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R A Riddles - your thoughts.




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#26 kevinlms

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 00:18

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

Didn't NBL Co fall over, mostly because they expected steam construction to be phased out over around 25 years and that was even after British Railways had announced the end of building steam. They expected the Empire to slowly follow suit, but the foreign railways, wanted to reduce their costs too! So instead of a long lead time, construction of steam stopped, almost overnight.

 

Yes the driverless car, isn't far off, with lots of trials.





#27 Zomboid

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 09:26

How did the standards compare with the best in the rest of the world? Would Riddles have been laughed out of Roanoake, or hailed as a genuis there?

#28 Glorious NSE

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 09:52

Interesting question - by the time BR standards were on the cards very few roads were buying steam, and most of the steam that was being bought was from external suppliers rather than built in-house...

The N&W is maybe the only comparator in North America!



#29 Zomboid

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 10:05

North America may not be the best comparison anyhow, but I tend to associate the N&W with being the best there was in terms of steam. But how would the standards have stacked up against Baldwins & ALCos offerings when they were at their steam building best? Obviously there's other parts of the world - would Riddles have made a better QJ than the Chinese actually did?

Edited by Zomboid, 11 February 2016 - 10:07 .

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#30 The Stationmaster

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 12:41

How did the standards compare with the best in the rest of the world? Would Riddles have been laughed out of Roanoake, or hailed as a genuis there?

Interestingly a party of BR folk when to the USA in the early '50s and did exactly that - albeit mainly in a subjective manner.  But US operating conditions were so incredibly different from those on BR that a real comparison was hardly valid and this was made even more irrelevant by the huge difference in steam engine operating practice between the various roads where some were getting very near diesel like availability out of steam engines while others were running things on a shoestring.

 

Comparisons with Europe might be more valid but again - then and now - there were substantial differences in operating practice, Driver training, and incentives (such as coal consumption related bonus in France).


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#31 Poggy1165

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 15:33

The main problem after WW2 was that this country was the next thing to bankrupt and there was a serious shortage of foreign exchange. What resources we had were directed towards maintaining the illusion that we were a First Rate power - vast defence expenditure with lavish deployments overseas, plus enormous free gifts to various foreign countries in our 'sphere of influence' and after that creating the NHS, building vast numbers of new houses and considerable investment in education at all levels.

 

The railways were very low in the pecking order for investment. 

 

Correlli Barnett has written a whole series of books that explain Britain's problems during and after the war in far greater detail, and with much greater expertise. I recommend them as they are fascinating reading.

 

The railways had any number of workshops dotted around the country, all of which had the machinery and skill sets for building and maintaining the kit for a 'traditional' railway, none of which (with rare exceptions) had the facilities to construct and maintain diesel and electric engines.

 

The private sector was not much better set up, if at all. Hence the problems that arose when the large-scale building of diesels got off the ground in the mid 1950s. 

 

We could have made different political choices. But we didn't. It's not so much about political parties, by the way, as about the ethos and culture of the British ruling class in general, irrespective of party, as Barnett explains. 


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#32 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 15:46

...how would the standards have stacked up against Baldwins & ALCos offerings when they were at their steam building best? ...

 The only worthwhile comparison in late steam design in my opinion would be the Riddles 2-8-0 Austerity and the USA equivalent, as these were designed for the same role and within the same constraints. Trying to compare a UK design with a North American loco built for routes accepting 30, 35, and even 40 ton axleloads, results in so much 'scaling' in the assessment that the noise in the comparison becomes too great to allow useful conclusions. Unless you are M.Chapelon, who was quite convinced that he could advance the final US superpower designs from a typical 20dbhp/ton to 30dbhp/ton continuous, with no increase in fuel consumption. But then again he was a genius steam designer


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#33 jonny777

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 15:47

However, no one has explained Riddles' submission of plans to build steam push-pull trains in the early 1950s when the BTC had suggested expanding the DMU idea for rural branch lines.

 

I have difficulty believing this was the action of a CME with all his faculties still intact.


Edited by jonny777, 11 February 2016 - 15:54 .


