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WW2 locomotive building.

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Eightpot, May 26, 2017.

  1. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    I'm enjoying this thread discussing multiple things at once. An interlacing thread, perhaps?
    I think the Anderson/Fowler/Chambers/Hughes story is rather more subtle that it is often characterised, and all the individuals concerned were real people with strengths and weaknesses.
    For example, Anderson is often painted as the villain, and as we have discussed he had his blinkers on sometimes. But Cox tells us that the decision to test the Castle on the LMS, and to build a three-cylinder loco rather than four cylinders, and simple not compound, were Anderson's preferences. Which does not fit with the normal way his portrayed, as wedded to Midland Compounds. Perhaps he really did order all those Midland compounds in the early days because the (statistically insignificant) testing they did showed they were the most efficient locos and cheapest to maintain in the Class 4 power bracket, rather than simply because he has stuck in a rut?
    (Incidentally, Cox' 1946 paper shows that, although coal consumption did increase as they moved to secondary duties, it increased to the level of being similar to simple engines of the same power classification, not worse than them, and the locos were still fairly cheap to maintain compared to other contemporary Class 4 because they were mechanically robust, despite the inside cylinder).
    Cox also tells us that the excellent 2-6-4T, and the Scots, were essentially designed by Herbert Chambers (in the latter case he was "seconded" to NBL) - previously derided on here as hidebound by Midland bias. But he was responsible for the good front end of both designs.
    In response to questions from Holcroft and others, Cox stated that the Scots were "pure Fowler" - so Cox at least thought Fowler deserved the credit for these fine engines, as CME and ultimately responsible. Again, not how it is normally portrayed.
    The same paper interestingly shows the evolution of what became the Horwich Crab, being something like:
    - Caledonian impressed by performance of ex-Highland River 4-6-0s, especially robust outside two cylinder front end.
    - St Rollox also impressed by usefulness of Drummond 2-6-0s on the hated G&SW.
    - Pre-grouping, Caledonian works out outside-cylinder 2-6-0
    - Post-grouping, Hughes impressed by this, but it doesn't fit English gauging, so he re-designs from scratch to the same concept but with Horwich practice.
    - After Hughes retirement, Derby looks to modify, but in the end just adds Midland tender.
    Presumably Anderson must have ordered the Crabs, otherwise they wouldn't have been built!
     
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  2. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    No, Hughes ordered the Crabs. He retained some autonomy at Horwich (possibly why he refused to move to Derby), capitulation to Anderson did not come until Fowler succeeded him. He spent a year fighting off Fowler and Anderson who wanted to redesign the Crabs to take a Compound boiler. They also wanted, and got after Hughes' retirement, the Midland steam braking system instead of the L&YR vacuum one, and one or two other things, including the tender. But things were too far advanced to get the boiler change they wanted; just as well as the Compound boiler had insufficient steam raising capacity. Hughes had pointed this out, but they still pressed for it.
     
  3. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Good points - I now recall some of this from the excelled L&YR Locomotives book by Barry Lane.
     
  4. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    While my knowledge of then is limited, the Crabs looked like reasonably modern locomotives, everything that the majority of machines built after them until Stanier came on the scene were not....................
     
  5. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    I did only say 'parts' . I had no intention of dissing Thompson. The NE and rural East Anglia could produce many byways where only pre-grouping locos would be seen - had the LNER lasted longer this would no doubt have changed as they built either more small engines to the Thompson/Peppercorn standard or started to introduce diesels.
     
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  6. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    One shouldn't forget cross fertilisation provided by the abortive ARLE 2-6-0, which is supposed to have been principally Hughes (LYR), Gresley (GNR), Fowler (MR), Pickersgill (CR), Churchward (GWR), and Maunsell (SE&CR) .
     
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  7. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    Two of the most successful car companies today are VW and Toyota. Neither are famous for great innovations. They are successful due to care in design and manufacture of their products. They both use standardisation - sharing components across many models - and I suspect they tend to evolve their designs more often than they make a revolutionary change. Much like Swindon.
     
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  8. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    One design choice may be marginally superior to another - and on a brand new locomotive you might well choose outside valve gear. But that does not mean it is worth changing an existing design. One of the most important criteria of a railway locomotive is reliability - and new content brings risk.

    I'm not sure any outside valve gear was as substantial as Swindon's inside gear or had such ample bearing areas. The valves could be set in the factory and not have to be disturbed when a con rod needed to be removed. There was some method in their madness.

    If you can evolve an existing design and minimise new content that is often best. When you have to change then make a great leap forwards - and do it carefully - for instance thoroughly testing a few prototypes before going into volume production (ie not like Bulleid).
     
  9. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Outside valve gear doesn't need eccentrics, so the question of bearing area doesn't arise. Secondly the valve settings are not disturbed by the removal of the return crank and rod to allow the removal of the con rod. It takes about 5 mins to get the return crank and rod off a black 5, and access to the expansion link, radius rod and valves themselves is also far superior to any inside valve loco.
     
