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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. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Returning to this thread, I think it is worth pointing out that Thompson's aim was to do exactly what everyone else was doing: the use of two cylinders for all small and medium sized locomotives. In this decision, he is clearly correct in his thinking. There should be no dispute on that point.

    The question of whether he was right to divide the drive on the three cylinder locomotives is not as straightforward as it appears. I postulate that this form of three cylinder propulsion occurred only because of the experience and knowledge known about the six P2 locomotives and their crank axle failures. They divided the drive to divide the stresses on the crank axles primarily. They used a middle set of valve gear as per the cox report suggestion. All other details were down to the wartime executive and emergency board restrictions in place.

    It is factual to state that the rebuilt P2s did not suffer a crank axle failure again. It is also factual to say that the divided drive is not a perfect setup. Whether you think it was good or not, we accept that all engineering is a compromise in some way. The rebuilt P2s were still very capable locomotives and their availability improved after rebuilding. By retirement in 1946, Thompson could be forgiven for thinking he and his team had done a good job with the rebuilds. All the information available to him at the time suggests that was the case - availability, fuel consumption, mileages.
     
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  2. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    One hopes you will not express yourself in quite those absolute terms in the book!:eek:

    I am reminded of my time in aircraft finance, fairly early on in the BAe 146 life cycle, where most poeple seemed somewhat bemused that BAe had dispensed with the much loved BAC1-11, and come up with a four engine 100-seater, when no-one else would dream of putting four engines on such a small aircraft. Now not everyone in BAe at the time was an idiot, and there was some thought behind it, primarily I think driven by targeting third world carriers who wanted simplified maintenance, which the AVCO Lycomings offered (its niche in operating out of London City due to its STOL capabilities and quietness was rather accidental). I note in the wiki article on the 146, the author uses the rather more urbane expression "the decision to adopt four engines for a feeder airliner rather than two was viewed as atypical by some commentators", and perhaps you can use a variation of that? e.g. "Gresley's fondness for three cylinders was somewhat atypical by contemporary locomotive design standards, and during the war and in the post-war era, the increased maintenance time and costs probably outweighed any theoretical benefit." ;)
     
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  3. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    I think atypical is the wrong word actually. Unconventional would be my suggestion.
     
  4. 8126

    8126 Member

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    I'd agree with @huochemi that this is a rather absolutist statement, and in danger of viewing things through a purely mechanical engineering perspective. The civil engineers would almost certainly have preferred all locomotives to be three-cylinder, as shown by the surprisingly good route availability of some rather large machines of this type. As you rightly say afterwards, all engineering decisions are a compromise. The only real correct/incorrect distinction is whether it does the job without killing anyone or not. Everything else is a qualitative assessment of how well it's done, how little it costs through life (for the entire system, which in this case includes the permanent way and structures) and designer's preference. Oh, and let us not forget ... whether it makes money.
     
  5. Muzza

    Muzza New Member

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    True, but they only had six driving wheels at that time. It has been thought that the extra adhesion force of the eight coupled wheels did not allow the wheels to slip as much under the high forces at starting, causing more stress on the crank axle. The A2/2s would have been able to relieve the force on the crank axle through slipping - like the rest of the Pacific fleet.
     
  6. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    I know they weren't exactly overtaxed, most of the time, but did either of the P1s ever suffer crank failures?
     
  7. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    In July 1945, just as WW2 was ending, D17 No 1621 was taken into Darlington Works for restoration to NER condition. The engine had been a player in the 1895 "Races to the North" and was destined for York Railway Museum.

    I don't know who instigated this move, but presumably Thompson must have given his approval for Darlington to undertake the restoration?

    History and preservation were usually very low on the priority list not just through WW2, but for several years after.

    https://www.lner.info/locos/D/d17.php
     
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  8. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    City of Truro would have been broken up had the LNER not taken it into York
     
  9. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Ditto Gladstone, I suspect.
     
  10. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    The Prussian P10 broke same amounts of cranks?
     
