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Edward Thompson: Both sides of the Story. Discussion 2012 - 2019

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, May 2, 2012.

  1. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    Hi Simon,

    I would think Bert Spencer had a much better knowledge of what was going on than a very young ex public school premium apprentice.

    Anyway, enough for tonight, and for others to continue.

    Cheers,

    Julian
     
  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    So the man who wasn’t there has a better view than the one who was?

    Utterly ridiculous.

    I wonder how many of the people Dick Hardy touched throughout his career would look at what you’re saying about him and not think you were being unduly harsh about him?
     
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  3. Eightpot

    Eightpot Member

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    It has been suggested that Gresley was wrong to use three cylinders on medium sized locos, whereas Thompson would use only two, and indeed rebuilt some Gresley locos with only two. Surely it can be accepted that three cylinders operating at a boiler pressure of around the 180 psi mark are going to impose less stress on the chassis that two larger cylinders with 225 psi behind them. Delving into 'Yeadon's Register' has produced the following regarding Works visits.

    Starting with the K3s I have noted Works visits of the first 10 (4000 - 4009/61800 - 61809) from 1945 to 1960 - this being the lifespan of the K5. Bear in mind that then the K3s were already a minimum of 22 years old, these are the number of Works visits.

    Starting at 4000/61800 they are:- 10, 11, 10, 12, 7,11, 8,8, 11 & 9 times. An average of 9.7 times in that period.

    Meanwhile the K5 No. 206/61863 had no less than13 visits in its lifetime.

    Taking the period 1/1/1948 to cover the production L1s to withdrawal, the figures for the first 10 V1/V3 2-6-2 tank locos - then a minimum of 17 years old.

    Starting at 2900/67600 they are 7*, 9, 8, 7*12*, 12*10, 1113, 8,& 8 times. An average of 10.5. Locos with * against them had extra visits for collision damage, these being 67600 (twice) and 67603/4/5 with an extra visit one each for the same thing.

    For the L1s, starting in 1948, 67701 had 13 visits, the remainder of the first 10 having 10, 10, 10, 11, 11,10, 12*12, 9 & 12 visits. 67708 one extra visit for collision damage. An average of 10.7 visits. No. 9000/67701 had no less than 18 Works visits from new to scrapping.

    From this it can be seen that the Gresley locos needed less visits to Works, greatly so in the K3 vs the K5, and marginally so in the case of V1/V3 vs L1. While traffic requirements probably affected things, but the V1/V3s did outlasted the L1s by some two years.

    Works visits for repairs on L1s to both side and bunker tanks feature regularly, and a number of them additionally had to be provided in the mid-1950s with replacement cylinders, 67704 having had both replaced twice.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    We’ve done this before - numbers of works visits reveal nothing other than a stat which gives one higher than the other. How intensive was the visit? How long was the loco out of traffic for? What was the actual availability of the loco in question?

    In isolation, Thompson locos going to works more than Gresley ones can be made to look poor. It’s not the whole story.
     
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  5. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Oh, yes, sorry, Gresley was right to fit lots of little engines with extra cylinders and moving parts, while every other designer on every other railway in the world was wrong....
    Better now?
    ;-)

    --------
    Edit: sorry, unnecessarily snarky from me here.
    Let's just say other railways seem to have found a different consensus.
    Regarding the works visits statistics, I would say:
    - unless you can isolate visits (directly or indirectly) related to cylinders and motion only, and also consider length/seriousness of work done, this is rather meaningless.
    - the numbers of locos involved are so small that drawing any inference is rather dubious.
    - maintenance is not just works visits but normal operational costs also - e.g. lubrication, etc.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I produced these pages before for people to think on:

    upload_2019-5-15_10-3-14.png

    I based my availability spread sheet on the LNER's own internal document. If you look at the definitions on the left hand side, you can see that the LNER had very specific requirements for recording data on locomotives' availability.

    upload_2019-5-15_10-5-48.png

    Similarly, here's the availability sheet for just the big engines in 1943.

    The intended mileages are based on the LNER's internal document which gives instructions on maintenance and deferred maintenance based on mileages - this was from 1937. Arguably, things would have changed by 1943, but I have not as yet found a similar document for the war years.

