Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by AndrewT, Jul 17, 2012.
Yes, Tuesdays and Thursdays is where they go to!
All about comparisons really. Merddin is extremely cramped compared to the DLG. The large cab cut outs are definitely beneficial on a warm day, but then ME is quite snug on a cool October day. It is definitely a matter of perspective as well - having been used to them now for too many years, I don't find them cramped, but people look in to them a bit horrified occasionally to see how much room there isn't. On a warm day you can watch your fireman turning like he is on a rotisserie!
The original Meyer flavour yes, but a Kitson-Meyer avoids that by having the firebox between the bogies, as on a Fairlie or a Garratt. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_locomotive . I don't know how much fatter than a Fairlie's the boiler could be to still fit within the FR's loading gauge, but with a water tank combined with the bunker you could have smaller side tanks or even dispense with side tanks entirely. I am certainly not saying "I think Boston Lodge should immediately start building a batch of Kitson-Meyers" but I am wondering about the pros and cons, particularly the single boiler instead of the Fairlies' double boilers; and, come to that, about the pros and cons of a Garratt built to the same loading gauge.
The Double Engines also have the advantage that because the fireboxes are located in the middle of the loco, going over the summit behind the power station means little to no effect on the water level over them. The Lyd on the other hand, with a long thin boiler, can be... interesting.
Something similar to what you mention was proposed by the person who started building Lyd. It was a solution looking for a problem that didn't exist.
ME & DLG are rated at 12 coaches over the FR, the Dave especially is only really limited by loop length. The general rule is that the WHR load for an FR engine is half the FR load rating, to account for the much steeper gradients. The WHR rolling stock is also heavier.
If I were building a new loco for the FR, specified to meet current and future needs, I'd build a Double Engine. Proven machines that work well, are reliable, fit the loading gauge and are practically tailored for the needs of the line. Strangely enough, thats exactly what is happening with the JSII. If we can get to the point where out of the 5 NGG16s on the WHR 3 are available at any one time, one in light maintenance and one in heavy overhaul, plus the NG15 available as required (which is probably the loco I'm most looking forward to), then motive power availability across both lines will be fine. It should be noted that even with the Covid service the F&WHR put out more locos on a daily basis in service than some railways have working on gala days, and as Covid has proven the variety within the fleet has been a major advantage with regard to flexibility and matching the locos used to the requirements of the service.
The problem is you don't have a lot of width and height to work with. Your overall length is going to be quite constrained especially if you make the loco wide too. To get a decent amount of headroom your cab will have to sit in a well between the firebox and the rear bogie. This makes the engine quite long. Your big fat boiler will take up most of the cab so forward visibility will be poor. The front half with this huge boiler will be very heavy so will need more wheels to keep the axle weight down. Meanwhile your rear bogie is going to end up light on its feet as the fuel and water level drops.
So it's not easy. There are no perfect solutions. It could end up being a more complex and cumbersome arrangement than a Double Engine.
A double Fairlie also has the advantage of equal steam passages at each end. Combined with the even weight distribution and twin regulators this makes for a very smooth riding, powerful and controllable locomotive for such a restricted loading gauge. Very much "horses for courses".
Tim is right; a Kitson-Meyer with the firebox between the bogies puts a lot of weight on the front bogie and not enough on the back one, especially when the tanks and bunker are empty. Some Kitson-Meyers had the front bogie pushed well forward, partly to try to equalise the weights, and the extreme example of this is the so-called modified Fairlie, that also meant the reduction of adhesion as supplies are used up roughly equalised between the bogies. Also as Tim says, this greatly increases the length of the whole thing, and within the Ffestiniog loading gauge the cab will also have to be within the well between the bogies (same with a Ffestiniog loading gauge Garrett). The single Fairlie is not a perfect solutions, but at least gets round the weight balance problem.
It seems to me that to cover motive power well and reliably three 21st century Double Fairlies with interchangeable boilers and power bogies would be a possible development. Four of them would be overly many but a spare boiler and a power bogie or two would be comfortable to have wether there are two or three recent locos - probably especially if there are two.
How many could the Dave probably manage if there were to be any loop extension - 14?
The double Fairlies are not fitted with sanders and I assume that the adhesive weight combined with two regulators render them unnecessary? The NGG16s on the other hand needed steam sanders fitting.
