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Best & Worst Locos to Drive

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Luke McMahon, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Luke McMahon

    Luke McMahon Member

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    Afternoon All:Woot:

    Just curious if there's any steam drivers on here either pres or ex BR. Which are the best & worst locos to drive? Few i've heard from various steam crews are:

    Black 5s - Supposedly can be a bugger & light footed in the wet.
    Standard 4 tanks - Bit on the touchy side sometimes had heard.

    Also what's it like if you're driving tender first as opposed to nose first? I've seen 34092 city of wells has portholes in the rear cab wall & then cutouts down the tender that allow the crew to see what's what. But on sumat the size of a 9F i'd imagine tender/smokbox first can be tricky due to the sheer length of the boiler barrel etc.

    Tanks are obviously easier as you've just got stick your head out the cab window plus their relatively small, would love to know how the hell the yanks managed particularly with a big boy though:Nailbiting:
     
  2. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Having driven a Type 52 Kriegslok (PKP Class TY2) tender first, once yiu realise that its a 'lean out of the window' job it wasn't that bad, obviously it would be nice to have better access to the controls.
     
  3. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    Firstly, the normal way to drive was with your head out the side window, whether chimney or tender first. Secondly, visibility is not, unlike driving a car, paramount so long as you can see the signals. Running tender first is trickier in that - usually - the signals are on the wrong side. Even on a tankie, a crew would always, given the chance, turn their engine to run chimney first: the coal dust doesn't get blown into the cab and the controls are in front of you.

    Black Fives, as also 8Fs, were generally popular with crews unless badly run down, when they could be very rough. Class 4 tanks were rated by most LMS men - in descending order - as the Fowler engines as best, then the Stanier, then Fairburn's and finishing with the BR standards. Most LMS men of my acquaintance were not impressed by the Standards of any class. Of LMS types, the Super Ds were respected, but not loved, at ex-LNWR sheds but detested at all others. 4Fs were alright, but the driver sat on a board covering the reverser screw; there was a slot in it so he could read the cut-off indicator. Firemen though could struggle for steam. Royal Scots could be alarmingly rough but did the job very well, and Jubilees, unless all was spot on, could be difficult steamers. The WD 2-8-0s were strong, free-steaming but gave a terrible ride if speeds above 25 mph were attempted.
     
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  4. Breva

    Breva Member

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    Ol 49 ! Easy to drive.

    Didn't like the Pt47 - stiff regulator (needed a ratchet to keep it in place) and massive tender blocked any view of the rear.
     

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  5. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    OL49's are superb, but the 750mm PTx48's are great fun
     
  6. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member

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    I have to say the best engine Ive ever been on is 2968. Always a good rider. Comfortable sized cab, steams on old brick ends. She always seemed sure footed and she cant half go some if needed. The only bug bear I know a few drivers have been caught out with the is the reverser. Full forward, the marker comes towards you not away. Other than that she is a fabulous engine.
     
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  7. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    I think that simply pressing 'Like' would not do justice! Thank you for that, Southernman99.
     
  8. RalphW

    RalphW Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    I can concur with those comments, the Ol 49s also very easy to fire, whereas the Pt47 more difficult to fire for an amateur as the firebox was quite long and getting coal to the front could be a bit difficult.
     
  9. Eightpot

    Eightpot Part of the furniture

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    Beattie well tanks, built before the word 'Ergonomics' was invented. Bullied's 'Leader' couldn't have been much fun for the Fireman.
     
  10. guycarr360

    guycarr360 Well-Known Member

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    Got as bit of experience of this with a selection of Driver Experience Days.

    In date order:-

    4472 - Piece of cake, reverser slick, regulator and brake worked super, footplate comfortable.
    60103 - As above, this time fired as well, and found her easy to get on with under supervision.
    71000 - A Rolls Royce, consider myself exceptionally fortunate to drive her after a IR black 5 failed at ELR.
    Everything to hand, better view that others, all controls slick, a credit to the trust.
    44222 On a hot day, and must have lost a stone, sure guy on footplate said their was no boiler backhead insulation
    Easy to drive in reverse, as tender was not that long, again controls OK, however steam brake had the habit of dropping off its control rod.
    This made for a few heavy shunts, however did everything we asked for.
     
