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Edward Thompson: Wartime C.M.E. Discussion 2012 - 2021

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

  1. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    I think it's sometimes forgotten quite how seminal railway companies were, not as railways, but as companies.
    No one had even undertaken any comparable commercial endeavour: the major joint stock corporations beforehand had been simply trading companies brining things in from abroad and selling them, followed by manufacturing firms (which weren't of comparable size).
    Railways had to invent company accounting procedures because no one had done anything like that before.
    Likewise many management systems and procedures.
    They were not train sets, or football teams. They were companies.

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  2. 2392

    2392 Member

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    IIRC when the "production batch" [10] V4s were cancelled and replaced with the first 10 B1s. The materials were either already on hand or already being supplied. Negating the need to order new/different material.
     
  3. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I completely agree, but I was referring to someone else raising that with me.

    I think had Thompson suggested that, when less drastic courses were available (do nothing, or rebuild) he would have been rightly castigated.

    The conversion to a Pacific wheelbase was remarkably straightforward and the more I look at it, the more I realise just what a stroke of genius it was on Thompson's or Robert Thom's part to go for the simplicity of the equal length connecting rods and cylinder setup. Half the reason it came together so quickly was because they reduced overall design time on the new front end I feel. Either way the Doncaster Drawing office should be praised highly for the turnaround, and the works too.

    The Thompson A2/3 (developed from the A2/2) and the rebuilt Bulleid/Jarvis Pacifics have some remarkable similarities in so much that the result was a 6ft 2in Pacific with three sets of valve gear, with shortened boiler length and maximising the grate space together with rocking grates/electric lighting, etc.

    Thompson's 6ft 2in Pacifics and Bulleid's were effectively meeting the same basic needs and trying to meet the same requirements - as you have previously said to me on this thread and I wholeheartedly agree with. When you look at the broader design remit and realise just how restricted Thompson was by comparison, the achievement of getting the prototype A2 into service so quickly, becomes even more of an achievement when you realise they repeated the trick for A2/1 and the standard A2 (became A2/3) was a new design based on the fundamentals they had produced by 1946.
     
  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Could you please clarify if you mean that the V4 materials were on hand or being supplied, or the B1 material? Because it is true in the latter and not true in the former. Thompson suspended the order in 1941 when he took over due to wanting a design review for the LNER going forward.
     
  5. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    Indeed, as you say, the railway companies had a primary role in inventing or driving the development of a number of the elements of the corporate and commercial world. Railway company directors were also probably ahead of the curve in spotting opportunities for personal benefit, such as awarding contracts to connected parties, front running land purchases, and insider trading!
     
  6. bluetrain

    bluetrain Well-Known Member

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    If you look across the range of LNER 0-6-0 types, they do fall into a number of groups, based on overall size and wheel size.

    Firstly, there were those that were specifically optimized for slow goods work with small wheels and usually steam-brake only. In the 1946 renumbering scheme, these were separated into the 56xx-59xx number series, the engines being the ex-NER J24-J27 (4ft 7¼in wheels) and the LNER standard J38 (4ft 8in).

    The remainder were more general purpose 0-6-0s with wheels around 5ft diameter. Thompson appears to have been looking for the most suitable of these to be the basis of a future standard. As you observe, the J39 (like the J38) was a very heavy engine (possibly the heaviest 0-6-0s outside North America?), that would have been barred from some secondary and branch lines. So Thompson would have looked at the medium size 0-6-0s built during the 1900-22 period, the options being the J6 (ex-GN), J11 (ex-GC), J19 (ex-GE) and J37 (ex-NB). He chose the J11.


    Agree that a shortened V1/V3 boiler seems the best fit to re-boiler the J11. An alternative might have been a shortened version of the Diagram 28A boiler (5ft 1in dia) designed during Thompson's Stratford period for the D16/3 and J19/2.
     
  7. bluetrain

    bluetrain Well-Known Member

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    The issue of depreciation does indeed seem to have been an important one. CMEs often acted to improve an unsatisfactory class, but only occasionally would they scrap relatively new engines without re-using major components in replacement locos. Such a write-off would likely require Board approval. Churchward scrapped his almost new Krugers, but may have re-used some components in replacement Aberdares. Whale scrapped all the Webb 3-cylinder passenger engines (10-25 years old) but no doubt had Board approval. All the Webb compound 0-8-0s and most of the 4-cylinder passenger engines were rebuilt, not scrapped. Urie & Maunsell rebuilt the Drummond F13s and E14, but felt obliged to retain the original Drummond boiler with its long flat grate. So although these engines lived another 40 years, they were not as good as standard H15s. By the time the G14s and P14s came to be "renewed" as KAs, Maunsell only felt obliged to re-use the tenders.


