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Steam locos: Do you like to see them running Shiny or Dirty ?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by toplight, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    An massive part of your education as a prospective loco man though - it's where you start to learn to be around locomotives safely; learn the arrangement and names of components; develop observation skills through eyes and ears; start to pick up the "rhythm" of preparation etc. All important skills.

    Tom
     
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  2. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    I think this is a typical NP debate in which polarisation quickly occurs and then it will go round in circles until everyone gets bored.

    My hands on experience is with classic and vintage motorcycles. I have little time for those that are over restored to a state that they were never in even when fresh from the factory. I see no point in restoring a bike and then only ever taking it to shows in a van. I have a couple of bikes that since new, 80 or 90 years ago, have only ever been cleaned. The paint is worn through in places and the rust is kept at bay with an oily rag but mechanically they are in excellent condition. I ride them often and hard. I have another that was restored with an expensive paint job a few years ago. It will be treated the same way. Cleaned, maintained and ridden hard. If I were to live long enough, it would end up looking like the others. Regular cleaning also enables minor faults to be spotted and rectified before leading to a possible failure. However, spending hours with the chrome cleaner is not for me.

    I would have the same approach to locomotives. Clean them, but no point in being obsessive, maintain them as well as possible, but most importantly, run them in the way that was intended.
     
  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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  4. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member Friend

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    There was a referencein an earlier post to ex works condition. AFASIK works still took pride in turning out freshly painted locos, with lining where appropriate.

    One argument made for construcying dedicated diesel depots was that you could not maintain the new diesels in the archaic conditions of a steam shed. I would argue that you should not maintain steam locos in the archaic conditions of many steam sheds. That they were maintained in those conditions says a lot about the skills of the fitting staff and crews. Steam locos optically aligned with the correct clearances are precision engineering and should be treated as such

    I am old enough to remember the filthy days when the only clean item on a loco was the number on the cabside. That was an era not to be proud of
     
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  5. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    No, not my Mclaren - I've got an Aveling. But it is perhaps rather narrow minded for someone to state "those who like locos dirty have had no input, financial or physical, towards the restoration' overhaul and ongoing upkeep of these locos", especially where the given example is a road roller. The overwhelming vast majority of road steam vehicles in this country are owned, financed, overhauled, prepared and driven by their owner, possibly assisted by one or two close friends. It will look how it does because that's the owner's choice - you know, the person who has total financial responsibility for it, does all the prep and maintenance on it....

    If the cap fits then feel free to wear it, but I maintain that it's a fool who exclusively equates a shiny engine with someone who has "pride in their work". You, your mates and all the volunteers you can muster can attack that Mclaren, and various other cosmetically unrestored engines with as much degreaser, autoglym, Peek polish or what ever, and by the time you've finished that Mclaren would still look the same on the video as it does now. You could totally take it apart, soak all the bits in degreaser, remove all the decades of grime and put it back together again and it will still look the same in the photos and to the average onlooker. If you own a loco and wish to keep it spotlessly clean and just like new, then that's your choice and I have nothing against that (and have and will continue to help clean other people's engines to the highest order if that is their desire), but it is narrowminded to make accusations that those who prefer things otherwise don't own stuff themselves, or have no financial interest in engines, or don't maintain engines, or don't have pride in what they do etc. etc.

    You will have no doubt recognised that I've kept saying that there's nothing to prevent a 'tatty' engine that isn't religiously polished daily from having its motion and important parts kept clean and in good order. The shiniest engine in the world can have a footplate where you're kicking around coal dust and dropped lumps, or an 'unkempt' engine can have a footplate swept clean with handles free from greasy smears - the two are unrelated to the general engine appearance, the same as oily stains round a barrel doesn't reveal whether or not bushes and pins are clear of grit.

    Mr Williams is owner of a number of engines, including one in original unrestored cosmetic condition, yet he then went out and bought one of the shiniest, cleanest, most polished and spotless showman's road locomotives that is currently operational. Over the last decade he's managed to keep both looking just the same - the "pride of the job" with the aggy is in keeping it operational in the unrestored condition. What paint you do see is original and over 100 years old - that can never be replaced or replicated. On the locomotive the "pride of the job" is keeping it spotlessly clean. The owner has pride in both their engines and their work on them, but the two engines look very different.

