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Imaginary Locomotives


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2 hours ago, whart57 said:

 

There was one other factor in the nineteenth century regarding boiler changes and that was the change from coke to coal firing. Most Parliamentary Bills approving railways made the specification that locomotives should "consume their own smoke". What MPs thought a locomotive builder could do about that was a mystery then and still is now. However the amount of smoke was reduced by burning coke instead of coal and that's what most engines of the 1840s and 50s did. However during the 1850s engineers experimented with ways of burning off the tars and gases in coal smoke and thus reducing overall emissions. Long fireboxes were tried along with double fireboxes but the simplest and most effective solution was the brick arch where the red hot bricks did the burning off.

 

However changing the firebox meant changing the boiler and a lot of mid-nineteenth century boiler replacements were actually firebox replacements.

Please offer evidence for these remarks. 

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7 hours ago, Zomboid said:

You'd want to use a specific Garrett boiler though, rather than import the compromises inherent in a fixed chassis locomotive boiler (as well as all the compromises that a Garrett locomotive brings with it, worst of both worlds...).

I think a Garrett boiler would be way too small and underpowered for a railway locomotive, unless it was just shunting a couple of wagons around a yard.

 

 

;) 

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21 hours ago, PenrithBeacon said:

Please offer evidence for these remarks. 

There's a lot of information about the modifications made to allow coal burning, without generating excessive smoke, in Chapter X, p.131, of E.L.Ahrons 'The British Steam Railway Locomotive 1825-1925'

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1 hour ago, MikeOxon said:

There's a lot of information about the modifications made to allow coal burning, without generating excessive smoke, in Chapter X, p.131, of E.L.Ahrons 'The British Steam Railway Locomotive 1825-1925'

Yes, I know what's in Ahrons, but 'warts57' went way beyond what Ahrons and others have written about this matter. It is that part of his quote that needs further clarification

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2 hours ago, AlfaZagato said:

It was inevitable.   The UK lines never bought 'off the shelf' after grouping, for the most part.

 

I'm kind of curious, now, if there were any great mechanical minds at the builders who had no chance to shine?

 

We all know about the experts of the Big Four but no idea about the 'other builders'

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12 hours ago, PenrithBeacon said:

Yes, I know what's in Ahrons, but 'warts57' went way beyond what Ahrons and others have written about this matter. It is that part of his quote that needs further clarification

AFICS the only thing he wrote that seems in any way unsupported by Ahrons is "a lot of nineteenth century boiler replacements were actually firebox replacements." Administrative/organisational detail is not really Ahrons' thing in that book, but I submit its extremely probable that any and every line would have wished to keep a changeover period when both coal and coke supplies were needed as short as possible. 

My own studies have been predominantly of later times, and I find myself ignorant of how the transition was managed even on the GWR. However I have no trouble believing that within the transition periods updating fireboxes was a major motivation for boiler changes. 

Edited by JimC
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4 hours ago, AlfaZagato said:

I'm kind of curious, now, if there were any great mechanical minds at the builders who had no chance to shine

Weren't they pretty successful at exporting? In which case their work may well have been shining, just in places like Sri Lanka and Kenya.

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2 hours ago, John Besley said:

 

We all know about the experts of the Big Four but no idea about the 'other builders'

They aren't well known, but the fact that the proprietary builders were exporting successfully into the early post-WW2 era (when the game changed drastically) suggests that they were at least, competitive on the international stage 

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59 minutes ago, JimC said:

AFICS the only thing he wrote that seems in any way unsupported by Ahrons is "a lot of nineteenth century boiler replacements were actually firebox replacements." Administrative/organisational detail is not really Ahrons' thing in that book, but I submit its extremely probable that any and every line would have wished to keep a changeover period when both coal and coke supplies were needed as short as possible. 

My own studies have been predominantly of later times, and I find myself ignorant of how the transition was managed even on the GWR. However I have no trouble believing that within the transition periods updating fireboxes was a major motivation for boiler changes. 

 

Which is as speculative as @whart57's comments. 

