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Edward Thompson: Wartime C.M.E. Discussion 2012 - 2019

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, May 2, 2012.

  1. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Thank you, that answers some of my questions about context.
     
  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Okay, so a few emails from a friend over the last day have revealed my claim about 3-cylinders on LNER to be a bit suspect.

    I should clarify that I was referring only to the Gresley 3-cylinder machines.

    Owen makes the following observation that there were other 3-cylinder machines that were non-conjugated. These were:

    A7, A8, B16/1, C5s, C7s, D49s (some poppet valve and Reidinger), S1, T1, Q7.

    I am beginning to think I should include in the spreadsheet a column for no. of cylinders plus a note on the valve gear type. I can see that some of these machines had poor availability too (C5 in particular).

    Are there any others?

    I do think this is becoming quite a fascinating discussion, regardless of whether we think the causes and solutions match up.
     
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  3. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    That there were failure problems with the inside big-end at around 1941/2 is not denied. However, with Bill Harvey's work just post-war in stiffening up the strap and the K. J. Cook modifications of the early 1950s to the bearing itself, it would be interesting to know what the failure rate was later, say around 1955, after the modifications had been put into effect

    For another 'like for like' comparison, have you any statistics for the 2-cylinder Gresley O1 (later O3) 2-8-0 against its 3-cylinder counterpart, the O3 ?

    As others have pointed out, with three cylinders there is more to maintain, and as far as the 2 : 1 gear against three separate sets of valve gear is there really much in the way of difference in downtime or cost, let alone things like 'waiting for material' coming into the equation?

    In the end it all really boiled down to CME choice. Gresley went for the 2 : 1 gear, others for three sets of valve gear. Just like one railway went for green locos (with a few silver and later blue) ones, another chose red.........
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I am fairly certain the failure rate went down post-war, albeit in the 50s rather than the late 40s.

    But the question has always been, fundamentally, was Thompson right to take the decisions he took at the time he was taking them?

    He wasn't working on the railway for a future that hadn't been written yet. He was working in the here and now, with at best a five year plan or rolling scheme and broad policy decisions on rolling stock.

    Notable then that Thompson kept most of Gresley's conjugated fleet in the "non-standard to be maintained" category once the war was over. He clearly didn't think they were beyond their useful life otherwise the argument would have been to scrap the whole lot and replace with his own designs - but the plan was for 19 classes made up of the largest ones, split between new standard designs and non standard to be kept designs.

    Everything else - mostly pre-grouping or life expired - was to have been scrapped and replaced. As we know, that didn't happen.

    Not sure but I will have a look. For some sub classes I can get the split in the stats, for others I can't.

    I - personally - think it's training and experience. Loss of 50,000 people from maintenance to war effort. Numbers made up by teenagers, women and the elderly who hadn't necessarily worked on steam locomotives before. Putting oil into pots on valve gear on outside cylinders only compared to that, and also greasing around the joints of the 2:1 gear. I think there's potential for all sorts of problems.

    True enough.
     
  5. meeee

    meeee Member

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    Looking at the 2:1 valve gear it's easy to see why the middle cylinder would run poorly if the valve gear was worn. Any lost motion at valve rods on the two outside cylinders will also occur on the middle cylinder, it could even be worse than the outside valves. Then if the 2:1 gear is also worn then this will be further exaggerated. It will be even worse on locos running a short cutoffs like express engines.

    I could see how you could have a loco with 3 sets of valve gear at a similar level of wear that runs better than one with the 2:1 gear.

    Tim
     
  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Is this not what was described in the Cox report? I am not a locomotive engineer by any means, but would be interested if what you've described there matches what Cox was describing.
     
  7. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Hear,hear.

    Much better comparison than the one I asked for.
     
  8. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Julian, when are you going to provide us with your analysis of the Cox report? Eager minds are waiting for you to put up or shut up over here.

    "Elevated status" - no, just trying to look at Thompson through the lens of someone who actually had a job to do, in the most ridiculous, awful circumstances possible, and not a pantomime villain cackling as he looked to destroy Gresley's reputation...by rebuilding one of his elegant engines into something ugly...

    Does anyone who believes this sort of stuff actually read it out loud and think about how batshit crazy it sounds? That a CME of a major railway in the middle of a war would go to the nth degree to get his design team to uglify a steam locomotive deliberately and also deliberately make it terrible, in some sort of attempt to undermine his predecessor's reputation? Does that logic follow through? If so, how? Someone explain it to me?

    People like Julian would have us believe without examining any of the evidence, or looking for other material.

    In the seven years I've been posting on this thread we've gone from questioning Cecil J. Allen's comments in British Pacific Locomotives, with no real evidence examined, to looking at the LNER's internal documents, reports, minutes and figures from a wide range of sources including, but not limited to, the NRM, Kew Garden's National Archives and some very supportive people such as those from the Gresley Society, LNER Society and more giving me pointers in where to find new sources and contacts.

