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Last ever slip coach working

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This is not the last working.  According to the Railway Observer, three coaches were slipped at Bicester on the last day, the others being an ex-LNER coach and a Mk 1 CK.  I'll look it up on Sunday.

 

Chris

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20 hours ago, chrisf said:

This is not the last working.  According to the Railway Observer, three coaches were slipped at Bicester on the last day, the others being an ex-LNER coach and a Mk 1 CK.  I'll look it up on Sunday.

 

Chris

ah, but never the let facts get in the way of a good story, this is the first time I have seen a slip video that also explained the process.

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I never understood though why the GWR continued to use slip coaches for so long after other companies had abandoned the practice

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Good method of serving smaller towns and not delaying expresses  Bicester was and is a busy country town then but did not warrant main trains stopping.All changed now soon be the biggest town in the area will gain a railway museum next year as well.

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22 minutes ago, lmsforever said:

Good method of serving smaller towns and not delaying expresses  

 

Only in one direction though.  It would be far more interesting and exciting if they had somehow come up with a reverse slip coach that attached itself to the express!

Edited by Not Captain Kernow
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56 minutes ago, Not Captain Kernow said:

 

Only in one direction though.  It would be far more interesting and exciting if they had somehow come up with a reverse slip coach that attached itself to the express!

Some sort of steam catapult that launched the coach onto the back of the passing train, bagsie I don’t do the coupling up!

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Was slip working a concept that passengers were expected to be familar with, or something arcane that only railwaymen knew about? For instance were slip coaches marked as such in public timetables, and did station announcers advise that "Passengers for Bicester should travel in the slip coach"?

Edited by Andy Kirkham

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Yes, AFAIK the public timetables stipulated 'slip' working and passengers for slip destinations were instructed to ride in the appropriate part of the train.  This had implications for access to the restaurant car, of course.

On 15/11/2019 at 21:57, chrisf said:

According to the Railway Observer, three coaches were slipped at Bicester on the last day, the others being an ex-LNER coach and a Mk 1 CK.  I'll look it up on Sunday.

Little puzzled at this, Chris, as of course these are not slip coaches.  I'm guessing they were in slip portions marshalled behind the slip coach, which means another 2 slip coaches must have been involved as well.

 

Victorian railway engineers came up with some fairly mad stuff, some of which survived into the 20th century, of which slipping is a pretty good example.  The insanity of picking up heavy mail pouches left on hooks at the lineside, catching them in a net that is outside the loading gauge, and projecting them across a coach at 70 odd mph, and then casually throwing them out again is another, and scooping up water from troughs is frankly insane, particularly with a class 40 diesel...

 

They all worked well enough, though.  Ultimately, the problem that led to doing away with slipping proved not to be the unbalanced working and the odd stop short/overshoot (drivers were openly contemptuous of guards' ability to stop them anywhere near where they were supposed to, sometimes with good reason), but the wage bill of having to have a guard in each slip portion.

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41 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

Yes, AFAIK the public timetables stipulated 'slip' working and passengers for slip destinations were instructed to ride in the appropriate part of the train.  This had implications for access to the restaurant car, of course.

Little puzzled at this, Chris, as of course these are not slip coaches.  I'm guessing they were in slip portions marshalled behind the slip coach, which means another 2 slip coaches must have been involved as well.

 

Victorian railway engineers came up with some fairly mad stuff, some of which survived into the 20th century, of which slipping is a pretty good example.  The insanity of picking up heavy mail pouches left on hooks at the lineside, catching them in a net that is outside the loading gauge, and projecting them across a coach at 70 odd mph, and then casually throwing them out again is another, and scooping up water from troughs is frankly insane, particularly with a class 40 diesel...

 

They all worked well enough, though.  Ultimately, the problem that led to doing away with slipping proved not to be the unbalanced working and the odd stop short/overshoot (drivers were openly contemptuous of guards' ability to stop them anywhere near where they were supposed to, sometimes with good reason), but the wage bill of having to have a guard in each slip portion.

you forgot  driverless engines pushing their train (auto train), putting the boiler and the loco in the coach (rail motor), not having a loco at all (gravity train), not having brakes at all (most unfitted freight), hump shunting, and creating as many incompatible electrification systems as you can think of, as well as setting signals by passing of time..rather than section clearance. Though they did eliminate timezones across the country.

