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Narrow gauge loco design

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by andrewshimmin, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Interesting - do you have any reference source for the gauge conversion of the BNR locos?
    If this is true, I'm surprised I've not come across it before.
    The BNR had two narrow gauge systems (actually more, but two mains ones). The largest was the Satpura Lines, which was originally proposed as a 2' gauge line. This would be in about 1897. But by the time the line actually got the go ahead it was January 1902, and definitely a 2'6'' gauge line. It did have tank engines - great big 2-8-4T from Sharp Stewart built in 1901.
    The other main BNR narrow gauge system was the Raipur Dhamtari Railway. This was originally supposed to be broad gauge, but in April 1896 was sanctioned by the Government of India as a 2'6'' gauge line. Note definitely that gauge - and 1896 correspondence states both this gauge, and the need for four locos. This line is where the four MW 0-6-2 locos of 1898 went, as that line's no's 1-4.
    As they had outside frames (like the L&B tanks), regaugeing would have required the same amount of work as on the tank locos, so not sure why one was possible and the other not.
    Nor am I convinced that there is much similarity beyond hat you would expect from contemporary products of the same firm. Why Joy valve gear on the 2-6-2Ts and Walshaerts on the 0-6-2s?
    Surely the more likely story, unless we have some actual documentation or contemporary remarks on the Indian connection, is that the 2-6-2T were a separate order for the L&B, to their spec? After all, they might not have been the strongest locos or had the best adhesion but they are rather in the style of British and Irish NG locos of the same era, and how many other, much greater, railways ordered locos which turned out to be not quite as good as they might have been?
     
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  2. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    And then along came Everard Calthrop and nothing on the Indian NG was ever the same again!
     
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  3. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I have long thought the W&L had a lucky escape from Calthrop. He clearly sought a U.K. showpiece and got one eventually in the form of the even more poverty stricken L&M. Here, against specific instructions, he "gold plated" the passenger stock ruthlessly and expensively. The transporter wagon was a great idea but had the enormous disadvantage on steep gradients of adding considerably to tare weights. The "1 in 30 test" also works against the 2-6-4T design which had five tons less adhesive weight compared with the W&L Beyers.

    Paul H
     
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  4. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    love the word picture!
    Add in a horizontal rain squall, and you get a perfect picture of an uncomfortable travelling experience..!
     
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  5. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Could Calthrop's objectives have been achieved for a lower cost? Almost certainly, but please keep in mind there's no such thing as a free lunch. One thing to remember is that the L&M stock, by all accounts, remained in excellent condition until the bitter end and the line's civil engineering infrastructure remained solid when I visited in the early 1980's, almost half a century after closure.

    The ultimate demise of the L&M was associated with it's undue reliance on dairy traffic and nowt else. No single person or management can be held responsible for tbe topography or demographic of the area and knowing the district somewhat, I'm as certain as I can be that the outcome would have been no different had the line been built to 2ft gauge and equipped with 40 year old Festiniog Rly cast-offs .... except that repair costs would have been considerably higher and reliability undoubtedly worse (for a vastly increased wagon fleet with the staffing levels for operation and maintenance which that implies, let's not forget) across the entire life of a line which, at the end of the day, ran where it ran.

    Although the Calthrop transporter wagons clearly came with axle weight and loading gauge issues, the ongoing savings in transhipment costs (in terms of both time and labour) shouldn't be understated. If only the C&L had been so equipped, the perennial bogey of shovelling untold tons of coal from NG trucks onto 5'-3" gauge wagons at Dromod, for decade after decade, would have benefitted that line's finances considerably.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
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  6. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    He was acquainted, I guess, with the area having one his charming railways a little further up the coast with the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway.
     
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  7. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Remember too that he was Consulting engineer for the Bere Alston and Calstock railway, a line in territory far more
    akin to the L&B.
    Imagine this scene on Exmoor:

    http://colonelstephenssociety.co.uk...g&ignoreAspectRatio&resize=640+458&quality=85
     
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  8. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Bluntly Calthrop was insubordinate. He ignored instructions by his employers to provide less elaborate passenger stock. In doing so, he inflicted expenditure which was un-necessary and could not be afforded. Don't forget that individual directors made personal guarantees of the line's overdraft. In one case the man concerned died, leaving his executors no option than to settle up the sum guaranteed.

    The considerably simpler and cheaper passenger stock supplied by Pickerings to the W&L was surprisingly comfortable and would have been perfectly satisfactory for the L&M. It served the Welsh Line until the pneumatic tyred motor bus put an end to passenger traffic as it did on narrow gauge lines across the country.

    Paul H
     
  9. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    But put bluntly, would any savings made before the opening have enabled the railway to survive beyond 1934?
    A line cannot live by milk alone.
    And I confess I have sympathies for insubordination when it is in pursuit of excellence.
     
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  10. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    I get the impression Mr Calthrop wouldn't have made your Crimbo card list Paul! Since the point of engaging the services of a professional is precisely to benefit from that person's expertise, I question your use of the term 'insubordinate'. Since when has any freelance consultant been subordinate to anyone? Was the board under any obligation to accept their consultant's advice before orders were placed? Recall that the L&M board weren't seasoned railwaymen. Neither were they naïve simpletons.

    I note you choose not to engage on the point of any ongoing cost savings resulting from Mr.C's approach. Since I've already conceded the point that cheaper contractors could doubtless have produced suitable stock (with the possible exception of the wholly novel transporter wagons), some consideration of savings incurred by minimising transhipment costs seems in order.

