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In electricity it was getting a bit silly before electricity companies (in the UK anyway) decided coal was finished we were looking at ultra-supercritical boilers operating at 700-750C in which all the steam headers and tubes would have been made from highly expensive high nickel super-alloys which would have been a nightmare to maintain (welding of such alloys isn't that easy) and the thermal efficiency was still only projected to be about 44%. That is less than large marine diesels were achieving decades ago and pretty similar to what modern GTs achieve in open cycle but way way less than a CCGT plant will achieve even without being tied into a heating scheme. My former employer admits that the eco-warriors did them a huge favour by killing off Kingsnorth 5 & 6 a few years ago as it had gone ahead it would have been a hugely expensive white elephant. The Japanese have tried to promote "advanced" steam plants for marine use a few times but the improvements are pretty marginal and still lag diesels significantly, they still sell a few packages to the LNG carrier market where some operators still prefer steam power plant but it's a tiny niche.

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On 05/03/2020 at 23:07, Zomboid said:

The Pennsylvania T1 of course. Not sure which side of the genuis/ insanity line it sits, but I'd love to see such a beast in action.

It's ugly, but I agree. Whether it looks nice or not, if it breaking Mallard's record, assuming it does so, draws more attention to new-builds (and steam in general) it might be a very nice help for future projects. Plus, it could help be a test-bed for torrefied biomass. If that happens and it turns out to be more economical than diesel fuel as the CSR claims...

 

Don't like the idea of them using it for commercial electricity though. There's already better alternatives than biomass, such as molten-salt reactors.

 

On 08/05/2020 at 07:08, brack said:

I've made one, but as a non functioning scale model. This also avoids the issue of finding and refining the yellowcake, which isn't really something you want to be doing in your house...

 

That reminds me of the time I had the bright idea to go hit up junkyards across the state and get enough scrap metal to make a working scale model of an MCFR. I'm still not sure where I would have found the uranium from, but the americium starter load I'd get after investing in a third of the country's smoke detectors.

 

Yeah I didn't do it on my then 14 year old budget.

Edited by lepidotos
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Turning back to 5AT for a second, I always understood that one of the main points about it was that it wasn’t intended to demonstrate “the ultimate steam loco” in technology terms.
 

 It was *meant* to be relatively inefficient (escaping steam, reciprocating rods, traditional-ish styling with a touch of Art Deco etc,) because its commercial raison d’être was to supply an easy to maintain chuffing machine with high route availability and high service availability to haul high-end tourist trains, dining excursions and land cruises where the well-heeled clientèle weren’t that bothered about the details of railway history but wanted to see something that was visibly a steam loco on the front end, not a tarted-up class 47.

 

The thinking being that preserved mainline steam would be dead by the late 1990s due to ageing locos and ageing owners.
 

But instead what happened was that preserved mainline steam battled on for 20 years longer than anyone expected (read the railway press of the mid-1970s); the British market for high-end trains proved both indifferent to tarted up class 47s and also more interested in “real” steam locos than expected; and “Tornado” came along in time to prove the concept of modern-but-looks-old steam for the excursion market.  No commercial niche for 5AT.

 

 Ironically, it’s going to be the demise of coal and the changing geometry of the national network that will do for most mainline steam in the next ten years, replicas or “real” ones. 
 

 

Edited by RichardT
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5 hours ago, RichardT said:

Ironically, it’s going to be the demise of coal and the changing geometry of the national network that will do for most mainline steam in the next ten years, replicas or “real” ones. 
 

Exactly; the current (temporary) slump in rail passenger traffic apart, the main line rail network is struggling for capacity and there comes a point where Network Rail will no longer allow a steam special which requires three EMU paths to cover the same stretch of track. 

 

A few enthusiasts see it as the end of the world that main line steam won't be thrashing along trunk routes at 75 mph+, but the public doesn't seem to be too bothered about speed.  The Jacobite is probably the longest continuously operating (preserved) steam schedule in the UK and it barely exceeds 40mph, while the 60mph S&C is hardly a crowded stretch of railway.  

 

There will always be quiet routes where steam can operate without causing disruption, but with the possible exception of the VSOE North Downs Circular, I can see weekday steam operation out of the Capital ceasing within ten years.

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On 28/05/2020 at 17:27, Northmoor said:

There will always be quiet routes where steam can operate without causing disruption, but with the possible exception of the VSOE North Downs Circular, I can see weekday steam operation out of the Capital ceasing within ten years.

Yes indeed (provided the coal situation can be resolved).  I understand that the Scottish railway authorities are very interested in the proposal for a new-build V4 which will be both light enough and reliable enough (i.e brand new) to trundle along with the Jacobite and similar excursions for years to come.  The 5AT concept lives!

