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.

Steam locos with air brakes

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 21B, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,853
    Likes Received:
    2,701
    Which classes of steam loco were / are fitted with air brakes on the loco and or tender, automatic or straight?

    E4 Birch Grove is one I believe with air loco brakes. Others?
     
  2. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,064
    Likes Received:
    1,240
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Stratford-upon-Avon or in a brake KD to BH
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Depends on how far you want to go back. Just taking the constituents of the Southern will illustrate the issues.

    London Chatham and Dover - air braked

    South Eastern - vacuum

    SECR - standardised on vacuum but as much chatham stock air a batch of C class 0-6-0s were dual fitted

    LBSCR (Brighton) - air braked - retained right into BR days e.g atlantic Beachy Head scraped with air brakes

    LSWR - vacuum brakes

    The situation was similar on the LMS and LNER with only GWR being all vacuum
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  3. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Messages:
    15,278
    Likes Received:
    5,630
    Location:
    1012 / 60158
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    There were a number of 'Bulldog' class locos dual braked to handle through trains from other lines.
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,161
    Likes Received:
    39,583
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Similarly a number of LSWR locos, to assist with handling LBSCR trains around Portsmouth and LCDR trains in London.

    Tom
     
  5. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    11,108
    Likes Received:
    10,754
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    NER, NBR and Caledonian were air brake which is why both WC and EC Joint Stock were dual braked. Most other big railways were vacuum but the Midland took over the air braked LTS and I believe the GER was also air.
    In theory air braking is superior as the maximum braking force is limited only by the equipment not atmospheric pressure but the railways that adopted vacuum were probably just reluctant to pay royalties to an American Company (Westinghouse).
     
  6. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,248
    Likes Received:
    3,149
    Occupation:
    Once computers, now part time writer I suppose.
    Location:
    SE England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Acording to Cook of the GWR the capital cost of airbrakes was higher because it was more complicated. Cook also states that (then at least) the vacuum brake was more flexible in use, but the air brake had a quicker release and propagation, which was especially beneficial on intensive suburban services. Maximum braking force is normally more limited by available grip than anything else provided there's room to get big enough cylinders in isn't it?
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  7. LesterBrown

    LesterBrown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    Likes Received:
    757
    Location:
    Devon
    But the actual locos had steam brakes, I think 21B was asking about the brakes on the actual loco.
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  8. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    11,108
    Likes Received:
    10,754
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Is the most complicated braking system that currently on 35028, unless they've changed it the loco is steam braked, tender vacuum and train air.
     
  9. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,064
    Likes Received:
    1,240
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Stratford-upon-Avon or in a brake KD to BH
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    When you consult reference books, ABCs etc you get plenty of info re wheels, cylinders tractive effort but usually nowt on brakes. Photographic evidence can show if air fitted but no detail on loco brake being air or steam. What the loco brakes are will vary with class. Tender brakes are probably more straight forward. If the loco had train air brake as the primary brake, e.g. brighton locos it most likely had tender air brake as flexible steam pipes would be a problem area. Conversly the C class were vacuum tender but with train air brake.

    Does anyone have a definative list class by class?
     
  10. LesterBrown

    LesterBrown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    Likes Received:
    757
    Location:
    Devon
    As regards GWR vacuum and steam brakes there was a change from steam to vacuum brakes on most locomotives early in the 20th century as it was found steam brakes were slower reacting on first application presumably when the cylinder was cold. The inevitable exceptions included the 67xx built new with steam brakes.
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  11. 8126

    8126 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Messages:
    728
    Likes Received:
    786
    Gender:
    Male
    IoW O2s were converted to air from LSWR train vac/loco steam. I think they just re-plumbed the steam brake cylinder into the Westinghouse system, but one of the IWSR contingent may be able to correct me.

    Just about everything from the GER that was air braked originally kept them to the end, with a dual vac/air system as shown on p174 of my copy of the Black Book. The LNER even built a fair number of them so-fitted, including the later N7s for the air-braked Jazz services out of Liverpool Street, and the Super Clauds. Loco (and tender) brakes are air in this case, you can hear the pump panting away on 8572 and 69621 when there's not an air-braked coach in sight.

    Before the diesel systems, as far as I know there were no air-to-vac proportional systems, especially as the loco air brakes would be non-graduated release. Vac-to-straight air on the loco did work, along the same lines as vac-to-steam proportional valves, but a dual-fitted loco with that system couldn't translate vacuum from the loco ahead to air for the train behind (and to this day I don't think there's any approved system that does).
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  12. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Messages:
    15,278
    Likes Received:
    5,630
    Location:
    1012 / 60158
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Yes, apologies, I should have read the question better :(
     
  13. agalpin

    agalpin New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    293
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Bleeding 'ell Essex
    GER origin locos tend to be air braked.

    Both the B12 and J15 are although the J15 has been modified somewhat to accomodate distributors rather than triple valves.
     
  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,161
    Likes Received:
    39,583
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Birch Grove does indeed have an air brake on the loco, as does Fenchurch, and Beachy Head will do. The Terriers are a bit of a mishmash as they have been rebuilt so many times, for example Stepney does not have air brakes but Fenchurch does. I'd imagine that as a minimum, the IoW pair are air braked; not sure about the other preserved ones off the top of my head.

    Interestingly, when Fenchurch was first built, it was fitted with a steam brake (as were the others in the first series). That proved unpopular with the crews, who preferred to rely on the handbrake, the steam brake being too "grabby". She was then experimentally fitted with a patent hydraulic brake, which was also something of a failure, before air brakes were finally fitted.

    Tom
     
    LesterBrown likes this.
  15. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Messages:
    1,259
    Likes Received:
    679
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Westinghouse air is a lovely thing to use but it does take practice. The first application will be strong and subsequent ones less so.

    Both IOW terriers and the O2 are on straight air brakes now.

    Tom, which position of the brake handle do Bluebell drivers run in when light engine on Birch Grove or Fenchurch?
     
  16. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,598
    Likes Received:
    1,634
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Researcher/writer and composer of classical music
    Location:
    Between LBSCR 221 and LBSCR 227
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    And which engines have acquired air brakes in preservation?

    By my reckoning, the list is as follows:-

    5029, 6024, 34027, 34046, 34067, 35028, 44871, 45407, 46100, 6201, 46233, 60007, 60009, 4464, 60103, 70000, 71000 plus 41298 and the IOW-base Austerities. There's also 60163 (which doesn't technically count as "in preservation" if we're gooingto be pedantic!) I may have missed one or two out. I believe 80064 ran on the Dartmouth line with air brakes for a while i nthe 1980s, but the equipment has now been removed.
     
  17. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    5,786
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    At least one of the locos used for Steam on the Met weekends was temporarily fitted with an air brake control, but relied on Sarah Siddons or a diesel on the other end of the train for the air supply.
     
  18. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Messages:
    1,576
    Likes Received:
    469
    Occupation:
    Senior Finance Auditor
    Location:
    Kent
    I was at the Mid Hants the other day and saw Bittern running. All that air pump puffing and panting just sounded wrong!
     
    Gav106 likes this.
  19. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,598
    Likes Received:
    1,634
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Researcher/writer and composer of classical music
    Location:
    Between LBSCR 221 and LBSCR 227
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Oh yes, I forgot 5521.
     
  20. Grashopper

    Grashopper New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    86
    Occupation:
    Assistant FLeet engineer Southern Railway
    Location:
    Surrey
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    B473's air brake handle normally lives in the central (running and release?) position; brake applied being the forward position, release being backward. It is in running and release position when light engine (under power or coasting) or hauling vac-fitted passenger stock.
     

Share This Page