Edited by adb968008

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1 hour ago, adb968008 said:

you forgot  driverless engines pushing their train (auto train), putting the boiler and the loco in the coach (rail motor), not having a loco at all (gravity train), not having brakes at all (most unfitted freight), hump shunting, and creating as many incompatible electrification systems as you can think of, as well as setting signals by passing of time..rather than section clearance. Though they did eliminate timezones across the country.

But of course today, we've resolved the matter of train oddities and all trains can now happily couple with one another.

 

Dang, I forgot its 2019 not 1919, of course how silly of me, no trains cannot any longer all happily couple with one another and lets not get onto the question when is a Dellner not a Dellner, we've enough of that nonsense elsewhere.

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2 hours ago, adb968008 said:

you forgot  driverless engines pushing their train (auto train), putting the boiler and the loco in the coach (rail motor), not having a loco at all (gravity train), not having brakes at all (most unfitted freight), hump shunting, and creating as many incompatible electrification systems as you can think of, as well as setting signals by passing of time..rather than section clearance. Though they did eliminate timezones across the country.

Good ones, though some are Edwardian rather than Victorian if I put my revolting pedant's hat on.  The Ffestiniog's gravity trains were timed to run up to 70mph, on 2' gauge!

 

Time interval working is still resorted to in the event of complete signal failure.  We both forgot the 2 possibly most insane locomotive designs of all time, Harrison's 'Hurricane' which could barely move it's own weight (if even and engineering numpty like me can see at a glance why it won't work, it really was a non-starter), and Trevithick Jr's 'Cornwall' with the boiler underneath the driving axle and cranks (which worked fine, by the way).  Auto locos weren't quite driverless, as there was a fireman aboard the loco, but you have hit on the reason that passed firemen were preferred for auto duty.

 

And then there was Brunel's atmospheric railway, which simply sucked...

 

As we now have the technology for seriously advanced idiocy, why not re-instate 'local' time across the nation, so that the sun is due south at mid day.

 

51 minutes ago, woodenhead said:

But of course today, we've resolved the matter of train oddities and all trains can now happily couple with one another.

 

Dang, I forgot its 2019 not 1919, of course how silly of me, no trains cannot any longer all happily couple with one another and lets not get onto the question when is a Dellner not a Dellner, we've enough of that nonsense elsewhere.

And we still have 2 incompatible electrified systems.

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10 hours ago, The Johnster said:

They all worked well enough, though.  Ultimately, the problem that led to doing away with slipping proved not to be the unbalanced working and the odd stop short/overshoot (drivers were openly contemptuous of guards' ability to stop them anywhere near where they were supposed to, sometimes with good reason), but the wage bill of having to have a guard in each slip portion.

 

In his Book Felix Pole recalls having to apologize to his fellow passengers when their slip coach stopped short of the station, and they had to wait to be rescued by the station pilot. It's the guard I feel sorry for. It just would happen when the General Manager was on board.

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As promised, I have been leafing through the Railway Observer for 1960.  In the October issue I find:

 

"For the record, the slip portion on the last train consisted of slip coach W7374W, SK E1390E and CK15121, and was successfully dropped at Bicester to an animated welcome from numerous enthusiasts".

 

So that's one slip coach and two others.  Why would there have been more than one slip coach as Johnster supposes?

 

Chris

Edited by chrisf

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As far as I understand it, you could couple anything behind the slip coach, as what you do need is the slipping gear and brake.

 

I have seen (preserved) auto train drivers stopping the train on the handbrake as obviously you cannot restore the brake in the trailer, it seems to me to make more sense for the slip guard to stop on the handbrake as this can be released

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1 hour ago, chrisf said:

As promised, I have been leafing through the Railway Observer for 1960.  In the October issue I find:

 

"For the record, the slip portion on the last train consisted of slip coach W7374W, SK E1390E and CK15121, and was successfully dropped at Bicester to an animated welcome from numerous enthusiasts".

 

So that's one slip coach and two others.  Why would there have been more than one slip coach as Johnster supposes?