Richard

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I was thinking about this topic recently, because oil is incredibly unstable (more in a bit) and electrification is kinda nonexistent here in the United States; it's basically just a bit of Texas, the NEC, the PRR, and various bits and pieces along the eastern half. And that's to be expected; the United States, I don't know if you know this, is a pretty big place. You can't really electrify lines out west outside metro areas of California or Colorado because of how spread out everything is, you'd have to start plopping nuclear power plants down in the middle of nowhere, specifically molten-salt reactors due to the fact there's no water out here, and we haven't really been doing MSR since the 60s. Meanwhile, steam doesn't depend on external factors besides the existence of two rails (or grooves), can burn just about anything, doesn't care if it's being run in the wrong type of snow, and is far from developed to its max. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for electrification where possible, but it's not possible everywhere.

 

So, oil. A 2000 prediction by Dr. Sadad al-Husseini, a pretty well respected oil geologist, predicted that by 2004 oil production would reach a 15-year plateau, and conventional oil could be used up as early as 2057. He was correct on the first half, though it was actually 2005, with year to year fluctuations that don't derivate too far from the trend to break it. The U.S. military backed him up on it, predicting shortages starting between 2015 and now, but we pushed it back a few decades due to hydraulic fracturing. The clock is ticking on that, though, and we aren't really doing electrification (as explained previously), so... anyone up for a brand new class of steam locomotive? I've been cooking one up in my head because I'm certain it'll be a thing within my lifetime, at least.

 

Not mentioning exact statistics, because I'm not personally an engineer (though I will end up majoring in it when the virus time ends and I can go to college), here's a ""brief"" collection of my thoughts. Half of it is going to be stuff you already know, but I'm still putting in A. to explain my reasoning and B. for those who don't. Feel free to mock it, I finished it up at 1:10 am and it's probably gone off the deep end somewhere.

 

As for locomotives that existed already but don't anymore, I really want to see an LNER H2, maybe two of them since I can see it being a good design for preservation railways. If I was gonna do it (and I might, at least in live-steam form), I'd make it a Porta-ble testbed (geez that's a terrible pun).

 

In terms of active new build projects, the one I'm most excited for is Beachy Head. The LNER C1/LBSCR H2 is one of my favorites with Gresley/LBSCR cab installed, so I'll be happy to see one up and running.

Duplex summary.docx

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58 minutes ago, lepidotos said:

... You can't really electrify lines out west outside metro areas of California or Colorado because of how spread out everything is, you'd have to start plopping nuclear power plants down in the middle of nowhere, specifically molten-salt reactors due to the fact there's no water out here, and we haven't really been doing MSR since the 60s. Meanwhile, steam doesn't depend on external factors besides the existence of two rails (or grooves), can burn just about anything, doesn't care if it's being run in the wrong type of snow, and is far from developed to its max. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for electrification where possible, but it's not possible everywhere.

 

...

IIRC there is a lot of sunshine in the American West

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2 hours ago, lepidotos said:

 the United States, I don't know if you know this, is a pretty big place. You can't really electrify lines out west outside metro areas of California or Colorado because of how spread out everything is, you'd have to start plopping nuclear power plants down in the middle of nowhere, 

 

Err, ever heard of high voltage transmission lines?

https://www.power-technology.com/features/featurethe-worlds-longest-power-transmission-lines-4167964/

Brazil and China have managed to send power lines quite some distance.

Plus, I seem to recall that steam locos do require rather a lot of water - unless you add in condenser units? South Africa did use these of course.

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Lepidotos does make a fair point about electrification outside major centres.  The economics of electrifying railways are the same in any country; it is traffic density that makes it viable, not distance or size of haul.  In most of the world, the required speed can be achieved without electrification.

 

Much of the US railroad network has long gaps between trains.  It is extremely difficult to pay back the cost of wiring 1000 miles of route on twelve trains a day.  However, most of the environmental benefit is still achieved with a few big diesels.  Who cares if they consume 5 gallons/mile?  A fleet of trucks to shift the same tonnage would consume, err, about ten times that.

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You don't need nuclear power anymore, it's more expensive than renewables. There's lots of sun and wind in the US and I would have thought that the traffic over the Rockies with grades of 1:40 give or take would make it viable. Whether the prevailing climate deniers would agree is another matter. Probably not.

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1 hour ago, PenrithBeacon said:

You don't need nuclear power anymore, it's more expensive than renewables. There's lots of sun and wind in the US and I would have thought that the traffic over the Rockies with grades of 1:40 give or take would make it viable. Whether the prevailing climate deniers would agree is another matter. Probably not.