 

One can gain some idea as to how quickly the firebox brick arch became universal on the Midland from Charles Markham's paper to the I. Mech. E. on 8 August 1860, as discussed in S. Summerson, Midland Railway Locomotives Vol. 1 (Irwell Press, 2000) pp. 48-51. This described the experiments in coal burning Markham had carried out from 1853 to 1860, over which period the Midland's locomotive stock increased from 335 to 437. The initial experiments, in 1853/4, had involved fitting firebox midfeathers to 26 engines. However, the main series of experiments were between 1858 and 1860, although the board had authorised the use of coal in some goods engines in April 1857. The first modification was to fit a deflector plate, initially to the fire-door but subsequently above it, around 3 ft long, directing air from the firedoor down onto the rear part of the fire. This was successful and by the date of Markham's paper about 240 engines so fitted were in steam daily - i.e. well over half the fleet in service. Markham then set about re-designing the fire doors, developing the double sliding door arrangement which (although not used by S.W. Johnson) became the LMS and BR standard. This enabled better control of the air flow onto the firebed. The limitation of the long deflector plate was that it did not help much with complete combustion at the front of the grate, where unburnt material could be drawn directly through the boiler tubes. This led to Markham's experiments with the brick arch. He reported that the combination of brick arch and a shorter deflector plate was now standard. Markham had also introduced the smokebox blower to provide draught when the regulator was shut, to ensure complete combustion was maintained when the engine was not working. 

 

He reported that the total cost of these modifications was £5.16/9  which clearly implies that complete boiler or firebox replacement was not needed! He also stated that at the half-year ended 30 June 1860 the proportion of coal used as locomotive fuel was 82% and would have been higher were it not for unexpired coke contracts. At this time coke was nearly twice the price of coal. (Though it is not stated whether this was by weight or by energy content.)

 

Anyway, it seems the transition from coke to coal burning was (a) rapid and (b) did not require vast expenditure on new boilers or fireboxes. In fact the cost of modifying the whole of the Midland fleet was about the same as the cost of one new locomotive.

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8 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

Anyway, it seems the transition from coke to coal burning was (a) rapid and (b) did not require vast expenditure on new boilers or fireboxes. In fact the cost of modifying the whole of the Midland fleet was about the same as the cost of one new locomotive.

 

Unless of course you were one of the companies that had invested in the alternative techniques such as the LSWR (Beattie design) and SER (Cudworth).

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5 minutes ago, whart57 said:

Unless of course you were one of the companies that had invested in the alternative techniques such as the LSWR (Beattie design) and SER (Cudworth).

 

In which case, more fool your board of directors. Cudworth and J.H. Beattie were a clever and innovative engineers (code for costing their companies money) but clinging to one's own less effective and more expensive solution rather than adopting the cheaper and more effective solution that was rapidly becoming an industry standard smacks of vanity and pulling the wool over your board's eyes. Though I admit it was probably more economical to allow the mid-feather boilers to work out their lives. 

 

There is one other point, which is that these for these southern companies coal was not quite so competitive against coke because the cost of transport for both was considerably greater than for the northern lines.

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13 hours ago, PenrithBeacon said:

Yes, I know what's in Ahrons, but 'whart57' went way beyond what Ahrons and others have written about this matter. It is that part of his quote that needs further clarification

 

Sorry I was looking from the perspective of the South Eastern Railway where the CME, Cudworth, had designed and patented a coal burning double firebox some years before the Midland came up with the brick arch.

 

Coal is a lot more than a lump of carbon, an entire gas and chemical industry arose in the 19th century from the other products that came from coal. As coal heats up the first thing that happens is that the non-carbon impurities are released. This was done on purpose in gas works and the emissions were collected, the tars and oils were condensed out and the lightest gas collected for distribution to consumers in the town around.

 

The problem for 19th century locomotive engineers is that that boiling off of impurities happens with every shovel full of coal chucked on the fire, and a steam engine doesn't have the condensers and gas collection kit. When coal starts burning too it splits and breaks and this causes a lot of particles to get swept up into the air and out. So you got noxious smoke out of the funnel

 

The solution that Cudworth and Beattie came up with was a double firebox. Each side was fed coal alternately so that one side was always incandescently hot. The smoke from the other side would be blown over this and the combustion of the tars and oils - and the carbon dust that came off the coal as well - would be completed.

