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GWR 111 "The Great Bear" and Surrounding Controversies

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Osmium, Oct 24, 2021.

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    For starters, I suppose, the PoW class were a 3P against the Claughton's 5P, meaning duties expected of the earlier machines raised few of the same expectations.

    The Claughtons, on the other hand, seem to have been hamstrung by both a distinctly inadequate boiler in their original guise and overheating issues on bearings associated with proximity of the firebox. Why, when overheating was noted on The Great Bear's trailing wheel bearings, wasn't that an issue for Churchward's 4-6-0 progeny? This latter is not a criticism I've heard of, say, the S69 (LNER B12), Urie's H15/N15/S15 family or Smith's HR/CR 'River' class.

    Although (like the 4P 'Rivers') their life was cut short by the LMS 'scrap and replace' policy, the Claughtons seem to have been the subject of more than their fair share of concerted attempts at improvement than most, none of which seem to have unlocked their full potential. It's quite a contrast with the A1 to A3 rebuilds on the LNER, or Watson's initially problematic 400 Class, following rebuilding, over in Ireland.
     
  2. 242A1

    242A1 Well-Known Member

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    Some designers made something of a specialisation of rebuilding existing designs into something which would match or out-perform newer and larger successors. If you really know what you are dealing with you will obtain results but sadly there were too many who fell short. The bright side of this is that those who were capable could display their talents the darker side was the denial of these achievements by those who lacked the ability to succeed.
     
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  3. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Actually, the PoWs were classed as 4P, not that it makes a lot of difference.

    The Claughtons were designed and the design was completed with a larger boiler, but the Chief Civil Engineer rejected it. In vain did Bowen Cooke point out that four cylinders all driving on the same axle gave nil reciprocating imbalance so no balance weights in the wheels so no hammerblow. Crewe DO therefore had to design a smaller boiler to reduce weight, which is what the engines appeared with. Incidentally, this delayed their introduction, so to cover the period, superheating was applied to the Experiments and PoWs were born, and proved sufficiently useful to be multiplied even after the Claughtons appeared.

    The engines were capable of some really good work, but it was patchy and inconsistent. The coal consumption was very excessive due, as said, to the broad valve rings, but this cause was identified only when the same problem afflicted the Royal Scots, when it was also realised as the cause with the Claughtons (and L&YR Dreadnoughts), but the Scots had already moved into the No.1 spot and both Claughtons and Dreadnought 'cascaded'. Attempts to cure this hunger in Bowen Cooke's engines had included Caprotti valve gear; it worked but involved an expensive rebuild, while also the undersized boiler was replaced, in some engines, by a bigger one. It isn't known if it was the same as the original boiler rejected by the CCE. But none of these cured the engine's poor mechanical record, and 'rebuilding' with three cylinders (the Baby Scots) proved to be the ultimate and effective answer.
     
  4. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It doesn't always work quite that way. Over in Ireland, during his time on the GS&W, in 1913, Richard Maunsell came up with No.341, a 4-4-0 which dropped a hint of just why his rebuilds of Harry Wainwright's D and E class were so good.

    Sir William Goulding
    was a one-off and with an axle load just north of 19tons, was most certainly a machine for the Dublin-Cork mainline only and none too popular with the Civil Engineer, to the extent of being periodically reweighed, presumably to ensure it hadn't put on a few extra tons while no-one was looking. Perhaps they were following the same sort of thinking which led Sultans and Sheiks to check annually that their harem's eunuchs hadn't regrown anything they oughtn't.

    With Maunsell's departure for the SE&CR, his successor Watson (and the Civil Engineer!) had very different ideas, resulting in the 400 class, 4-cyl 4-6-0. In their original form, fair to say the 400s weren't an unqualified success* and rumours persisted that No.341 was tinkered with so as to not show up the newcomer's shortcomings quite as badly. Whatever the truth of the allegation, cylinders certainly were lined, reducing the diameter by an inch, to 19".

    Very unusually for Ireland, after Watson's departure for Beyer Peacock, his successor, Bazin, withdrew a still young and well regarded No.341 in 1928, a decision which caused a few raised eyebrows.

