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R A Riddles - your thoughts.




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#1 jonny777

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 12:03

After hi-jacking the Modernisation Plan diesel thread for many pages, maybe we should have a separate one for Riddles and his decisions/locomotive designs?

 

I hope this will not become too polarised between the various opinions.

 

 

My own views?

 

I am not against Riddles, and as a nostalgic steam enthusiast I congratulate him for producing some of my favourite locos such as the standard class 5s 73xxx (which I always thought looked far superior to a Black 5), the class 4 tank engines 80xxx, Duke Of Gloucester and the 9Fs; not forgetting his WD Locos of 8F and J94 which were simple but powerful and effective. 

 

I also understand his theory that electrification ought to be the main goal, and as the country had/has vast coal reserves, then steam continuing until the money could be found for dieselisation was a very logical one in theory.

 

However, was is exclusion of diesels to almost obsessive proportions the sign of a radical free thinker, or a narrow minded steam enthusiast who saw his change to rule the BR roost for a few years and get his pet designs into quantity production?

 

(As I have said on the other thread, I do think that a small diesel project using the LMS and SR 'twins' plus the later 2000hp unit and maybe 10-15 added machines to a similar specification, running on maybe the St Pancras or Marylebone route, would have improved the exprience and understanding of the technology).

 

But was he right to create so many new classes at extra expense, and with another set of spare parts for depots and works, when very similar classes were already in existence? (I'm thinking mainly of the 78xxx / 464xx and the standard 2-6-2Ts vs the Ivatt ex-LMS version).

 

And was he really justified in trying to halt the DMU programme and build new steam powered push-pull sets for branchline services?


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#2 woodenhead

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 12:11

Sort of been here before:

http://www.rmweb.co....on/?hl=riddles 


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#3 jonny777

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 12:19

Well, if you say so.

 

But I looked at that prior to this thread and decided it was meant to be about nationalisation liveries, not the whys and wherefores of new loco construction.


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#4 woodenhead

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 12:22

If a steam locomotive had a life of 50 years then building all those standard designs in preparation for full electrification was short sighted.

 

The rest of the world was developing electric traction be it DC or AC so he should have known he wouldn't have to wait long before a suitable standard to adopt would be there.

 

My personal belief is that he was old school and wanted stuff to be remembered for like Gresley, Stanier, Collett, Fowler etc.

 

He probably knew that BR wasn't in a place where it could build it's own diesel locomotives and such an endeavour would not be in his name but that of the private manufacturers so he fought the tide and build steam locomotives that were still coming off the production lines as the initial diesels were running around the country (20, 24, 26).


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#5 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:03

BR needed some new traction units to replace ancient and clapped out equipment, and what with only having workshops and a trained workforce capable of building steam locos, perforce they would be steam locos. The real objection to Riddles' activity is the design of so many new classes as 'Standards'. This increased the diversity that had to be maintained, as compared to building more of a selected few 'best of breed'; doubly so when influenced by the Midland obsession of designing locos in fine gradations of power output, so that a loco with just insufficient power to consistently perform a particular job could be allocated.

 

The political and social realities of the time have to be considered. Putting all the design staff out to grass would have been 'problematic', and persuading the middle management cadre to alter their thinking in a hurry would have been 'difficult'. I caught the tail end of the managerial class educated in the inter-war period, and to a man - and they were all men - they were conformists to an extreme degree. Wear suit, show no personality, act exactly as expected, turn up at 9, eat sandwiches made by wife at 1, leave at 5 after a busy day spent correcting spelling and grammar of the many memoranda concluded by neatly arranging all pencils and stationary on desk top, having carefully avoided suggesting, thinking about or approving new ideas. (OK, this is parody, but honestly there were an awful lot of such people.)

 

His undoubted design successes were the 7MT, a worthwhile advance on the 5MT type as a general all-rounder, and the 9F offering a similar power advance for freight over the 8F types. (He might have done even better to have spent all the 4-6-0/4-6-2 and 9F investment on a 7P/8F 2-8-2. Imagine five hundred of those around the network, that would have practically doubled the 2,000 dbhp power units available on BR and ended double heading on LMR main lines.)