    There are some indications that the 1937 document is still relevant in that year, but that is speculation by me and included in the spread sheet purely to give some idea as to the mileages they were likely aiming for.
     
  7. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    Presumably, lower availability in the Scottish Area might be the result of greater wear and tear, arising from more sharp curves and long steep gradients on many of the LNER lines in Scotland. But I cannot think of any obvious reason why availability in the Southern Area looks consistently higher than in the North East Area. Is there a simple explanation that I've missed?

    Perhaps the V2 figures are particularly instructive, as they reflect a large class working across most of the LNER. I'm a bit wary about statistics for (numerically) small classes, as they could be skewed by a single event, such as an accident sending an engine into works for a prolonged period. But the P2 figures look worrying, and would doubtless have called for explanation at the time.
     
  8. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Rather than look at availability - however - look at engine mileages; for A1 / A10 Southern Area = 43038 - Scottish Area = 39232; for A3 Southern Area = 44869 - Scottish Area = 42630; for A4 Southern Area = 46806 - Scottish Area = 55238; for V2 Southern Area = 39506 - Scottish Area = 49183. This suggests to me that Scotland relied more on its A4 locomotives for the ECML duties working more of the Edinburgh - Kings Cross services throughout but its A1 / A3 fleet had engine changes at Newcastle whilst the Scottish Area made greater use of its V2 fleet for internal mixed traffic duties. That is conjecture on my part - however - but needs further facts in terms of duties and depot practices to put the mileage figures into context.
     
  9. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    1943 was the P2s worst year. Put into context, their whole work during the war could be reasonably described as not meeting expectations in terms of mileage or availability.

    This is the thing, mind - when you start going into these details, a different picture emerges. We've had decades of very one-off performance centric reporting from timekeepers, but nobody actually trying to delve into the finer details of the economic and maintenance policies of the L.N.E.R. - when you realise that the railway kept records for virtually every aspect of their operation, that's when you start asking questions of the assumed truths.

    But a basic fact that I can observe is that Thompson locomotives were indeed in works more often than Gresley locomotives, but conversely were available for work more days of the year, if the stats I have collated from the L.N.E.R's internal documents are accurate (I cannot see a reason to question them - other than I have made sure someone has checked my working and data input).

    The number of people who bang on about Thompson not needing to rebuild the P2s, that they should have been sent south to work out of King's Cross...etc.

    Here's a few questions for those people.

    • Why would any shed accept locomotives which are physically doing less than half their intended mileage? Would you accept a class with that reputation at your shed?
    • The Merchant Navy locomotives were withdrawn en-masse for examination for ONE crank axle fracture. The P2s had three in a short space of time in their ranks. Would you accept a locomotive class with that reputation at your shed?
    • Do you think it safe to bring a locomotive class onto the ECML that has broken crank axles?
    • What trains can the P2s do which other classes definitely cannot? The W1, A4s and later the A2/2s all did the work of the P2s. The V2s and the Pacifics pulled trains far in excess of their supposed maximum loads throughout the war.
    If you have answered "yes" to any of the four questions above - can you let me know why? Because from where I am standing (and saying this as a P2 Founder member who does want to see one built) I can completely understand why Thompson - or anyone, in reality - would be reticent to leave the P2s as is and not consider major modifications.

    The reality of the second world war is that the P2s became virtually irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Not performing well, very small class in comparison to the others which needed attention. Unreliable and not available.

    What would you have done with the P2s?
     
  10. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    And - just a quick follow up - the above isn't a jibe at Gresley, or intended to suddenly turn his reputation on its head. His reputation rightly centres on the excellence of his A4s and the good work done by his engines pre-second world war.

    Critiquing the P2s and asking questions of them does not mean we are criticising Gresley. It does mean we are trying to get closer to the truth of why people place so much importance on them - I would argue that for both Gresley and Thompson, in some respects the P2s were irrelevant to the bigger question of how good they were as engineers.

    Do we judge Gresley on the six P2s? If the answer to that is no - why do we judge Thompson on their rebuilds (which were arguably better for the railway in terms of the economic arguments, if not in potential?)
     
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  11. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    We judge Gresley and his team on his entire career, suitably weighted, just as we might judge Brunel or Telford or Churchward. Same with Thompson. So that includes the P2s as one chapter in a big book.

