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GWR 111 "The Great Bear" and Surrounding Controversies

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Osmium, Oct 24, 2021.

  1. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    30K per year for The Great Bear is pretty good given her limiting factors in terms of track.
     
  2. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    That was definitely the aim, but I haven't researched how much they succeeded. It would be interesting to plot the utilisation of a class over its lifespan. The very minimal figures I found didn't seem to indicate a vast difference between the Stars and Castles, but as the majority of their working lives overlapped you'd probably need a better analysis to see anything. And having those pesky world wars to complicate the analysis doesn't help either.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
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  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    As has been said, context is key. When GJC took the helm, the GW was just a decade out from the engineering dead end which the broad gauge had become. That event accelerated concentration of loco construction at Swindon (the venerable BG works), a process largely completed between the retirement of Armstrong from Wolverhampton and Churchward's accession five years later.

    Other significant factors existed. Adoption of corridor stock, following it's first UK appearence around a decade earlier, meant significantly heavier trains. Some of the prestigious services which first enjoyed the most modern stock were on lines where fierce (and well publicised) competition from the LNW and LSW existed.

    IMO No.111 has to be seen in the wider context of support from on high for Churchward's comprehensive (and doubtless costly) programme of experiments, concerning which you have to suppose CMEs elsewhere would have given their eye teeth for.
     
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  4. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    The difficulty I suppose is that with only one loco it is possibly going to be hard to find sufficient records to draw a conclusion from
     
  5. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    If the 22 ton proposal was just for new construction, either bridges on new routes or replacements for worn-out bridges, the marginal cost over 20 tons wouldn't have been much, so could have made sense, even if there was no expectation of taking advantage of it for some years. What about the story of the Civil Engineer saying that bridges would need to be strengthened for the Kings, the Board asking how many bridges, and the CE coming back next time and saying "Two"? Is that story supported by evidence? It could have been true if bridges had been gradually replaced over the previous 20-odd years.
     
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  6. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Yes, to the best of my knowledge its true. They had adopted 22 tons for new and reconstructed bridges about 1904. I haven't yet inspected the board minute personally, but the tale is in books by Cook and Sir Felix Pole. Cook had a copy of Pole's book, but of course he was also there are the time.
     
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  7. SomeWeeb

    SomeWeeb New Member

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    I could make a tent under the boiler and still have room. That gap is HUGE.
     
  8. Osmium

    Osmium New Member

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    I can only imagine your reaction to the appearance of many continental locomotives.
     
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  9. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    I did draw it quickly! The boiler is the same pitch as it was on the Bear. Did you notice the smoke box sadde floating on thin air? The firebox/4th driver/splasher/footplate relationship is all wrong too!
    I did a sketch a while back of a fictitious reboilered Bear which is here, https://www.devboats.co.uk/gwdrawings/fictitious/462-111bear-altboiler.jpg
    and all I did was grab the top of that, paste it onto a 47 chassis from the drawing in my book, and lengthen the 47 footpate to suit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
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  10. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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  11. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Well-Known Member

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    Looks like the driver would need to be stood on the tender fall plate too! The cab on 111 was always very much an afterthought though!

    Richard.
     
  12. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Jimc that conjecture ought to be avoided, and I am guilty of this in one of my above posts, except with the proviso that there are no primary source documents that have survived as to why it was built. One is then only left with conjecture

    (The original drawings survive, and I would regard same as a primary source set of documents).

    We can then try and piece together a lot of circumstantial evidence that is secondary evidence and hearsay and in lots of the pieces of the jigsaw is second hand hearsay. What is remarkable is the paucity of the primary source evidence. As Jim dislikes speculation I won't speculate why that should be except I agree with him on one point namely Churchward's paper on boilers the year before.

    Often neglected is the links prominent model engineers of the era had with personalities such as Sir Aubrey Brocklebank. Jim Crebbin of the Bank of England, and J N Maskelyne. This is worth exploring. I have a copy of a 2 page article from Model Railway News of February 1947 on The Great Bear with one of his beautiful drawings. One aspect of this article is how JNM stated the radial pony truck would be ok for months on end, then erratically cause problems day after day. He suggested the radial truck had too short a radius, and though he didn't mention this, it was a standard part off was it a 31xx class? (I wouldn't myself attach much weight to loco design matters from JNM's pen, but it is nevertheless something to be thrown into the debate).
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  13. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Oh, speculation in a medium like this is fun: after all its really electronic pub conversation. And especially if its clearly and unmistakably labelled as that. But speculation in a more formal setting, especially when only one version is presented, is decidedly risky. Especially these days when someone may cite another's speculation as fact in a Wikipedia article...
     
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  14. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Isn't that one design feature we can be pretty confident about? Holcroft tells us his braking scheme was dropped because the back of the locomotive was coming out too heavy - doesn't the tiny cab and consequent shorter frames look exactly like a desperate attempt to save weight?
     
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  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    There are Wikipedia pages and there are Wikipedia pages. The majortiy need to be taken with large pinch of salt, but can at least provide a basis for hunting down info elsewhere. Some are reminiscent of the Hitchhikers Guide's entry on tbe Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal ("they make a good meal for visiting tourists" should have read "they make a good meal of visiting tourists"), a few are outright mischievous or malicious but ..... when you happen across a properly peer reviewed (and obviously cared for) page, such as Festipedia, it shows just what it can and should be.

    ..... and I could cheerfully strangle those smartarses who run that damned 'citation needed' bot at the most inappropriate points .... if you know something is wrong, or want proof, edit it, or go find it yourself and then edit it, you sad, smug, sanctimonious prats (or is that just me?). If we have to have "bots", how about something useful which, say, removes (or at least identifies) dead links after the 3rd, 5th or whatever failed connection? .... and another to ensure anyone providing 'circular links' gets one warning before losing editing rights for a month (1st offence) and shot into space if they didn't get the message the first time!
     
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  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    They should have just used the same scales Collett used to weigh the Kings!

    Tom
     
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  17. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Well-Known Member

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    Or fit on turntables
     
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  18. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Well, that's interesting too, because of the tender... I was surprised, when I just checked it, to see that according to drawings in Russell (always be careful with weight diags) the Bear's 8 wheel tender is only six inches longer than a standard one. I always assumed it was much longer. The extra wheels add a foot to total wheelbase though.
     
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  19. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

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    The Great Bear may be compared with the two 4-6-4s designed by du Bouquet for the Nord Rly in France. When built in 1911, these were possibly the most powerful express engines in Europe. They certainly recorded high power on test, but like the Great Bear were handicapped by route restrictions (axle-load and probably turntable length) and achieved only low mileages. Du Bouquet died shortly after their completion; his successor as Nord CME felt that the engines were over-large and introduced a light narrow-firebox Pacific instead.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nord_3.1101_and_3.1102
     
  20. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    I don't ever think The Bear had a deliberately small rear end on the loco as in cab length and footplate. I don't recall Gresley, Stanier, Bulleid, or Riddles having similar problems with their Pacifics.
     

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