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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. clinker

    clinker New Member

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    Two years after Rood Ashton Hall was scrapped
     
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  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Seconded. really interesting post, much food for thought.
     
  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Thank you. Methodology is a very very dry subject so I am wary of boring people with it. I do think it matters because there some railway historians whose approach to handling material I think has been a little bit suspect in the past. I don't think that Simon is mishandling the material and I do think his approach is sound and so should be defended.

    What we are keen to avoid is spurious relationships which is why I think the micro level unpacking is really important. To illustrate a good example of a spurious relationship is this:

    [​IMG]

    Something I meant to add, Simon's findings can also change the way in which we look at the individual testimonies. So to go back to my example of different sheds having different availabilities, you still want to explain why, but you don't know why.

    So I think in the past, it would be a case of look for all the negative comments about Thompson locomotives - and the response is 'see crews hated them'. So we're looking for the effect but rarely the cause - or rather we work off the assumption that they are 'bad locos'.

    By working out that say availability varies depending where you are, you shift the focus, so now you read looking for every piece of evidence that might explain low availability (and of course in turn poor maintenance might well explain crew negativity). So a source that you might have skipped over before because they never talked about Thompson but all they did was complain about how the foreman was a bastard and how you worked long hours, the pay sucked, you were always understaffed, the union was militant and management confrontational and you said sod this and went down the road after less than a year, suddenly gives you a window into the shed environment. Someone who never directly talks about Thompson engines may well give you a greater insight into the lives of Thompson's locos than someone who recounts a story of how fast or how well a Thompson loco went on a single trip. We 'read differently'.

    OK. I promise I will stop now.
     
  4. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    @Monkey Magic Love it .... I had something similar in mind demonstrating a clear correlation between tractor ownership (plus another variable) and voting patterns during a certain referendum. T'was the nature of the 'other variable*' which led me to decide against said correlation, on the grounds of taste.

    *Forget it, not gonna happen! :cool:
     
  5. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    We know that engine record could could be, and was, manipulated. Peter Townend and others have published various stories of how locos that were clapped out but short of shopping criteria were parked but nominally allocated spurious mileage accumulating "turns" until they could be proposed for shopping. Whether such dodges made a significant difference to the overall figures probably cannot be determined now, but it is a possibility to be considered when drawing the nth level of data from official records, though!
     
  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    But are you suggesting that all records are manipulated or just some are? Because the data set I have is huge. It covers between 6500 and 7000 locomotives per year, for five years. We have so much data, in fact, that it took me three years to transpose into a spreadsheet and a further year to analyse more fully for the purposes of the book.

    The engine record cards are recorded by different departments within the LNER. The fact we can cross reference the mileages of the Pacific locomotives and find that any discrepancies are small is significant. It means by and large that recording in the LNER was largely consistent between departments, sheds, and more.

    I understand we have some first hand accounts of some dubious record keeping but the data set we have suggests very, very strongly that this wasn't widespread, wasn't every day, and certainly isn't a large enough phenomena throughout the years to change the overall story that we have.

    And this is the thing what if the causes that are reported aren't entirely factual?

    If we accept that the engine record cards, use of engine power and availability statistics are accurately recorded, or at the very least, a reasonably accurate reflection of events - then my research is indicating that some of the claims made about the Thompson Pacifics, in particular, are overplayed or false (e.g. frame cracking being a major issue - by far more problematic for the A2/2s, as an example, was the small pool of boilers with no spare at one point).

    It's a fascinating insight into apocryphal stories, for sure.

    Please don't stop. It is really interesting stuff and I personally am learning a lot from this. Many thanks for taking the time to share.
     
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  7. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    My point is simply that when analysing the data a certain degree of caution needs to be used, particularly as you go deeper. We don't know how often this sort of "fiddling" went on, but I'm pretty sure that Dick Hardy mentioned doing something similar from time to time so perhaps it wasn't that uncommon with what were, let's face it, rather crude machines. Perhaps you could do an analysis of the numbers of railway authors mentioning such questionable practices! (only joking!)
     