 

The Midland discovered that just lengthening the combustion path by deflecting the hot gas back with a brick arch worked just as well.

 

As efficient burners of coal the Cudworth and Beattie fireboxes worked well. Their downfall was the increased maintenance as the divider between the two fireboxes was heavily stressed by differential expansion. I don't know about Beattie but Cudworth's successor, Stirling, decided it was cheaper to replace the boilers than to keep repairing them.

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Just now, Compound2632 said:

 

In which case, more fool your board of directors. Cudworth and J.H. Beattie were a clever and innovative engineers (code for costing their companies money) but clinging to one's own less effective and more expensive solution rather than adopting the cheaper and more effective solution that was rapidly becoming an industry standard smacks of vanity and pulling the wool over your board's eyes. Though I admit it was probably more economical to allow the mid-feather boilers to work out their lives. 

 

There is one other point, which is that these for these southern companies coal was not quite so competitive against coke because the cost of transport for both was considerably greater than for the northern lines.

 

Again I don't know about the LSWR but Cudworth was putting his firebox design onto locos five or six years before the Midland perfected their brick arch design.

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4 minutes ago, whart57 said:

The solution that Cudworth and Beattie came up with was a double firebox. Each side was fed coal alternately so that one side was always incandescently hot. The smoke from the other side would be blown over this and the combustion of the tars and oils - and the carbon dust that came off the coal as well - would be completed.

 

The Midland discovered that just lengthening the combustion path by deflecting the hot gas back with a brick arch worked just as well.

 

As efficient burners of coal the Cudworth and Beattie fireboxes worked well. Their downfall was the increased maintenance as the divider between the two fireboxes was heavily stressed by differential expansion. I don't know about Beattie but Cudworth's successor, Stirling, decided it was cheaper to replace the boilers than to keep repairing them.

 

Not "just as well" but better. And not just in terms of first cost and maintenance. 

 

James Stirling was a sensible Scotsman who knew an economic solution when he saw it! I'd say that what he did on the South Eastern - in terms of building up a fleet of standard classes - essentially just four - marks him out as one of the greatest of 19th century locomotive superintendents. 

 

3 minutes ago, whart57 said:

Again I don't know about the LSWR but Cudworth was putting his firebox design onto locos five or six years before the Midland perfected their brick arch design.

 

Yes, which is to say, there was much experimentation before the best solution was found. Cudworth's patent is from 1857; as noted, the Midland was also experimenting with mid-feathers (transverse rather than longitudinal) in the early 1850s; Beattie's midfeather firebox also dates from 1853. So the idea was in general circulation at that time. 

 

12 minutes ago, whart57 said:

The problem for 19th century locomotive engineers is that that boiling off of impurities happens with every shovel full of coal chucked on the fire, and a steam engine doesn't have the condensers and gas collection kit. When coal starts burning too it splits and breaks and this causes a lot of particles to get swept up into the air and out. So you got noxious smoke out of the funnel

 

I'm afraid this isn't quite correct; certainly the expression "boiling off impurities" is at best loose terminology. It's not a physical process (change of state) that is key here - in fact is entirely absent until one looks at the water in the boiler - but a chemical process: combustion. Smoke is fuel that has not undergone complete combustion. There are several aspects to this. Firstly, the complete oxidation of the carbon content of the coal to form carbon dioxide. This is primarily desirable since it releases the greatest amount of energy, which is then available for boiling the water. Incomplete combustion, the formation of carbon monoxide only, does not release as much energy. Hence the importance of ensuring a good air-flow over the entire firebed. Secondly, there are small carbon particles that escape combustion at all and are drawn through the boiler-tubes (as you describe). It is these uncombusted particulates that give rise to the discoloured exhaust. Then, there's the uncombusted carbon that forms larger, heavier carbon particles (ash) and is captured in the ash-pan. Finally, there are the impurities in the coal - notably sulfur that combusts to sulfur dioxide, which can further react with atmospheric moisture to form sulphuric acid - but also other mineral components. The composition of the coal used affects the relative proportions of these components as a function of the firebox design, with the least uncombusted material obtained using a steam coal that is high in carbon content.