 

Chris

Nothing at all wrong with that.  GWR slip portions were limited to a maximum of four 8 wheeled vehicles - no doubt because of the strength of the slip coupling.  If a slip portion contained more than =4 x  8 wheeled vehicles the slip coupling was not permitted to be used and the train had to stop to detach what would otherwise have been slipped.

 

So that makes the use of three vehicles absolutely legitimate.  Quite why more than one of them needed to be a slip coach strikes me as rather odd - all you needed was one coach with the slip equipment.

 

As for stopping using the handbrake that strikes me as rather pointless.  There is the very simple question of why use a handbrake to try to stop something when there is a far more effective vacuum brake available?  The vacuum brake can obviously be released - that is why slip coaches had all the additional vacuum reservoir provision and why, on the Western, they had to have at least 23" of vacuum available if the slip was to be carried out as a slip.  Slip Guards took pride in doing their job properly and in bringing the slip portion to a stand in the right place. Things could, and did, occasionally go a bit awry but the almost inevitable result was that the coach stopped short for whatever reason.  Back in the 1970s I worked with an Inspector who had been a Slip Guard and he had only had one occasion where he'd stopped short - albeit not too short as to cause a problem - and that was due to a fault which caused the slip to lose vacuum too quickly when he applied the brake in the normal way.  I still have his original route knowledge notebook somewhere although I'm not sure how much stuff it has in it about slip working.

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12 hours ago, adb968008 said:

you forgot  driverless engines pushing their train (auto train), putting the boiler and the loco in the coach (rail motor), not having a loco at all (gravity train), not having brakes at all (most unfitted freight), hump shunting, and creating as many incompatible electrification systems as you can think of, as well as setting signals by passing of time..rather than section clearance. Though they did eliminate timezones across the country.

 

Don't think all of of those are mad, even if they're ones we don't do any more. The concept of the rail motor sounds like exactly the same reason that's given us almost every passenger train being a unit these days for example, and is unfitted freight really that mad? It's not as if it's completely forbidden today (otherwise heritage railways wouldn't be allowed to do the odd demonstration freight), we've just moved on. Hump shunting though - good in theory but having to run alongside wagons and hang off the brakes - no thanks!

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Back to the topic, I assume that the suggestion that there must have been more than one slip coach involved stemmed from the video which was claimed to be the last slip working but had a single coach. This was taken to imply that there must have been others. I think that it just proves that the video, though interesting, is not what it claims.

Jonathan

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2 hours ago, corneliuslundie said:

Back to the topic, I assume that the suggestion that there must have been more than one slip coach involved stemmed from the video which was claimed to be the last slip working but had a single coach. This was taken to imply that there must have been others. I think that it just proves that the video, though interesting, is not what it claims.

Jonathan

It's not the original commentary either.  There are errors in some commentaries of the video release of various 'Railway Roundabout' films and I was told by Pat Whitehouse that it was down to the chap who took notes from him about the various films.  For example there is something in the commentary to the video version of 'The Bristolian' film which had been specifically kept out of the original tv programme.

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5 hours ago, chrisf said:

As promised, I have been leafing through the Railway Observer for 1960.  In the October issue I find:

 

"For the record, the slip portion on the last train consisted of slip coach W7374W, SK E1390E and CK15121, and was successfully dropped at Bicester to an animated welcome from numerous enthusiasts".

 

So that's one slip coach and two others.  Why would there have been more than one slip coach as Johnster supposes?

 

Chris

Because I took '3 coaches were slipped at Bicester that day' to mean that there were 3 slips, not considering that the LNER SK and mk1 CK were a single slip marshalled behind a 'proper' slip coach, W 7374 W.  So there were at least 2 slips at Bicester that day, the one in the film and the one with W 7374 W and the SK and CK.  I now understand the situation more fully.

 

4 hours ago, johnofwessex said:

 

I have seen (preserved) auto train drivers stopping the train on the handbrake as obviously you cannot restore the brake in the trailer,

You can restore the vacuum in an auto trailer, as it is coupled to the loco, but not from the trailer itself as this only has a 'setter'.  There is buzzer communication between the trailer cab and the loco, and the driver can use this to instruct the fireman to create vacuum in the train pipe.  The handbrake on a vacuum or air braked vehicle is not normally used for the purpose of stopping the train, but to securely park the vehicle.  It is possible to stop a train with a handbrake from a low speed, and you have seen it happen, but this was not the standard practice in steam era normal working.  I suspect it is against the rules for a passenger carrying train.

