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Preservation Loco 'Exchange' Comparisons

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by ruddingtonrsh56, Feb 1, 2021.

  1. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    A thought occurred to me earlier that I was rather keen to find the answer to - we've had the opportunity in preservation less commonly afforded to BR crews to have locomotives from different companies built for the same jobs haul the same trains over the same route, offering the equivalent of a preservation era exchange trials. And I was curious to hear what crews who had been given the opportunity to participate in these unofficial exchange trials thought about those locos. What, for example, did crews think were the best / their favourite (not necessarily the same thing) Class 5 4-6-0s? Or Class 4 suburban tanks? Or Class 7 express locos? Or Heavy Freight locos? And why? Particularly interested in thoughts from crews at railways like the NYMR or SVR or WSR where gradients and/or loads mean locos have to work more for a living, and one could suppose differences between designs may be made more apparent.
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    On a heritage railway there's no competition; a BR std Cl.4 tank will beat all the others hands down in terms of performance. Why? It's got virtually the same tractive effort as a class 5 but has the huge advantage of not having a tender to drag around so is at least a coach better than its competitors in haulage capacity. The smaller boiler is of no disadvantage at heritage line speeds. Comparing a Black 5 and a B1, I'm afraid my preference is for the former but more because it is an easier loco to drive. The Black 5's I've driven do vary. 45110 was the weakest, probably followed by 45407, 45428, 45212, 44871, 44806 with 44767 being the best. However, any such comparison would be coloured by where in the overhaul cycle it was, not to mention, cylinder bores and tyre sizes, which can easily amount to 10% variation in tractive effort between the extremes.
    It's hard to make any judgement about the larger locos as they are being held back and it tends to come down to personal preference.
     
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  3. Cosmo Bonsor

    Cosmo Bonsor Member

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    Hi,

    I’ve been on the footplate at the Bluebell for over 30 years now and have driven or fired all of the home fleet except 30064 USA and 27 P, haven’t driven 928 Schools either I was too ‘green’ and have been lucky enough to have a go on the many visitors over that time. My thoughts are these;

    I much prefer the Gresham and Craven Dreadnought brake ejector to any of the others for many reasons. I dislike the GWR and LMS type by comparison, just not as nice or intuitive to use.
    The ‘farting’ is annoying too. The Davies and Metcalfe brakes on BR Standards is very nice to use too, I like the steam brake as well.
    672 and 473 have the Stroudley air brake valve which is noisy in use which means other types of brake valve take a bit of getting used to, ie over braking.
    GWR stuff seems really solidly built so you feel comfortable driving them assertively. 57XX especially. When driving 9017 under instruction I was told ‘You’ve got to use second valve, you might as well use all of it.’
    LMS engines that I have been on have very short gauge glasses which is daunting at first but the water doesn’t go up and down like SECR engines do.
    The cab of GWR Prairies is horribly cramped and the forward visibility on the 0-6-2 was quite poor.
    Buffering up I did by feel.
    GWR regulators are proportioned nicely, good control at low speeds eg buffering. Just as well!
    I completely failed to get a go on LNER visitors, more’s the pity.

    Performance wise they’ve all been pretty good, the BR/Ivatt Class 2’s lack the low down punch of 473 or 592. In preservation we mostly have the good stuff.
    Steve is right about the Std 4 tank, you would take it every time if it was your day job.
    I can recall a few shockers that I won’t name, it’s hard to pick a favourite when you have Ashford/Longhedge products, but I really enjoyed firing Manning Wardle ‘Sir Berkley’, it felt a bit odd going through the tunnel without a cab roof.
    I suppose the 57XX is up there on performance, once you’ve oiled the bloomin’ thing. I can see why they are well regarded.
    Maybe 1450 in Auto train mode, that was fun to fire too.

    If any enginemen on here ever get a chance to sample an SECR engine, take it. They really are very nice indeed.
    Just my view.
     
  4. Cartman

    Cartman Member

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    Can't comnent, I've only ever driven and fired one loco, Black 5 45337. It seemed decent enough, a beginner like me was able to keep 225 pressure up
     
  5. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    @Cosmo Bonsor come on, what were the real shockers?
     
