Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Bikermike, Jan 2, 2021.
A reference to the money that steam locos suck up?
This thread talks about air conditioning on US railroads in the pre 'ETH' (HEP across the pond) era, it seems that air con could be done with steam loco's
Articulation ie Garratt or Mallet maybe?
Weren't the diesel hauled trains still being banked up Beattock and Shap?
Yes in the early days
Its worth pointing out that especially with diesel powered freights the role of the banker wasnt so only to provide power but prevent the couplings breaking
I saw a brief reference, but nothing about how it was provided.
I am a bit confused as surely the same coupling problem would have existed with steam hauled freight? I do believe that diesel hauled freight had more of a problem braking the (unfitted) train hence the need for diesel brake tenders.
If you look at how electronics developed because of the military requirement it gives a better idea of what might have been possible. Look at how AA systems changed between 1939 and 1946.
The N & W rebuilt one of its switchers to single man operation and this was successful from what I have read; and the said railway was a coal burning line.
It rather looks as though all too frequently questions were not asked of the most capable and knowledgeable people and those that were asked questions gave answers based on their own limited understanding or worse were steering their own agenda.
A glance at train development in the 1930s, particularly with reference to the prestige trains gives an idea about what was being applied in that field, windows being small and not generally being opened is not something new.
What is the most stupid question? The one that is never asked. But asking a question of someone who is unable to give you a good and balanced answer is possibly worse.
In commercial premises, heat is commonly used as the energy source to run air con.
That rather assumes that railways were the most important (or glamorous) field of endeavour post war. Did electronics and control systems develop rapidly during the war? Of course they did. But in 1945, was that the field that a talented electronics engineer wanted to work in? Probably not. And really, even if your burning desire was to improve rail transport efficiency, why would you spend time in 1945 trying to work out a way to automate firing a steam locomotive when it was patently obvious that diesel and electric traction would be the future and had much greater possibilities for rapid improvement? Or if you were a railway manager, why try to automate the role of a fireman when you could bring modern electronics to bear on signalling and give both a much larger efficiency gain in manpower terms?
Whatever you may think, by 1945, the opportunities for improvement of steam locomotives over the then norm were trivial relative to a combination of electrification, multiple unit working, block freight, rationalised signalling etc. It's the equivalent of asking why people in 1900 didn't try and wring the last ounce of efficiency out of the horse and cart.
I'd forgotten that a Class 50 was referred to as a Hoover. I think I understand the question now.
Didn't Peppercorn and Stanier have plans to build 4-8-4s for this type of thing?
Whatever ideas for bigger steam locos the LMS and LNER may have had clearly came to an end at nationalisation. At first BR continued to build pre-nationalisation designs, then when the BR Standards came along they only went up to Class 7MT and Class 9F, until an excuse was found to design and build one Class 8P. Even with only limited electrification, and no short term prospect of more than a handful of diesels, there must have been no perceived need for a Class 9P.
But, and going back to the counter-factual nature of this thread, that demand was based on the presumption of forthcoming dieselisation - the "what if" is about what would have happened had that dieselisation been further delayed.
Agreed, there was also the post-war shortage of money which would have limited anything like this.
And also a backlog of track work repairs that severely limited any possible service improvements made just by increasing speed.
I might be being my usual curmudgeonly self with regard locomotive development, but I am struggling to think of any issue faced by our railways in the immediate post war era for which the correct answer was “bigger steam engines”.
Maybe going forward to the mid 1950s: perhaps then the counter-factual to explore would be “suppose the strategy was to have no significant mainline diesels” and therefore transition from steam straight to electric - diesel would then be reserved just for shunting engines and multiple units on light-traffic branch lines from which freight had been withdrawn (probably including a lot of rural Scotland and Wales...) How long would you have needed to keep steam running: could you have done all the significant electrification (or closure) by, say, 1980 had you concentrated just on that and not had the investment and operational overhead of the diesel programme at all?
This reminds me of the situation in continental Europe. which had a lot of cheap hydro-electric power. The main energy consuming routes were electrified, and steam carried on on secondary routes, and there was less incentive to dieselise.
Not forgetting a certain pre-grouping design. NER 0-6-0Ts aside, if comments 'on another thread' are to be preferred, one may reasonably also include the odd GW design!
Bikermike essentially asked what, if anything might be possible within the circumstances he had in question.
From looking largely beyond these shores a great deal was possible but looking into probabilities was not a part of the question.
Certainly substantial improvements in locomotive design were possible, unless one chooses to believe otherwise. Few UK diesel classes could match the power output of a Chapelon Pacific and none could equal a 240P, but these were not the only examples of locomotive design which had benefited from engineers being capable of a higher level thinking. So the required horsepower requirements could possibly be met or exceeded but it was very improbable and this improbability has been touched upon. And I believe a 4000 hp diesel electric or hydraulic would be most unlikely to appear in the UK in the 1960s, 70s or even later. So much for rapid improvements.
Why would I spend time in 1945 trying to work out a way to automate firing a steam locomotive? I don't believe that Bikermike is looking at 1945. It was in May 1960 when Y-6b had its fire dropped for the last time and before this date the groundwork for single man operation had been carried out. Could it have been taken up and developed? Possibly, but even if you had made it successful getting it accepted would be a whole different hurdle. We talk about accepting driverless cars but driverless trains? Imagine the savings that could be made if we didn't have to employ drivers, now take it back to the 1960s and doing away with firemen. You might be able to do it but would you be allowed to? Probably not.
Power stokers were in successful use in many countries throughout the world. The trials in the UK were less than successful for reasons that had little to do with the stoker itself. Staff from a railway company with experience in using this equipment would probably not have failed.
Some have commented on other areas beyond that of the locomotives used particularly with regard to the quality of customer experience and there is no doubt that this experience could have been improved and significant work had been done many years before the 1960s. Providing an excellent experience was possible. The probability of it being delivered might well be another matter.
And on the subject of the horse and cart, or more particularly the horse even today it is the best choice of what we might call motive power for some industries and applications and even the steam traction or ploughing engine is the best choice for some peculiar and demanding tasks. See AR Demolition using a McLaren in May 2020.
Point of order, Kestrel was trialled in the late 1960s and managed 4000hp.
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If I were to think about it, in the early 1920's 'Castles' demonstrated superior performance and economy in exchanges with the LMS & LNER.
They incorporated much of the 'best available' technology of the time.
Really the need was for a similarly improved locomotive to be introduced in the mid 1930's - the last possible date for a significantly improved steam locomotive to be introduced in the UK, and have its technology widely adopted, however no such machine was produced.
Thanks for those details. If a British equivalent of a Chapelon 4-8-0 were to be produced, it would be necessary to reduce the overall width to stop it colliding with station platform edges.
Where a locomotive has the De Glehn cylinder layout, the outside cylinders typically need to be widely spaced to allow for the sideways movement of the bogie wheels. The GWR King Class had 16¼in x 28in (412mm x 711mm) cylinders, with outside cylinder spacing of 7ft 2in (2184mm) and overall width of 8ft 11½in (2730mm). That was close to the permitted width limit for GWR routes and too wide for some other British routes.
Possibly the closest British design to the French compounds were the 4-6-2 and 2-8-2 designed under Henry Fowler in 1926 for the LMS, but never built. See attached diagrams, taken from ES Cox books. The Fowler Pacific design had its outside HP cylinders above the bogie centre and the overall width was only 8ft 8in (2642mm), much narrower than the GWR 4-cylinder engines. One can only speculate how well or how badly this design would have performed, and whether it could have subsequently been given Chapelon-type improvements.
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