 

A slip coach has a vacuum reservoir in tanks beneath the coach, so the slip guard has some wobble room to blow the brake off after he has applied it and re-apply it later, but once he's used up this reserve he is in the lap of the gods, and is of course at the complete mercy of leakages, more so if the slip is of multiple vehicles.  You might be surprised at the effect of a strong headwind to restrain a flat ended vehicle of over 30tons, or even that of a very strong tailwind to propel it past a station.  At Bicester, there were locos to rescue such stray lambs, the Castle from the stopping train booked to do the honours with the slip coming to a stop in the centre road, but at some lesser locations the slip had to come to rest in the platform, ideally close to the station building to keep the passengers out of the rain and facilitate unloading of parcels or mail, and often no loco to retrieve shortfalls or overshoots.  

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There is some confusion in this matter.  Let us start with the calendar.  9th September 1961 was a Friday, 10th a Saturday.  Did the 5.10 pm Paddington - Wolverhampton, the train from which the last slip was made, run on a Saturday?  I do not have a timetable for summer 1960 but I have looked at the carriage working programmes for winter 1959-60 and summer 1961 and the Paddington station working book for summer 1960.   All show the 5.10 pm as Saturdays Excepted.  So when was the Railway Roundabout footage shot?  It appears certain that it was not 10th September because the train did not run that day.  The probability is, then, that it was 8th September or earlier that week.  The original Railway Roundabout commentary was delivered live by John Adams or Patrick Whitehouse.  That on the video is by Jeremy English.

 

As for there being two slips at Bicester, no.  The one in the film was not the same day as the one with W7374W and its attachments.  It seems more likely that extra coaches were attached on a Friday when loadings were higher than in the rest of the week.

 

Chris

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1 hour ago, The Johnster said:

 

 

You can restore the vacuum in an auto trailer, as it is coupled to the loco, but not from the trailer itself as this only has a 'setter'.  There is buzzer communication between the trailer cab and the loco, and the driver can use this to instruct the fireman to create vacuum in the train pipe.  

The vac ejector on the loco would be on anyway, it always is to allow for leakage and maintain the vac against small applications for speed control, so the vac will begin to recreate as the setter in the trailer is closed. I'm not convinced that the trailers would not have had a vac brake controller anyway as controlling the application to brake smoothly and gradually from a straight on/off valve would be a real art. I think we need to find a photo of inside the auto trailer cab to ascertain the answer to this. 

 Having undertaken some driver training on the Festiniog railway, smooth braking with a vacuum brake is actually at least as difficult as making the engine go, mostly down to the lag of the brake whilst making an application and then restoring the vacuum before the whole thing comes to a grinding halt , particularly when trying to maintain a steady 19.99 mph against gravity on the way downhill, to maintain the timetable without speeding. The art is anticipation and takes a lot of practice.

Phil T.  

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44 minutes ago, chrisf said:

There is some confusion in this matter.  Let us start with the calendar.  9th September 1961 was a Friday, 10th a Saturday.  Did the 5.10 pm Paddington - Wolverhampton, the train from which the last slip was made, run on a Saturday?  I do not have a timetable for summer 1960 but I have looked at the carriage working programmes for winter 1959-60 and summer 1961 and the Paddington station working book for summer 1960.   All show the 5.10 pm as Saturdays Excepted.  So when was the Railway Roundabout footage shot?  It appears certain that it was not 10th September because the train did not run that day.  The probability is, then, that it was 8th September or earlier that week.  The original Railway Roundabout commentary was delivered live by John Adams or Patrick Whitehouse.  That on the video is by Jeremy English.

 

As for there being two slips at Bicester, no.  The one in the film was not the same day as the one with W7374W and its attachments.  It seems more likely that extra coaches were attached on a Friday when loadings were higher than in the rest of the week.

 

Chris

Re confusion; if there's a wrong end of the stick, that's the end I grab, every time!

 

I'd say your analysis of the situation, that the film was made during the week and the last slip ever was on the Friday with extra coaches, is very probably correct.

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16 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Time interval working is still resorted to in the event of complete signal failure.  

 

Oh No it isn't.....

 

Andy G

In the Box as I type...

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