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.

Locomotive Performance & Timing

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by misspentyouth62, Mar 30, 2022.

  1. misspentyouth62

    misspentyouth62 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2017
    Messages:
    1,103
    Likes Received:
    1,354
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    34D, now flexible
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Another ‘bugging’ question, this time on the value of Locomotive Timing Performance

    Recently taking a fresh read of Winkworth on my pet subject of Bulleid Pacifics reminded me that many pages refer to locomotive timings taken in 1950s and 1960s. Locomotive timing is something that is still to be seen on steam rail-tours and is something I don’t mind admitting that I have ‘dabbled’ into in the distant path, if only for my own notes taken on the day.

    I’ve always held a doubting view however as to what can be taken from such tables given that any two locomotives on any two outings will encounter an array of differing criteria that in my view, creates difficulties in comparing like with like.

    For instance, weather conditions, leaf fall and sap, rail condition, differences in driver and fireman skills and techniques, quality of coal, condition of locomotive given time since last major overhaul, weight behind the drawbar for starters. On more modern rail tours, speed restriction and strict compliance to those restrictions along with a schedule allowing for passing service trains leaves me somewhat confused as to what such timings actually show?

    Can we really say that one particular locomotive or type outperforms another on the same route given so many variables?

    I’m not knocking those who are into recording timings, in fact I admire their eye for detail. What I am unclear of is what a table showing for instance how 34025 performed between Cannon Street and Tonbridge on a particular date, tells me about that locomotive and the skills of the crew compared with another? Did the schedule for that working really push the locomotive and crew?

    I’m confident esteemed members of NP will point out the obvious omission in my thinking!
     
  2. Bluenosejohn

    Bluenosejohn New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2017
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    274
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Another big issue is the fact that most of the timings involve a human element.

    Manual timekeeping in Athletics and Horse Racing is recognised to have an element of human error in that on the whole performances tend to be made quicker than they actually are. The reason for this is that the timer is reckoned to be a fraction slow in starting the device at the beginning of a race and will tend to anticipate a finish and be a fraction quick to press the stop button.

    The Wikipedia entry Athletic Abbreviations under times and marks gives a good summary of the concerns re manual timing and World Athletics detailed instructions re manual timekeeping includes the telling comments

    'Differences in timekeeping are due to differences in individuals’ time to react at the starts as well as at the finishes.'

    and

    'Being a timekeeper means not following the events taking place in front of him as a spectator.'

    If the Athletics world is concerned about accuracy when they have a timekeeper in a stable non moving position who can clearly see the start and finish over an accurately known distance in usually decent light then the concerns about such times on a moving train are considerably more.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_abbreviations
     
    misspentyouth62 likes this.
  3. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    7,613
    Likes Received:
    4,603
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    As noted the biggest variable is the human element as evidenced by the recent attempt to beat the Euston - Glasgow non-stop run time where the driver was keen but the signaller set a train in front IIRC at a critical point. If you recall other recent attempts it involved on-train staff keeping in contact with signalling staff to ensure clear paths to assist with the appropriate trial including the VT trial with the water coach to ensure a clear path to complete the calculated non-stop distance. Another recent example was in Japan where IIRC a driver was "carpeted" for being 8 seconds late on his bullet train and in the UK there are known drivers willing to speed trains to overcome delays whilst others stick to running times irrespective of the situations.

    A (foreign) example I sampled in South Africa was the 2 Garratt-hauled freight trains were combined by the crews concerned because they were playing in a Rugby match in the afternoon and didn't want to be late back at base. "Dusty" Durrant was annoyed to miss such a rarity especially when both locos were facing the right way but accepted that being arranged on the day by local crews he had no chance of being aware beforehand.
     
    misspentyouth62 likes this.
  4. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    4,849
    Likes Received:
    2,903
    Isn't it human nature to want to know how fast something or someone has gone? The Olympics, personal times for 10k runs. OK, steam trains are an esoteric interest but no different. What was the fastest steam ever from Settle Jct to Carlisle? See the RPS site, the answer might surprise you. What is the Blue Riband holder from Ormside to Ais Gill? See @iancawthorne website. How did 35018's best runs compare with the record? For a certain set of afficionados, there is interest in that. Obviously there is no performance interest in downhill runs with speeds limited to 60. But anyway.....