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#6 Peter Kazmierczak

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:21

And why was Harrison so pro-Sulzer?


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#7 DavidR

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:23

Was the building of new steam anything to do with finances? Britain was bankrupt at the end of WW2 and had few dollars to purchase anything from abroad - including oil. Meanwhile, we had heaps of good quality coal and experienced men of steam. I haven't got the relevant book(s) with me in Poland, but E.S.Cox covers some of this subject in part 2 of his 'Locomotive Panorama'.


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#8 jonny777

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:30

I can understand Riddles' thinking with the various classes of standard locomotives, in that they would not be subject to the same Big Four bias that the existing locos would.

 

For instance, send a Thompson L1 to the GWR for general duties and they would turn up their noses and say "concrete mixer? no thanks"; but send a standard BR 80xxx 2-6-4T for them to try out and there is more chance of getting away with it.



#9 LMS2968

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:50

Steam locos did have a fifty year life expectancy, but how long would it have taken to electrify 20,000 (pre-Beeching) miles of UK route mileage as existed on Nationalisation?

The idea was that it would be done area by area, bit by bit, and spread out towards the end of the century, or about fifty years after the introduction of the BR Standards.



#10 woodenhead

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:52

If you ask me a lot of the standards looked LMS though the standardisation was very much GW.

 

I still hold out he was a standard dyed in the wool CME and he wanted his locos.


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#11 woodenhead

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:55

Steam locos did have a fifty year life expectancy, but how long would it have taken to electrify 20,000 (pre-Beeching) miles of UK route mileage as existed on Nationalisation?

The idea was that it would be done area by area, bit by bit, and spread out towards the end of the century, or about fifty years after the introduction of the BR Standards.

I suppose if we look at the railways with modern eyes we ask the question why would it take 50 years to electrify but then things didn't change so fast in the 40s and 50s.

 

Having said that, we still make a meal out of putting up wires even now.


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#12 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 13:55

And why was Harrison so pro-Sulzer?

I can think of quite a slew of possible reasons.

 

It could be something as simple as wanting two reliable D/E traction suppliers to BR; EE had a long established relationship with the ex-LMS contingent of BR, and he was out to ensure an alternative remained available as NBL and BRCW crumbled away. Perhaps I simply haven't looked hard enough, but have yet to see a good explanation of how it was that Brush started production and delivery of its class 4 well before the trials of class 4 units were complete.


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#13 jonny777

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 14:27

Steam locos did have a fifty year life expectancy, but how long would it have taken to electrify 20,000 (pre-Beeching) miles of UK route mileage as existed on Nationalisation?

The idea was that it would be done area by area, bit by bit, and spread out towards the end of the century, or about fifty years after the introduction of the BR Standards.

 

This is what makes me question the anti diesel stance.

 

Surely they were not naive enough to think that steam could hang on everywhere until enough money, time, and materials were available to have electrified the entire system? There was obviously going to be a need for something to upgrade the non-electrified lines while others had the wires going up.

 

Given that diesels were said to cost £75000 in the RE's 1951 report, and a basic service to (say) Sheffield might have required about 20; there was a requirement for an additional 15 to the ones either built or under construction.  15 x £75000 = £1.1 million. Plus a couple of maintenance depots at either end, together with training and fuel oil, lets say a £2m investment.

 

Standard steam locos seemed to cost about £20000-£25000 each, but lets be generous and say £20k. £2m divided by £20k equals 100.

 

So about 100 standard steam locos could have been sacrificed for the trial diesel locos - possibly at the lighter end of the 2-6-0 tender engine list - and the cost would not have been too prohibitive.

 

Of course, a canny BR might have dropped hints to the private manufacturers that a one-off prototype could be thoroughly tested on the route, alongside the diesels already in service, and thus have gained a few extra units on lease to operate trains, but without the high purchase cost.

 

(With hindsight I admit, this would have saved millions once the modernisation programme got into its stride because so many varied indifferent classes might not have been ordered at that time.)



#14 Reorte

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 15:04

This is what makes me question the anti diesel stance.