Per kilowatt maybe (though with MSBR it's dubious)--but it doesn't really matter because solar and wind have awful capacity factor that depend on the local climate and can't ever improve (solar, for instance, has a 30% or so CF); nuclear has about a 98% capacity factor with far smaller environmental impact. Batteries are certainly one option, but they're nowhere near environmentally friendly. Plus, the low density means for just 500mWe, you're gonna be plopping down a lot of solar panels.

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13 minutes ago, PenrithBeacon said:

'A far smaller environmental impact'

I think that should be in the Jokes thread.

Of the three major disasters (3MI, F. Daiichi, Chernobyl) one of them was a safety test taken too far on a design nobody even builds anymore (Chernobyl), one was the builders cheaping out on building materials in a country known for flooding (Daiichi) and one was only a partial meltdown that didn't give you enough of a dose to get a sunburn (3MI). It's no coincidence all three were built in the 1970s either.

 

Tell me where the technology is at fault here, when it's only had one real incident not the fault of someone else's lack of foresight in... 74 years? Especially when considering that "nuclear power plant" is as broad a concept as "automobile".

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2 hours ago, Northmoor said:

Lepidotos does make a fair point about electrification outside major centres.  The economics of electrifying railways are the same in any country; it is traffic density that makes it viable, not distance or size of haul.  In most of the world, the required speed can be achieved without electrification.

 

Much of the US railroad network has long gaps between trains.  It is extremely difficult to pay back the cost of wiring 1000 miles of route on twelve trains a day.  However, most of the environmental benefit is still achieved with a few big diesels.  Who cares if they consume 5 gallons/mile?  A fleet of trucks to shift the same tonnage would consume, err, about ten times that.

It's gonna start being a problem by around 2040 when oil costs $149 a barrel in 2019 dollars, or if not that, then 2050 when it goes up to anywhere between $185 and $215, again 2019. Sounds too distant in the future but so did 2020 for a while. It's gonna start getting really expensive, and you can bet they're going to want some kind of out for diesel. All it took was a couple months of oil crisis in 1973-74 to get people looking for better options.

4 hours ago, Allegheny1600 said:

Err, ever heard of high voltage transmission lines?

https://www.power-technology.com/features/featurethe-worlds-longest-power-transmission-lines-4167964/

Brazil and China have managed to send power lines quite some distance.

Plus, I seem to recall that steam locos do require rather a lot of water - unless you add in condenser units? South Africa did use these of course.

(Also re: grovenor but I can't get this phone to move your quote up to this edit box)

Yeah, but us Americans have this thing where we're afaid of things progressing past the 20th century. My mom just said to me yesterday while we were talking that she thinks that 5G towers cause the virus and high voltage transmission lines cause cancer. Someone's absolutely going to use NIMBY on high voltage transmission lines.

Condensation was something I was going to add in there but forgot to. Yeah, it'd use a condenser unit.

Edited by lepidotos
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15 minutes ago, Grovenor said:

South Africa managed to electrify long freight lines in the middle of nowhere, the USA should be able tro manage it. Look up the Sishen - Saldanha line.

Yes, but that may have been the effect of politics.  SAR could use steam - the country has huge coal reserves, so was cheap - but this would run up against the practical limit of loco size and the fact that you can't multiple-operate steam locos like diesels or electric.  Diesel was probably out of the running, because the sanctions against the country restricted their ability to import oil (South Africa has almost none).  That just leaves electric traction, which was supplied with abundant coal-fired generation plants.  Therefore, for heavy haulage SAR really had no option but to electrify.

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2 hours ago, lepidotos said:

Of the three major disasters (3MI, F. Daiichi, Chernobyl) one of them was a safety test taken too far on a design nobody even builds anymore (Chernobyl), one was the builders cheaping out on building materials in a country known for flooding (Daiichi) and one was only a partial meltdown that didn't give you enough of a dose to get a sunburn (3MI). It's no coincidence all three were built in the 1970s either.

 

Tell me where the technology is at fault here, when it's only had one real incident not the fault of someone else's lack of foresight in... 74 years? Especially when considering that "nuclear power plant" is as broad a concept as "automobile".

So where are you going to put the waste generated during the lifetime of the power station plus all the contaminated materials when it has to be dismantled? You don't have to simply design against disaster or accident.

 

Wind+sun+batteries can provide all the power needed  

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2 hours ago, PenrithBeacon said:

So where are you going to put the waste generated during the lifetime of the power station plus all the contaminated materials when it has to be dismantled? You don't have to simply design against disaster or accident.