    Timings show what the loco and crew did on that day, no more and no less. Didn't C J Allen run into trouble from time to time for describing various runs as disappointing or below par without knowledge of the circumstances on the footplate?

    Winkworth is good though because he assembles data on hundreds of runs. So then, in principle, if you had proper data on the variables you mention, you could attempt some sort of mean/variance analysis to see if there was any systematic difference between rebuilt/unrebuilt or MN v WC, the time penalty for 400 tonnes v 300 etc.
     
    misspentyouth62 likes this.
  5. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    4,319
    Likes Received:
    7,012
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    London
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I think I am likely to become the most unpopular railway author in the land, but...

    Timekeepers and timekeeping is a niche that feeds into the specific aspect of very subjective opinions on locomotive design from line-siders and observers who were not involved in the day to day running of the railway.

    If you want to know the value of a locomotive class, you look at its annual mileages, its availability to do work, the cost to design and/or build, and cost to maintain, and the value of the work done for the railway company. The bottom line is that the historical, primary evidence in the form of operational records for the locomotive class from the company concerned will indicate its true value.

    Which is why, for aficionados of the LNER, for instance, the Use of Engine Power document at the National Archives has a much higher value to an objective discussion on locomotive performances than any timekeeper's logs, such as those recorded by Cecil J. Allen.

    If I may hazard a comment: many of the timekeepers' books that were published in the 50s, 60s and thereafter, have muddied the waters significantly where locomotive performances are concerned. Obviously you know my specialist subject, but I doubt the locomotive designs of Edward Thompson are alone in having their reputations seemingly based on just performance logs and secondary evidence, as opposed primary evidence direct from the companies operating them.
     
    Sheff, LMS2968, Richard Roper and 6 others like this.
  6. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,767
    Likes Received:
    2,150
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Stanthorpe, QLD, Australia
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Timings are very good for telling the story of one particular locomotive, on one particular journey, with one particular load, driven by one particular engine crew, on one particular day. Other than that….not much good for anything else! :D
     
  7. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    19,294
    Likes Received:
    18,384
    Location:
    1016
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Timing anything is arguably a rather 'niche' thing to do. To give a 'left field' example, the intense competition that you get in show jumping is interesting. Not only does the horse have to clear all fences cleanly but the combination of rider and horse have to do it in the fastest time. Some would argue that the rider makes the greatest difference and I'm sure that this is true but you can't ignore the horse and what the horse is prepared to do on the day plus what it is capable of doing. I recall that there was a significant UK rider who at the time had a rather skittish horse but they somehow seemed to combine to produce remarkable clear rounds in spite of the horse's tendency to want to do its own thing. Clever horse management.

    I mention this because timing a steam locomotive on a train has all the above elements. It's all about what happens on the day. Is the locomotive up to it and is the crew? How well does the crew know the locomotive and how best to manage it? What particular challenges are posed by the 'course' and the time available to complete it? Does anything happen en route to require a change of engine management?

    In an ideal world these are the questions that help you to understand and also recognise what the data is telling you about the way that the locomotive and the journey are being managed. This is where the conversations before and after the journey are valuable. And if you make the same journey with different locomotives at different times you get to understand the skills involved that much more.

    I won't bore the casual reader with details of why this may be interesting but I guess that Formula 1 once had some similarities before it became less about the driver and mostly about the machine he was driving and pit strategies.

    As for the many variables that come into play nowadays I agree that there is far less that can be said but there are exceptions. Take, for example the Shap and S&C routes. Usually the runs from Carnforth to Carlisle, Carlisle to Appleby and Appleby to Ais Gill summit are unchecked. It's a route covered by particular locos and crews so comparisons are possible. But these instances are rare. Stop/stop/loop running tells you little other than the complexity of fuel management..

    There are people with extensive records of similar locos over the same routes who have the data to be clear about what was possible with what load. The data also compares loco with loco. My knowledge is Southern based but everyone knew that Merchant 7 always steamed well and Merchant 3 was quick, despite its noisy motion. And then there were the drivers plus their mates. Nowadays it is interesting to see what skilled drivers do with the same loco. I well remember one recent trip non stop up from Eastleigh till we stopped beyond Clapham for the Windsor Line entrance into Waterloo. We sped along at between 70 and 75 for about 40 miles with, as I understand it, the same regulator setting and the speed moderated simply by slight changes in the cut off. Another driver might have kept the same cut off and tweaked the regulator.

