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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. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    Simon, Thanks for clarifying the Area Codes.

    Next, a quibble. In the bottom statistics for the V1s in 1942 you have them in SAW, whereas I believe they should be one line lower under SAE.

    In these 1942 statistics the V1s appear to be pretty well holding their own as compared with those in the North East and Scottish Areas. However, the 1946 figures for both V1 and V3 in the SAE show a marked drop in both mileage and availability. As R. N. H. Hardy in his writings about Stratford and the difficulties it faced, like staff and material shortages in keeping things running there in immediate post-war days, I suspect that it was more a case of maintenance and repairs just taking longer to do, hence the adverse effect on the statistics, rather than the normal loco requirements being the problem.

    Re the L1, it is interesting that the statistics only refer to the Scottish Area as it was at no less than five sheds (Cambridge, Stratford, Gateshead, Eastfield & Thornton Junction) in 1946.........
     
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  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Just checked the original document - nope. SAW it says. Interesting. Maybe this is an error in the original document? Certainly should be if we compare it to the 1946 figures.

    It's an interesting one and worth remembering that staffing levels on the railway never really recovered post-war in the manner expected.

    Three of those sheds are, however, in Scotland. One imagines that it spent most of its time that year in Scotland, therefore the stats were given as being in Scotland. I can only speculate on that, I'm just going from the document's figures. It doesn't give a class by class explanation of work, only the statistics.
     
  3. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Apologies for my poor maths and continued pedantry and possible lack of engineering knowledge but is it reasonable to consider the 3-cylinder compound locomotives in the same way as a 3-cylinder simple locomotive ? To this naive mind the 3 cylinder locomotive uses the same source steam whilst in the compound system the 3rd cylinder receives high pressure steam from the 2 lower pressure cylinders. If such be the case then would the mechanics of the compound system affect the use of the valve gears hence making them not comparable with the mechanics of a normal 3-cylinder locomotive ? If such be the case then surely Cox is wrong to presume any value from consideration of the compound system in relation to the 3-cylinder simple locomotives
     
  4. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    L1 9000/67701 was only in Scotland from 22/9/1946 so can only presume that mileage and availability figures from the Southern and NE areas were worked into the statistics.

    Re Fred's comments, I agree in that feel that the former Midland/LMS Compounds don't really 'fit in' as they are a much older design and technology as compared with the later Patriot and Stanier 3-cylinder locos.
     
  5. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    Depends what the comparison is being made for (and note that the live steam is first used in the HP cylinder). An oft quoted criticism of compounds is their additional complexity, but I suspect that was by railways who largely used two cylinder locos, the extra complexity being the extra cylinder(s). It seems reasonable to me to include a three cylinder compound if one is undertaking a comparison of availability, and there were quite a lot of the LMS locos. In theory compounding is kinder to a loco as the pressure and heat drop through each cylinder is less than on a simple loco so less thrust on each piston stroke, and again in theory, the rods can be made slightly smaller so they have a theoretic advantage but whether that could be detected is a different matter.
     
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  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    No apologies necessary Fred. It's all part of the wider debate.

    I don't know the answer to your question re compounds, but from my POV it is incredibly difficult to compare exact like for like between railway companies steam locomotives, unless you are in the rare position where both railways actually bought or built the exact same class of loco. In Victorian days when Sharp Stewart and Beyer Peacock and NBL sold locos to everyone, quite likely comparable 4-4-0s could be compared exactly, but in the 1940s I question if that's entirely possible.

    Therefore I don't believe we can treat Cox's report as an "exact" comparison. If we do we perhaps miss the point I think.

    Cox is saying that in a similar number of locos, all using three cylinder propulsion, one fleet conjugated and the other using three sets of valve gear, the conjugated fleet under the current conditions was failing more often and it was more likely that the middle end bearing was the issue, with some additional problems with pin wear in the gear.

