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Edward Thompson: Wartime C.M.E. Discussion 2012 - 2020

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

  1. MikeParkin65

    MikeParkin65 Member Friend

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    Purely as a constructive suggestion (and speaking as a potential purchaser) would you consider getting the final manuscript professionally edited?

    I say this firstly on the basis of the vast number of ‘railway books’ currently being published that turn out to be virtually unreadable and secondly because I found the first section of your extract on the loco itself punchier and clearer than the second on ‘the controversy’.

    I just wonder if a professional editor (and not necessarily one with a railway background) might provide constructive challenge and ensure the book gets to the proper heart of this subject which you are clearly passionate about.
     
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  2. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    Hi Simon,

    How can you possibly write a chapter on 'Great Northern' without considering Bert Spencer?

    And why should you believe everything Dick Hardy wrote?

    This is not a balanced piece of research.

    It is fundamentally flawed, in assuming everything Dick Hardy wrote, as related from his time as a teenager, is The Gospel Truth.

    This is not objective research at all; it is bias in it's worst form.

    Cheers,
    Julian
     
  3. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member Friend

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    "..... bias in it's worst form"? That's a bit rich coming from you!

    Peter
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    “How can you possibly write a critique of a whole book without reading the whole of it?

    This is not objective criticism at all; it is bias in its worst form.”

    Tom
     
  5. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I’ve been made aware of a further response in this thread by Julian. I have no intention of responding directly.

    I will however make one thing clear. If I had been writing on the original Great Northern as built by the GNR and then maintained by the LNER, I would write about Bert Spencer as he was key to the fitting of the long lap valves amongst other improvements to the valve gear.

    As I am writing specifically about the process of building the Thompson A1, and the processes of authorising a locomotive built in wartime, and in addition a design that does not contain conjugated valve gear, I have taken the decision to not mention a man who was:

    1) not present when the design and construction process occurred
    2) is covered in his own separate, short chapter, elsewhere in my tome

    The extraordinary level of focus on Bert Spencer where the rebuilt Great Northern is concerned is out of proportion to what he was doing and where he was.

    He was not present, he gave no input. He was not involved at any level.

    That is the end of that.

    For reference for everyone, Dick Hardy was an apprentice under Edward Thompson and he was able to give in writing an account of the work he had done in the drawing office, under Teddy Windle, on helping to design the new Great Northern.

    His view is weighted differently because he was involved in the design process and was actually there to witness events as they unfolded.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    This is not difficult to grasp and I can’t fathom why it is generating more heat than light to suggest a direct witness is more important to the story than a third party observing from afar.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
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  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Hi Mike - I agree - I feel I need to have it in a “final form” as far as I can take it to then pass it onto someone who can take it further.

    I also wish to reiterate that anyone who has participated in this thread is welcome to have an e-copy of the work for free, as my way of saying thanks for all your input (which has over eight years turned this from a random question on Great Northern in another thread to a respectful back and forth and also almost an entire book on the subject).
     
  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Moving on ... a little historical curio for you Simon. In 1847, the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway (which was a constituent of the NER, and thereby latterly the LNER) obtained a three cylinder loco from Robert Stephenson and co, which could probably be best described as a 2-2-2-0 (two separate leading carrying axles, then a driving axle, with no rearwards carrying axle).

    The loco was renewed (i.e. heavily rebuilt incorporating some original components) as a slightly more conventional 2-2-2 in 1852, but still three cylinder. Interestingly, the two outside cylinders were in phase; the inside cylinder (which was larger diameter, but smaller stroke *) was 90deg out of phase. The loco was said to be a very steady runner, probably on account of no side to side waggling typical of two cylinder locos.

    What is really intriguing though is that as renewed (and possibly as built - I don’t know) by virtue of working together, the two outside cylinders needed only one set of valve gear, which drove both valves by a transverse shaft to the valve rods.

    I think it would be stretching it to say that it anticipated the work of Holcroft and Gresley on conjugated valve gears, except to note that 75 years before “Great Northern”, there existed in that part of the world a three cylinder loco driven by two sets of valve gear!

    (*) The cylinder sizes were such that the swept volume of the two outside cylinders working together was approximately the same as the single inside cylinder.

    Tom
     
  8. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    That is really interesting - thank you Tom. Curio indeed. I have often wondered if a book on valve gears was possible (alas I do not have the practical knowledge to write one as yet. Perhaps there is someone out there willing to pick up the baton?)
     
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  9. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    There's Don Ashton's web site http://www.donashton.co.uk/ . He also has a booklet, but its purely concerned with design matters. Also he concentrates exclusively on Walschaerts and Stephensons. It seems to me that it would be a very hard book to pitch. Very hard to write too. I think you'd need to have a deep technical understanding and the ability to communicate it. I'm not short on ego, but I wouldn't fancy my chances at getting it right.
     
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  10. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    No need to pick up the baton. There's Lake & Reidinger's book :
    https://www.camdenmin.co.uk/products/valves-valve-gears-for-steam-locomotives-1940
    This facsimile by Camden is my bible when it comes to valve gears. There's also Locomotive Valve and Valve Gears by Yoder & Warren; now out of print but you can pick up second hand copies:
    https://www.stellabooks.com/books/jacob-h-yoder/locomotive-valves-and-valve-gears-933246/2118669
     
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  11. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    I think you need to say something, because I think you have to appraise Thompson's rejection of Gresley gear and choice of three independent sets, from amongst the other possibilities. But this relates only to the method of imparting motion to the valves, not issues like lead. So for three cylinder drive you can have Gresley, Henschel, two return cranks on one side , rotary cam poppet valves or independent sets. (any others?). Rotary cam would require inter alia new cylinders so can be ruled out on expense, two return cranks etc on one side might cause loading gauge issues, not sure what would rule out Henschel gear. Arguably Gresley gear struggles at higher speed because of whip in the conjugating lever.
     