    *To be fair to Watson (an engineer with a solid Swindon background), on available info, it sounds as if he should have done to the senior draughtsman in the Inchicore D.O what Fowler should've done to Anderson. Both front end design and valve events wrecked any chance of the only 4-cyl locos on the GS&W/GSR ever had of performing as they should. Those 400s rebuilt with 2 cylinders served close to the end of Irish steam.
     
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  5. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    if only the Claughtons had been a Pacific ......................................
     
  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    ..... then Mr.Bulleid's wouldn't have been the slippiest in UK history! ;)
     
  7. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    you have some strange ideas about LNWR locos .

    the 4P Princes and Georges put in daily performances that BR would have been very happy to see from the Stanier 5s. ...55mph to Crewe with 400 tons on the hook - even the Jubilees were not expected to do that on the XL timings.

    the Claughton rear wheel heating was never resolved -- but it could have been - witness the Scots and Pats. the only things of note that changed was a boiler similar to the original drawing being fitted and the replacement of the Schmitt piston and valve rings. nothing of any consequence was done to the draughting apart from a bit of tinkering. had C Bowen Cooke lived the history of the LMS would have been very different , and likely happier

    the small boiler was capable of producing all the steam the cylinders could use - the overall heating surface was a little more than that of a Star. 5902 s record output was no flash in the pan. Alfred Fletcher exceeded the 1660 hp but without the dyno car , and Alfred was not a highly rated engine.

    if the piston / cylinder ring problem had been recognised and dealt with much sooner they would have been better regarded . when that was fixed the coal- water consumption was in Castle territory , but at least some of the problem with the rings was tied up with the Schmitt superheater/valves/cylinders licence which forbad changes for a period of time . ....whatever , they were the best load haulers on the rails until the Great Northern and 4073 turned up in '22/3
    they were expected to stand in for a failed Scot right into the mid 1930s - and they did ,with 500 ton loads
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2022
  8. LesterBrown

    LesterBrown Member

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    Other allegations made against the Great Bear are that it was prone to slipping, which even though Pacifics may transfer some weight to the trailing wheels when pulling hard I find less credible in this instance due to the high static adhesive weight and the small cylinders (particularly if it was being compared to a Star rather than a Castle). It has been stated to have derailed when reversing into the Paddington departure platform; might this relate to the inadequate radial axle movement suggested in a previous post (I hadn't heard of that before)? Somewhere, possibly a model railway forum, I recal a suggestion that the firemen often had the fire too thin leading to holes in the unseen back corners. Is it correct that The Great Bear was restricted to a maximum of 65 mph?

    The 111 clas 2-4-0 photographed with the Great Bear in 1912 was no 113.
     
  9. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    I'm sure that's right .

    the only Stanier boilers that seem to have not needed subsequent sorting were the 6170 , No 2 boiler (Coleman design i think ??) and the 2-6-0 class 5 . even the Duchesses would have been more Princesses without the influence of Coleman . Stanier got the credit but he cost the LMS a lot of money . even the Jubilees when sorted could not exceed the steaming rate of a good Claughton , altho' they were a better traffic loco of course , but why the boilers of the distinctly average Jubs were not replaced by the Scot no/2A with a weight penalty of only 3 tons ,when due for renewal is a mystery when the r/b Scot was the best 4-6-0 in the land.....the war may have been a factor but the No.2 boiler was in existence in 1935.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2022
  10. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    Connaught & Phoenix ........(Caster &Pollux?) .........were Scots in all but name - damn fine engines.

    from memory , didn't Connaught take the Caledonian from Bletchley when the Duchess failed , and gain back 20 minutes on the run? others will remember the details i'm sure.
     
  11. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Actually I think you mean 5735 COMET and 5736 Phoenix.
     
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  12. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Realistically, ALL Stanier's boilers required a bit of fettling. The Class 3 boilers, including the 3D for the 2-6-0s, had incorrect tube ratios and inadequate superheat, although only the 3As for the 5XPs gave particular - but severe - steaming troubles. They were all later given improved ratios and superheaters, and expensive process entailing the replacement of both tubeplates and superheater header. 6170 was fitted with the Class 2 boiler - the only one made - and it wasn't a renowned steamer as it was a bit too long; all the other Scots, etc. used the 2A boiler, which was an excellent steamer. The 1X boiler for Coronations was fine, but needed the double chimney before it gave of its best.