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  6. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I only looked at performance in my first post. However, Cosmo Bonser has has given an interesting personal view on other aspects of crewing of locos so I thought it worth expanding on my thoughts in similar vein. Locos used on the NYMR are generally of the bigger variety but I do have considerable experience of smaller locos at Middleton and elsewhere. Like Cosmo, Sir Berkeley is a delight to drive and the Manning Wardle regulator is great; none of this first and second valve, just a rotating disc which is easy to operate and responsive. I do find industrial locos generally to be pleasant to fire and drive as long as you are prepared for a somewhat rougher ride. In terms of small 'main line' locos, I've had the privilege to drive L&R Pug 51218, which I found to be enjoyable once I had got used to the back to front regulator and push pull steam brake. Another joy to drive is Sentinel 68153 which is totally different to a conventional loco. It has the benefit of a foot pedal which can be used to control steam once the main regulator valve is opened. This makes shunting very easy and it is very much like controlling a car usng the clutch pedal.
    Turning to the bigger main line locos, I have to admit that the GWR regulator is very responsive and easy to control, probably due to being in the smokebox and having the benefit of lubrication. Other loco regulators are generally much of a muchness. I prefer the push pull operation as found on the Standards and Bulleids to the more conventional 90° rotating ones found on most locos. Screw reversers can be very variable. If you put aside stiffness, which is perhaps more due to how tight the nut is on the leadscrew, I am a fan of the bacon slicers on the standards and Bulleids. I don't like the LNER reversers which tend to be fairly coarse, and especially on the Gresley designs which are the wrong way round when you operate them. In other words, you turn them anti-clockwise to put them into fore gear and, if you are normally used to other locos, it is to easy to accidentally turn the wheel the wrong way.
    I'm not a fan of three cylinder locos, not only because they are a pain to oil up but because they do tend to stick on centres so reversing to get going is a more frequent occurrence. Once on the move, though, they are OK. Speaking of oiling up, GWR locos are pretty awful in this respect. I've only had to do this on two cylinder ones; I dread to think what the four cylinder varieties are like. Prepping a standard is simplicity in itself in comparison.
    When it comes to brakes, again the standards are as good as you can get with a good graduable steam brake and a very controllable vacuum brake valve. I prefer steam braked locos. I'm well used to the LMS Deeley brake and have learnt to control it, both light engine and on a train. I don't hold the handle in the palm of my hand but have it between finger and thumb with the palm of my hand on the spindle so you can easily sense when it is operating. I'm not a fan of the steam brake fitted to the Bulleids, which only operate on the loco and not the tender, which is vac only; even less the GWR brake, with one handle to apply it and another to take it off, generally in a position that makes it hard to operate and lean out. The vacuum cylinder shouldn't leak off but in my experience it usually does. Quite quickly.
    The LNER K1 & K4 are good machines well up to the job. I prefer the K1 to the K4. I'm not a fan of the single front dampers found on most LNER designed locos. The NER rusty coupling locos (65894 & 63395) are good solid performers, the Q6, especially so. It is pure brute force with no frills, and the Q7, more so. Too much gubbins between the frames makes that a pain to oil up, though.
    I've not mentioned injectors yet. Again the standard ones, which are effectively GWR/Davies & Metcalfe are good and generally reliable, the LMS Gresham & Craven based ones less so. I prefer live steam to exhaust steam injectors. I like the Monitor injectors but I've had the odd worrying moment with these, as well.
    Outside the standards, I think that my favourite loco is the S.R. S15 class, at least the Maunsell version. 825 makes a Black 5 appear to be a poor steamer in comparison and it will do anything you ask of it. As long as it has got a storm sheet bad weather isn't a problem.
    As I've already said, though, A standard Cl.4 tank is my personal favourite. It is a joy to prepare; 20 minutes is sufficient, and it is a joy to drive. It is one loco that you can sit comfortably and drive in reverse without having to twist your body. Firing is easy, as well, and it is just about possible to fire it sitting down. They only thing the designers got wrong was the shovelling plate, or lack of it, which means you end up with coal all over the footplate when the bunker is full.
    At the other extreme from the standards is the LNWR Super D. I've written about this before so let's just say that driving it is 'interesting'.
     
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  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    That's probably an unfair ask!

    Tom
     
  8. Cartman

    Cartman Member

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    Probably the usual suspects, LNWR super D, WD 2-8-0 and Derby 4
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My own take, naturally enough from the other side of the cab to @Steve and @Cosmo Bonsor, and with less breadth of experience.