#34 Zomboid

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 16:05

Unless you are M.Chapelon, who was quite convinced that he could advance the final US superpower designs from a typical 20dbhp/ton to 30dbhp/ton continuous, with no increase in fuel consumption. But then again he was a genius steam designer

I wasn't thinking that you could apply American thinking to the UK, we obviously had no need for a lot of their technology. But was Riddles fit to shine Chapleon's shoes?
Given that the UK was amongst the last western countries to be building steam engines, they should have been amongst the best ever built. Were they? (genuine question, I don't know how they stack up)

#35 david.hill64

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 16:27

I wasn't thinking that you could apply American thinking to the UK, we obviously had no need for a lot of their technology. But was Riddles fit to shine Chapleon's shoes?
Given that the UK was amongst the last western countries to be building steam engines, they should have been amongst the best ever built. Were they? (genuine question, I don't know how they stack up)

I think I read somewhere that Duke of Gloucester was the most thermally efficient (or should that be least inefficient?) non-compound steam loco in the world. But that hardly seems credible given its poor steaming ability as built.



#36 The Stationmaster

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 16:53

However, no one has explained Riddles' submission of plans to build steam push-pull trains in the early 1950s when the BTC had suggested expanding the DMU idea for rural branch lines.

 

I have difficulty believing this was the action of a CME with all his faculties still intact.

Jonny what is the source for that as it very much at variance with what Brian Haresnape wrote of his conversations with Riddles?  A committee formed in 1948 to examine the possible use of railcars for various duties reported in 1952 and orders followed in that year.  I can find no mention of there ever being any intention to order push-pull fitted Standard tank engines and the 84XXX was never expanded, or cutback, from the original intention.  What Riddles did say however was that dieselisation would be difficult in some places because of their remoteness from maintenance and fuelling facilities and that it would be more sensible to proceed on an area basis with suitable depot facilities - hence the first two dmu schemes, which followed exactly that principle.

 

Oddly of course it is quite true that in the mid 1950s more push-pull trains were introduced, and some engines converted to work them, but that was after Riddles had retired and seems as much as anything to have been a stop-gap when dmus would not be available in time for various changes to timetables.


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#37 The Stationmaster

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 17:03

I think I read somewhere that Duke of Gloucester was the most thermally efficient (or should that be least inefficient?) non-compound steam loco in the world. But that hardly seems credible given its poor steaming ability as built.

I think it should be read as efficient at using steam rather than efficient at creating it - or something to that effect.  In other words part of it was very efficient but the other half of the process wasn't.

I wasn't thinking that you could apply American thinking to the UK, we obviously had no need for a lot of their technology. But was Riddles fit to shine Chapleon's shoes?
Given that the UK was amongst the last western countries to be building steam engines, they should have been amongst the best ever built. Were they? (genuine question, I don't know how they stack up)

 

First define what you mean by 'best'.  Does it mean thermal efficiency, does it mean ability to do the job at a minimum operating cost, does it mean do the job at the lowest repair and main works overhaul cost, does it mean whole life cost per ton mile worked?  The opportunities for defining 'best' are far from limitless but they are pretty wide ranging all the same.  Riddle's engines were undoubtedly much less complex machines than Chapelon's and they didn't require a lot of engineering skill and knowledge to get the best out of them so in that respect they were probably 'better' for general use on their respective duties.  But Chapelon's were better at sheer sustained power output - if properly handled, but then if they were so good why didn't they outlast in numbers the far simpler and much more 'ordinary' 141Rs?


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#38 Bernard Lamb

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 20:12

Surely it is nigh on impossible to make any judgment regarding Riddles as a locomotive engineer without the in depth knowledge of what his brief actually was and what constraints were imposed upon him.

To what extent was he told what to build and where?

I have read enough files at Kew to know that the decision to maintain or close railway workshops was a political decision taken at the highest level.

I don't think it is possible to have at this far removed a debate on purely engineering terms.

I do like his idea of supper though. Very similar to the breakfast consumed by Lester Piggott. A fair amount of champagne was involved in both cases according to what I was told.

Bernard


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#39 jjb1970

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 21:37

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.


Coal was not widely used for ships at that time although there were still a few. However ships generally use bunker oil which is a much lower quality, cheaper fuel than what most think of as diesel fuel. Ships have to buy fuel based on where they trade, most marine fuel would not have been sourced from UK suppliers but loaded overseas.
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#40 rosetheromani

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 22:46

There has been much mention that the standard class locomotives were developed to bridge the gap before electrification of the network, but was any electrification scheme proposed during Riddles period in power? Work on the Woodhead line had already started before the Second World War. IMHO the most iconic pictures of 9F's in action is the Consett Iron Ore workings, would this not have been an ideal line to electrify, relatively short and difficult gradients and heavy trains, English Electric had experience in building suitable electric locomotives for use in New Zealand and the Australian State of Victoria, also the Gorton Works was building class 76 and 77. To me it seems the electrification thing is a red herring, because he did not progress the development of an electrified system.



