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The Johnster

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  • Location
    The mean streets of inner-city Cardiff
  • Interests
    Railways of course, especially those of South Wales, Photography when I can get out to do it, Latin American percussion, beer, ranting about stuff that winds me up and being a miserable old git.

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  1. It is a bit misleading to blame IKB for Thunderer and Hurricane, which he signed off on but were actually designed by a bloke called Harrison. He was at least attempting, albeit hoplessly unsuccessfully, to solve a major problem of the time, and criticism should bear this in mind. Even then, though, it should have been pretty obvious that these locos had no tractive weight and were unlikely to work; I can well believe that they were barely capable of moving their own weight on anything but the driest rail, and the jointed steam pipes must have been a 'mare to deal with. It is actually quite difficult to make a steam locomotive that doesn't work at all, but these must be close contenders for the title. And I still think water tanks and ballast on top of the engine part of Hurricane would have made her a potential success, though the jointed steam pipes would have still been a problem. We'll never know now; she's an unlikely candidate for a replica unless you power the carrying wheels beneath the boiler by diesel or electrickery... 100mph? Highly unlikely, but something fairly fast by the standards of the time might have been possible in favourable conditions, by which I mean experienced driver (rare as rhs in those days, but apparently he was a Stockton & Darlington man), dry rail, light or no load, strong following wind. He must have had nerves of steel; a loco that difficult to get moving is next to impossible to stop for the same reasons. Speed assessment was pretty subjective back then, few people had accurate watches that could withstand the shaking and rattling, and the firm baulk road would have created a fairly strong impression at 70+. Wind forward to the Gauge Commission, a very revealing read concerning actual operation and the attitudes of the big name engineers giving evidence, and we have McConnel from the LNW's Southern Section, he of 'Bloomer' fame, stating that he could easily provide a locomotive that could reach 100mph if it was required, and that speeds close to that had already been reached on his railway. He was, of course, giving evidence to show that the broad gauge had no speed advantage in particular over the standard, but one assumes that he was being truthful to the best of his knowledge. 100mph on the rougher permanent way of the day, with unbraked vehicles and on cast iron leaf springs, would have been highly dangerous and the ride would have dissuaded most drivers from trying it, notwithstanding that they were a pretty tough and fearless breed!
  2. TTBOMK only one Cunard liner ever called at Fishguard on only one occasion in 1907, the ship being RMS Mauretania. The ship anchored inside the breakwaters but did not moor.
  3. Some good stuff in the first blog (haven't had time for more yet), but the largest driving wheels on a British steam loco were not the 10 footers on 'Hurricane' but the 10'6" monsters of the LNWR's Cornwall, which still exist on the loco. In the loco's original form the boiler was carried beneath the driving axle to enable the loco to feature such large drivers. The idea was that larger wheels would improve the ride and enable slower piston and bearing speeds at higher running speeds, a major concern in those early days being the effectiveness of the lubricants. Hurricane might have worked a bit better, and it could hardly have been worse, had the water been carried above the 'engine' section of the cavalcade, and there was no reason for it not to have been.. Same goes for Thunderer, but there would have been less room for it with all that clockwork in the way.
  4. No need, thanks, glad it fits, though! It's important with an open cab loco like this.
  5. As promised on the smooth/bumpy thread. Detail of RTR models has been constanty improving overall since I first became interested in little electric trains about 65 years ago, and has progressed from Hornby Dublo pacifics with cabs full of motor, or Rovex ones with horrible stamped motion, both under scale length and featuring boiler skirts and flangeless centre drivers, to the current situation in which full detail is featured at least outside the frames on steam outline models, and all sorts of pipework and engine room detail is beginning to appear on diesel or electric ones. Back in the day, you were lucky if your 6 inch long coach had a floor, and now we have fully detailed interiors, no smoking and first class window labels, and so on. So what next? In two parts, what would you like to see, and what do you think will be the next stage for the manufacturers. This assumes that they will continue to improve detail and include more features, which is not a given; there is a limit to what we can reasonably expect at the prices we are prepared to pay for RTR models. Japanese and Korean hand built brass RTR models of very high levels of detail were available 50 odd years ago, but were too expensive for a mass market or volume production. They showed what was possible even then, though, and current RTR production is not far short of their level. Ok, to start the roll balling or something, what I'd like to see next is removable lit oil lamps for steam era locomotives and brake vans. DCC concepts are producing lamps not far off this, but they cannot be removed from the loco or van and changed to the other end on a terminus layout. It could be done in 2 ways IMHO, a system where the lighting is provided aboard the locomotive and delivered to the lamp by fibre optic in the bracket, with some means of obscuring the light source when the lamp is removed, or by recharging very small leds within the lamp itself by connection with charging cables integral to the bracket with connections within the lamp. I've actually been playing around with some means of making a system based on the first option, with varying degrees of success, but a manufactured retrofit setup would be much better than anything I can bodge up. What I think is going to be the next development is working windscreen wipers on diesel or electric locomotives, operated by DCC, and representation of working, moving, inside motion between the frames on steam outline models. Over to those with better ideas than me, and perhaps we'll manage to steer manufacturers who read this to actually think about making some of them!
