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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. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    [​IMG]
     
  2. 242A1

    242A1 Member

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    Simon, Thompson Pacifics can be laughed off the page on engineering grounds quite easily. If only the job of CME had gone to Spencer. At least Peppercorn had the decency to bring him back into the centre of things.

    Anyway, this thread is about a Gresley engine that has gone through a number of misfortunes, the sad results of which are, in the main, being attended to.

    Hopefully it will not be too long before Ian is able to post details of the assembly and alignment of the new sections of frame and the fabricated saddle. Once the subsequent welding job has been completed the engine will probably go back together again quite smartly. There should not be much left in the way of components that require attention.
     
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  3. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Whilst not wishing to "pour oil on troubled waters" the rebuild of 60113 was also IMHO the last fling of the NER designs in that the cylinders were placed between the driving wheels and the bogie rather than - as on other company's designs - between the axles of the bogie itself. In that context how far was 60113 valuable as the last example of that concept and what effect would that have had on frame design / length had the design been perpetuated on further rebuilds and new designs ?
     
  4. Sir Nigel Gresley

    Sir Nigel Gresley New Member

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    Wasn't the cylinder placing a result of the desire to keep the con-rods the same length, and yet have the inside cylinder driving the leading axle? As an absurd example of this, consider the Flaman 4-cyl Pacifics of the SNCB! (Not the ones which look like mini-P2's: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_State_Railways_Type_10)
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014
  5. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    I'm hesitant about prolonging the discussion of the Thompson rebuild of Great Northern, unless perhaps it deserves to be hived off into a separate thread. But I think it's worth highlighting one aspect not yet mentioned: Thompson's choice of that particular loco, rather than any of the other Gresley pacifics, for rebuilding. That is widely regarded as having been deliberate revenge for his missing the CME post at the Grouping. He COULD have rebuilt a different loco and left Great Northern in either A10 or A3 form for possible eventual preservation. We would then, today, not have the feeling that the rebuild was sacrilege but only the aesthetic arguments against a new build Thompson A1.
     
  6. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    It was always claimed that it just happened to be the next one scheduled for a major overhaul in the works ...
     
  7. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Not sure it goes as far back as grouping, though Thompson married Raven's daughter and might have expected to follow on if Raven had been CME of the LNER.
    It's all been gone through before, see http://railways.national-preservation.com/threads/thompson-the-good-the-bad-etc.35938/ I think that thread was a hive off from another thread too.
     
  8. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Perhaps the Thompson posts should be relocated back to that thread then?

    Then by all means put forward your argument for why they can be"laughed off the page". I look forward to it.
     
  9. Muzza

    Muzza New Member

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    Simon,
    I fall well and truly into the Gresley camp and consider the Thompson Pacifics to be less than beautiful (although I have to admit that 113 looked impressive).
    However I have to admire your defence of some of the Thompson designs. After all they were not failures.
    Over the last few discussions on the subject, I have at least had to pause to consider the points you have made. And that is what this forum should be about. So thank you for your contributions.
    Only why did it have to be 4470........?
     
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  10. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    I stand corrected.
     
  11. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    4470 was one of the last 180lb A1s left and as such the choice of rebuild was limited.

    Why pick 4470? Well, few seem to consider or accept that perhaps Thompson - like Gresley - had some affinity for the old pre-grouping company. In Peter Grafton's book on Thompson, emphasis is placed on the idea that Thompson was designing a new 6ft 8in express locomotive - and if his ideas worked, and were successful, it would be fitting to be on a new Great Northern. That to me makes more sense than any suggestion of malice.

    Fewer people have noted that Thompson worked for the Great Northern, and North Eastern, Railways, and was also head of the works of the third major company in the LNER setup - Stratford, and the Great Eastern Railway. 4470's original form in GER blue livery, NE on the tender and GN as its name could very easily have been his tributes to three railway companies which he was known to have been very fond of. The GER in particular where he was able to put his hand to design modifications under Gresley's direction (D16/3, B12/3). I prefer to think the best of people, so to me this makes sense.

    There was nothing inherently wrong with 4470 and once settling down with full size cab and deflectors, and a change in regulator, was a well spoken of locomotive. Peter Townend has described it in several publications as an "excellent locomotive" although the caveat of the Thompson front end applies.

    I have always felt the Raven connection was overplayed, as least in terms of the engineering. Thompson's work has far more in common with William Stanier's thinking, and this is probably most evidence with the work on his Pacifics (Stanier's stillborn three cylinder Pacific concept bears uncanny resemblances to Great Northern in several ways).
     
