If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

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

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

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,224
    Likes Received:
    7,454
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Best recall that, for a very good reason (whatever it was!) we don't talk about Snailbeach. My comment was merely a musing on the sort-of implied notion that it would be odd for a bespoke design to find success away from it's originally intended stamping ground.

    I wonder whether the operation experience of the P1s (which had more grunt than sidings and loops did space for the loads they could haul) had any bearing on the decision to rebuild rather than reallocate? With the A4s occasionally pressed up to 22 coach trains during the war (no doubt to the great delight of stationmasters everywhere), I almost shudder to think what a P2 could've shifted up the ECML, if push came to shove
     
  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    3,957
    Likes Received:
    5,866
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    Sidcup, Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    That the idea that the P2 rebuilds were "costly" by some LNER authors is a nonsense, mostly.

    Further - the Bulleid rebuilds, which produced (in my view, the finest 6ft 2in Pacifics in the UK) were more expensive, partly because of the change in prices, partly due to circumstances, but they remain entirely comparable. That Thompson and his team achieved workable Pacifics for that price, ten years before, is not given the due credit it deserves.
     
    MellishR likes this.
  3. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    3,957
    Likes Received:
    5,866
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    Sidcup, Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I would say the combined experience of running the W1 and A4s over the same route as the P2s convinced that six coupled traction was a better bet.
     
  4. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,224
    Likes Received:
    7,454
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Cards on the table ..... from the very first photo I saw, I always loved the striking lines of the original P2. The Bugatti nosed version really didn't ever grab me. I certainly never expected to see one taking shape before my eyes!

    That notwithstanding, the original decision to opt for an eight coupled loco for the notoriously difficult Aberdeen line always struck me as odd. Evidently, no veto was exercised by the PW engineer (as later experienced by Bulleid), so how was such a novel decision reached? The only 8 coupled machines on the LNER at that point were Gresley's own freight plodders, one U1 Garratt and the ex-GCR O3/O4s. Of these, drivers over 4'-8" dia. only featured on the P1 (5"-2"). That's quite a bold step up in anyone's books.

    With the demise of the P2s, it seems six coupled machines with the same diameter drivers served adequately until the end of steam. Especially as the class emerged after the great depression, it seems fair to wonder whether the P2 was overkill from the start?
     
  5. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    309
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Like almost everything the man designed, JG Robinson's O4s were wonderful though. However, to stay within the thread, I'd offer the Thompson O1 rebuild (of the O4, for the uninitiated) as a candidate for his best locomotive.
     
    Hirn likes this.
  6. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32,503
    Likes Received:
    16,733
    Occupation:
    Training moles
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Citation please.
     
  7. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,224
    Likes Received:
    7,454
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    They were certainly well proportioned rebuild. There's an interesting comment in the LNER encyclopedia.

    "The original GC (Great Central) side rods also tended not to work well with the Walschaerts valve gear, and their boilers suffered the same firebox problems as the B1s".

    The reason behind the first criticism would be interesting to know. In the case of the second, I wonder, were problems related to specific design issues or the standards of materials available at the time?
     
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,539
    Likes Received:
    40,722
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    A new screw reverser is the other obvious high-cost item on a Bulleid conversion, apart from those already listed.

    However - I suspect there is maybe more to it than a straight cost of inflation increase, since there is how that was distributed across the economy. As an example - if the cost of a workshop engineer went up, say, 200% between 1943 - 1955, but e.g. food costs went down, then you might see an overall 75% inflation, but 200% increase in engineering costs.

    Numbers plucked purely from thin air - but the point I'm getting at is that if a Bulleid conversion cost three times a P2 but overall inflation only went up half that in the period, then you'd have to understand how that inflationary cost was made up before definitively saying the P2 conversion looked better value for money. How much did engineering wages change, or steel etc. etc.

    (And that is before you get into any differences in workshop accounting practice and so on).

    Tom
     
  9. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    309
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I actually wonder if both criticisms come from the same place - fireboxes due to material standards the LNER could afford, and re-use of side rods because they couldn't afford not to.

    On my layout (I appreciate this isn't a modelling forum) my Robinson locomotives and my O1 are the leaders of the pack aesthetically.
     
  10. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,224
    Likes Received:
    7,454
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    On the whole, www.lner.info (The LNER Encyclopedia) seems a reasonably balanced source, though scarcely able to go into the levels of detail of @S.A.C. Martin's book.

    Perhaps I'm reading too much into a concise summary, but the firebox issue smacks of shortcomings in metallurgical standards. In the wake of the war, that at least is something mentioned quite frequently across the board.

    With the con rods, you have to assume the works turned out parts to standards specified by the D.O and the wording specifically mentions it's behaviour with Walschaerts gear. Whilst reuse of components underlines the state of LNER finances, it doesn't explain either the exact nature of any problems, or how they related to the outside motion.

    To my eye, the O1 rebuilds have a definite 'North Eastern' look about them. Whether that's chance, design or just me going barmy I don't know!
     
    S.A.C. Martin and paullad1984 like this.
  11. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    3,957
    Likes Received:
    5,866
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    Sidcup, Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Given numerous times in this very thread and in several Thompson books besides - but I have cited it in the book too.
     
  12. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    7,094
    Likes Received:
    4,000
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    Which proved to be a Pyrrhic victory for the railways methinks.

    The Government promised to fund the Modernisation Plan if BR got the strike ended; true to its word the Government provided the funds - BUT as a loan which was repaid at 8% interest hence (a) forcing the railways into an annual loss despite making an operating profit and (b) caused the cessation of the Pilot Scheme before it reached its intended endpoint and (c) encouraging BR to order diesel locomotives off the drawing board - including many faulty designs that the Pilot Scheme would have identified had it followed to its intended conclusion.