 

Surely they were not naive enough to think that steam could hang on everywhere until enough money, time, and materials were available to have electrified the entire system? There was obviously going to be a need for something to upgrade the non-electrified lines while others had the wires going up.

Locos were needed now, many of them were elderly, and they'd all had a lot of wartime use. The immediate priority to keeps things running may well have favoured sticking with steam at the time even if they weren't expected to remain in service as long as they could. A rush for diesels may well have resulted in the range of unreliable locos that we got anyway, but without the steam backup. At any rate it would've been risky.



#15 jonny777

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 15:57

Yes locos were needed now. But locos were being built now.

 

In 1948 there were 395 steam locos built, all to the designs of the Big Four. In 1949 this decreased slightly to 357, but that still means that two years after nationalisation BR had constructed about 750 brand new steam locos and none were standard designs.

 

In fact the construction of standard designs did not exceed the big-four-company designs in construction numbers until 1953.

 

And the last ex-Big Four steam loco was not built until 1956 (a 94xx 0-6-0PT), bringing the total of company designed steam locos built since nationalisation to 1541.  You will notice that even though standards continued to be built for another four years, their final total was only 999, that is two thirds of the company steam total.


Edited by jonny777, 09 February 2016 - 16:01 .

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#16 Reorte

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 16:16

For something not intended to last that long coming up with a new design does seem a bit odd. I've no clue is how expensive the design and testing process was though, if it was relatively insignificant then why not build suitable lower-maintenance new designs? But then why continue building the old ones too?



#17 Pandora

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 16:25

In addition to the previous posts, the Standards, being  all two-cylinder outside valve gear locos (except for 71000) were designed for ease of use and shorter preparation time in the  shed.

Preperation  duties such as  oiling up, ashpan cleaning, repairs/adjustments etc.

 

 The standards included  many tank locos and light weight tender locos designed to permit tender first running, saving time on turntabling.

 

Perhaps Riddles foresaw the shortening of the working week of Railwaymen, and the difficulty of attracting labour in the post war period



#18 Pandora

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 16:41

The Bulleid pacifics were rebuilt from chain drive to Walscahaerts at great cost,  the calculations were said to have been amortised of a service life to end in  the 1980's

That is a clue,  The rate of change of tramsport technology must have been very under-estimated, 

The Railway finances went put of control in the early 60s, hence Dr Beeching!

 

BR abandoned steam,  branch lines, coaches and wagons at great rate, in order to contain costs.

 

  I hear the same underestimation of changes in technolgy with the much heralded driverless car.

 

The driverless car is only being held back by  a few  shortcomings, one being the cost of the Lidar laser imaging device, when the Lidar cost falls theh driverless car will arrive on our roads  very quickly


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#19 jonny777

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 16:42

Of all the classes introduced, my view is that the Clans were the least effective.

 

I understand the wide firebox argument for a pacific, but on lines with a lot of varying gradients the greater adhesion and power from a driving axle at the rear of a loco would seem to make more sense.


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#20 david.hill64

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 08:45

And how many of the designs were really that new? The 73xxx 5MT owed much to the Black 5, The 76xxx, 78xxx, 80xxx and 84xxx were developments of the LMS designs and didn't the 77xxx and 82xxx have more or less a standard Swindon boiler? The Brits and Clans shared parts with the 5MTs. So in effect I think that with the exception of Duke of Gloucester and the magnificent 9F's, which were clearly novel, weren't the majority of locos just evolutions of good designs incorporating labour saving features such a rocking grates and self cleaning smokeboxes?

 

Hindsight is wonderful at telling us what we should have done: nobody really anticipated the very rapid decline in competitiveness of rail versus road. The lack of funds for oil (not at that time being sucked out of the North Sea and hence a major drain on foreign reserves) was a problem so building cheaper to operate steam and using the already existing infrastructure and workforce skills had a lot to commend it.


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#21 jonny777

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 12:17

And yet the lack of oil did not seem to harm the road transport sector, nor the airlines and shipping.

