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Edward Thompson: Wartime C.M.E. Discussion 2012 - 2022

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

  1. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    Stating the obvious the 48 Exchanges must have been organised at very short notice, weeks if not days after
    the Nationalisation implementation. They were not controlled road tests: various observations suggest the
    Nine Elms crews were out to prove that the little old Southern could outperform them all. Whereas the
    LMS crews with the Duchess ( other than Harry Byford’s 88mph through Basingstoke ) took life very
    gently; the schedules required no more. Conversely the Royal Scot crews appear to have regarded it as a
    challenge. (. I could go on ).

    CJA was probably right: for some participants a competitive/sporting event, for others ‘another day at the
    office’. For the new ‘ One Railway’ an opportunity to emphasise the ‘One’ perhaps.

    I am not sure the stats can tell us much more wrt boiler efficiency. How much coal disappeared unburnt
    through the chimney. Probably a significant amount with the Bulleid Pacifics ? AFAIK there was no
    attempt to establish heat flux values. Certainly no thermocouple installations. I suspect thinking
    was more directed to ‘free steaming’ rather than how good heat transfer was across the metal boundary.

    Happy to be proved wrong but I think of the 48 Exchanges as a ‘bit of fun’ with some Public Relations
    advantages. Certainly to an eight year old spotter exciting.

    Michael Rowe.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2022
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  2. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    That begs a question. Was there some 'shadow organisation' operating between the 1947 Transport Act (Royal Assent gained on 6th August 1947) ahead of nationalisation? The railways had (of course) been under government control during the war, remaining so until 31st December 1947. (Attlee's government came to power on 26th July 1945)
     
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  3. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Appointments to the executive would have been made ahead of time. Steamindex on Riddles https://www.steamindex.com/people/riddles.htm includes some notes about activities by the railway executive in late 1947.
     
  4. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    Indeed, but the first meeting of the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Committee took place on January 1 1948
    ( Cox in Locomotive Panoram recounts how the morning was spent hunting for furniture followed by sorting
    out Messing arrangements.). Locomotive Panorama Vol.2

    The committee subsequently set up three separate committees, one of which was Locomotive Testing. Bond
    (Life time with locomotives) notes that Loco Standardisation was chaired by Dymond. This Committee established
    the basis for the Locomotive Exchanges. i.e. dynamometer test routes and locomotives.

    The .Government Control of the Railways from 1939 onwards undoubtedly helped the Committee
    members, from different Railways, to quickly work together as many had sat together on various joint Committees
    during the War. Although it was not sufficient ( according to Bond ) for an agreement on any specific existing design
    to be accepted as a Standard.

    Bond considered the Exchange Tests important because they showed that one design of loco could work throughout
    the UK. He cites the WC between Perth and Inverness.

    However it is very clear the three month Testing ( Exchanges) programme was set up at very short notice early 1948.

    An interesting point I had forgotten. Bond implies that Cox had commenced work on the 12 Standard
    designs at the beginning of 1948. Presumably at the behest of Riddles.

    Cook in GWR Steam, whilst observing the momentous events of 1948 notes matters at Swindon continued
    unchanged for some time.

    Interesting times, Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2022
  5. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Just returning briefly to the 1948 Exchanges for a moment, I'm pretty certain that notwithstanding the quality of the Southern locomotives that were involved, and with the benefit of live commentary by one of the firemen who was involved - i.e. Bert Hooker - we can assume that the SR locos were pushed and performed well. So in some respects the whole event was not as forensically scientific as was made out by those who wrote about it.

    For the MNs you must surely go to the rather more thorough Performance and Efficiency Test data carried out on Merchant 20 (rebuilt) together with the Rugby Testing Plant data on Merchant 22 (original) and Merchant 25 (rebuilt).

    Sadly the performance tests were started around 1950 and focused on only a few classes such as BR Standards (4,5,7,8,9) and the MN.
     