#41 Zomboid

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 08:39

I guess "best" is too vague, as most cards in a deck of to trumps can win at something, and it's a highly subjective judgement.
At the very least, the Standards should have distilled all the knowledge of the 100+ years of steam loco development up to that point to answer whatever their design brief was with the minimum lifetime cost (design life, rather than actual in this case). There should not have been a better 5MT on British rail than the Standard 5, that kind of thing.
And if SNCF, DB, Indian Railways etc had any similar locos built for similar purposes, the Standards should have been able to hold their own against them (hypothetically...).

#42 Fat Controller

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 08:56

There has been much mention that the standard class locomotives were developed to bridge the gap before electrification of the network, but was any electrification scheme proposed during Riddles period in power? Work on the Woodhead line had already started before the Second World War. IMHO the most iconic pictures of 9F's in action is the Consett Iron Ore workings, would this not have been an ideal line to electrify, relatively short and difficult gradients and heavy trains, English Electric had experience in building suitable electric locomotives for use in New Zealand and the Australian State of Victoria, also the Gorton Works was building class 76 and 77. To me it seems the electrification thing is a red herring, because he did not progress the development of an electrified system.

It was proposed to electrify the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr in the mid-late 1950s! This was to coincide with the opening of the new Cynheidre colliery. Unlike Consett, the heaviest traffic was downhill, and the main problem would have been stopping the trains before they arrived at the junction with the main line.



#43 unclebobkt

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 09:15

       Coal was not widely used for ships at that time although there were still a few. However ships generally use bunker oil which is a much lower quality, cheaper fuel than what most think of as diesel fuel. Ships have to buy fuel based on where they trade, most marine fuel would not have been sourced from UK suppliers but loaded overseas.

 

       After WW1. and the mandating by the concerned & British gov't. Dep't. that marine shifts in British registered ships should follow land-side practices and not exceed 8 hrs. per shift,  coal-fired ships with the numbers of firemen/stokers req'd. became prohibitive.  Whereas oil-fired engine-rooms could be run by a couple of engrs' per shift.

  The ship on which I served for several years was built in 1936. for the PAX./cattle-trade between N. Britain & N. Ireland.  The two & main engines were two-stroke Diesels, as were the four engines driving the dynamos;  we found that two engrs. for each shift sufficed.   All the Diesels ran on Bunker 'C.', supplied by 'Shell.'.

 

       :locomotive:


Edited by unclebobkt, 12 February 2016 - 09:18 .

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#44 The Stationmaster

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 14:51

There has been much mention that the standard class locomotives were developed to bridge the gap before electrification of the network, but was any electrification scheme proposed during Riddles period in power? Work on the Woodhead line had already started before the Second World War. IMHO the most iconic pictures of 9F's in action is the Consett Iron Ore workings, would this not have been an ideal line to electrify, relatively short and difficult gradients and heavy trains, English Electric had experience in building suitable electric locomotives for use in New Zealand and the Australian State of Victoria, also the Gorton Works was building class 76 and 77. To me it seems the electrification thing is a red herring, because he did not progress the development of an electrified system.

Most of the electrification schemes of the early BR era were basically continuations of earlier schemes which had - in just about every case I believe - been long planned.  and in fact some planned extensions were not proceeded with because there was no money available to carry them out.   Most commentators take the viewpoint, again repeated by Haresnape, that Riddles saw electrification as a long term prospect and that steam would in many cases have to continue in the interim as there were no real alternatives available when the Standard designs went onto the drawing boards.

 

As far as electrification was concerned Riddles seems to have got it right even when large schemes were proposed (and work actually started on some of them) as part of the Modernisation Plan the financial situation led to some schemes being cancelled, even where some work had already been carried out.  And of course even on the scheme which was completed on the WCML the money tap was turned on & off as work progressed with - again - some items completed but in the end never used because of cost saving while ancient equipment was left to soldier on.   And all of that was at a time when far more money was available for the industry than had been the case in the 1948-52 period.


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#45 jonny777

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 15:10

Jonny what is the source for that as it very much at variance with what Brian Haresnape wrote of his conversations with Riddles?  A committee formed in 1948 to examine the possible use of railcars for various duties reported in 1952 and orders followed in that year.  I can find no mention of there ever being any intention to order push-pull fitted Standard tank engines and the 84XXX was never expanded, or cutback, from the original intention.  What Riddles did say however was that dieselisation would be difficult in some places because of their remoteness from maintenance and fuelling facilities and that it would be more sensible to proceed on an area basis with suitable depot facilities - hence the first two dmu schemes, which followed exactly that principle.