    I'd agree with the general feeling about the 80xxx tank. On our line, it will cope easily with 200+ tons up sustained gradients of 1 in 75/55; yet is also very easy to control on a lightweight train. That is in contrast to the S15, which goes better the more you hang behind it. 6 or 7 coaches (or even more) and it is very free steaming. Try it on a Wealden Rambler with only four and it can be a real handful. It seems to need to steam hard in order to steam at all - it is a very easy engine to over fire in that regard (i.e. it won't steam when you want it, so you add too much coal, and then it all does its worst on you when you stop). It probably doesn't help either that the blower valve is very much a "driver's blower", hidden round the front of the reverser. The S15 also has hand-operated sanders on the fireman's side and though it is rare to need to them, when you do use them, you then end up away from firing. That can sometimes give you an "interesting" trip heading north if the driver wants sand coming out of Horsted Keynes, depending what state of fire you had when you left.

    The injectors on the S15 are also a bit tiring to use: the water valves tend to be a bit stiff, and it is a tall stretch to the steam valves high in the cab roof. They do work well once on though. It is also a very heavy engine to prep first thing: a long firebox, small firehole door and all the old fire has to come out on the end of a ten-foot long slice. All in all it is a bit agricultural, but then you are talking about an engine basically designed during World War I; there would be something very wrong if a BR Standard wasn't a lot more user friendly. What the S15 is unparalleled for, amongst locos I have been on, is walking away with any load you put behind it. But you do feel tired after spending all day on it.

    The mid-sized Chatham engines are a joy to work on, once you get used to the quirks. The fire is very responsive to both damper and door position. The three golden rules I have are (1) don't let the pressure go above 160psi (if they blow off, particularly if they blow off hard, they can sometimes pick the water up) (2) don't let the pressure go below 140psi while on the run (things go pear shaped very quickly with a vicious cycle of lower pressure = more water consumption = more injector = lower pressure ...) and (3) develop a sixth (and possibly seventh, and eighth ...) sense about water level. We've discussed that many times before. Suffice to say, when going forward, the real water level is always well below what you see, so most of the time you run with it out of sight at the top to ensure you have any at all on a switchback summit; and the regulator generally beats the injector. In a way that makes life easy, since you can tend to put the injector on and leave it - none of the on again, off again fiddling round you had to do on Fenchurch.

    A lot of our crews seemed to really like Birch Grove, but I can't say I really had enough practice to really feel I understood the engine. Nice roomy cab though.

    Visiting engines are somewhat difficult to judge, because you have so little time on them. Three stick in my mind for different reasons. Firstly Flying Scotsman - something that surprised me was the damper, which had only three positions (shut / half /open). It felt like a very big engine, in a way that say a rebuilt Bulleid Pacific didn't - I think the cab ergonomics of a Bulleid were better (higher floor and better view), but again you are comparing two engines designed about 25 years apart. Secondly the Beattie Well Tank - well, that was an interesting day! I think the industrial archaeology of that loco would be fascinating. The worst feature (apart from an odd firing position, with feet placed either side of the splasher which intruded into the cab, and a cab floor that was higher inside than outside the wheels) was a more or less useless fireman's side injector, situated under the frames at the front and controlled via a twenty foot long iron bar. I'd bet a dime a dozen that that is a relic of the two position changeover valve when the locomotive was equipped with crosshead-operated feed pumps, but what was suitable for an on / off valve was decidedly unsuitable for trying to do fine trimming of an injector that was a bit temperamental anyway and which you couldn't see or even really hear. The old engine men on the Bodmin and Wadebridge probably got used to it, though I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't in any case a degree of starting off with a full boiler, going a couple of miles and then stopping to refill when stationary. If you sorted out that injector though, it could have been a really lovely thing; lots of boiler power but very controllable. Plus as fireman you did all the braking when light engine (you had both the handbrake and steam brake controls on your side). I didn't ever oil it up, but I can imagine that being a novel challenge: the space between the frames that would normally be valve gear was occupied by the well tank, with the valve gear tightly tucked between the edge of the tank and the inside of the frame

    Best till last though: the LNWR coal tank. Not because it was easy but because it was wonderful. It had a very Victorian style of low boiler pressure and big cylinders. (I think about 140 or 150psi). The cab floor was sunken, so you were always stepping up and down to fire. The injectors were hidden under the floor and hard to hear. But you really felt like you were on a properly old engine. Some old engines don't actually feel so, but the Coal Tank really had that feel. Interestingly, the minders from the KWVR who came with it recommended a firing practice I'd not come across before, of "diamonds and squares": fire four to each corner; then four to the sides, then four to the corners again and so on. (Most of our locos seem to like wedge shaped fires, thick at the back and thin at the front). So I fired it diamonds and squares and it was brilliant, still with 125 on the clock at West Hoathly on an unfamiliar engine from a cold start at Horsted Keynes. And then I read some mid-Victorian description of firing on the very early coal-fired fireboxes, and it recommended exactly they same technique ... That felt like a real connection to times a century and a half ago.