  6. Bill2

    Bill2 New Member

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    A note of caution about the 1948 evaporation figures: Bulleid Pacifics don't have exhaust steam injectors whereas I think all the other participants did and presumably used them. These injectors are claimed to save over 5% on coal consumption and doubtless something on steam consumption as well though I have not seen any figures, and thus both the numerator and denominator in the evaporation calculation will be affected. Therefore comparing the Bulleid 1948 evaporation figures with those of other contestants is not strictly a like for like exercise. This takes nothing away from the excellent Bulleid boilers though...
     
  7. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I think the salient point is that none of it is "like for like" particularly.

    Part of the overall evaluation was in relation to valve gear; odd choices made by the eastern region in Mallard and Seagull when the reality was that a Peppercorn A2 should have been used - they had abandoned conjugated valve gear for new builds in 1941 and by 1948 the newer Pacifics of Thompson and Peppercorn design were in use with three sets of walschaerts valve gear.
     
  8. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Doesn't that go back to the question of what people thought the 1948 trials were for? My own reading has always been that they were nearer to a game of "Top Trumps" between the former companies, and less about a genuinely objective assessment of BR's inherited locomotive fleet to inform future direction. Even without the Rugby testing station, there seemed to be too many variables in the conduct of the trials for them to be much more than impressionistic.
     
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  9. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Is that because if they had been truly scientific and the LMS designs had come bottom of the league tables, that would have put the kibosh on the template for the standards?
     
  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Possibly, though I was heading down that particular track, and more down the more Machiavellian one the one of allowing all of the regions to feel involved while Riddles and team did what they wanted to do anyway.
     
  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    ER's choice of A4s was not that odd. They were still the flagship locos of the old LNER and Mallard was the world record holder. I have no doubt that old company loyalties were very strong in what were still the early days of BR. It doesn't surprise me in the least that LNER/BR(E) staff sent their pride and joy off to the exchange trials. Seagull's climb of Hemerdon impressed the GWR/(BR(W) inspector to the extent that he declared his old company had nothing to match the loco.
     
  12. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I knew after I sent that it was the wrong thing to say!

    Of course I agree, old company allegiances die hard, etc, and completely understand that. If it was a serious engineering exercise, a Peppercorn A2 should have been sent. The A4 sent purely as a PR exercise (somewhat losing that argument with the failures encountered with the middle big end though).

    That feels most likely to be fair.
     
  13. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    I referred to R.C.Bonds “A Lifetime with Locomotives ( post 5604 )
    Chapter 9 p.180 “Nationalisation, the first five years” is ( if not already read )
    well worth a read. Riddles was a master it would appear at divide and
    rule.

    Riddles assembled his team, which all bar two ( Charles Cock and Archie
    Dent ) were ex LMS. When this caused some comments he called a
    meeting of the former ‘ big Four ‘ CMEs and according to H.G.Ivett who
    was present “ Names were put forward . It was open to anyone to make
    alternative suggestions. None that were generally acceptable were
    forthcoming.”

    Similarly, presumably when the later Loco Standardisation C’ttee
    considered which existing designs might become a BR standard; there
    was no agreement.

    Meanwhile p.201 when discussing the Loco Exchanges.
    “While all this had been going on Stewart Cox had been busy formulating
    proposals for the new standard engines, 999 of which were ultimately built”

    Regarding the Exchanges Bond wrote “One thing which the Tests did was
    to demolish the idea, held by some opposed to standardisation , that a locomotive
    designed primarily for service over easily graded routes was inherently
    unsuitable in hilly country. It was shown beyond question that locomotives
    indigenous to the south of England were equally effective between Perth and
    Inverness.”

    Why an A4 and not an A2, I think perhaps because they were better known
    and Riddles, Cox and Bond had all worked with Gresley and his team pre
    War, inter alia over plans etc for the Rugby Test facility. I may be wrong but
    I do not sense the same camaraderie twixt the LMS team and either Thompson
    or Peppercorn.

    The Exchanges as far as I can see offered no new insights. Bond does make the
    claim (p. 201) “ The results of the tests could certainly have been used to
    support a case for adopting the existing LMS locomotives as they stood as
    the new standards if Riddles had wished to follow this course.”