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5 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

James Stirling was a sensible Scotsman who knew an economic solution when he saw it! I'd say that what he did on the South Eastern - in terms of building up a fleet of standard classes - essentially just four - marks him out as one of the greatest of 19th century locomotive superintendents. 

 

 

Cudworth was ahead of him there. The SER that Stirling inherited had a standard goods class, a standard general passenger class and two express passenger classes, one of which was ordered by the board without Cudworth's input. There were a smattering of other engines, mostly hangovers from an earlier era but the SER was already strongly standardised in the locomotive department. The carriage department was a different matter though .......

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2 hours ago, Zomboid said:

Weren't they pretty successful at exporting? In which case their work may well have been shining, just in places like Sri Lanka and Kenya.

 

2 hours ago, rockershovel said:

They aren't well known, but the fact that the proprietary builders were exporting successfully into the early post-WW2 era (when the game changed drastically) suggests that they were at least, competitive on the international stage 

 

There was a great deal of unsung yet highly influential genius in the locomotive building industry, certainly in the early  period - e.g. Charles Beyer - which tends to get overlooked because most enthusiasts approach the subject from a railway company oriented point of view; which also overlooks the web of interconnectedness among the railway company locomotive engineers too. 

 

But in competition with firms such as Baldwins, the British locomotive building industry was undoubtedly cushioned by Imperial Preference. 

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1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

He reported that the total cost of these modifications was £5.16/9  which clearly implies that complete boiler or firebox replacement was not needed! He also stated that at the half-year ended 30 June 1860 the proportion of coal used as locomotive fuel was 82% and would have been higher were it not for unexpired coke contracts. At this time coke was nearly twice the price of coal. (Though it is not stated whether this was by weight or by energy content.)

 

Anyway, it seems the transition from coke to coal burning was (a) rapid and (b) did not require vast expenditure on new boilers or fireboxes. In fact the cost of modifying the whole of the Midland fleet was about the same as the cost of one new locomotive.

A similar topic was discussed in the Brighton Circle e-Group, although looking in the opposite direction - considering the design of the company's Coke Wagons. 

Just to confirm the comment @Compound2632 made re the swiftness of the Midland's changes, I'd come up with:

"However, if the experiences of the Caledonian and North Western are typical, the process is reasonably simple.  The Caledonian, having acquired its first coal fired loco in 1857, instigated a rapid transformation, and by 1859 it was 100% coal-fired, as far as locos were concerned.  Similarly, the LNWR went from 97% coke in 1856 to 92% coal in 1862."

On the other hand, on the LBSCR, progress was rather more sedate.

"Although the brick arch had been discovered, almost by accident, around 1858/9, it wasn’t a Damascene event and several years of further development was required before the idea became generally accepted. At the same time, other inventors, such as Beattie, McConnell and Cudworth, were designing twin firebox locos that could burn coal and consume the smoke, which was the critical requirement to appease the Local Authorities. Craven dabbled with these types, so coal was being used from around 1854, when Bradley (RCTS) notes: “No. 41, like six coupled goods No. 44 of January, 1854, was provided with a McConnell patent firebox, but this did not find favour and in June, 1857 was replaced. The drawings of this fitting show a long firebox with three longitudinal partitions and a combustion chamber. The short boiler barrel was packed with 245 two-inch brass tubes. Firing was through two doors, and must have been a very difficult process, since each door catered for two partitions of the firebox. Coal was burnt, and, although cheaper than coke, had to be carefully graded and broken to suitable size for firing through the small doors.” Further experiments with double fire-box locos continued “A double firebox was fitted, and for some months in 1859 No. 101 was used for a series of coal and coke burning trials over the main line to Brighton. ” Finally - “No. 150, in January, 1866, was the first Brighton-built engine to have its firebox fitted with a brick arch and deflecting plate, following advice given by Derby Works as to the best means of burning coal instead of coke and not incurring the displeasure of the Law by emitting excessive smoke.”  It would appear, therefore, that the use of coke predominated until Stroudley’s arrival."