    Tom
     
  10. Cosmo Bonsor

    Cosmo Bonsor Member

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    I'll give you a safe answer.
    I have been lucky enough to fire and drive on the Bluebell's twin railway, Stoomtram Hoorn Medemblick.
    I went with Fenchurch and have been many times since.
    I had a day out on the Belgian industrial loco No.5
    It has a shiny steel cab floor and the seat was too high for me to sit on and have a break from the pounding of my ankle joints. 40 kilometres is a very long way on one of those.
    I might just add that the engine was in immaculate condition cosmetically and mechanically as are all their engines.
    It just wasn't designed for that sort of work.
    The tram engines are lovely. I went on no.8 ‘Ooievaar’ (Stork) with the then General Manager Jaap Nieweg . Watching Joy gear whizz round a foot or so from your toes is er, interesting. I'd still love a go on No. 26 Bosboom.
    That's it for my confession!
     
  11. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Well-Known Member

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    I well remember one comment from a KWVR driver when the Coal Tank was first used on the line "It's a right humpty-backed bugger".

    Richard. :)
     
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  12. Andy B

    Andy B Member

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    I think anybody that’s had a go on 41708 would not say a bad thing about it. Okay the drivers side is a bit more fiddly, but like what has been said in other posts, the older engines really give you a sense of fun and you get off with a big smile on your face. Iirc 150psi Pressure and one front damper but steaming was fantastic . Very much looking forward to seeing this run again. Everybody has talked about ease of operation and preparation, what do people think about ride quality. In my opinion, the m7 bunker first wins hands down whilst for large engines, the 9f is sublime - surprisingly so for its size.
     
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  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    On ride quality, the H class is very good - another 0-4-4T - as is 80151. "Camelot" (BR Std 5) I find a bit harsh; I wonder if that is related to having roller bearing axle boxes rather than plain ones?

    Another factor for heritage line use is what locos are like going backwards. From a driving point of view, Camelot is a pain going backwards because of the big tender: the Maunsell engines are better in that regard.

    Tom
     
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  14. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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  15. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Clive Groom doesnt think much of the ride on roller bearing loco's either so yes, I think it is the bearings

    Oh & why didnt Riddles just build 999 Standard 4 tanks and have done with it
     
  16. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Iron ore to Consett?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Before my time I’m afraid, as was the Adams radial tank. They are the two locos we have that I would really like at some point to try.

    Tom
     
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  18. Hurricane

    Hurricane Member

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    One of the engines that I have never heard a bad thing said about is the Ivatt class 2 tanks, they are almost a standard in terms of ease of prep etc....definitely an engineman's engine and one you rarely have a bad day on!
     
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  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    No experience of driving, or firing, on anything other than a one off on the GCR ten years ago, and what I have gleaned from observation in my time at the Bluebell, A1 Trust and with MNLPS, but a standard 2MT tender engine like 78019 has a remarkable amount of grunt and reliable steaming and deserves an honourable mention. 78019 in particular is one of my personal favourite locomotives, purely from seeing the ease of setup, running and cleaning. Most standards are similarly good, so I agree entirely with the love for the 4MT tank locomotive.

    The problem with comparisons is that we forget the historical contexts of the different designers, at different times, with different operating requirements, and by and large most comparisons are meaningless as we all have very different operations in the heritage railway world anyway. What suits us with 35028 Clan Line is not going to be what someone is looking for on the IOWSR or the GCR, or the Talyllyn, or whatever. It's far too simple to try and pigeon hole ideas about the best kind of steam locomotive when the reality is no one situation is the same, and no one answer the same from anyone.
     
  20. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    And I'm one of very many who'd really like to see you (or indeed, anyone) driving the old beauty! :)

    Just a thought on 'exchange trials' .... expensive (and potentially awkward) to arrange, but as long as no-one expects a J15 to outperform a Duchess with 10 up Freshfield bank, it could serve our movement well. I could easily envisage some considerable benefits all round and I'm not just thinking of our photographic brethren!

    Query: Would a 9F actually fit on the Foxfield's ski slope? :Bag:
     

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