    Mr. Harvey-Bathhurst once owned quite a collection of engines, including road loco "Atlas". He's scaled back his collection in more recent years, including selling on the road loco, but still has the Ransomes which he takes great pride from the fact it is still in pre-preservation era original condition. Once again, wipe and clean it all you like - it'll still look the same 'unkempt' engine.

    When "Winifred" was first overhauled it retained the original paint finish, non-ferrous was polished and motion had been rubbed back, but it still had the original patina. After a few months of settling in it then went for a full repaint to look how the owner wishes - a smart shiny new looking engine. But during its slightly 'unkempt' period no amount of volunteers would have got anything more than an oily sheen off it, and if anything, too much enthusiastic rubbing can actually damage and remove the original paint that is there. I understand one of the other locos brought back to the UK at the same time has started to undergo overhaul to working condition, and in that case the owner intends for it to remain in original unrestored cosmetic condition. That loco will also have the "tatty and unkempt" look no matter what eager footplate volunteers try to do to it.

    Perhaps people should just acknowledge that how an engine looks is personal preference, and not try to justify their opinion with claims about mechanical condition that are totally unrelated, or cast aspersions on those with a differing view. Anecdotal hearsay about what 'public' like is pretty meaningless, because if someone spends most of their time around a spotlessly clean engine they will tend to hear the majority of comments from passers by state how nice it is to see. Likewise someone who spends most of their time with an engine in unrestored condition will generally hear comments from people who like that appearance - the one experience counters the other, and both are equally valid.
     
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  6. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Thank you for misquoting me. What I said was " I find that almost all of those who like locos dirty have had no input, financial or physical, towards the restoration' overhaul and ongoing upkeep of these locos."
    Slightly different to what you seem to think I have said. I recognise that there will be those connected with locos who's opinion differs from mine but in my experience the vast majority who call for "dirty locos" haven't shed one drop of sweat restoring them in the first place.
     
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  7. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The OP asked the simple question as to whether you liked your locos clean or dirty. He said: "The new Steam Railway magazine dropped on my doormat a few days ago. A letter in it, the writer advocated that he likes Steam Engines looking dirty and unkept and gave this steam roller as an example (see video of it here) so they look like they often did when they were in normal service." There was no question of whether it should be shiny or have original patina. You have brought this into the discussion. Your statement that " It is a fool that mistakes the cleanliness of an engine for "...pride in the job". Cosmetics are just that, don't mistake them for anything more." has some truth but it is a fool that thinks that cleanliness is unimportant. From many years of experience I know that an untidy site doesn't necessarily mean lax maintenance but it is a good indicator. Similarly, from years of experience I know that a highly polished locomotive/whatever doesn't necessarily mean a well maintained one.
     
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  8. OldChap

    OldChap Member

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    Well I suppose it does depend one what livery the dirt is covering up... ;)
     
  9. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    It's only the second day of 2018, but I find myself agreeing with you nonetheless Paul!
     
  10. Kylchap

    Kylchap New Member

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    "Do you like to see them running Shiny or Dirty?" Personally, I just like to see them running.
     
  11. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Good! Hopefully this will be a developing habit.:D

    More seriously, how a private individual looks after his or her private property is purely their concern. However, a contemporary visitor attraction steam railway needs to ensure Mr. Portillo, in his lime green jacket, does not come away with muck on his sleeves.

    PH
     
  12. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    But the OP used the McLaren as an example of "dirty" ....except the McLaren isn't especially dirty - it looks the way it does because it is in unrestored original condition. From the distance of the video it isn't possible to tell whether the motion is gritty or clean, in fact the lack of dust around the wheel rims and lack of obvious wet oil running down from the whizzy bits would tend to suggest it has been wiped clean pretty recently. So if that's an example of a 'dirty' engine...? A couple of hours on the road last week on a freshly polished engine resulted in a significantly dirtier engine to reclean than the roller at the head of the thread, which is being described as "dirty and unkept".

    So what is it that makes someone think this fairly clean looking engine is actually "dirty" - I'd say it's because it has obvious rusty patches where the paint's gone, dull old paint elsewhere, motion work that's gone brown.... None of that relates to the "cleanliness" though. The unkept tattiness factor of the engine simply comes from its totally unrestored cosmetic condition. Cleanliness doesn't come into it.

    You can wander round heritage railways and generally locos all look pretty well wiped down above platform level, but look between the frames or at the motion and there are many differences between otherwise all apparently equally 'clean' engines. Some are spotless, and some, well - aren't!