For those with first-hand F & WHR footplate experience, given a load of (say) 12 FR cars to start on a wet, greasy rail on a 1 in 50 ruling gradient (FR equivalent), which would you prefer - a double Fairlie or an NGG16 Garratt?
Festipedia has the axle load of an NGG16 at 6.2 tons and DLG at 6.75 tons.
A double fairlie every time... Its nowhere near as clear cut as it once was since the NGGG16s were modified from gravity to steam sanders but IMHO the difference is clear. You will note the number of videos on line of garratts struggling on the big hill and a lack of equivalent recordings of fairlies on the FR. Its not too surprising really. By design, the NGG16s are all about power (roughly twice DLG) on a (comparative) light axle load. And yes that extra regulator on DLG helps. It is unusual for both ends to slip at once and the better control allows you to deal with the end that has let go without interrupting traction on the one that has maintained grip.
With respect to Garnedd - The idea of opening up the tunnel has been advanced a few times over the years that I have been involved with the railway. I dont have any direct knowledge, but I have been told that the lump of Wales that the tunnel passes through is badly fractured. As a result the outcrop of rock that forms the tunnel is acting as a buttress and holding back a large part of the hillside. Taking that away will potentially impact the stability of the surrounding area - and one argument against any changes is that no-one is yet brave enough to find out for sure...
The arguments between the proponents of many small vs few long trains in the timetable goes back many just as many years. I can recall a high summer season in (I think) the early nineties when there where trains out of Port on about a 20 minute frequency. As a down train ran in a loco was waiting in the yard that was straight on the front and away again. The incoming loco was serviced and waited for the arrival of the next down train. The loco and crew needs were extreme. It was great fun to work - a gala every day for 6 weeks - but not sustainable and it was no surprise that the following year, that pattern was not repeated. On the other hand, if you run fewer longer trains, you are pretty much ensuring a double fairlie motive power requirement all year. As others have said, in days of yore, they only came out to play at high season. Not only where they not economical outside of that period but at the time that were mechanically fragile. If you put too high a mileage on them they had a distressing tendency to break. It is greatly to many peoples credit that this is no longer the case.
There is really no need for a Kitson-Meyer or anything equally exotic. A DLG (or ME or Square) can pull everything that the railway infrastructure can support and remains a USP for the line. Until the pendulum swings back in favour of more lighter trains, with enough fairlies of sufficient reliability available, new alternative varieties move into WIBN territory. Interesting to be sure but not really necessary.
Ideally there will be four - ME, EoM, DLG & JSII.
The boiler that was built for JSII should fit in the same space as a Hunslet boiler, and incorporates the best bits of both the Hunslet and DLG boilers. DLG will remain a one-off, the boiler has different dimensions. If the money could be raised in an ideal world, a new pair of bogies and 3 new boilers (one each for ME & EoM and a spare) would be great. Anyone with a spare £750k for this to happen?
Twenty/thirty minute service was a feature of the eighties. I think it had gone when Dduallt stopped being a passing place so mid to late 80s(?) It needed 4 steam and a diesel. As it was generally that you could limit double fairlie turns to two trips while everything else would do three. I think the A and B sets must have done 4 trips a day(?)
It also required some very slick shunting at Port if you had EoM taking over from Prince, so shunt 5 onto a six coach train, followed by Prince taking over from Alco so shunt off 3, taking over from Linda shunt 1 on etc etc
It worked OK apart from when someone dumped the Alco over the port headshunt.
I have a time table from 1980 with four sets running so 5 in steam and that was when the line wasn't loco rich. I am not sure how they held that together with how ropey the Alco was in the late 70s.
I got the impression that it put the rolling stock under a lot of pressure because there was virtually now down time. I might be imagining it but I think some carriage exams were done in the pit at Port because there wasn't time to trip them to BL.
I have the impression that there were not so many volunteer drivers in the 80s and alot of footplate work was done by staff. Certain locos had regular drivers - Ev on Earl, even Upnor seemed to have a regular driver. I wonder how much of it was driven by a decline in volunteer numbers after Blaenau had been reached. The very regular service needed more guards, signallers, and I think it was becoming harder to find people to do those roles and that was putting pressure on the staff.