 

I can't find any evidence to suggest that the various executives in charge of those areas recommended a rapid change to coal fired units (imagine a steam driven passenger aircraft :o ) , which does imply that oil imports were not that restricted.

 

My problem is not with the standard steam classes, but with the total veto on diesels; a decision which, I maintain, gave rise to the wastefulness of the dieselisation programme when it finally came some years later.

 

Yes the pilot scheme gave enthusiasts some very interesting varieties of locomotives, but I don't think that is or was high on the priority list of the operators, or the majority of taxpayers for that matter.



#22 cheesysmith

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 12:55

His goal of standardisation was a good one, but I question why he had to re-invent the wheel? There was already a large number of standardised steam loco's on BRs books, from the LMS and also the GWR. The GWR loco's were hampered but the use of welsh coal, but if he wanted standardisation, he should have continued with what the LMS had left him. The places that needed standardisation were more the LNER and the SR. Both gresley and bulled beleived in designing specific loco's for a specific job, resulting in multiple different classes of loco's, outwardly very similar in duties (how many different Pacifics or 060 loco's did the LNER leave BR?).

His goal was a good one, the way he went about it, probably wrong. The lack of alternate (diesels) trials more to do with the lack of cash than any blinkered outlook. As to why he did what he did, remember we weren't there making the decisions with all the restrictions he had, and we have the benefit of hindsight.

#23 Glorious NSE

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 13:53

With more than a bit of devils advocate - would that drop in effectiveness of rail versus road by the end of the 50s have been so bad, had a fair chunk of the public not viewed it as a dead industry, wedded to using obsolete dirty technology in the emerging jet/nuclear age?

 


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#24 david.hill64

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 14:49

And yet the lack of oil did not seem to harm the road transport sector, nor the airlines and shipping.

 

 

 Don't forget that there was petrol rationing until 1950 and again in 1956 (Suez). Car ownership was for the wealthy, as were flights and other overseas travel. I suspect that many/most ships were still coal fired.


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#25 The Stationmaster

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 18:49

I'll go back to Johnny's original question and try to look at it in the wider context.  Probably Riddles most important task - aside from actually providing the wherewithal to keep traffic moving - was an organisational one.  He and the senior members of his team and lived through the organisational mess and infighting which followed the creation of the LMS at the Grouping and there can be little doubt that he worked hard and seemingly quite skillfully to avoid that sort of debacle.  Stage 1 was the 'competition' of the 1948 Loco exchanges and trials - aimed primarily at producing some technical information but also undoubtedly seen as a sort of sporting contest as well and intended to shake folk up a bit.

 

That might seem, and no doubt was, as much competitive as 'welding together' but it started the exchange of ideas and experience which went into the standard design process - which also included coaching stock and wagons of course.  Similarly to the loco design process certain works were given leadership on various parts of those schemes but working in teams with representatives from other works.  Exactly the same happened with engines where features from the various companies were chosen to be developed into standard components for the new range of locos with lead drawing offices for various tasks but working in concert with other drawing offices.  It was a clever practical example of what in modern terminology is called 'team building' and it helped to breakdown barriers and bring people together.

 

Why steam? Well here all the same reasons come out as identified by Cox - diesels were very much an unknown quantity of which there was very limited operational and maintenance experience of the emerging mainline types in 1948 plus there was the oil question and the shortage of US$ to buy it while the country was sitting ion a massive long term stockpile of underground coal.  The logic identified steam asa  stop-gap until electrification - but shortage of investment capital clearly meant that was a long way off (and much of it still is).

 

The other advantage of steam was that it was simple to design and build and railway staff knew how to do it (and, what a bonus, they could grow to know each other better in that process).  Steam very simply made practical and economic sense in the conditions of the time.  Even if there had been a trial scheme of dieselisation on a  greater scale than the few emerging prototypes there was still a need to replace an ageing and inefficient fleet of steam engines fairly quickly.  And the diesels would effectively be ordered off the drawing board relying on gaining some benefit from past export designs  (and look how some of that turned out just over a decade later).  Look too that when the Modernisation Plan high horsepower (i.e. 2,000 hp) locos emerged the d-e versions used a bogie design which had first entered traffic use in 1951 - so wasn't available before then except on the drawing board but of course it turned out to be pretty successful.

