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Francis Webb,good or bad?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Hermod, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Well, the same people manufactured the Bill Baileys, all the other Compounds and all the simple engines too, and the same people maintained and overhauled them, so presumably all to the same standards. But each design is unique in itself.

    Unfortunately, this thread has followed to pattern of all discussions of Frank Webb and is concentrating on his compounds, and I must admit to being just as guilty as everyone else. In practice, loco design was only a small part of his remit, and Compounds formed only a small part of his design work. His enlargement and reorganisation of Crewe works, his introduction of steel making, his responsibility for repairs, his involvement in signalling, the many patents he took out, his involvement in the local government of the town, his laying out of a municipal park and provision of an orphanage, while some have been briefly mentioned, have been subverted by a few hundred Compound locomotives.
     
  2. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    The Webb problem is that we love underdog hero stories that save the day after a catastrophy and Whale fits perfectly.
    All the end of century CMEs were in trouble with trains that got to heavy for twenty to thirty year old designs of locomotives and asked to move faster.
    Webb was a giant that realised that uncoupled three cylinder compounds were a dead end and went for fourcylinder compounds with high pressure piston valves before most others.For a power spoiled/corrupted man near end of career that is impressive.
     
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  3. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    Hamilton Ellis, elsewhere, wondered how much designing William Adams did on the LSWR. The same question should really be asked of any and all of the CMEs / Loco Superintendents - designing new locos was a tiny part of the job, just as building them was a small part of the workload of the workshops. Running a large engineering works, managing all the outstation operations at engine sheds, C&W depots &c., the of ordering materials, budgeting &c. &c. can't have left any time for the nitty-gritty of design.
    Pat
     
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  4. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    Webb career ended when he became unwell in 1903. Had he been affected by illness before this?

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  5. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Not only that: but by the few dozen of those compounds which were really duds.
    Of course it makes a more interesting story that way. There is some suspicion that Whale and Trevithick may have deliberately concentrated on that narrative for their own reasons.
    Webb was a colossus, whose overall output and legacy was magnificent. The compound experiment was well worth pursuing. The main criticism has to be that he didn't realise the uncoupled three cylinder principle for passenger engines wasn't going to be made to work. But it worked on coupled goods engines, and the four cylinder engines worked well in general.
    Even there, if he hasn't tried it, we wouldn't know! And arguably he prompted others to try other compound configurations which worked much better.

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  6. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    All de Glehn s,GWR and LMS Stanier four-cylinder etc worldwide stud (divide drive) stems from a threecylinder Webb compound sold to a french railway and made to work.
    Fourcylinder one axle driven worldwide , be they compound or simple, was preceded by Webb fourcylinder 4-4-0 compounds.(And an almost forgotten 0-6-0 in some heathen county)
    The Whale 4-4-0 and 4-6-0 did nor sire many offsprings.
    GWR built Webb sired 4-6-0 locomotives after last of Whales was scrapped
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
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  7. Cosmo Bonsor

    Cosmo Bonsor New Member

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    So apart from 'his enlargement and reorganisation of Crewe works, his introduction of steel making, his responsibility for repairs, his involvement in signalling, the many patents he took out, his involvement in the local government of the town, his laying out of a municipal park and provision of an orphanage', what has Webb ever done for us? (With apologies)
     
  8. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Well, he gave us this thread, for a start!
     
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  9. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    i would suggest some compounds were better at low speeds .
    there are records of 90 mph + speeds achieved by the Smith /Johnson compounds before rebuilding , on the descent from Ais Gill
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  10. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    A large number of effective and cheap simple locos.

    I have been re-reading parts of the LNWR Recalled by Edward Talbot. I think it gives a well balanced view of Webb's work. I certainly had a much greater admiration for him after reading this book.

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  11. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Agree: well worth a read.
     
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  12. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    If you are thinking of publishing something, the NRM charges for that right, probably quite a lot, on top of the basic cost of the image. I suspect that is why books which make extensive use of loco drawings are published in conjunction with the NRM e.g. the Wild Swan series. However, here is one to keep you going (from Ahrons' series in The Locomotive, this one in February 1909, courtesy of Mr Whale). I think these frames to provide a centre crank axle bearing were being discussed either on this thread or elsewhere a few weeks ago.
     

    Attached Files:

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  13. ragl

    ragl Member

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    Hmmm, trainspotters are a very focused bunch........
     
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  14. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Webb and brakes - unfairly cast as a reactionary by Nock?
     
  15. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    Have you read the story about Webb and Westinghouse in Edward Talbot's book mentioned above? It sounds true to me. I wonder why Webb did not develop the vacuum system rather than the chain brake.

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  16. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Thank You for advice and drawing of centre bearing.
    I would love to rent a place near the museum,take a bottle of coffe along and sit reading in library all day.
    Damned Corona.
    Title for research could be :

    Save Webb from Whale
    or
    From Webb to Whale
    or
    Remove Whale from Webb

    ad nauseatum.
     
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  17. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I haven't, what does Talbot say? (sorry if it has been discussed in the thread and I have missed it). To me the issue of brakes is used to paint Webb as intransigent, inflexible and out of touch (alongside the issue of compounding).
     
  18. 8126

    8126 Member

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    Obviously that's not so easy for you as for most others on the forum, but for what it's worth visiting the museum is an excellent way of using the drawings service. You can request six boxes of drawings for a single visit (they do have to be requested in advance), which definitely helps with the "Is this drawing going to be any use?" question. Photographing the drawings for personal use is absolutely fine (last time I visited I forgot my camera and got everything I needed with my phone), there are nice big tables with soft weights to help lay the drawings out, good lighting, little mobile steps to get a better overhead view. The cost of reproduction drawings quickly stacks up, the number of drawings I thought might be of interest more than paid for my ticket to get there. That and you get to have a look round the NRM, which whatever the grumbles about its modernisation, is still well worth the time.

    One note of caution, some of the really old drawings are clearly in an "as-received" state. One I requested seemed to have been badly folded and crumpled many a long year ago. Fortunately, I'd already got everything I needed, so I didn't have to make the call on whether to try to unfold it and risk being the one who tore a historical document.
     
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  19. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    The story is that George Westinghouse visited Francis Webb at Crewe works while on a tour of Britain promoting his air brake. Apparently, Webb looked favourably on the design and things were close to signing an agreement with Webb taking the proposal to the Directors for approval, when Westinghouse suggested that, if adopted, there would be something in it for Webb too, apparently normal American business practice. Webb, though, was a very honourable man and viewed this as a bribe. Westinghouse was escorted off the premises and the air brake was doomed as far as the LNWR was concerned. This caused problems in the future as the LNWR's partner for West Coast traffic, the Caledonian, did use the air brake so much stock had to be dual fitted.

    Westinghouse seemed fond of making enemies. The Midland also looked at his brake and realised that, having compressed air on the engine, it could be utilised to operate the sanders. Westinghouse refused to allow this, so the Midland too went for the vacuum brake.
     
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  20. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    You have not missed a previous post. Edward Talbot used a large amount of original material in "The LNWR Recalled". Mr Horabin, the chief clerk in Webb's time said that Francis Webb was impressed by the Westinghouse brake, was considering recommending that the LNWR carried out a trial and met George Westinghouse to discuss this. George Westinghouse said that if Mr Webb recommended his brake then he would pay him a commission of £20,000. At this point Webb had him ejected from his office in a fury.

    Edward Talbot's book gives more detail. It has a lot of material written by men who new the LNWR and it's people first hand.



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