I think the shift was about fuel and staff costs. I think it was when David Pollock was GM. It also made planning easier, less shunting of stock except to strengthen trains, fewer crews needed, Minffordd and TyB didn't need signallers. Easier to make up time if time was lost if you have a 40 minute and not 20 minute lay over or hour plus if only two sets were running,
It made a lot of sense at the time.
In the 90s there were some attempts to appeal to the short haul market with the Minffordd shuttles, and even earlier on Saturdays there was a vintage service to TyB maybe mid 80s when the coaches were in red and Prince was the first loco to be painted a colour other than green.
For anyone interested 1980 24-30 May, 12 July - 31st Aug
14 departures from Port a day
Turn around time in Port was 10 minutes.
Weekend service was 3 sets, hourly service 9-16.00 plus a 19.00 service. 4 locos in steam. 16 minute turn around. May to Sept it was 10-16.00 hourly with 4 locos in steam.
By comparison - Talyllyn was 4 sets @35 mins. Llanberis was 3 sets at 30 and 15 minute intervals.
On the flipside - in 1980 - no services bar the odd weekend in Nov -Feb. Season pretty much started with Easter and ended with Oct half term.
Paul Lewin concerned about future use of steam on FR/WHR, presumably other forms of traction could still be used.
Environment: Fear for future of north Wales steam trains if coal banned
I've said it before and I'll say it again ..... torrified biofuel pellets. Inherently carbon-neutral and would be a fantastic excuse reason to break through at Corris, find a way round at Garneddwen and Aberllefenni, finally upgrade the Ratgoed Tramway to carry some regular freight to the Corris again, for direct rail deliveries to the CR, VoR, TR, FR, FfR/WHR, WHHR (and with rather more effort up front, the W&L) by rail (and the Bala Lake by trebuchet!). The lumpier stuff needed for SG locos suggests plant(s) elsewhere, closer to the point of consumption.
OK, so the NG rail freight thing (and the trebuchet) might be wishful thinking, but the pellets (or 'briquettes', if you prefer) aren't.
●●The Serious Bit●● Various grades and sizes of pellet are readily available as a replacement for domestic coal and wood burners. Extensive trails for steam loco use have already been carried out (see https://csrail.org/ for one). This process, with output easily tailored to application specific needs, is as well suited to "cottage industry" production as large scale and would provide some much needed rural employment, plus long term, sustainable income for commercial forestry plantations.
**HERESY ALERT** .... or the PB&SSR 'General Undertaking' could be revived and expanded. The steam-less (since 1929) 3ft gauge Ferrocarril de Sóller (similar gradients to the PB&SSR) does OK on it's very scenic trip through the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. I know it does, I've seen it for myself. TBH, although the PB&SSR, VoR and (more of an observation at the TRPS's founding meeting in 1950) the TR have toyed with the notion of electric operation, the first named actually ordering (but never paying for or taking delivery of) electric locos. Cearly that's going to be a subject which raises strong feelings, but I feel it'd be negligent not to broach the subject at all.
The WEST Highland Railway seems to have been extended - according to the BBC report, it now meets the FR at Harbour Station! Perhaps that explains the midges at TyB...
Reading through the CSR website I note that they don't provide a direct comparison between their torrified pellets and coal suitable for steam locos (their table simply lists 'coal' and a range of energy contained within), and the torrified pellets don't yet match the full range of what coal can give. If they can refine the process to give a good match to a good steam coal (high amounts of energy with minimal volatiles) then it might well be the answer. The volatiles % at the moment is much higher than coal, which would seem to indicate it will burn faster and in turn require more biofuel to be shovelled in. That in turn has the effect of potentially limiting steaming rates - fine on somewhere with low duty cycles, but not good for the F&WHR where for example even on a good Welsh steam coal with minimal volatiles and high amounts of energy per pound the smaller engines really are operating on the limits of what they can do on coal, for significant amounts of time.
Personally, I'd like to see oil firing return. It's easier to store, easier to handle, doesn't leave piles of ash everywhere, doesn't clinker, doesn't need a spark arrester and oil will be readily available for much longer than coal - long enough that hopefully a decent biofuel that can give as much as, or even more energy than fossil fuels will be developed to replace it.
There has been a recent trial on the Bure Valley of biofuel replacements for coal
The Advanced Steam Traction Trust is taking a strong interest in testing torrified pellets.
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