    If the railway accountants wished to avoid treating new equipment as capital expenditure, I wonder how they dealt with electrification projects. Were steam locos "renewed" as EMU motor-coaches?
     
  8. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    It is a good question and I am not sure it is possible to be dogmatic. The accounting rules do not seem to have been prescriptive in terms of giving detailed guidance on how to allocate expenditure. I am inclined to say that a change of traction would be treated as capex, and if it was an electrification project, that is clearer cut as the whole project would probably be "new works". The only accounts I have to hand with any relevance are for the GWR. In there, for instance, expenditure on diesel railcars is shown as Capex in the 1934 (4), 1935 (3), 1936(7) and 1937(1) (number of railcars in ( ), cost around £5,000 each). Now comparing that with Locos of the GWR Part 11, that is three short for 1936. The accounts have an item for Complete Renewals under Maintenance of Rolling Stock (a revenue account item), and the entry for Rail Motor Vehicles (Steam and Oil) for 1936 ("Complete Renewal by Contractors") is slightly less than £15,000, and conceivably the cost could have been allocated there. So perhaps here too, there was scope to suit the needs of the company in terms of where to record the expense?

    Incidentally, looking at the GWR accounts around this period brings up what should be a favourite GWR quiz question - what are the 20 electric vehicles on the books? (Jim C is not allowed to answer)
     
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  9. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    Steam hauled stock was certainly rebuilt as EMUs. Locos were cascaded. For example after the Brighton electrification the small tender King Arthur's were moved to the Eastern section.

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  10. bluetrain

    bluetrain Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info. I'd never previously heard of the Sorocabana Rly, never mind these engines.

    Doubly unusual - 3 cylinders on the narrow gauge and 3 cylinders in South America. I assume that they date from some time around 1930, when Gresley valve gear briefly enjoyed some popularity across the wider world? I stumbled across a video of someone making a model - from which the attached photo is taken. Looks like an American-style design with a British chimney.
     

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  11. bluetrain

    bluetrain Well-Known Member

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    Simon - many thanks for your thoughts here. I have to admire your youthful energy in producing comprehensive responses to the numerous points raised in this thread. I've been struggling to keep-up while the thread has been in overdrive!

    I hadn't appreciated that Thompson's standardisation plan was already in place before the decision was made to rebuild the first P2. That makes it almost certain that Thompson's thoughts moved quickly towards the A2/2 rebuild, without detailed work-up of any potential alternatives that kept the 2-8-2 arrangement.



    That is very curious. As you say, the LNER was ridding itself of its two 2-8-2 classes, so how would a new 2-8-2 design fit in? Could well have been ideas from an individual, likely from outside the LNER.

    Pondering the hypothetical options, it is difficult to see a neat arrangement for a 2-8-2 with 3 cylinders using Thompson's preferred arrangement of equal-length connecting rods. On the other hand, a 2-cylinder 2-8-2 might have slotted into Thompson's scheme of things. Riddles first idea for the later BR 9F was for a 2-cylinder 2-8-2 with the Britannia boiler - which is almost exactly the same size as the V2 boiler. So the idea of a Thompson 2-8-2 is not completely daft. However, I am only speculating here - I have not seen any evidence that Thompson himself was thinking along those lines.

    On the wider issue of LNER 2-cylinder locos, another of the surprises from Simon's availability statistics was how well the humble K2 2-cylinder 2-6-0 was doing (around 80% available), in spite of these engines being 20-30 years old. Strong support for Thompson's move to develop the B1.
     
  12. LesterBrown

    LesterBrown Member

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    Half of 40 equal 20. And nothing whatsoever to do with Swindon.
     
  13. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    I wonder if the conversion of the 3 SUBs and 2 NOLs to electric would have been treated as capital.
     