  10. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    All machinery becomes obsolete in time and needs to be updated. One is reminded of James Watt's aversion to developments in steam engine technology and also the Model T Ford which was kept in production for far too long. Both were examples of innovatory organisations who had become set in their ways.

    PH
     
  11. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the Model T is a great example - 15 million units produced and set up Ford to become one of the biggest companies in the world. The vehicles rolling out in 1927 were not the same as in 1908 - there was incremental evolution. Certainly, there were more advanced features available in other models on the market, but why wouldn't you wring out every last drop from a design that has brand identity and is very efficient and cheap to produce? At what point does Henry Ford make the decision to retool that enormously successful (and famous) production line?

    Quite often you can see the term "revenue earning" used in contemporary railway texts. Not really a term that gets thrown around much these days, but it does throw into stark relief that the railways were a business first and foremost - a fact that is quite often is overlooked in the current post steam era. Technical innovation and business reality may not have been happy bedfellows in the first half of last century.
     
  12. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Ford were overtaken by General Motors because they failed to keep up with the latter's economy vehicle, the Chevrolet 490. The latter was actually itself replaced before the Model T was!

    PH
     
  13. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    Indeed. I don't have an have a problem with saying the model T became obsolete in an innovation sense whilst still in production - you could even sight the Model A's continued use of mechanical brakes when hydraulic had become the industry standard as another "head scratching" moment for Ford - an indicator that price point was more important than safety perhaps? It is still all theory v's historical context.

    Comparing automobile design in a railway locomotive discussion is problematic in that the two industries design to different criteria. In a simplistic sense, automobile design is geared towards producing a consumer product in order to achieve sales and locomotive design is geared towards producing a machine capable of fulfilling a performance requirement.
     
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  14. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    The comparison is of organisations that become set in their ways.

    PH
     
  15. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I get it, but can you not see there is a case to be made that these assumptions should not be made in isolation? You have two cases of succeessful companies that remained viable, even dominant, despite practices that are today percieved as non-progressive. Something doesn't add up.

    Back to brass tacks.... If inside valve gear was problematic or frequently causing engines to come grinding to a halt and GWR did nothing to address the issue, then there would be a case to be put. However, the GWR developed a locomotive design style that they were able to utilise successfully.

    I'm not advocating that GWR had best practice on this, and I will happily say you are right in terms of outside valve gear being a no brainer winner in terms of ease of maintenance, but to look at maintenance only is one dimensional - there must have been a host of other factors that add up to much more than the GWR being set in their ways. :)
     
  16. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I am afraid you are being a trifle "football supporterish". In the 1900s the G.W.R. produced machinery that was, in British terms at any rate, at the top of the tree. After 1945 this position had been assumed by the L.M.S. and the G.W.R. was, well, "set in their ways".

    Paul H
     
  17. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    I confess to knowing precious little of the LMS and their practices, but there was some excellent commentary from members in the recent "why weren't the standards standard" thread on the set of circumstances, mostly personality related, which turned the post grouping LMS into a bit of a soap opera. By all accounts LMS motive power post grouping was inadequate for the new railway landscape. I'm not trying to run the LMS into the ground by any means, but making the point that once they stopped shooting themselves in the foot the only way was up - they had every reason to adopt best practice and leap ahead.

    The post grouping reality for the GWR was very different. Due to good early work as you say, they were able transition with a more stable organisation that enabled them to take grouping in their stride. From then on, their motive power practices were still more than effective enough to carry them through to the start of WW2 with only evolutionary change - I suggest that push factors great enough to provide impetus for a departure from normal practices were simply not there. I think anything after 1939 can be discounted.
     
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  18. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    But that last statement misses the point - that incremental change left the GWR, by 1948, with very little for others to adopt and adapt - because they'd moved beyond.
     
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  19. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    You are probably correct which is why I capped things at 1939 - the war threw a spanner in the works until nationalisation. The real acid test of how flexible Swindon was or wasn't never happened. We would only have seen that if WW2 had not happened, or; how, given the chance, Swindon recovered from the war and what strategies they would have progressed with had there been no nationalisation. That is a massive question though! For a private railway to survive the 50's, 60's and beyond, it would have to move away from steam and possibly/definitely beyond rail in order to compete against rapidly expanding road transport.
     
  20. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    In 1948 recent LMS locos had a modern look - but old fashioned detail design. They were typically undersized for their work and poor communication between operators and designers meant that problems in the field (eg steaming of 2-6-0) were not identified and fixed. Your viewpoint may have been influenced by the fact that the victors (Riddles, Cox, Bond) wrote the history.

    See attached - and take a guess at where Region G was.
     

    Attached Files:

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