  11. Luke McMahon

    Luke McMahon Member

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    When we've had a couple of guest NRM locos at bury it's been entertaining:

    49395 - Seemed a handful for the crews, on load 6 trying to get moving in the wet seemed to slip quite a bit but after that found her feet pretty quickly.

    3440 city of truro - Was running over the winter period once & the poor sods on the footplate looked absolutely frozen half to death:Wideyed: With only a tarp from tender to the cab they were certainly getting cosy huddled around the boiler to warm up!

    71000 - A true credit to the duke of gloucester gang, looks fairly big for a 4-6-2 even when at platform level not sure why though. Loco crews never had any issues with her although it'll be a big task to get her re-certified again, heard she's having some re-engineering done particularly around the cipriotti valve gear etc as that's given a few probs.

    Jintys/small tanks - Never seem to have much protection from the elements with being such a small cab on em means the wind can really whistle straight through. Seem to be able to handle reasonable weights & according to crews are a pleasure to drive.

    Standard 4s- We've got 80080 visiting the lancs atm & it seems to be able to lift load 6 up broadfield bank without breaking sweat. Although only doing 25mph with the regulator wide open full bore it feels a bit quicker:cool: Whether or not they'd be able to start load 6 on a grade is something i've wondered myself.
     
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  12. green five

    green five Part of the furniture

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    The ex-Guildford Fireman Geoff Burch spoke about this very subject during his excellent talk at Alresford last month.
    He hated working on GWR Pannier tanks (Cramped and rough riding) and also was not very keen on 77014 when she was based on the SR. The Standard was a terrible steamer apparently.
    I highly recommend Geoff's books on his Firing and Driving days on the SR. A link to his website here:http://ramblingrailwayman.co.uk/page10.html
     
  13. Cartman

    Cartman Active Member

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    The only loco Ive ever driven or fired was 45337 at the ELR and it seemed easy enough to both drive and fire to me. An ex Stockport Edgeley man once told ne that Midland 3Fs were better than 4Fs. In fact he described 4Fs as "crap"!
     
  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'd put a vote in for the SE&CR locos - H or P. From a firing point of view, they have a decent fire hole door opening, so it is easy to inspect the firebox when prepping (relative to, say, a Terrier or the S15, where the fire hole door opens inwards into the firebox, restricting visibility). They both steam well, but are quite sensitive to damper / door position, so are quite controllable. The injectors pick up well: they are slightly slow, but again, that makes firing a bit easier as you can tend to set one and leave it for a period, rather than needing to put them endlessly on and off.

    Less experience of driving, but of what I've done, both are quite easy to drive: the regulator is quite sensitive, and the steam reverser is light to use and generally stays put without drifting.

    Amongst big locos, the Standard 5 is nice to prepare, but once alight, I prefer the S15 to fire. Maybe it's just an emotional thing rather than any inherent difference. The Std 5 is easier to drive: the regulator is more sensitive, and it has a steam chest pressure gauge which gives you a bit of feedback about what's happening. By contrast, the regulator of the S15 I find very imprecise; it's hard to find the point where it opens.

    With regards tender engines running backwards: you pays your money and takes your choice. Camelot can be quite hard to see behind when running backwards, but offers plenty of weather protection. Personally, I prefer a lower tender and take my chances with the weather. The S15 fits the bill, though it is so long that it can be difficult to judge when buffering up or moving clear of a point. Again, I guess that is experience.

    One notable point from a fireman's perspective that may not necessarily be obvious is how well the coal comes forward as you use it - that seems a particular issue with the soft Welsh coal we have used a lot recently, which seems quite "sticky". On the S15, you seem to spend a lot of time bringing coal forward, it doesn't just come forward on its own. Birch Grove (the Billinton E4) can be a real pig for that: the coal often seems to get hung up in the bunker, and the shape of the bunker (which extends under the back of the cab) means it can be awkward to get it down while on the run.