  14. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I suspect - and evidence quoted above from the Big 4 reinforces this - that the decision about whether to treat expenditure as "capital" or not, and whether products from works were "new" or "rebuilt" had a great deal to do with what was convenient for the company at the time, based on circumstance and a certain amount on history. Judgement is a key factor in these choices, and interpreting what happened "in the metal" from what was in the books rests on a very big assumption indeed - namely that the classifications aligned.
     
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  15. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    Yes, the GWR's share of cars for the Hammersmith & City Line. It would be interesting to understand quite why they were accounted for in this way and what the terms of this apparent JV with the Met were. It obviously caused the authors of Locos of the GWR some difficulty in deciding whether they were in scope, and the relevant entry is briefer than one would like.
     
  16. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    Bringing things back to the LNER, didn't it own some of the 1938 stock as used on the Northern Line of the London Underground?
     
  17. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I should clarify - Thompson had asked for a review, and his standardisation scheme went ahead (look at the time line of building his locomotives) after publication. It is clear that some of the designs had been on the board prior to the emergence of the Cox report and the approval to go ahead - in particular, look at when the Q1s and the D class were built, compared to the publication of the report (which was a year after their rebuilding).

    If you look at the RCTS 2A designs you will note there is an earlier version of the "standard A2" included in the line drawings at the back, which is based around the A10 and A3 and not the P2s for a rebuild: but much of that thinking for a 6ft 2in design was incorporated into the rebuilds.

    It is entirely notable and not unsurprising that the simpler, more rugged and more numerous locomotive designs had better availability overall than the smaller, more complicated, three cylinder classes. The K2 compared to the other 2-6-0 classes is indeed an eye opener.
     
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  18. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    Yes, Locos of the LNER Part 10B p137-8, some of which apparently found their way to the IoW.
     
  19. clementi

    clementi New Member

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    Cox did not condemn the Gresley valve gear! Let’s examine the background. We must remember first of all that those involved knew each other quite well. The Mechanical & Engineers’ Committee met every fortnight during the war with Stanier as chairman and Cox as his “dogsbody” providing all the technical details. The big four CMEs and their deputies were regular attendees and we can imagine their conversations over tea and lunch breaks. They would be busy comparing locos, traffic conditions and all sorts of other railway business. Cox says that Edward Thompson “had a considerable admiration for Stanier and used to discuss with him, and even me, the various projects he had in mind.” We can assume the topic of the Gresley gear came up fairly frequently as ET sought information from Stanier about three sets of independent valve gear and how it worked out on the LMS. Stanier and Cox would have been well aware of the LNER situation. It is probable that ET sounded Stanier out at one of these meetings regarding the possibility of him doing an independent report. So it would be no great surprise to Stanier when the official request came through in 1942. Stanier was a busy man, so Cox was sent along to do it and duly reported back for the final signing off by the great man himself. So, although some call it the Cox report, it was in reality the Stanier report, and the two men were in total agreement over the contents. Cox is specific that his brief was to examine the condition of the gear as he found it in wartime conditions - not what it could do, or how it behaved pre-war. It was blindingly obvious how good it was with pre-war maintenance. What Cox found though was unassailable. Wear in the 8 pin joints was multiplied by 11 by the time it reached the middle valve, and in the worst cases resulted in 3/8” lost motion. This reduced the port opening at low speed resulting in loss of power. At high speeds the over travel of the valve plus whip from the combining levers, caused the inside cylinder to produce up to 50% more power than either of the outside cylinders. In addition (and probably because of this) the middle big end suffered a larger proportion of failures - six times more than LMS inside big ends on comparable locos. As Cox says, all this was what Thompson could say himself. However, backed up by Stanier’s signature, this was evidence to be presented to the board for Thompson’s vision for the future. For Stewart Cox this was not quite the end though, as Thompson approached him in October 1944 to see if he would come and work for him as Mechanical Engineer (Commercial). Cox was duly interviewed for the post in November but didn’t take up the offer because of upheaval on the LMS due to Fairburn’s continual ill health. It’s interesting to speculate how it might have worked out had Cox been appointed.


    Although Cox would not have used it himself, he knew there was little inherently wrong with the Gresley valve gear as illustrated by his comment in British Railways Standard Locomotives, “….the A4….. was by common consent one of the really great locomotives of the steam era.”
     
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  20. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    “Cox did not condemn the valve gear”.

     

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