  6. Which prompts another thread, which I will now open; what do we think will or should be the next development in detailing of RTR models?
  7. As a very general impression, I would say that the more recent exhibitions I have attended, since my return to the hobby in 2016, have featured a divide of about 40/60% in favour of diesel. My prior period of active attendance at show ended in about 1990, and the situation was probably reversed then, but if you go back a further decade matters were very much pro-steam or steam/green diesel mix. This is a very personalised, impressionist, and subjective overview, however, and show layouts may not tally with the overall picture including home layouts. Also, there are many 'trainset' (I do not intend the term to be taken as being derogatory) layouts on which any and everything runs together, with no location or period specified, and once you include or exclude those matters will rapidly degenerate into what individuals consider to be 'proper' railway modelling and what they don't. I model steam exclusively.
  8. Gresley and Bullied clearly agreed with him, but the GW maintained the de Glehn 4-cylinder divided drive setup until the final delivery of Castles in 1950, and Ivatt was still building pacifics to this layout in 1947. The LMS seemed to specialise in 3-cylinder 4-6-0s during the inter-war years, but never build a 3-pot pacific. I suspect the cause of 3-potters on the GW was not helped by being taken up by Prof. Tuplin, who nobody takes seriously... An issue with 3-cylinder engines is arranging the inside cyldinder valve gear to be driven by the outside valve gear motion, which is why BritCaprotti was used on 71000. With a 4-potter, it is easy to arrange Walchearts or Stephenson valve gear in pairs, but 3 pots mean that care must be taken in the valve settings in order to provide a reasonably even exhaust beat and smooth power delivery. The rather groovy noises made by high mileage Gresley locomotives illustrate this very well, conjugated apparently meaning sychopated, it don' mean a thing if it ain' got that swing.
  9. Can't remember any, but, again, would be very surprised if they didn't get anywhere a Royal Scot did! What often happened in the early 60s on the WR, which had got itself into a loco shortage as a result of attempting to dieselise more quickly than the availability of the diesels allowed, so that steam repairs that might have alleviated the situation were prevented by bay blocking diesels in Swindon erecting shop, was that trains turning up at Gloucester or Pontypool Road with LMR locos that would normally have been relieved with WR locos were required to work through. Traction knowledge was not an issue with steam, and the WR crews drove them. A further chance of relief might have occurred at Severn Tunnel Jc, but by and large the LMR locos worked through to East Usk, Ebbw Jc/Alex Dock, Cardiff Tidal/Marshalling or Long Dyke, and sometimes further down line or to Barry. After Canton closed to steam, this was even more convenient as the servicing point was a re-opened East Dock (never really fully out of action after it's initial closure in 1958), easily accessed from Tidal/Marshalling via Stonefield Jc, or from Long Dyke without requiring main line light engine paths. Pontypool Road was allocated Stanier 8Fs which no doubt turned up at Cardiff, and were used on the Pontypool Rd-Aberdare-Neath route until it closed in 1964. At Swansea, the closure of the LNWR's Paxton Street shed along with the Central Wales line between Swansea Victoria and Pontardulais led to it's allocation being transferred to Landore, and shortly after to Neath Court Sart when Landore closed to steam for rebuilding as a diesel depot in 1962. This meant that Black 5s, 8Fs, Standard 5MT and 4MT tanks, and Fowler 2-6-4 tanks were thrown into the mix; I have seen photos of Fowler tanks at Porthcawl and on an up mixed freight running through Port Talbot station during it's reconstruction. At Bristol, B1s occasionally appeared on the Midland route from the Gloucester direction and one once worked through to Weston-Super-Mare. A B12 got to Coryton with a US Army hospital train in late 1945, but this doesn't really count as it had to remain with the train in order to provide air braking. It must have worked tender first out of Cardiff General to Coryton. Even in relatively recent years, elderly Whitchurch residents remember this incident, which involved several of them pitching in to help hospital staff wheel beds to and from the station to collect the patients, who were then wheeled along the road in them to the hospital. The train was a US army hospital train of Bristish air braked stock that had worked through from the Frankfurt area via the train ferry from Ostend to Parkestone Quay. Must have taken several days.