    Tom
     
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  15. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I wasn't going to contribute to this but, seeing as Tom has, I'll give my two pennyworth. I'm inclined to agree with Tom about the S15. It is a joy to fire and, if a loco steams freely, enginemen will generally like them. I don't fuss too much about the regulator; it has three positions: Shut, start and go. What more do you want? The only thing I don't really like about them is that I find I need to stand to drive it. Black 5's and B1's are pretty much on a par, IMHO, both having advantages and disadvantages. The B1 has the more comfortable seats but their height leaves my shortish legs dangling.
    I'm not a fan of GW locos. They are generally a pain to prep and not really comfortable to drive. Got to admit that, generally, they got the injectors right, though. I have to admit to being a lover of the BR standards, especially the Cl.4 tanks, which are my office job. You can move the seat to enable you to comfortably drive it in reverse. You can even fire it sat down to some extent. The only thing that the designers really got wrong was the bunker doors and lack of shovelling plate meaning you end up with coal all over the floor.
    In the not really wonderful category are the Super D's, Derby 4's and the S & D 2-8-0's. Get it right and the Super D will steam but it is such an oddball that you have to be on your toes all the time. The Midland locos are a hard days work.
     
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  16. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Wasn't that the reason that the 'Lord Nelsons' got the higher tender; to give the coal more of a gradient to come forward? It was said that the Maunsell bogie tenders rode so smoothly that the coal didn't get the shaking/moving :) that it did in 6-w ones.
     
  17. Cosmo Bonsor

    Cosmo Bonsor New Member

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    Ok, I'm with Tom and Steve about S15's, I loved firing ours (847). Driving wise you do have to stand to operate the regulator and brake but I set the reg, sit down and drive on the reverser which is very easy to use. I'll stand to make infrequent regulator adjustments.
    Anything of Ashford or Longhedge provenance is good. Lovely reverser, good lay out of controls and a Dreadnought brake ejector. They are free steaming so you can have confidence in your mate. What's not to like? You do get C class knee when shunting though from kneeling on the driver's seat to look out.
    The E4 we find a 'physical' engine to drive, nice to fire if you can master the flap.
    The Dukedog is one of the nicer Swindon products I've been on, 56xx one of the more unpleasant. Cramped cab and poor visibility aren't nice.
    So much has been written about BR Standards so I will only ask why fit such a horrible, heavy and complex (for a mechanical) reverser? Doing a lot of buckeyes is when the fireman gets a go.
    Lastly gronks, I drive sitting down going forwards and standing in reverse as a rule.
    Just my opinions.

    Russ.
     
  18. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Part of the furniture Friend

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    A long, long time ago I remember reading - in Model Railway Constructor, I think - a rhyme allegedly chalked on the backplate of a 'Standard', that went thus:

    "The men I want, Dr. Beeching said,
    Are strong in the arm, and thick in the head.
    Then maybe with determination and will,
    They can turn this bloody reversing wheel!"

    Of course, 40+ years may well have got that wrong....!
     
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  19. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    No, that was one of the main bugbears with the BR Standards: "That bloody reverser!" Not fun if you were on a trip working, stopping at every station to knock some off and pick up others.

    I heard the reason it was so stiff was that fitters failed to grease it. Whatever the reason, drivers detested it.
     
  20. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Std reversers work fine so long as the loco is run in and they are greased. Even the 9F is very light, though when first overhauled it took two people to get it into back gear.

    For me the favourites (in no particular order) have been: Terriers; Ivatt class 2 tanks; Std 4 tanks; Q; T9; S15; LN; Std 5; A1; 43xx; 52xx; 57xx; Met #1; M7
    Neutral on: A4; Black 5; Rebuilt WC; 9F;DoG
    Dislike: MN; Unrebuilt BB/WC
     

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