    He then gave three broad recommendations to the issues outlined which were: stop using three cylinders conjugated, don't use three cylinders use two, rebuild some of the conjugated locos to have three sets of valve gear experimentally.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    I think the more we try and treat Cox's report as an exactitude, the more we miss the point of it.

    Thompson was CME and he was developing a locomotive policy to be approved by the board. It's not about specific "you will use compounding in three cylinders to these size cylinders and this size rivet head for the tender side sheets" sort of thinking, it was about broad brush strokes approach policy that the design team could then go away and develop.

    Much as it is today under any other engineering project in any engineering team. A broad policy for a project is agreed, specifics come later.

    The independent report was called for in order to change policy. It did that with the board. If Cox had written the report differently, it might not have changed the broad approach the LNER took. The design team sorted out the specifics from the broad three recommendations Cox gave.

    I think this is where the engineering minds among us are perhaps going too far into detail and missing the bigger picture of why Thompson asked for an independent report. He wasn't able to change the overall policy without the board's approval. The board isn't interested in the exact specifics of the locomotive engineering, they are interested in the end result, which is, frankly, are we making enough money and are we meeting our obligations (made more difficult by wartime executive).

    That's how I see it anyway.
     
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  7. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    But where in any of the report is a distinction made in age of the locomotive stock? On that basis you could quite reasonably discount all of the A10s as they were older technology. The LMS compounds were built after the grouping and were contemporaries to the LNER built stock so I think that in retrospect their inclusion makes sense, if the point of the report is to compare the reliability and availability of two fleets which both use three cylinder propulsion.
     
  8. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    I accept the difficulty but note that I also accept the validity of Cox's conclusion; this was confirmed IMHO by Riddles following through with 2-cylinder designs for the Standard classes. I also accept your own considered view that Thomson acted with the circumstances of the day (i.e. wartime conditions) and which - presumably - Cox was also affected by during his research for the report hence look forward to the greater analysis that your book is attempting to give.
     
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  9. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    Sorry to throw more pedantry into the argument, but the last 25 of Class O2 were only built in 1942-43, so would not have been included in Cox's 1941 totals. The O2 total in 1941 was 42 (if you include the original non-standard No 3461).

    But the D49/1 class appear to be missing. Did Cox exclude them from his data for some reason?

    And we mustn't forget the solitary U1.

    EDIT - I forgot the B16/2 rebuilds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  10. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    You are almost certainly right that the 1942 V1 statistics should be under SAE not SAW. The relevant engines would have been a batch of 15 V1s (mostly dual-braked) built for the GE section in 1938-39. In 1942, they were still quite new and ought to have been showing high reliability. They were normally stationed at Stratford, Norwich & King's Lynn.

    V1s & V3s were not normally to be found on the GN & GC sections, except when visiting Doncaster Works. The RCTS Green Book does, however, indicate that a few from GE and NE sections were at Neasden on the GC section for a while during 1943. In 1948-49, all the GE-section V1s/V3s were transferred to NE and NB sections, replaced on the GE by Thompson L1 tanks.
     
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  11. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    I gather that on the GE section that the coal, and particularly water supplies carried by V1/V3s could be a bit tight on the routes they worked on. Liverpool St. to Southend and Cambridge in particular, hence their replacement with L1s.
     
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  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Gents - regarding the V3 stats - I will put a note in my spreadsheet as a TQ (technical query) to note that we may have spotted an error. I don't want to mod the spreadsheet too much as it is meant to be a reflection of the original document, not an interpretation.

    Does that seem fair?
     
  13. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    So on another forum I have been accused of undermining Bill Harvey's reputation and opinions on the Thompson L1s, and that I show him disrespect through my views on those locomotives.

    I remain skeptical that anything I say could be taken as any kind of personal slight against Bill Harvey, for one, but I also question whether taking at face value one man's opinion - whether it is Harvey, Thompson, Cox, Hardy, Spencer, or whoever, is particularly good form when trying to put together an informed opinion.

    For the record - no, I do not believe the Thompson L1s were awful machines. I do not believe they were as bad as has been described.