So those are I think the practical reasons for sticking with steam for mainline use (diesels for shunting were a slightly different issue).  

 

Now what about the engines which actually emerged - well 4 classes (73XXX, 76XXX, 78XXX, and 84XXX) were basically titivated LMS designs with standard components where appropriate, some changes on the two Class 2 to improve Route Availability from a clearance viewpoint, and the standard style' adopted.  The 80XXX tank engines were a  far more serious re-working of the LMS design in order to widen route availability for clearance reasons.  All of these types had continued in construction post 1948 in several cases at other than LMS workshops and were already in use on other Regions - logically further change might be considered unnecessary except in relation to route availability or perhaps in benefitting from improved standard components instead of the originals.  The 75XXX Class 4 4-6-0 also had its origins in the same LMS tank engine design but was intended from the outset for lines where weight restrictions precluded use of the larger 73XXX type and where the higher power of the Class 5 wasn't needed - an order for a further10 was cancelled.

 

The 82XXX tanks were basically a design driven by axleload requirements and developed around the Swindon No.4 boiler suitably updated to BR Standard format and there was clearly, and immediately, work for them replacing - in many cases - ageing Pre-Group engines, those ordered in the 1954 building programme were cancelled.  The 77XXX 2-6-0 was no more than a tender engine version of the 82XXX tank so involved little extra design cost and was again a design intended for weight restricted routes.

 

Most of the above probably had reasonable justification for their construction, even (almost?) the numerically small 77XXX class although its utility was, like many of the smaller classes, overtaken by a mixture of route improvements, closures, and - later - dieselisation.

 

That leaves several others of course and here is where some question marks exist in my mind. The 'Britannias' were a good design - once the various teething problems had been resolved - but seem to have been as much as anything a justification exercise to prove a powerful 2cylinder design could be built and maintained for lower cost than an equivalent 3 or 4 cylinder engine and be useful on work beyond the capabilities of a Class 5.  In other words they were there to prove Riddles, and his immediate team's ideas on construction and maintenance.  Effectively they added penny packet numbers in a number of places which were short of power but only really opened a new page in terms of train running on the GE mainline - elsewhere they were engine sin search of work and they often only got it as older classes fell by the wayside.   The needs they served - except on the GE - could have been met by building more engines of existing designs BUT they would have cost more so the design had some sense to it but it is - in my mind - questionable that maybe too many were built.

 

The 'Clans' are an enigma - they seem to have been very much built to an outmoded concept and as a result were neither one thing or another although they did what they were supposed to do although oddly their reduced axleload (compared with the 'Britannia' was never exploited and it is hardly surprising that the final 15 were cancelled during Riddles period in office.

 

The real oddball was of course 'Duke of Gloucester' - if the Britannia could be considered to be a design to prove a point (which it generally did) then this was one was probably the nearest Riddles came to a true vanity project.  There has long been some controversy about just how unrepairable 46202 was after the Harrow collision when it was far from being the most heavily damaged engine and it reportedly lingered for a long time at Crewe before finally being broken up.  But that breaking up left room for a new Class 8 pacific and away went Riddles design team with the chance he and they no doubt had looked for.  Alas it has only really been got right in its final preserved life as it never did particularly well in BR days; to me, and looked at in the wider sense, its the special financial authority to build it and its actual construction does seem rather questionable.

 

 

Finally we come to the 9F a brilliant design and a superb engine.  It came late because there was no need for it any earlier but because of that late arrival and the drastic changes in traffic levels which grew out of the 1955 ASLE&F strike plus. later, the onset of mass dieselisation, it suffered the indignity of being an engine out of its time.  A great pity but reasonably in my view something which could not necessarily have been foreseen when most of the class were ordered.

 

So all in all the Standards were rather mixed bunch - some were desperately needed when they were designed and built, some were already out of place by the time they arrived, and some simply suffered the consequences of totally unforeseen events.  But in traffic almost all of them offered savings compared with many comparable designs and taht should not be overlooked or forgotten when judging their effectiveness.


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