  11. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    Yes, we should all be grateful to the LNER for demonstrating that a Railway museum was practical... The huge expansion in Railway preservation since the end of the steam era rather blinds us to the fact that space was rare and precious back then.
    Here's an idea for a paper fr someone - mass motor car travel and its influence on railway preservation...
     
  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    The idea for what became the NRM was originally started by the NER who played a major role in development of the area they served. They thought that it might attract tourists.

    There is a fascinating story to be written about how railways consciously developed the areas they served, Metroland is quite well covered but I gather that the NER & GNSR both did well, while the GER in East Anglia did not
     
  13. daveannjon

    daveannjon New Member

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    And according to 'Toram Beg' they could certainly slip. :)
    Dave
     
  14. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    oh , they did .

    I watched an A2/2 take an age (probably a couple of minutes but..._) to disappear the last coach into Gasworks Tunnel.

    it slipped continuously out of the Cross and came close to stalling when in the tunnel.

    having said that , I saw a Hall do something very similar leaving Paddington
     
  15. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    We should most certainly be grateful to the LNER for the establishment of York Museum and for the preservation of the locomotives and other artifacts contained therein. It just seems a shame that LNER heritage "drew the short straw" in the later progress of preservation.

    I caught my first sight of a B1 in steam during the recent visit of 1264 to the GWSR. Have to say that, seen up close, it seemed a more imposing and attractive engine than I had expected. Although I would probably have preferred apple green (or GE blue), the LNER black livery somehow seemed to have the edge over its BR equivalent.

    I pondered that I have seen almost as many GWR Manor-class in steam than I have seen of LNER engines in total. The LNER really is under-represented. I started to day-dream about what else might have survived if more LNER stuff had gone to Barry, or if there had been a "Dai Woodham of the North-East". The answer is probably mostly more examples of what we already have, as very few LNER classes continued to exist from 1963 onward.
     

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  16. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    we are all grateful that York was established when it was .

    I don't really think the LNER comes off too badly . in terms of representative classes they probably have more to show than the LMS ,and Southern .
    the GWR also don't have many classes .- number of locos yes , but classes , still quite limited , and standardisation produced many types of similar form and function . if you have seen a Hall and a Castle and a Pannier tank you have probably covered 80% of the basic types
    the real losses naturally were from the pre grouping companies .

    the National Collection has some gems , few of which will run again , but at least they exist .
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    the preservation scene paints a portrait of steam that is far from the fact in the '50s and '60s.
    Western engines were usually pretty clean , as were the Southern . Midland and Eastern engines were usually pretty grubby apart from the prestige locos.

    1264 is a good looking engine . it's sisters were usually dirty , often filthy , unloved and with a few miles under their belt , mechanically rough. the lining out was of no consequence because you never saw it
    the reality of post WW11 steam was very far from the locos on a heritage line...……...but endlessly fascinating
     
  17. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    The final link in UK locomotive history will be a mainline-able B16/3.
    Three cylinder for speed and track,post Chapelon for economy and longer lasting than quite some B1s.
    Thompsons best rebuild?
     
  18. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Better looking engines than Black 5s to my eye. Bleedin' old Bongos as they were called when required to replace a Brit on the GE.

    I guess if Drapers of Hull had done a Woodhams, (more) example(s) of A1, A2, B2, V2, N2, O4, J72 etc might have survived, possibly at the expense of some of the locos rescued from Barry?
     
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  19. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    In reality, we should just be thankful we had Dai Woodham and his yard in Barry. Over the water, there was no reprieve from the scrap lines at Inchicore, Limerick, Mullingar (and others). Quite bit of what lasted into the early 60s dated from the 19th century. The scrappies north of the border (and in Spain) were equally depressingly efficient.

    Ironically, we should probably thank Richard Beeching too ..... had BR not abandoned wagon load freight, Dai Woodham wouldn't have been snowed under with all those wagons to scrap, instead of turning his attentions to the lines of locos.
     
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  20. LesterBrown

    LesterBrown Member

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    I think that in retrospect it's tragic that, while they concentrated on saving older locos, the LNER didn't add either a C6 or C7 when they were taken out of service.
     
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