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  12. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    As the author of the book that is your prerogative and in my opinion @jma1009 can have any view that he likes.

    No doubt, in common with many significant books on any particular topic, it will contain an introduction that is normally where the author provides a context for what follows. That's the opportunity to also say what the extent of the research covers and why, and by implication what it doesn't cover. I really don't see the problem.
     
  13. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Julian has every right to hold an opinion and to hold a different one to me. What I object to are the personal attacks, of which there have been several over the last few months. Were they to have been given in a constructive fashion, with evidence, I would have been less exasperated last week and perhaps more amenable to not putting Julian on my "ignore" list settings.

    Which is a shame as Julian has previously provided some good discussion here and elsewhere: but there are only so many times I am willing to say "show me the evidence" for his views, and only so much I am willing to repeat myself on the same tired points Julian has laboured on Dick Hardy and Bert Spencer.

    Absolutely fair. I do feel I have covered quite often what my book is covering though. For emphasis then:
    • It covers the war years on the L.N.E.R. almost exclusively - his time as C.M.E. is my main focus
    • It goes into Thompson's background and training, and interaction with other notable railwaymen for context
    • It talks about Thompson's historiography, and his portrayal in the media after his retirement and death
    • It asks specific questions of certain reported events - like Great Northern's rebuilding - and where applicable, gives evidence to back up or refute the point
    • It gives a chronological overview of Thompson's locomotive work together with analysis of each year of the L.N.E.R. during his reign
    • It gives primary evidence including a full copy of the Cox/Stanier report, and availability figures
    • It gives secondary evidence and a full bibliography for others to read and examine at their leisure
    It is not:
    • an opinion piece of the merits or otherwise of conjugated valve gear
    • written to denigrate Sir Nigel Gresley or Peppercorn
    • written to canonize Edward Thompson
     
  14. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Onto other things. I was asked by a friend to come up with something that could give a rough idea of the length of service of individual classes on the LNER. So I have been experimenting with spreadsheets again...

    upload_2019-12-17_10-7-28.png

    upload_2019-12-17_10-8-2.png

    What this does is show us that the basic Gresley A1 and A3s were the longest lived of the LNER Pacifics. 40 years worth of work - longer if it was built as an A1 originally! The end dates for the Thompson Pacifics and Peppercorn Pacifics are interesting, insomuch that the Thompson and Peppercorn locos have similar ages.

    I have split the multi-valve A2s from the normal A2s for interests sake. I have done a similar thing with the roller bearing A1s.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
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  15. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Is the table sufficiently representative given that the Thompson and Peppercorn classes had working lives shortened by the mass influx of diesels whereby serviceable locomotives were withdrawn without reason as new diesel locomotives were introduced to service ? In the interests of fair comparison I would posit that without the diesel influx the Thompson and Peppercorn classes would have given many years more service given that they were developments of / improvements to the Gresley designs thus forming an LNER development lineage that would have paralleled the Churchward lineage of the GWR.
     
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  16. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    That's an obvious question, but I think the focus on years misses an interesting pattern about which classes survived to the end of steam, and which went earlier. That suggests something about where BR management saw best value in their fleet as steam was withdrawn.
     
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  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Hi Fred. It's a fair comment, but it's not commenting on the potential working lives, rather what they actually did. No other comment than that really.

    I think what is missing really is a column on the end showing the numbers of locos in each class - the trend I've always assumed is that the smaller classes go first. On this basis, the above table does sort of show that actually.
     
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  18. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    I suppose the LNER were on a different cycle from the GWR and LMS. The others would look better on a graph like this because Stanier got rid of so much and built new in the 30s, and Churchward/Collett similarly, though of course quite a few Castles and the Counties were post war. The LNER were more like the Southern in needing more new big engines post war? As Fred says, what ever else Thompson can be blamed for, surely failing to forecast the end of steam in 1945 is not one of them.
     
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  19. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Thinking of Sir Vincent Raven's interest in mainline electrification .... and how far it got, one has to regard such a strategic issue as properly the purview of a railway's board. Certainly, by Thompson's time, the national government too. The ramifications of any large scale move from steam went well beyond any CME's brief and would, of necessity, have involved many considerations of vital importance to several other industries, coal mining and distribution being the most obvious.
     
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  20. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    It might be interesting to include a shaded area at each end for the time periods when each class was under construction or being withdrawn.

    I do think that the end of steam makes it hard for such a chart to be very useful.
    There must be so many variables about when classes were withdrawn. One may speculate, too, that the capabilities of the replacement diesels would have affected which types became redundant at what date.

    The other complication is mid life upgrades/renewals. A rebuild can be so comprehensive that the life is greatly extended. One of the nominally oldest express locomotives on BR in the 60s must have been GWR 4037, built as a Star in 1910. Except she was rebuilt as a Castle in 1926, with extended frames, and new cab, cylinders, boiler etc, renamed in 1937 and rebuilt again in the 1950s with new frames, so its hard to believe that anything beyond the number plate survived from 1910...
     
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