    At the same time, they are clearly imperfect machines and were likely pretty miserable to work on when run down.

    I'm not going to ignore anyone's views on these machines but I am also not going to ignore availability stats, reports on testing, and the fact there were around 100 of these engines which worked into the dieselisation era of British Railways.

    Truly awful steam locomotives are rebuilt or scrapped. Locomotives exist which were unpleasant to work on and likely a headache for many shedmasters, drivers and maintenance staff, but if they did the dailywork asked of them - can we really decry them as useless, unsuccessful, and the rest?

    It would be fair to say that the B17s were not the smoothest running locomotives and they have a poor reputation - but are they summarily described as useless or awful?

    I dunno, I think there's a trend which favours populism more than anything else.

    On a side note, and considering a few things we have discussed, here is a quotation I found this week on the rebuilt B16/3s, which I feel echoes a few of the points the Cox report states and we have discussed previously.

     
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  14. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    Yes, Simon. I'm inclined to the view that it was an error committed by the original statistician(s) which was never spotted - at least, up to now!
     
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  15. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Hardy says the B17s were very mixed and that some were indeed incorrigibly awful. He says the fixed mileages between heavy maintenance did not help availability when you had a complete dog. He mentions transferring 61647 from Woodford Halse to Lincoln then himself getting transferred to Ipswich shortly later only to receive 61647 from Lincoln the following week whereupon it was put on a slow train to Lowestoft and back to work out its remaining 10,000 miles. He mentions dodges like giving 61613 to country crews at holiday weekends on relief trains out of Liv St because no Stratford crew would touch it. But he also says that some locos ran beautifully, 61669 being one. A real mixed bag.

    Since Hardy (Balmore) spent at least five years with the class at Woodford H , Ipswich and Stratford, he knows what he is talking about from the running shed side.
     
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  16. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, late reply here, catching up!
    I think you've got the bail absolutely bang on the bonce there.
    Regarding McDonnell, it also has to be remembered that his tenure on the NER coincided with a period of considerable prejudice against Irish people in Britain, and an ongoing political crisis involving Ireland (Parnell, the Land War, this was just before Gladstone's attempt at passing Home Rule).
    I suspect this may have made things more difficult for an Irish person taking a senior position in an English organisation.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
     
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  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    upload_2019-9-19_13-40-54.png

    I have been updating my "dashboard" for the statistics.

    Please ignore the average availability sections and total number of locos for the moment - the former needs a bit of a rethink along the lines previously discussed, and the latter is being updated gradually as all of the locos go in.

    The number of loco classes against boiler classes is, however, correct. With the caveat that I haven't omitted the railcars (petrol) or diesel shunters which account for about 2 or 3 classes off the top of my head.
     
  18. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    There must have been very few locomotives that could truly have been described as "useless", implying that they were unable to do any useful work. There was the occasional experimental locomotive that failed to fulfill expectations and never entered revenue-earning service. The Webb 3-cylinder un-coupled compound passenger engines were probably the most notorious examples of machines that existed in significant numbers (100 of them) for a significant time in spite of having serious "issues". But even they could do good work once you got them moving, so could not be termed "useless".

    Engines were usually only scrapped when they became very old, obsolete or worn-out, but of course there were exceptions where engines were scrapped early. This could be for a variety of reasons but sometimes because of poor performance or maintenance difficulties. It will be interesting to see whether there is any correlation between your availability statistics and subsequent withdrawal patterns. Many of the older pre-grouping classes disappeared in the late 1940s/early 1950s, replaced by new B1s and other types. But among the LNER standard classes, it seems to have been the B17s and D49s that were the first to be scrapped in the late 1950s, followed by the J39s and K3s in 1959-62.
     
  19. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    I would hazard a guess that the B17s were withdrawn and being replaced by the Brush Type 2 then being produced. Much the same for the D49s, this time railcars being the replacement.
     
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  20. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    Mmm, I think its unwise to draw too many conclusions about what order classes were withdrawn in from the late 1950s.
     

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