  10. Cravats and scarves were common accessories to the standard bib/brace/dust jacket, as they can be used as masks in tunnels, to wipe sweat, and other sundry tasks. Cotton shirts were normal beneath the outer layer, as the collars could be loosened if things got hot and buttoned back up when they cooled off. Ties might be worn for passenger duties, but probably spent much of their time in pockets in case they were needed. Some drivers who preferred to lean out of the cab Casey Jones style in the interests of forward visibility used motorcycle/aviator style goggles to protect their eyes. I paint my crews as follows: spray matt acrylic so that the acrylic colours will key properly, flesh for faces, necks, and hands, and a grey/blue for the clothing. A splash of white for the shirt and maybe a colour for a scarf or cravat, and an overall wash of general weathering dirt is usually enough to bring out the facial features. Care when wiping off the weathering mix to leave heavier dirt at elbows and knees, and always matt acrylics. Wiping more dirt mix off the jacket than the trousers is sufficient to show the difference in shades.
  11. The prime operating advantage of a pacific, derived from atlantics, is that a large boiler can be steamed from a wide firebox, able to burn lower grades of coal that may be more easily and cheaply available. This is seen in larger 4-8-4 types used abroad as well, and the wide firebox advantage is carried through to oil burning. The use of high grade Welsh steam coal is often correctly cited as one of the reasons the GW produced 4-6-0s instead of pacifics. A large free-steaming boiler is a very useful thing if you want to run heavy passenger trains at high speeds over long distances, as it is able to produce steam to satisfy sustained high demand from the cylinders. Driving such a loco is a balance between using the steam and emptying the boiler of it, and sustained high output on a loco with large cylinders and an insufficiently large or inefficient boiler will lead to shortages of steam and loss of pressure, which can only be rectified to a limited extent by the fireman or mechanical stoker. Of course, if high output is required for a short period, typically climbing banks, the boiler can be mortgaged and the mortgage paid off on the downhill run the other side of the summit. OTOH, the combination of a large boiler with cylinders too small to handle it's output will lead to pointlessly wasted steam, coal, and water, and will be regarded as not successful, especially by the accountants and the firemen. Express steam locomotives are particularly interesting because they are inevitably compromises between the demand for higher continuous power on one hand and the physical limitations of axle load, loading gauge, human firemen, or mechanical stoking on the other. Getting this balance right, particularly with the UK demand for high power within route availability and loading gauge restrictions, is a fine line, as the operating costs of the loco have to be taken (literally) into account as well. Express passenger work in the days befor motorways and high percentages of car ownership was a sound earner for the railways, but the locos still had to earn their living; the purpose of a railway is to provide profit for it's shareholders and carrying freight or passengers is a secondary consideration and only a means to that end. Similar interesting compromises can be found in Blue Riband Transatlantic Ocean Liner design, where the space allocated to engine rooms and machinery has to compete with space for service areas, passenger cabins and large luxury areas for fisrt class in a hull shape suitable for 30knot+ all weather operation, and in post WW1 battleships, where an elusive optimum balance of speed, armour, and firepower had to be found within the treaty tonnage limits, though not all countries played the game strictly to the rules.
  12. Pacifics in the UK were regarded as express passenger engines in the inter-war period, and it had been established by then that express passenger locos needed 3 or 4 cylinders in order to keep the outside cylinders within the loading gauge, reduce loading on the individual big end conrods and associated cranks, and provide a smoother ride for the passengers with less ‘surge’. By the 1940s, ‘light pacifics’ were beginning to appear with driving wheels of a size more in line with mixed traffic work, though the reduction in driving wheel diameter was a trend anyway. These were 3 cylinder engines, but the post-war labour shortages generated a need for locos that could be more quickly and easily prepped, so it was considered desirable not to have to go between the frames to oil around. Swindon, bless ’em, carried on building 4-cylinder express locos regardless… For this reason, the spec for Riddles’ Standards was 2 cylinders, and all of them were to be capable of mixed traffic work with the exception of the 9F, which acquitted itself pretty well on passenger duties, Britannia and Clan pacifics were thus 2-cylinder mixed traffic ‘light pacifics’ of a general type that had been common on heavy outer suburban work for over 20 years in the US, but previously unseen here. 71000 was to use standard components as far as possible, including the 6’2” driving wheels, but was conceived as an 8P express passenger loco. In that sense, it is perhaps best considered as a one-off, by definition not a ‘Standard’ and never intended to be the prototype of a class.
  13. A Royal Scot also turned up on a train from Manchester in 1963, working back same day. I would be very surprised if Black 5s from the Birmingham area did not get as far as Tidal or Marshalling after working through from Gloucester, and these presumably visited Canton until East Dock was re-opened as a servicing point outstation after Canton closed to steam.
  14. I’m a bit worried about the rear driving axle, which goes through the ashpan or the lower part of the firebox. The coupled wheels need moving rearwards so that this axle is behind the firebox, which aligns the front driven axle with that of the original single driver’s, and reduces the rear overhang. Might mean the motor intruding into the cab, though.
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