    The OP said "dirty & unkept", and then ended by asking "What do you think? ...How do you like to see them?"
     
  13. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Let's not get too carried away! I have however got a visit to the IoWSR lined up for this summer finally, so you could say I've "seen the light" on that front too! :eek:
     
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  14. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Had another look at the video. The road roller featured does justify the description "unkempt"and lacks the motion covers which, as a road locomotive, it should be carrying. As I said before, this is entirely the owner's business but if a locomotive on a tourist railway were presented in a similar state it would not be acceptable.

    PH
     
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  15. Nigel Day

    Nigel Day New Member

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    Shiny, easier to work on. The passengers don't get dirty so easily. Better for nice pictures. Better advertising a nice clean railway. Clean engines show you care about them and the customers.
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think that is the key point: a traction engine may simply be kept for the enjoyment of the owner alone, at which point it is their own discretion; but the vast majority of locomotives (and carriages) earn their money primarily paid for by the public, at which point the public concern is uppermost.

    The other significant issue is that while a traction engine may only be operated by one or two people, a typical loco on a heritage railway may have dozens of crew through the year, and different people every day perhaps for weeks on end. So even just within a department, there should be a reasonable expectation to leave it each night for the following crew in the state you would wish to find it yourself. Which at a minimum would mean a clean and tidy footplate; tools neatly stowed; lockers free from oil and grease; handrails clean; gauge glasses clean and so on. There's nothing worse than getting onto a loco early in the morning and finding the footplate in a state.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  17. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It depends on where you are coming from, A clean engine is more presentable to the great unwashed public who's " Johnny dont touch that its dirty" even when its just coal dust attitude will not see the difference between an engine in good mechanical order but un cleaned from one knocking like a bag of nails
    I Think an engine should be kept clean , its impractical to do much more that a quick clean when prepping for traffic, but thats why railways have cleaning gangs, and its through cleaning you learn what the parts are, and of course a clean engine will show fractures more readily than a covered in track muck
     
  18. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres

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    i hear he's setting up a mobile dental unit in the Freshwater set Paul, Root canal treatment whilst you watch the scenery go past whopps sorry dipped joint
     
  19. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Oh yes, depending on one's definition it could be viewed as "unkempt" - but a large dollop of that comes from the fact it's unrestored. The two are likely to go together even if it's in the best of mechanical conditions! :) ...and unkempt doesn't necessarily mean uncared for.

    However it quite definitely is NOT a road locomotive. Road locomotives a big things (think big chufferitus), with belly tanks, differential, springing, often compound, a disc flywheel, flippin fast on the road... The engine in the video is definitely a steam roller, which will generally not have belly tanks (although some did), will often not have a differential (although it was an option some did have), will usually not have springs (although some did have them, particularly convertibles), are geared a hell of a lot slower, and with a few exceptions such as the rampant elephant, are quite a bit smaller than road locos as well.

    Like a road loco, rollers often will have a disc flywheel, and often will have motion covers. ...however it is not unusual to find rollers without motion covers, even during commercial working life, and particularly these days. The late Fred Dibnah really disliked them, which is why his roller didn't, and still doesn't have them fitted (they do appear in a few early photos, but soon vanish again). It's a bit of a leap to say an engine is unkempt simply because it doesn't have motion covers fitted when that's not unusual! If you're keeping an engine running in that condition then you can't simply knock up some modern new replacements for missing bits without them being rather conspicuous.

    Of particular note is the fact it has a spoked flywheel, on the surface quite unusual - there are some Aveling convertibles that had a spoked flywheel, but it certainly isn't 'normal' for a roller. However the McLaren catalogue does suggest from the photos that they achieved a disc flywheel on their rollers by simply plated a spoked flywheel. I'm not an expert on McLarens to know for sure if this was the case.

    The other comments about a 'shiny' engine being easier to keep clean and 'safer' around the public are also definitely true. You can wipe down an 'unrestored' engine with degreaser, get rid of grit and oil streaks, go and wash your hands then wipe over the surface and you'll still probably end up with dirty fingers - it's a fact of life with not having a smooth layer of modern paint to quickly and easily wipe clean that 'dirt' will still remain even after cleaning. It's also a fact that to keep rust at bay one of the cheapest and easiest ways is having a film of oil over things. You can end up with a freshly 'cleaned' engine that is still 'dirty' to the touch or if some oik decides to lean on it.
     
  20. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    You can afford the ferry crossing, then?
     
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