    The two reasons why the 5Xs didn't get the 2A boiler were (i) the boilers had been made to steam adequately. They were only a few years old with a lot more life left in them, so what do you do with 191 nearly new boilers with more as spares which didn't fit any other engine, but were doing the job? (ii) The war delayed things but all the Scots eventually (1955) received the 2A boilers, as did eighteen Baby Scots, leaving many more with parallel boilers. One theory is that Robin Riddles stopped any further rebuilds to allow a gap for his Standard types.
     
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  13. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Be it known my strange ideas are by no means confined to the LNWR loco fleet! :)

    That said, posts between thine and this have thrown up some interesting points. If that's stimulated debate and provided the opportunity to disseminate and understand, I'd call that a win-win.

    In the specific case of the Claughtons, I'm interested in learning why the performance of a class frequently described as 'a near miss' fell short as by pretty common consent they did.

    To me (the Highland aside, not a noted "LMS Group" afficionado), Mr Bowen Cooke's design was one of the most handsome larger locos ever to grace the rails in the UK and it's less a case of implying any purely subjective criticism than simply trying to understand the finer design questions which prevented the class being remembered as one whose performance matched their looks.
     
  14. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    You're right of course
     
  15. Hirn

    Hirn Member

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    Lots of boilers and no chassis they will fit on? Design and build chassis to suit them? Actually better to bite the bullet - given they cannot reasonably be successfully cured by modification - and scrap them, in the end you need anything to function soundly.
     
  16. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Member

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    LMS2968 could give a better answer than I , but as i see it there were many reasons - in no particular order.

    the Schmitt contract prevented alterations to the superheater (a good one) and the valves and pistons even if someone knew what to do . Ironic really when the LNWR was the 1st to use multi ringed pistons.

    C. Bowen Cooke died

    Beames succeeded him but was junior in the new LMS , which was soon headed by Fowler as CME and the new railway got MR management with Fellowes calling the shots. Hughes of the Lanky served as CME for couple of years but retired in '25

    the LMS luvved Compounds and were determined they were best for the job . they probably were on the Midland - fast light trains . not on the LNWR where 400 t was the norm, but the Compounds stayed with lots of double heading on loads the Claughton drivers would laugh at.

    many will know the story of the Midland Inspector who walked a long train in Euston and asked the Claughton driver where his pilot was , to be told "in the shed were it ****** should be !

    the LMS saw no benefit in developing a class they thought they didn't need . when they found that they did need a heavy hauler it was really too late in the day for the Claughtons and they got the Scots instead. plus surprise surprise - valve leakage problems . they fixed the Scots and then did the same for the Claughtons which transformed their performance , many of them had the large boiler by then. ....then WAS arrived and the writing was on the wall , before long they were non standard and unwanted.

    in many ways they had become the orphans of the Derby /Crewe storm . railway politics at their worst.
    Bowen Cooke or Beames would likely have put them right , but sorting out the Claughtons was just what Fellowes didn't want which was a great shame because they had the potential to be really exceptional-- but then we probably would not have had the Scots and Jubilees and the Duchesses would likely look very different
     
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  17. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Nope, I don't think I can improve on that. Post Grouping, the LNWR missed out twice, first when George Hughes (L&YR) became CME, then when Henry Fowler (Midland) took over. Both preferred the designs from their previous companies and the Claughtons didn't fit their ideas.
     
  18. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    I think you'd have trouble explaining that to the directors and shareholders, why you were spending so much money replacing equipment which, however less than ideally, was doing the job. That sort of expenditure would require board approval before you could start, and you wouldn't get it. The CME had a budget to work to and it certainly would not have covered that sort of spending.
     
  19. Bluenosejohn

    Bluenosejohn Member

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    It would have been incredibly wasteful to have continued rebuilding the Jubilees in the middle of the Second World War ( 1942 ). The original design was still serving a purpose and the Royal Scots and the Patriots were in greater need of alteration. Even then there were still 41 Scots still to be rebuilt by the end of 1945 and the last conversion was not carried out until 1955. The Patriot rebuilding did not start until 1946 and even then 34 out of the 52 reached the end of their days in original form. Throwing another 189 Jubilees into the mix would have made no sense.
     

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