    The 1950s were a bad time for many heavy industries when the seeds of the later demise were sown - including BR.
     
    ragl, 62440, MellishR and 4 others like this.
  13. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    7,094
    Likes Received:
    4,000
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    Another factor to bear in mind is that the costs per locomotive would have included a proportion of the workshop's fixed costs (i.e. heating, lighting, building maintenance etc) hence it would be dependent on how the appropriation was made (i.e. was it so much per labour hour, per engine size / weight etc). Unless the conversions were made in the same workshops it would be effectively be a comparison of apples and pears.
     
    30854 and S.A.C. Martin like this.
  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,224
    Likes Received:
    7,454
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Excellent point. During the years between the death of Stroudley and opening of Lancing C&W, things at the cramped Brighton Works became increasingly chaotic, to the point where the outlying LBSC facility at New Cross found itself shouldering an increasing burden. This situation led to some pointed observations concerning cost differentials in Board meetings.

    Of post grouping companies, inheriting several facilities, each with their own way of doing things, the different accounting methodologies alone must have been a continual headache for CMEs and Finance Directors alike. Comparing costings between an LNER works, under wartime control, with an ex-Southern works under nationalisation therefore becomes a seriously "interesting" proposition and one which I'm far happier than not didn't land in my lap!
     
    MellishR and S.A.C. Martin like this.
  15. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32,503
    Likes Received:
    16,733
    Occupation:
    Training moles
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    And the primary evidence that the P2s were not suitable for the ECML outside of Scotland is?
     
  16. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    3,957
    Likes Received:
    5,866
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    Sidcup, Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    We will do this dance again, for the benefit of others, but here is the primary evidence:
    • The use of engine power document, giving their traffic utilisation figures
    • The LNER emergency board minutes, giving reports on their utilisation
    • The locomotive committee minutes, doing the same
    • their engine record cards giving availability, mileages and issues including (but not limited to) hot axleboxes, frame cracking, crank axle failure
    • eye witness accounts including from Torem Beg, Edward Thompson, Arthur Peppercorn, and more, to the emergency board and recorded thusly
    Let us be clear: their suitability on any part of the LNER is called into question by way of the crank axle failures, hot boxes, and poor overall mechanical reliability. They were designed for a specific route, found lacking, and were rebuilt. Their issues may or may not have been exacerbated by the route in question - but the primary evidence we have and that the P2 Trust have undertaken suggest strongly that their issues were one of design, not route.

    If it follows - and it does - that they were poorly utilised on the Scottish routes, and they were performing badly in a mechanical sense too, then the idea that any shedmaster in England would be happy to have them is laughable. The real crux of the matter is that the utilisation figures did matter at the time: shedmasters were beholden to making sure they had the best traction available, and to be frank anyone trying to argue that the Gresley P2s would have been better utilised south is ignoring fundamentally basic and easily researchable evidence to the contrary.

    Even if you believe they should have gone south, the simple fact is they wouldn't have been able to be sent south - you need someone willing to take the class on. I rather think the superior performances of the A3s, A4s and V2s put paid to the P2s ever going south on the LNER in their Gresley form.

    That there were 8 total Mikados on the LNER and all eight were gone by BR days says much about the need for a Mikado and also says much about the general excellence of the Pacifics and V2s on the LNER by comparison.

    Many people claim that the eight coupled wheelbase was necessary - I look the figures and to my mind, with my asset engineer's hat on, I'd rather have the Pacific that's available a quarter of the time more, doing higher mileage, every time.
     
    ragl, 62440, jnc and 5 others like this.
  17. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    5,981
    Likes Received:
    3,659
    Simon has established very clearly that Thompson's rebuilding of the P2s as Pacifics made them much better locos (for the job of pulling trains that needed to be done) but it's less clear whether they could have been rebuilt to overcome their faults while remaining as 2-8-2s and so retaining the benefit of better adhesion, which was presumably part of the rationale for introducing them in the first place. The new one clearly should overcome the faults, but that is with the benefit of modern techniques that did not exist in the 1940s.
     
    jnc, paullad1984 and S.A.C. Martin like this.
  18. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,304
    Likes Received:
    3,275
    Occupation:
    Once computers, now part time writer I suppose.
    Location:
    SE England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Isn't that a bit of a non-sequitur? Yes, anyone would rather have a locomotive that's available a quarter of the time more, doing higher mileage, but clearly the P2 team believe that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with an 8 coupled express locomotive, and all that is required is to solve specific design faults. As the 8 coupled locomotive must have been more expensive than a 6 coupled one the LNER surely believed that they would be able to take trains beyond the reach of a Pacific.
     
  19. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    7,094
    Likes Received:
    4,000
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    Isn't it just possible that Gresley was testing a "What if" hypothesis given the successful operation of Mikado wheel arrangements on the Continent ? Remember that he had already done this with the A4s given that his remit was "What if steam locomotives could be designed to be better than the Flying Hamburger service ?".

    If such was the case could it then be that the restricted UK gauge could have created some of the problems that the wider Continental gauge could accommodate. Note that I ask from the perspective of someone who has ridden in the cab of a DB Class 042 2-8-2 on passenger duty between Emden and Rheine and found the locomotive to be both competent and capable on its 10-coach load working a stopping passenger service. In essence one could say that the class was the equivalent of a UK Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 in the range of duties that they worked from Rheine towards the end of steam in the 1970s.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
    S.A.C. Martin likes this.
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    16,727
    Likes Received:
    13,689
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    But doesn’t that in turn take us down the question of what is possible, versus what was operationally practical?

    A modern steam locomotive operates under racehorse conditions compared to its predecessors in day to day service. That difference in conditions must fundamentally distort how we see them now compared with “back in the day”.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Hirn, jnc, maddog and 1 other person like this.

Share This Page