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  12. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Before this topic is exhausted, perhaps I can mention another book that throws light on Thompson's time in office: Ian Allan 1979: Col. H C B Rogers: "Thompson & Peppercorn, Locomotive Engineers". There are four chapters on Thompson: - "Thompson Takes Control", " Thompson's Only Design Memorial", "The Thompson Pacifics", and finally "Thompson's Other Engines".
    I have read through this thread, but cannot see it mentioned. Apologies if I missed a reference to it.
    Edit: If you are minded to buy this book, I found the later (1990's) Book Law reprint has better quality illustrations than the 1970's first edition.

    46118
     
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  13. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    Ah yes, the Colonel Rogers book - the greatest hatchet job on a locomotive engineer ever penned. To be fair (!) there are some interesting bits of information presented but little of it is written objectively. The description of the Thompson Pacifics is a world away from that described by people who actually ran the things (Peter Townend for one).

    Peter Grafton's remains the most objective assessment of the man, but doesn't have the level of technical knowledge of his designs that can be found in Peter Townend's excellent books. East Coast Pacifics at Work for me is the most objective assessment in terms of the engineering.
     
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  14. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Not sure with respect that I agree with your assessment of the Rogers book, but perhaps we should allow Nat Pres members to make their own judgement.
    For myself I found the Rogers book quite balanced in terms of both "technical" and "personality" issues.
     
  15. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think the thing is, whether a book is perceived as a hatchet job depends on where you sit with regards to the topic.

    I am presently re-reading Day-Lewis's biography of Bulleid, its an interesting read but equally some of the detail/research is very lacking for instance a reference to 'C J Churchwards Castle Class'. It is incredibly gushing about both Bulleid and Gresley which I imagine if you are a follower of either will be very good and perceived as a balanced opinion - however it is also somewhat scathing about others (often with little evidence) therefore it may be a 'hatchet job' to others?
     
  16. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Straws and clutching come to mind. The NE on the tender was simply because that's how all LNER engines became marked in wartime.
     
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  17. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    There were 18 A1s left, of which 13 had the original frames. 4470 had received new frames in 1933, so was more "modernised" than the 13 with original frames.

    E S Cox notes of Thompson that "-another part of his mind was clearly occupied by thoughts of the locomotives he was going to design, and the name he was going to make for himself in correcting the mistakes of his predecessor, as he clearly thought them to be." To pick the first Gresley pacific in order to show the locomotive design establishment how clever he was may not have been malicious, but it certainly seems arrogant, even if it had worked out perfectly.
    Thinking the best of people is one thing, trying to find excuses is another.
    Peter Townsend sums up his discourse on the A1/1 as follows "An otherwise excellent engine, generally more powerful and easier to work than in it's original form (single chimney A1), slightly if anything more economical than the majority of the A4s at the time (single chimney since only 4 had the double kylchap of 4470), had been spoiled by the positioning of the outside cylinders and the problems arising therefrom" So, better than a single chimey low pressure A1 and a bit more economical than a single chimney A4. No comparison with a double kylchap A4. or even Humorist, the double kylchap A3.

    Damned with faint praise...
    Stanier and Cox were asked to report on the conjugated valve gear. to quote Cox again "but he(Thompson) no doubt used the final report over Stanier's signature to full effect with his direectors in the Machiavelliean campaign he was conducting against all things Gresley"

    Cox has no irons in the fire, being straight LMS, so I tend to take his view as being realistic.
     
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  18. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Talking of books (and sorry if it's already been mentioned) Cecil J Allen does a good piece on the Thompson Pacifics in British Pacific Locomotives. In general he is pretty evenhanded across all the regions' pacifics that he reviews but you come away with the feeling that he didn' rate the man although he recognised that the locomotives had a turn of speed. I can't help but wonder why Thompson seemed to be so apparently spiteful about his predecessor. He was publicly critical of Gresley's inside motion valve gear for example although to be fair, it was at a time when ease of maintenance was increasingly seen as a priority.

    It's at a later period but contrast that with the manner in which Jarvis tackled the Bulleid design. Yes there were issues with, inter alia, the valve gear but I don't get the same sense of the need to 'score points' in order to make the practical modifications that were needed. So the thread title is pretty apposite, I think.
     
  19. David Bigcheeseplant

    David Bigcheeseplant New Member

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    Maybe after a few years when 2007 has been running and needs a major overhaul it could be rebuilt as a Thompson pacific!
     
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  20. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Off topic, well a bit: On the subject of "hatchet jobs" / "carefully-balanced weighing of all available evidence" in books. In the series of DL Bradley histories covering the locomotive history of the Southern and its constituents, he appears to be scrupulously objective, except in one case - you can't help thinking that he has a distinct animus against the original Bulleid pacifics. In his discussions of more or less any engine, he seems to weigh the known evidence in a carefully balanced fashion, but when it comes to the original pacifics ... Interestingly, he falls over himself to praise the rebuilds, going so far as to say that the rebuilt Merchant Navies were the finest express engines to run in the country (followed by the A4s). It's all very odd!

    Tom
     

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