    From what I've read the P2s had to be rebuilt, not fit for purpose on the Aberdeen run. One issue about sending them south was the risk of derailments on the tight curves in the vicinity of KX shed. Whether there might have been an option to base them at say Grantham to work northwards, I don't know. But that would be very constraining in operational terms.

    Maybe of equal interest to 60501--6 is the performance and quality of 60507--10. Presumably Thompson had more responsibility for the latter than the former?
     
  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    But with the greatest of respect, that's precisely the point. To this point, Thompson hasn't been judged on his entire career, suitably weighted. If he had, we wouldn't be having this debate.

    In Thompson's own words - they became "orphans of the storm". No further development, though the identical front end arrangement of cylinders, valve gear and smokebox/kylchap arrangement from the A2/2, into A2/1, went into A2/3 thereafter.
     
  13. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    There are three ways of looking at the case for the rebuilding of the P2s.
    1. Their reputation at the time.
    2. Their reputation is retrospect.
    3. What was actually wrong with them: poor availability, breaking crank axles, anything else? During the war, was the conjugated gear causing any more trouble on the P2s than on any other Gresley classes?
     
  14. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    ... and to posit a further thought; Gresley built the P2s for the tortuous Edinburgh - Aberdeen route but in time the V2s proved more than capable of covering the passenger work hence the question - was the P2 an axle too far and should Gresley have seen the V2 as the answer rather than the P2 ?
     
  15. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    I have had the pleasure of driving from Edingburg to Aberdeen simultaneously with the Falkland War so it is quite some time ago.
    As I remember not a 100 mph stretch but lovely.
    What was the average speed the P2 was meant to pull ?
    Riddles commented somewhere that Gresley three cylinder pacifics had to big wheels for the daily jobs.
    If P2s had been five feeters and with 19 inch cylinders it would just have been possible to give front driver 50 mm lateral freedom.
     
  16. 8126

    8126 Member

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    This is a fair question; the P2 might well have been more successful as an improved P1, with the same 5'2" drivers. The P1 design with the A4 boiler and steam circuit would have been fast enough for the Scottish runs, better on curves and powerful enough for anything that might have been thrown at it.

    However, when tried on a semi-fast in 1934, a P1 made it to about 65mph at the cost of an exhausted fireman. I suspect this may have slightly counted against the concept of an improved P1, this being before the A4s were introduced and even before the high speed run with 2750 (which would have suggested a maximum speed of around 80 for an A3-equivalent version). Also, I suspect Gresley was planning for the future; Scotland was the justification for the P2 but I'm sure it wasn't the only place it was hoped they would be used; had they been more successful I suggest they'd have been multiplied for use on ECML heavy express/semi-fast duties, which required power and acceleration capacity as well as speed.

    As a side note, semi-fasts were sometimes the harder duty. On the Southern, Exmouth Junction would send out West Countries on the up Atlantic Coast Express before they took their Merchant Navies off the semi-fasts.
     
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  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Ha, ha, ha. Go tell that to Peter Townend who made great use of his Gresley Pacifics at Top Shed. Anyway, the Peppercorn A1s had the same size drivers and three cylinders, so were their wheels to big for the daily jobs? Or is this another episode in the "I don't like Gresley" campaign?
     
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  18. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    IIRC it still had short travel valves so no wonder the poor fireman was exhausted. One wonders how a P1 would have performed with long travel valves.
     
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  19. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Cox wrote that Peppercorns A1 and A2 proved that there was no reason for the big ones .Sound analysis of Blue Peter disintegration was 160 mph rotation.
    When Cox showed a horsepower versus speed for a Standard 7 it stops at 70 mph.
    Standard 7 was his child and if LNER Pacifics regularly went faster I am sure he would have put a higher limit on.
    How fast did Pacifics go earning money?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  20. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Well, if you think of averaging 60 over 390 miles with 7-8 mins up to Finsbury Park , a permanent 20 mph restriction at Peterborough, level rail crossings at Newark and Retford, restrictions at Selby, York and Newcastle, plus a lot of traffic to contend with on a mixed two track/four track line, plus TSRs, the day to day requirement was to run in the mid 80s on the level. That's in the 1950s.
     

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