Finally

"Bradley mentions, whilst discussing Stroudley's Belgravia Class, that, as part of his May 1870 appraisal, Stroudley and the Committee came to the conclusion that: "The coke ovens at New Cross were to be gradually closed down, since all engines were to burn coal within the next five years.""

I suspect the delay was mainly because of lack of funds, with Brighton Works requiring a heavy investment, but also partly due to the point that was made earlier, that the price differential, in London, between coal and coke was less significant, as both accrued considerable transportation costs, and there was also the problem that the major loco sheds at Battersea and New Cross were close to residential areas, and subject to frequent prosecutions for emitting too much smoke, so it would have been prudent to have made sure the coal burning fireboxes were effective, with less incentive to make the changes.

 

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33 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

But in competition with firms such as Baldwins, the British locomotive building industry was undoubtedly cushioned by Imperial Preference. 

 

Imperial Preference does make it hard to judge how competitive British products were. There were a lot more Morris Minors in New Zealand than Volkswagens, but did that make the Moggie a better car? On second thoughts, don't answer that ...........

 

Beyer Peacock and Sharp Stewart were very big exporters in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but they did suffer from increasing German and American competition. A study of South American railway purchases might shed some light, or sales into francophone Africa given the French weren't such a big player on the export market. China before 1949 might be worth looking at too.

 

In SE Asia the Malay States were affected by Imperial Preference and the Dutch firm of Werkspoor had Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies) sewn up. The locomotive history of Siam/Thailand shows that competition among suppliers was fierce.

 

The first Thai railways were engineered by Danes and Germans and the German manufacturers like Krauss provided most of the motive power. The British did get a look in but it was Brush, not a company noted greatly for its steam engines, that landed the order for some shunters. It was when a line was built from Bangkok south to the Malay border and it was built to meter gauge to match with the Malayan railways that gave British builders their opening. A large number of 4-6-0s to the same design as used on Indian meter gauge lines was supplied by the North British company. Then WW1 intervened, German exports ceased and Thailand joined the war on the Allied side. A lot more of those 4-6-0s appeared.

 

After WW1 though it was a completely free for all. Baldwin sold some locos, so did Batignoles, the Swiss passed on locos that had come free from their electrification programme and Japanese locos started to come in in large numbers. The Danes sold the Thais some diesel engines. Conspicuous by their absence were the British. After the last 4-6-0s were delivered there were no British railway sales to Thailand until the Class 158s of the 1990s.

 

I don't know what that tells us.

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1 hour ago, Nick Holliday said:

"Although the brick arch had been discovered, almost by accident, around 1858/9, it wasn’t a Damascene event and several years of further development was required before the idea became generally accepted.

 

From whom is that a quotation? I hope my summary of Summerson's account derived from Markham's paper demonstrates that the brick arch was the outcome of Markham's research program - the fruit of systematic experimentation. 

 

I'm intrigued as to what further development was required, since Markham's paper apparently describes the complete package - brick arch, deflector plate, and blower, all costed in to his figure of £5.19/6.

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1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

 

From whom is that a quotation? I hope my summary of Summerson's account derived from Markham's paper demonstrates that the brick arch was the outcome of Markham's research program - the fruit of systematic experimentation. 

 

I'm intrigued as to what further development was required, since Markham's paper apparently describes the complete package - brick arch, deflector plate, and blower, all costed in to his figure of £5.19/6.

Earlier I had said "Although the brick arch had been discovered, almost by accident, around 1858/9, it wasn’t a Damascene event and several years of further development was required before the idea became generally accepted."

The "quotation" was merely my summarisation of Ahrons' description of Markham's work, and I apologise if the turn of phrase has upset you.  I wrote that piece back in August to provide a degree of back-ground information to a query regarding the demise of coke wagons on the LBSCR, and I was trying to avoid the idea that the concept of the brick-arch suddenly emerged fully formed - I did say 'almost by accident'. As you said, Markham started experimentation in 1856 (according to Ahrons) and the brick arch came later and seemed to have been finalised by 1859, and there must have been a period between the initial idea and the final adopted design.  And, although it might have been embraced by the Midland and some other lines, as I noted, the LBSCR only tried it out 7 years later, and the LSWR continued using Beattie's double firebox design until 1877, hence my use of 'general acceptance'.

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