SR already had numbers of: what’s a B1 but a slightly more modern Maunsell H15? So I doubt he would have been much of a shock, but perhaps wouldn’t have lit the railway up as Bulleid did, which was acknowledged at the time as necessary. Likewise, Bulleid on the LNER would no doubt have tried to innovate his way out of the problems there.

    The other point is that my perception is that the major challenges faced were subtly different. On the LNER the primary problem seems to have been big engine availability. On the SR there were large numbers of increasingly elderly 0-6-0 goods and 4-4-0 passenger engines - to which were added on both railways the normal wartime pressures. The Q1 was a genius piece of improvisation to the goods engine problem. The West Country was really there to do duties that were - due to increasing train weights - beyond the increasingly worn out Edwardian 4-4-0s. A wide firebox 2-6-2 might have been interesting. OTOH, there is a perennial debate in Loco policy about whether you are best optimising classes for individual duties, or standardising in the knowledge you have a loco that is mostly too big but can do anything. Bulleid was clearly an advocate of the latter. Whatever else is said, when they worked well, there was very little traffic available that a WC couldn’t do.

    Tom
     
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  17. Bikermike

    Bikermike Member

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    Blimey - I'm on the same lines as NatPres leading lights...!
    Presumably you think Thompson would have considered a King Arthur too frivolous

    I reckon with steam ending when it did, Thompson would have been considered a great success with that policy, if it ended 10 years later, not so much.
    Meanwhile, as the ER wrestled with its stud of gear-valved 2-8-2s that boiled their oil by Doncaster, and leaders, Bulleid's name would have been mud
     
  18. 8126

    8126 Member

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    This makes basically the same point I'm going to try to expand on.

    Lots of people look at West Countries and say "Oh look, a class 7 Pacific, clearly an express passenger engine, why did the Southern need 110 of those?" But you could just as well describe them as 110 engines with better route availability than any class 5 4-6-0, and the ability to haul any train within their adhesive capacity at any speed your civil engineer cared to allow (when they worked). Said civil engineer wouldn't have allowed a wide firebox 2-6-2 to do everything Bulleid wanted of the design, for the same reason the MN wasn't a 2-8-2.

    I've always understood the Bulleid loco strategy as being four classes; the mainline heavy tender engine (the MN), the universal tender engine (WC), the goods engine (Q1), and for everything else the universal mixed traffic tank engine .... Leader. You could well argue that some kind of Class 2 2-6-2T would have rounded that list off rather well in dealing with the shortcomings of the Southern fleet, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but the fact that Leader absolutely failed to fill its role doesn't necessarily make the other three classes the wrong approach. As mentioned above, the SR already had a good number of relatively modern Moguls and heavy mixed traffic 4-6-0s, all with plenty of life left in them for duties where the universal tender engine was a bit overkill or a bit compromised by its route availability. I might mischievously argue that from Bulleid's perspective, Thompson (and Gresley before him) could have been considered entirely too frivolous in the number of new designs and variants introduced during his tenure, much like the BR approach to standardisation.
     
  19. Bikermike

    Bikermike Member

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    That is a very interesting point - albeit that the constraints on Bullied were different to Thompson - if Bullied had inherited a more up-to-date stud it would have been different.

    I wonder what the SR would have looked 30 years later, would there be much left other than Bullied Pacifics, Q1s and M7s (and the beattie well tanks...)?
     
  20. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

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    It is important to remember the role of the Southern Railway Board. I believe part of OVSB's brief was to "Modernise" the steam traction - to complement the extensive modern electric operations on the SR. They obviously supported the building of both MNs and WC/BBs over several years.
     
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