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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. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    As I’m not involved in the design of the new P2, I would respectfully suggest that your questions are best aimed at those who are.
     
  2. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    No, I won't bother, bearing in mind the experience of a friend a few years ago. He retired as Chief Engineer of a major UK construction company, amongst other things being involved with power stations, so is no idiot. He wrote to the A1 Trust following the inside cylinder and valve gear damage sustained by 60163 near Sandy in 2018 with suggestions as to the cause. The reply he received (and I'm trying to put this politely) implied that unsolicited advice wasn't considered to be very welcome. As a result of this letter being received, there was no encouragement on my friend's part to engage in further correspondence with them. Based on that experience, any approach by myself would be unlikely to achieve anything different.

    While on the subject of this 60163 incident, were the results of the subsequent investigation ever made public?
     
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  3. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Sounded interesting, to get the details; then I looked it up. The topic's not that interesting!
    Absolutely. But, I'm not sure if the axle failures on the originals have ever been fully and completely explained (unlike, say, the Comet crashes in the 1950s).

    If they haven't, it's pretty much an engineering truism that the new design might not have fixed the problem. I hope they have, but without more details...
    Exactly.

    Noel
     
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  4. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    This all looks very factual and official when you read this section in isolation.

    I have had to, however, completely disregard this evidence for a number of reasons.

    The Thompson L1 is one of those locomotives for which I have acquired additional evidence as to their issues, availability and mileages. I have spent a lot of time going over data and reports from British Railways, Eastern Region. The dataset for the production Thompson L1s will not appear in the Thompson book as I am specifically writing on Thompson's work during the war period. However, I intend to do a follow up at some point once I have finished working on the data.

    The biggest eye opener though is that for this to have been the case in 1949, you'd have expected the Thompson L1s to have been in service for some time - and given that they only started to appear at Neasden during 1949, I am not sure that L.P. Parker's statements are reflective of what was actually happening.

    I have also had to disregard this evidence.

    Axle box wedges were not dispensed with entirely by the LNER and I remain sceptical that Thompson made any order to dispense with this practice. The key difference is that for some new components for the new classes some degree of fabrication of axle boxes was experimented with where foundry capacity was significantly reduced during the second world war for the war effort.

    The prototype L1, however, was built during 1944 and 45 and was released to traffic in 1945 for which it was the only Thompson L1 in service until 1948, undertaking significant testing for some years as the sole example of its class.

    The production variants had changes made to their design by Peppercorn and his design team, and the changes were mostly cosmetic. The issues of welding in the tanks and the axleboxes appear to be manufacturing defects, and not as suggested, defects in the design of the locomotives.

    This is part of the problem when discussing Thompson and his locomotives. Design and manufacturing faults are mixed up so that there is a blurring of the lines between the two. The dataset I have been investigating suggests strongly that the Thompson L1s were not as poor as has been described. Certainly the complaints at Neasden shed about virtually brand new locomotives doesn't match up with the evidence available to me. It might have been the case that one or two locomotives worked poorly as described - but the statistical evidence in the form of records gives us a very different point of view on these locomotives.

    It seems to be a running theme with anything Thompson in origin - some facts ignored, some stories embellished, then a myth is made and it's almost always negative in the main. When you address the core primary material: a different story emerges.
     
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  5. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Just so. And I repeat, I think the A1ST knows all about motion so whatever caused problems with the P2 first time around, it's pretty sensible to assume that well over 70 years later and with the new technology available, it is inconceivable that a new build would not have addressed any relevant issues with the original design if indeed they are a concern.

    And to answer @Spamcan81 and #4408 plus #4416 I hope my longer answer unpacks this all for you in enough detail to avoid confusion.
     
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  6. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Without wishing to get ahead of my own research (ongoing) with the L1s - but the evidence I have available to me suggests strongly that the L1s really weren't as bad as they are made out to be as a class.

    No such thing. If anything, the LNER suffered from having too many different loco classes, boiler types, and far too large a stores for the sheer variety of rolling stock they had. The GWR got it right, frankly...!
     
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  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Well in theory there probably is, which I thought was the point being made. No danger of that occurring on the LNER though as you rightly say!
     
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  8. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Yes, although I don't recall if it was toward the 'press release' end of the spectrum, or the 'full report'; my vague recollection is that it was closer to the former. The details are in the Tornado thread, but I can't be bothered to look for them. (This story gives some details.) I'm fairly sure it was not a single cause, but the combination of several factors; IIRC, a lubrication issue was one of them, but not speed (as in 'it would probably have happened eventually anyway').