 

Wind+sun+batteries can provide all the power needed  

Sure, ignoring the heavy pollution that producing them creates, and the fact you have to switch the batteries out fairly regularly. As for where to put it, first off most of it isn't even waste, just stuff we're too lazy to sort out. For example, the old PWR systems' waste is about 94.4% unburned uranium. Solid fuel designs have that problem, liquid fuel designs allow you to actually use up all the fuel. One notable fission product is technetium-99m, which is used millions of times a year in the medical industry. Another one we've been looking into is bismuth-213, which we've been looking into shoving onto antibodies to try to kill cancer cells. Secondly, we'd have a place already if it weren't for lobbyists and Greenpeace blocking every attempt made at finding a suitable place to put this stuff. We tried putting it all a mile under Yucca Mountain, that didn't get passed because "not in my backyard!". There's possibilities in Texas and Wyoming we can look at, though.

 

If w+s+battery is all we need, why has Germany seen such a resounding failure with Energiewende, which isn't even as restrictive as that? Post EGW Germany burned more lignite coal than pre EGW Germany. That and what do you mean by "all power needed," exactly? Do you propose we stop recycling materials? Because recycling is a major energy expense, if we did it via solar and wind there wouldn't be enough electricity for the rest of the grid, unless you had tons of batteries and hundreds of miles of solar panels, which is frankly ridiculous and would easily make a single drop of Chinese river water lethal, while using up all those rare earth elements that make 21st century life more comfortable and less dangerous the 1910s.

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  • 3 months later...

Going back to the OP:

 

Dull as it sounds for the enthusiast, there is merit in the "standard" engine for preserved lines - commonality of spares, boilers on rotations etc:  After all is not a high percentage of income at heritage railways from non-enthusiasts who are looking for a "railway experience", a clean set of toilets and a good set of tea and scones?

 

Doesn't bode well for the "preservationist" does it:    prices rising for new builds and restos, skill levels falling to get those repairs done etc.

 

There will also come a day when there are no longer people wistful of engines, because all they remember of the working railway was a stripy bus-on-rails that went from city to city.

 

As for Mainline Specials - space on paths anywhere near London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Brum - getting fewer and far between.    "Mainline" locos retiring  - perhaps there's space for a few = Tornado, Legend, 4709........

 

It's not looking good  -  sadly the decision makers in the preservation and mainline steam movements have some tough times and hard questions ahead.

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I'm all for new build as many steam locos are getting like Triggers brush.  Even a 1950's BR standard is 70+ years old.  Quite a few older locos will need so many parts replaced that it's cheaper to build replicas.

 

The GCR 567 is ideal as they are replicating some long lost historically significant item.  The 5AT group had great idea to go for advanced steam using a fresh design.

 

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4 hours ago, AMJ said:

I'm all for new build as many steam locos are getting like Triggers brush.  Even a 1950's BR standard is 70+ years old.  Quite a few older locos will need so many parts replaced that it's cheaper to build replicas.

Wasn't that pretty much the norm for them when they were in service anyway? How much original material was there left on a typical loco by the time it went to be scrapped?

 

Although the variety of locos is great for making the preservation scene interesting it's probably a nuisance practically (as it was back in the day, which was the whole point of the standards even if the reality was they just added more variation). Preservation might've benefitted if it was practical to build a run of new boilers!

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If the owners of locos such as Austerity tanks (not J94's) formed a consortium and bought a couple of boilers that could be worked on and swapped out that would be beneficial.  Likewise BR standards could do same.

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1 hour ago, AMJ said:

If the owners of locos such as Austerity tanks (not J94's) formed a consortium and bought a couple of boilers that could be worked on and swapped out that would be beneficial.  Likewise BR standards could do same.

I believe this already takes place to some degree although not with boilers; Austerity tank owners already have an informal "Owners Club" and share some parts or more often, patterns.  Standards, Bullieds and GWR loco groups do the same; standardisation across GWR types is legendary, if it weren't most of the replicas/recreations couldn't be built.

 

It is surprising the principle you describe isn't used far more with another major expensive component - tenders.  I shake my head every time I see another GWR 4-6-0 or Bullied Pacific being restored with the Society appealing for funds to build a new tender.  Why do they all need their own?  A tender needs a small amount of expenditure at each overhaul compared to the boiler and running gear, so is an expensive asset standing idle.  If I owned such a loco I would take a lot of persuading to build my own tender and not just hire one from one of the other owners as required; the minority of locos are in service at any one time and hire charges (which would contribute to supporting the other groups) would take decades to reach the cost of building a new tender.  Of course if it were my own money, I could spend it how I wished, but when you are appealing for donations from the public, you have a responsibility to be spending their money wisely.

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