    The sign of skill at the front is when things are not ideal. Once, due to a last minute change of locomotive on the down Bournemouth Belle, the crew was faced with a poor steamer and that was clear from the start. Despite that the loco was nursed all the way to Roundwood after which it ran downhill like a hare to be a few minutes early at Southampton.

    If you take more than a passing interest in what is going on up front, and the timings and speeds tell you most of the story, there is much to gain and understand from a study of loco performance. That said, on the Top Gear trip to Edinburgh there was a genuine conflict between what was happening up front and the rather nice meals we were given en route.
     
  8. blink bonny

    blink bonny Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    2,425
    Location:
    northumberland
    When I saw the title of his thread my mind went immediately to all those 'Locomotive Practice and Performance' articles by O S Nock.

    Unfortunately they were the pages I just thumbed through to get to the notices at the back that told us the sad news of which locos had been withdrawn from service that month, which had more immediate bearing to my life then.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    23,540
    Likes Received:
    47,119
    Location:
    LBSC 215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I'll post something railway related in due course, but just to pick up this point: it is a misconception that F1 was once solely about the driver - it (and top-level motorsport in general) has always been as much about the machine as the driver. The origins of motorsport came from car companies wishing to demonstrate the abilities of their cars (whether in speed, reliability or both); the driver was simply a means to that end. Pit strategy has also always been an inherent part of racing.

    An example to show the point - it comes from Indy rather than F1, which is an older series, but shows the point. On technology: the very first Indy 500, in 1911, was won by a single seater Marmon Wasp car (which, incidentally, still exists). At that time, most racing cars had a crew of two, the driver, and an observer whose primary job was to look behind and warn of upcoming traffic. The Marmon company fitted what was thought to be the world's first rear-view mirror; with that fitted, they dispensed with the riding mechanic, making the car smaller and lighter, and easier for the driver to concentrate. In the same race, the driver, Ray Harroun, had also discovered through testing that if he limited his speed to 75mph rather than the 80mph his car was capable of, he preserved his tyres, thereby needing fewer stops (at a time when a wheel change took several minutes). With that combination of better technology and better pit strategy, he won the race by just 1m43s, in a race lasting nearly seven hours.

    That was well over a hundred years ago. So it is a misconception that somehow there was a golden age in which only the driver counted: that has never been the case.

    Tom
     
    Steamage, Richard Roper, Jimc and 2 others like this.
  10. misspentyouth62

    misspentyouth62 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2017
    Messages:
    1,103
    Likes Received:
    1,354
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    34D, now flexible
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    thank you all so much so far - answers which I can all agree with. My Winkworth devotes nearly 100 pages solely to timings of Bulleid's which would have been very precious to those that recorded them yet for me, it's difficult to take anything tangible from them other than each table is a record of those specific runs on those specified occasions. On the other hand, had I been a regular commuter catching same train everyday hauled by same types of locomotive with a number of regular faces on the footplate, I could see how recording timings might have become addictive to some.
     
  11. Hermod

    Hermod Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2017
    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    231
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Klitmoeller,Denmark
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    9F speed 90 mph.
    It has been mentioned that a 9F could and did 90 mph every day.
    Mr Steve who run steam on NYMR say that a WD 2-8-0/2-10-0 with no recprocicatory balance becomes uncomfortable at 25mph/2.5 rps .

    9F reciprocicatory parts have more or less same mass as a WD and must have run 8.4 rps to go ninety.
    Fore and aft forces go up with square of rps that is 11.2 times what Mr Steve find unacceptable with no reciprocicatory balance.
    9F has 40% balance and the same level of uncomfort is thus coming at 3.3 rps or 37mph.

    It interests me because I found by accident that boiler diameter ,grate area and pitch over rail is more or less identical for a 9F and a Chapelon 4-8-o.
    A modified 4-8-0 9F doing say 40 as max speed is not really something but 75mph will be smart and a match going uphill.
    Having a single 20 inch outside HP and an inside 30 inch LP it will use less steam for same job as a LMS or BR pacific,but will need some drastic balancing..