    Noel
     
  9. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Please don’t let them know that Simon! We’ll never hear the end of it otherwise! :)
     
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  10. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    And all of this would be perfectly reasonable, if the datasets show that a certain class is performing badly as described by said shedmaster. So we need to be careful with the oral history being used as the "truth" because by and large what we've been told orally on Thompson's work hasn't stood up to scrutiny when compared with the records.

    I understand what you are saying. However, the Rogers book needs to be read to understood fully just how poor it is. I think that's where I should leave it - a few people have commented that it's not becoming of an author criticising other authors and I dare say they're right to an extent. So I shall keep schtum.
     
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  11. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    Coming at this from a slightly different direction (i.e. beyond what I've read on this thread I don't know much about Thompson, but I do know about the GC London Extension, as it's my main interest...), weren't there actually two problems with the L1s?

    First, as has been noted, the *manufacturing* defects.

    Second, we've got the (well respected) Neasden shedmaster here complaining that these go anywhere, do anything tank locomotives weren't the promised answer to their prayers (presumably prayers for an A5 replacement) on the fast commuter services.... which would be lovely if the L1 was indeed a go anywhere, do anything tank locomotive. Isn't the problem that that is how they were used but not what they were designed for - which was (relatively, for a tank engine) longer range, through running, *not* stop start commuter services?

    Basically my (potentially wrong) understanding has been that the L1s were misallocated to Neasden in view of the high speed stop start running, and it's no surprise (coupled with the manufacturing issues) that they thrashed themselves to bits....*

    On the other hand I have a lovely model one, but then it's happier on my Woodford-Banbury than it would have been thrashing Marylebone-Princes Risborough....

    *granted (and looking forward to it) your data may show otherwise!
     
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  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    If I may rebuttal this respectfully - we have enough primary evidence to show that there was nothing inherently wrong with the design, and that it was perfectly capable of doing the commuter traffic and stop/start passenger services described.

    I would hazard against the use of the words "thrashed themselves to bits" - if the datasets, reports and similar that are available showed this clearly, then I'd be happier using those sorts of phrases. But they don't show that at all - I remain sceptical.
     
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  13. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    I think you make a valid point here, going a bit further north and forward a few years, didn’t staff at Tyseley complain about how useless the 82xxx tanks were compared to the 41xx and 51xx Prairies (that had a bit more grunt?) that they were used to on suburban work around Birmingham?
     
  14. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    To be fair, Simon, the GWR only took in a few small railways in Wales as part of the 1923 amalgamation. On the other hand the LNER was formed out of five major plus one smaller system in Scotland. Thus it was inevitable that they would have many more loco classes than the GWR.
     
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  15. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    fair enough - I can only go on what I've read, and as this thread shows, a lot of that might be wrong!
     
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  16. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

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    According to RCTS: "Horn wedges were provided on Nos 67731 onwards to take up any slackness between the axlebox and and horn liners resulting from wear". No 67731 was the first of a batch from NBL, built Oct 1948.

    The tender-engine equivalent of the L1, the Thompson/Peppercorn K1 2-6-0, didn't seem to share the L1 reputation for axlebox problems. The K1 had a larger boiler than the L1 but presumably shared many chassis components. K1s lasted through the final years of BR steam, with some remaining in service until 1967. Which leaves me wondering whether there were detail differences that made the K1 a more robust engine than the L1, whether the K1s lasted longer through being on less stressful work (slower passenger and freight trains) or else L1s were withdrawn early through being concentrated in areas that were dieselised early.
     
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  17. Eightpot

    Eightpot Well-Known Member Friend

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    I only wish that you could come back in time with me and to where I lived between Potters Bar and Hatfield in the 1950s. The clatter made by the L1s was comparable with WD 2-8-0s, 'Concrete Mixers' being a very apt nick-name.
     
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  18. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I'm sure they were loud! They had a single bar, slide bar design, shared entirely with the Peppercorn K1s. Most two cylinder locos when run down can clank. That's factual. Nobody is going to question your recollection of how they sounded, happily!

    The question is whether or not they could do the job and were they as bad as described?

    We've got to be careful with this. I think if this thread has shown anything up - it's the importance of research and the quality of the material researched.
     
  19. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Absolutely - but a glance at the stats I have collated suggests the LNER should have been removing older classes and reducing their overall fleet numbers decades earlier. That's a book in itself though...!
     
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  20. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Yes - this is one of the bits of evidence that is something of a smoking gun where certain testimonies are concerned with the L1s.

    The axlebox problem, I feel (though cannot now prove of course!) is actually due to water ingress and detritus from the leaking tanks. Once these were better welded - the welds being the main issue on many of them - this issue with the axleboxes, together with the mentioned wedges - seemed to go away. The dataset I have been working on suggests that the earliest production locos did have problems, but that these were limited to only around 10 of the full class.

    That's probably where I should leave it for the next book, of course.
     
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