 

Oddly of course it is quite true that in the mid 1950s more push-pull trains were introduced, and some engines converted to work them, but that was after Riddles had retired and seems as much as anything to have been a stop-gap when dmus would not be available in time for various changes to timetables.

 

 

The source was the dreaded Bonavia, who when talking about 1953 and the multiple unit scheme for Lincolnshire, The West Riding and West Cumberland, says:- 

 

"Earlier that year a submission had been received from the Railway Executive (Riddles being its chief sponsor) for the construction of push-pull steam units for branch line services, rather than diesel railcars. This, not surprisingly, infuriated Pope."



#46 30851

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 15:59

The source was the dreaded Bonavia, who when talking about 1953 and the multiple unit scheme for Lincolnshire, The West Riding and West Cumberland, says:- 

 

"Earlier that year a submission had been received from the Railway Executive (Riddles being its chief sponsor) for the construction of push-pull steam units for branch line services, rather than diesel railcars. This, not surprisingly, infuriated Pope."

 

There are some more details about this in "Lightweight DMU's" by Evan Geen-Hughes. This states that a push-pull scheme was developed for Cumbria instead of DMU's - 15 Class 2 2-6-2 were planned along with 39 new coaches, 15 with driving cabs. The operating costs were worked out to be 61.03d per mile - a saving of 12:88d on the existing services but no where close to the planned DMU costs of 28:10d per mile. With those figures the BTC cancelled the project as it could not be justified on operating, commercial or economic grounds.

 

Rob


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#47 ted675

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 18:34

One of the problems with post-WW2 GB steam locos was they had to be designed with larger fireboxes because BR was told to use less thermally efficient GB coal. It is little known that "Best Welsh Steaming Coal" was marked for export only rather than internal GB use as part of a [very] slow plan to reduce the balance of payments deficit. So comparing a pre-war and a post-war loco design is not quite like comparing apples with oranges but not all that far off.

Greater minds than I will have access to the variation in the price of imported oil as I suspect this played a greater part than is realised in the ebbing and flowing of the merits of steam versus electric and diesel.


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#48 Poggy1165

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 12:45

According to Barnett, under the Modernisation Plan of 1955, it was envisaged that in 1970, half the BR motive power would still be steam! Although diesel locomotives were proven in other countries, the first step taken was to 'experiment' with various designs (instead of buying proven ones) and not to be particularly hurried about it.

 

So it's pretty clear that even in the middle 50s (let alone just after the war) a fairly long term future for steam was envisaged, and in that sense new designs were 'justified'. It appears that part of the issue was a political desire not to lay off large numbers of men in the various BR workshops, and it must be appreciated that neither the said workshops nor private industry in Britain was remotely geared up to suddenly build huge quantities of diesel engines. 

 

Another issue is that the people at the top of the BTC in the early 1950s were neither engineers nor railwaymen. Sir Brian Robertson was retired general who had had only very brief experience in industry. Sir Cyril Hurcomb was a former senior civil servant with no experience in either business or engineering. The French (for example) did things very differently.


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#49 locoholic

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 16:51

In his book "Railway Reminiscences of Three Continents", Gerard Vuillet describes a journey from Bath Green Park to Bournemouth behind 9F 92000, with a load of 12 coaches, unassisted. He is very complimentary about the performance of the loco and the way it was driven, and he had a vast experience of steam locomotives. Compared to many of the locos he had observed, I think he regarded the 9F as quite small. The history of British steam would have been the poorer had the 9Fs not been built, and we have Riddles to thank for that. It is such a shame that a 9F has never been tried on the Highland main line from Perth to Inverness, where it could really have shown what it could do.
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#50 Urthra

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:49

For a long time I was of the opinion that it was a shortsighted mistake to build so many steam units in the forties and fifties. I have recently stumbld across "www.transportmyths.co.uk" written by a former BR senior manager.

Now, I take a lot of what he says with a pinch of salt, as he very clearly has a strong opinion on the subjects he writes on.

However, one thing he says (and references) rings true. BR, he says, were not permitted capex in the first decade, and could only get finance for new locos if they were replacing like with like.
This extended to all items, fromlocos down to actual rail ties.
I've worked for more than one company with a similar attitude. It seems to be a founding principle of some school of management that it is okay to spend money fixing up problems with tried and tested solutions, but not - no way - to spend money on a new solution which would bypass the problem altogether.

So maybe, Riddles was making the best of a bad job. If BR was not allowed to invest in new diesel or electric units, were his standards the best possible motive power for the railway?
If .... Then I would say yes.
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