     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2022
    ragl likes this.
  12. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    19,294
    Likes Received:
    18,384
    Location:
    1016
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    What seems unusual about the end of scheduled steam in the UK is that there is a relative dearth of performance logs and detail about regions other than the Southern. That's not to say that there weren't folk going up and down the GWR, ECML, WCML and Glasgow to Aberdeen. It just seems that there is not a back catalogue of multiple runs - just those notable ones we all know about such as the 112 mph with 4498 down Stoke etc. There certainly isn't much that shows what I'll call the day to day running of trains and on the Southern over 1965 to 1967 in particular there are literally hundreds of logs if you go to the right people.

    The advantage of this is that you get a far better insight into what routinely was done and as we got much closer to the end of steam what was possible exceptionally. On the Southern it was the Nine Elms and Eastleigh crews who were primarily involved as by then the Western Region had done their worst to steam down to Exeter.
     
    misspentyouth62 likes this.
  13. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    4,849
    Likes Received:
    2,903
  14. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    11,071
    Likes Received:
    8,385
    Occupation:
    Gentleman of leisure, nowadays
    Location:
    Near Leeds
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I can’t remember ever saying that the WD 2-10-0’s we’re uncomfortable at 25 mph. I’ve no complaints about them.
     
  15. Hermod

    Hermod Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2017
    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    231
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Klitmoeller,Denmark
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Was it only the WD 2-8-0 then?

    LMS tried a Black Five at 20% and found it unacceptable;40% was OK plus 60% and that was nice.

    All according to Cox
     
  16. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2017
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    507
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    retired
    Location:
    east sussex
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    it certainly was not a regular occurrence .
    92178 - or was it'58 ? caused a bit of a brouhaha when it was timed at 90 on the ECML. the result being a speed limit being placed on these engines
     
  17. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    2,798
    Likes Received:
    4,370
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Lecturer retired: Archivist of Stanier Mogul Fund
    Location:
    Wigan
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Provided you can keep the wheel rim in contact the rail and don't mind a lot of track renewal!

    High reciprocating balance simply transfers the horizontal out of balance forces to the vertical plane.
     
    Bluenosejohn likes this.
  18. Hermod

    Hermod Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2017
    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    231
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Klitmoeller,Denmark
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Sure and makes it nicer on the footplate as the fore and aft movement is less than if there is noreprocicating balance as was the case with WD 2-8-0.
    Mr Powell was allowed to modify a 2-8-0 and the crew did not believe it was same class of locomotive and mr Cox neither commented or promoted it after having been on the footplate.
    In much of Europe two cylinder locomotives were allowed to run 5 revs per second and hammerblow 15% of the static load on wheel.
    Going faster was only for three or fourcylinders.
    9Fs were claimed to have run 8.4 revs or 90 mph and destructive forces and uncomfort goes up as a square law 0r 3.5 times the continental limit.
    It can hardly have been pleasant on footplate and firing must have been difficult.
    The thread here has timing as topic and I wonder how beliveable the 90 mph 9F claims are?
     
  19. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    2,798
    Likes Received:
    4,370
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Lecturer retired: Archivist of Stanier Mogul Fund
    Location:
    Wigan
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Yes, I rode a few Black Fives at speed in 1968. I don't know the percentage of reciprocating balance in each one but they were lively riders, although this was more to do with mechanical condition by that time.

    The point I was making was that balancing is a two-way process with losses and gains. High balancing results in hammer blow and can lead to much worse. In 1939 the LMS did tests with three Black Fives balanced at 66.6%, 50% and 30% of the reciprocating masses respectively around 100mph on greased rails, so movement of the engine along the track was very small. At 66.6% there was little fore and aft oscillation; at 50% it was moderate; while at 30% it was stated as 'Excessive'. BUT - with the 30% balanced engine there was no lift of the wheels from the rail; at 50% the wheel would lift 0.4 inches each revolution; while at 66.6% balance the wheels lifted 2.4 inches clear of the rail.

    Having been a fireman on the Severn Valley Railway, I'm all for crew comfort, but I have a pang of sympathy for the Pway gangs too!
     
  20. Hermod

    Hermod Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2017
    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    231
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Klitmoeller,Denmark
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer

    Mr Cox states that the BR clas5 were 50% balanced,but what the normal LMS`s had is probably unobtainable today..
    Claims of BR class five doing more than 100mph is claims.
    Cox states that the 30% results were unacceptable and that is more than exessive I presume.
    But it gives good numbers as I can find the mass of moving parts in Cox
     

Share This Page