    Taking the W&L, I doubt any builders could have wrought better than Beyer Peacock (with the caveat that the boilers could have been better) or Pickerings, but much of the freight handled by the line originated from, or was shipped out via the mainline at Welshpool. I submit that, moreso given the absence of tunnels, this could have been handled far more economically had transporter wagons been employed.

    I'm in the dark as to whether Calthrop ever produced any concrete proposals for the W&L, but coudn't imagine any locos would have been the same as provided for the L&M. Curvature would seem to rule out 8 coupled machines (recall we're a good decade before the 'Feldbahn' locos), so any suggestions as to just how different any solution may have been would be purely speculative.
     
  11. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    There was not enough potential in 1904 yet alone 1934, even had there been no engineer with a tendency to "gold plate" things on a basic rural railway built with public subsidy.

    As for the second paragraph, basically W.I.B.N. the same yesterday and today and forever!

    PH
     
  12. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Calthrop was involved at one stage with the W&L but faded from the scene. A transporter wagon was included in the list of potential vehicles but was pruned because of insufficient capital. Just as well really if you look at tare weights. Evidently with the W&L Board "No, we can't afford it" mean't just that. Contemporary advice from other sources (Corris) was that the cost of transhipment was not excessive. No doubt so, before World War I.

    Mr. Calthrop may have ignored the wishes of his Board regarding equipment but I doubt whether he could be blamed for the stupidity of Swainsley Tunnel, built solely to ensure that the views from the drawing room of one of the Board members were not spoiled by the odd nasty train or two. Things such as over elaborate equipment or dummy tunnels are just the thing to attract railway enthusiasts of course. For a supposed basic transport facility they were not good.

    Paul H
     
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  13. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Anyone would think Paul was talking about his least favourite heritage railway promoted by "gricers" not a commercial railway promoted by businessmen that ran for 30 years!

    Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
     
  14. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Both the L&B and L &M had a number of very amateurish aspects about them from station locations to equipment. The L&M was financed to a great deal from the public purse to provide basic rural transport. Not really the sort of operation to justify flossy bits of equipment.

    PH
     
  15. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Swainsley Tunnel has it's uses. When I visited, it was pee'ing down and that tunnel was a very welcome refuge!

    The transhipment thing: If it wasn't an issue, why did parliament bother with a gauge commission? Pre-WWI, dreadful labour conditions for many may indeed have meant it was cheap enough to throw another unskilled labourer at things, but wages didn't stay cheap and transhipment costs were constantly mentioned in Ireland as a major issue, to tbe extent that conversion of the West Clare to 5'-3" was brought up more than once after grouping (1925). The descendants of Calthrop's transporters still find favour in Central Europe. It would be interesting (if pointless!) to revisit the economics of the concept, as I'm certain it could be developed beyond tbe L&M model.

    Odd you mention the Corris, as it's a specific case I was considering as a line where its loading gauge, constrained by it's origins as a horse tramway, would have precluded anything short of total re-engineering. Ditto the Ffesterbahn.
     
  16. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    But wasn't a lot of the Festerbahns traffic loaded into ships at Porthmadog, hence transhipment costs being inevitable?

    Ditto - but the other way, coal on the L&B

    Wasn't much of the traffic on the W&L Cattle so transhipment costs was not so much of an issue unlike non self loading cargo

    Certainly though I believe that transhipment costs are a major bugbear on NG lines hence the adoption of transporter wagons in Europe
     
  17. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Oddly enough cattle traffic was not particularly significant until World War 2

    World War 1 sadly killed many many men who would be labourers otherwise. It also introduced those who survived and had the necessary ability. to handling motor vehicles which gave them another way of earning a living,

    I tend to think of European lines operating transporter as those with level crossings rather than overbridges and running along flattish river valleys. W&L without the gradients in fact, or able to utilise sizeable motive power.

    PH
     
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  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    While there is a general view that labour was cheap in pre WW1/WW2/Whenever it seems to me that given the cost of keeping a man/woman and supporting their family, it can never have been that cheap.
     
  19. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    The W&L was certainly equipped for livestock, though whether it was shipped onwards or a market existed in Welshpool, I don't know. There was certainly commercial coal traffic, as one of the local distributors had their own wagons, one of which has recently been beautifully restored in all it's finery. There's a bit on this one here:
    http://www.wllr.org.uk/news

    Regarding the L&B, I'm uncertain precisely what came into Rolle Quay, or whether it remained in use throughout the life of the line. Coal was certainly significant traffic, as one of the effects of closure was noted as an immediate price hike in Lynton. Beyond bales of hay or straw (clearly visible in many photos of mixed trains), I'm none too well up on the freight side of the operation. Early attempts to stimulate the local slate industry failed, due to the poor quality (presumably when compared to Welsh slate). There was timber traffic during WWI, but whether this continued on any scale post-war is another blank area to me.
     
  20. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Regarding the Indian connection suggestions, I am told that Hughes (Locomotives of India, Vol 3) mentions the regauging of the Raipur Dhamtari 0-6-2s. I shall check Hughes's reference if I get a chance.
    I'm not sure this makes the L&B connection any more likely, given the definite reference in the BNR correspondence to four locos... but its an interesting thought.
    Presumably if the MW records survive there would be something there on the order.
     

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