    Look, I don't pretend I know the answers or that I know what was going on in Thompson's head, but the balance of probability with the evidence we now have suggests at the absolute bare minimum that Thompson wasn't acting out of spite when he was looking at changing the engineering policy going forward.

    Maybe the evidence we have doesn't condemn conjugated valve gear or support Thompson's decision making entirely, but it does highlight what an awful job Gresley and subsequently Thompson had in WW2 as CME.

    If any of you can sit there and tell me that you'd be able to go to work, having had to sleep in your office, after your house had been bombed, and months of attending meetings where your every decision is questioned, examined, and discussed, and in addition to that listen to lists of men and women that had been killed under your tenure as CME, then you're a better man than I because I simply don't know sometimes, looking at the board minutes, how Gresley or Thompson managed to keep in the main heads up and upper lip stiff and working constantly.

    If that's "elevation" of Edward Thompson then it had better be goddamn elevation of him, Gresley, Peppercorn and every single individual that worked under them too, because frankly on the shoestring budget, lack of materials available, the heart breaking stuff that was happening daily all over the LNER and in the country at the time - they're all goddamn heroes. Every last one of them.

    If that's elevation, then so be it. I elevate Thompson and the whole LNER workforce from a Richard III character with miserable people to a human being in charge of other human beings, doing the best they could in the worst conditions imaginable.
     
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  9. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Ask and you shall receive gentlemen.

    upload_2019-9-10_15-24-18.png

    Now the interesting thing here is that the conjugated valve gear O2 is bucking the trend elsewhere in the spreadsheet. But then most of these are fairly new locomotives compared to - say - the vast numbers of O4s which Thompson subsequently rebuilt as O4/8s and O1s during the war.
     
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  10. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    The one thing that comes out loud and clear is the need for work on

    1. The economic history of the railways (At an affordable price!)
    2. A proper wartime history of The Railways
     
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  11. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    And for those pondering the Q6/Q7 figures:

    upload_2019-9-10_15-43-32.png

    I include the S1 and T1 there as I recall they were also three cylinder engines?
     
  12. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    I note quite a few typos. Are they yours or faithfully copied from the original?
     
  13. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I couldn't tell you off the top of my head. You are welcome to highlight them and I will happily put my hands up or say whether they are in the original. Some errors were in the original that I have kept, without knowing what typos you are looking at, I couldn't say!
     
  14. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Last thing from me for today. Something to ponder:

    L.N.E.R Locomotive Stock in 1923 – Total 7405

    upload_2019-9-10_16-1-2.png

    L.N.E.R Locomotive Stock in 1948 – Total 6500

    upload_2019-9-10_16-1-15.png

    Could be useful, maybe not, who knows. Maybe it will generate some discussion, maybe not. Either way I think it illustrates the overall aim of Thompson's standardization plan and how it was actually carried out.

    Please note that the pie chart directly above does not include the engines built after nationalization in 1948.
     
  15. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Preliminary conclusions:
    The mineral engines operated below 2,5 rev per second (25mph 1,4meter driver.)
    Passenger engines often ran over 5 rev per second where three or fourcylinders were mandatory in Germany and good for track everywhere.

    Three cylinder with conjugation is waste of money at low speed and selfdestruct at high speed.
    UK had been better served by LNER WW2 if Raven had been made CME.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  16. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    Thank you Simon. The O4s are a fascinating class, with some of the unrebuilt locos lasting longer than the fully rebuilt locos (O1), rather like the Q6, a triumph for simplicity, and it is notable that the availability of a good chunk of the O4s was only 68%. I would query the description that "vast numbers" were rebuilt by Thompson. 11 O4/8 were created in 1944, then nothing until 1947 (p55 of Part 6B), with locos being added to this sub-class up to 1958 until there was a total of 99 locos. 50 O1s were built during Thompson's tenure (1944-46) and eight subsequently (including a rebuild of an O4/7),but nothing after 1949 (p89).
    Many thanks for showing the Q6/Q7 comparison. While one cannot be dogmatic with only one data period, it comes out as one would expect with the three cylinder machines showing a poorer availability (of 66% v 72% for the Q6).
     
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  17. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    They did not do same kind of work so maybee not equally needed.
     
  18. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Yeah a fair point Robin - maybe a better description is that a good chunk were eventually rebuilt to the specification decided on under Thompson. To clarify that rebuilds were still ongoing as and when?
     
  19. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Presumably because the LNER served the important naval ports of Rosyth and Scapa Flow, the ship-building centre of Glasgow, Leith and Newcastle, the East Coast ports from Aberdeen to Thames and the military centre at Colchester. Agreed that the LBSCR and others also served military installations subject to constant attack but IIRC the SR had many alternative routes when lines were damaged whilst the LNER had a more limited range of alternatives; in addition LNER services were of longer distances hence more liable to both attack and delay with consequent pressure on providing trains and services.
     
  20. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    It would be interesting to see similar 'pie' charts for the other Big Four companies showing how many Pre & Post Grouping locos they had & in the case of the L MS, post Grouping locos of Midland design
     
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