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  8. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    He certainly did mention that, but only with a freight loco where a few miles shunting a day could be fiddled. He also mentioned sticking a B17 on the least demanding slowest job he could roster it for, 100 miles a day for 200 days from Ipswich to Lowestoft because it was unfit for anything else.

    In an ideal world, it would be interesting to know, over their lives, what proportion of mileage the various sub classes of A2 did on front line top link duties, at what point they were effectively cascaded down from that etc. Did they become supernumerary V2s? Why did they end up at (with all due respect) second level sheds like New England?

    Again in an ideal world, it would be interesting to have some comparative data with West Countries, Brits, 70xx Castles etc. Then you face the challenges of non-comparable operating conditions (eg relatively short runs on the Southern).

    I agree with the sentiment that a well-rounded narrative includes data analysis, the shedmaster view, the crew view, the performance view against tasks and the whole life cost view.
     
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  9. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    We're assuming of course that the railway sees sheds like New England as "second string". I think the economist and engineer in the railway would have a very different view to that of the enthusiast. Which do we think made more money for the company? The Thompson B1 - over 400 examples - or the Gresley A4 - 34 examples?

    We place far too much emphasis on just the express portion of the railway, and not enough on the bread and butter of the railway: which ultimately was mixed traffic, freight, coal, suburban traffic from the urban centres.
     
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  10. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    .......especially over the war years.
     
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  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    You’re comparing apples with oranges I’m afraid. Whilst 400+ B1s may have earned the railway more money in total, the A4s brought kudos and put the railway very firmly in the public eye.
     
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  12. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Clumsy on my part. I really meant the type of work available at those places for the A2s and what they actually covered.

    And I totally agree that a well rounded account of any CME would cover all significant contributions to rolling stock in all classes. Even restricting it to locos, in Thompson's case, that would mean B1s, L1s and the various freight rebuilds. That's a big book!
     
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  13. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Which doesn't undermine the point about the economist. The important point is that the LNER would have struggled to have survived without both the high profile express passenger locomotives and the humble workaday duties done out of the attention of the public. Financially, though, I suspect the goods traffic (especially minerals) was much more important to the railway than the icing on the cake of the express passenger duties.
     
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  14. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I mean sure - the A4s were amazing for PR - and you know my love for them is deep! But the bottom line is the majority of the work done on the LNER wasn't by the Pacific classes, it was done by the mixed traffic and freight locos.

    More locos in a class, the higher the availability, the higher the annual mileage: the more money earned for the company - because at the end of the day it's the revenue earning trains that matter to the directors, investors and similar.
     
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  15. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    The same can be said of all top link passenger locos. The Black 5s will have earned more the Stanier’s Pacifics, hardly surprising given how many were built, but that doesn’t mean that the Pacifics were not of importance.
     
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  16. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    And to continue your analogy, both apples and oranges have value but if you are talking about vitamin C then oranges win ten fold.

    And isn't that the point of the original comment? The LNER over the war period wasn't exclusively (or even mostly) about beautiful steam locomotives rushing passengers all over the ECML. Having read the book, which is not about how wonderful Gresley and his A4s were - which of course is correct - it does give a good 'in the round' picture of Thompson, what he was asked to do and what he did. He strikes me as a half decent engineer and a necessary man of the time.
     
  17. Bikermike

    Bikermike Member

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    34 A4s, how many A1/3/10? Add the 78 of them, and you are up to 100. Which is clearly less than 400, but up from a tenth to a quarter.
    B17s, J39s, J50s, N2s, K3s, O1s?
    Gresley may have been most famous for pacifics, but he did turn out workaday stuff as well. We are in danger of recasting Gresley as nothing but a purveyor of exotica.
     
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  18. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Kudos and publicity don’t exactly pay the bills or give the shareholders their dividend though do they?
     
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  19. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    That depends on how much your publicity costs in relation to the additional income (i.e. passengers / freight) it generates. I would presume that since the A4s were in the public eye they wouldn't need much additional advertising but their presence would encourage additional custom for the passenger services on the ECML hence the ECML competing with the WCML for anglo-Scots traffic.
     
  20. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Someone will say if this is wrong but I don't think the LNER paid a dividend in its entire existence.
     

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