    My own limited view of the Exchanges is that irrespective of anything else
    the different approach of the various crews makes any evaluation difficult.
    In terms of performance ( eg power developed ) I suggest the most
    interesting were the mixed traffic locos between Exeter and Bristol. The
    combination of heavy load and timetable requirements occasioned comparable
    hard work from the Hall, Stanier 5 and B1 affording a comparison.

    The whole exercise was obviously good fun and as regards the Riddles/Cox/
    Bond intentions I think it was classic, with apologies to James Elroy Flecker,
    “ let the dogs bark and have their days, whilst the design progresses. “

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2022
  14. maddog

    maddog New Member

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    The locomotive exchanges seem more like a PR exercise or political manoeuvering, which would tie in i suppose with what's said. The record breaking A4s would command more media presence than the latest pacifics, and the inclusion of the rebuilt Royal Scots might be a sign of a pushing of one point of view. As mentioned the book by CJ Allen reads more as a competition (like most of his books), when as shown in this thread, locomotive records perhaps give a greater way to compare, and not forgetting access to the Rugby testing plant for true comparisons should they be necessary.
     
  15. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    Who decided which locomotives to exchange? Was it Riddles; the regional CME’s; Chiefs of Operations; or some kind of weird committee set up just for that purpose?
     
  16. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I have said this before, but unless a more detailed breakdown of their records is found, we are unlikely to get this exact comparison made.

    Class B16 is recorded as a single class and not sub divided into its parts in the Use of Engine Power document, which is consistent in comparison to other locomotive classes.

    However I point to the Cox report and the overall availability of other similar Gresley engines as hard evidence that Thompson looking to convert the walschaerts equipped B16/2 was probably in line with what we knew about the class.
     
  17. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

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    I've just finished reading Simon's book on Mr Thompson. I found it an easy read - the writing is very clear, concise and lucid.

    It is unlike any other locomotive history book that I've read, due to the focus on maintenance and availability issues. There are no lists of engine numbers and tables of dimensions, nor the emphasis found elsewhere on speed and performance achievements.

    There is a short section devoted to the post-war LNER coaches, commonly called "Thompson Coaches". If the book goes to a second edition, I suggest the addition of a couple of pictures and some bibliography entries where further info can be obtained. Thompson coaches are comparatively rare in preservation and I suspect many readers will be unfamiliar with them. I have never travelled in one, although I vaguely recollect seeing a non-gangwayed example at Pickering. My only knowledge of them came from a discussion and photographs in David Jenkinson's book "British Railway Carriages of the 20th Century".

    For anyone who is interested, I found this web-page:

    https://www.steve-banks.org/prototype-and-traffic/390-lner-thompson-gangwayed-1
     
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  18. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    That is most kind of you to say, I am gratified. I have grown up in a household where myself and my sibling had learning difficulties (mine maths based, my sister's is dyslexia) and I have always been conscious about paragraphing so that points are brought across as concisely as possible. Older railway books have walls of texts that to someone with learning difficulties, can present very real challenges.

    The font choice was also important - for which we recreated the LNER Gill Sans type font, which is easy on the eye to read and also in keeping with the subject matter.

    I am also gratified that you feel this way. It was intended to take a very different direction to that which went before. An evidence based approach in addition, helps!

    The Thompson coaches section unfortunately was incomplete and thus a shortened version was used in the first edition.

    I have been working on a second edition alongside my Gresley and Bulleid books and, rest assured, I intend to do more on the Thompson rolling stock, by way of covering all of the different types developed.

    For anyone who has read the book who would be willing to leave a review on the Strathwood site, there is a link in my signature. I would be most grateful for feedback, however much you agree or disagree with the piece.
     
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  19. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    It is true that there are relatively few Thompson-era carriages preserved. The SRPS have a non-corridor brake compo and an open third that I think are both in use at Bo'ness. The NYMR have a corridor third in traffic, a non-corridor lavatory composite under restoration and a part-restored corridor composite awaiting further work. The Yorkshire Dales have a buffet car (ex-Llangollen) due to enter service before too long, and the North Norfolk have a corridor brake third under restoration - and that's it for passenger-carrying stock.
     
  20. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Wasn’t there 3 Thompson sleeping cars that survived but then cut up? Asbestos contaminated?
     

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