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Ex LNER U1 Garrett on the Lickey Incline


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Firstly apologies if this has been discussed before.

 

Over the years I have read on a number of occasions that in BR days the ex LNER U1 Garratt was tried in the Lickey Incline in an attempt to justify the cost of a new boiler as its work on the Worsborough Incline was coming to an end. All the articles have stated that the trials were unsuccessful and the loco was subsequently scrapped.

 

What I have never read is why the trials were unsuccessful. On the face of it you would think that she would be eminently suitable having worked as a banking engine for years, indeed I think am right in saying she was built for that very purpose. Was it the old problem of not wanting/liking engines from other regions (companies) or was there a real problem?

 

If anyone has any knowledge of the reason(s) I would be very interested.

 

Thanks

 

Steve

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Yeadons Register has some glimpses as to why it was not a success on the Lickey. It went to Bromsgrove firstly in March 1949, initially running chimney first. Crews found it hard to judge distances running that way so it was turned. The Bromsgrove crews found it difficult to steam, it had a huge firebox, 56 1/2 sq ft and had a prodigous appetite which was hard to keep up with. Various techniques were tried without much success. The brakes allegedly were bad, taking 200 yards to stop it. It was also said to be too pwerful and telescoped vehicles at the rear of the train it was banking.

 

It went to Gorton for conversion to oil firing, and after running trials on its old stamping ground of the Woodhead route, it eventually found it way back to Bromsgrove on 29 June 1955. Its stay was brief, leaving on 13th September.

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30 minutes ago, DOCJACOB said:

Something to do with sighting distance to buffer up and also had to work bunker first because of smoke issues as vaguely recall 

Nowadays no problem - just stick a CCTV camera on the front ! ....... I suppose they could have used a dedicated brake van wired for bell signals - like a pull/push set - though a crew of three wouldn't have helped the economics.

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Thanks for the replies, but the cynic in me is still not convinced. Surely all the problems would have equally have applied on it's home turf? and yet it worked there for 20+ years.

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I have just re-read the LNER  encyclopedia entry on the U1, and it would appear that it wasn't over popular at "home" either!

 

Perhaps it was simply that back in the day the LNER crews had no choice but to get on with it but the ex LMS  guys on the Lickey wanted no part of it.

 

 

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It certainly wasn't popular at Mexboro, there are reports of crews (probably the firemen) deliberately sabotaging it. The guards on the Worsbrough didn't like it either, as suggested above it was very difficult to judge the distance when buffering up - some guards used to lie on the floor when they saw the U1 approaching. Running the other way round, which wasn't tried in Yorkshire, would have caused serious problems keeping the water over the firebox crown on these very steep gradients.

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Presumably the prospect of telescoping coaches on a passenger train on Lickey was more of an issue of concern in terms of potential injury to passengers (apparently telescoping and other damage did occur). The Lickey large engine role was taken by 9F 92079 from May 1956. 

 

Its use on Worsborough must have been appalling for the crew banking through Silkstone - although this would probably be true for any steam banker. 

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5 hours ago, slilley said:

It was also said to be too pwerful and telescoped vehicles at the rear of the train it was banking.

 

 

I remember reading an article many years ago (I think in the Yorkshire Post) about its use on the Worsborough Bank, and that mentioned that it was compressing the guards vans on the trains that it was banking.  Between that, its appetite for coal, and the lack of ventilation in the tunnels (tales of the footplate crews sitting on the cab floor), it wasn't popular with the crews.

 

Adrian

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IIRC the original proposal for the garret was for a pair of 04 2-8-0 with a common boiler, to replace pairs on banking duties, and was for three locos. When SNG stepped in, he added a extra cylinder on each end, for no obvious benefit. A three cylinder engine was smoother in power application and allowed more power, but the garret already had four cylinders. One of its biggest problems was not being able to raise enough steam continuously for the 6 cylinders. 

 

As to crews not liking it, you are asking a fireman to shovel coal equal to two 04 for no extra monies?

 

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It might have been a better choice as train engine, rather than banker up the hill.

Cant have been that bad to have done the job for 25 years though, 18-20 trips up the hill each day. I can understand why crews wouldnt be keen - twice the work as mentioned above, plus the unpleasant privilege of being the 3rd hardworking loco on the train through the tunnels breathing all the smoke. Essentially getting rostered onto the U1 meant harder work in the worst conditions.

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I remember the conversation I had 30+ years ago in the US between myself, a couple of UP and SP retired engineers and someone from South Africa who worked on the railway’s.

 

From what I remember, a Garrett was far better suited to more flatter ground or shallow grade, whereas a Articulated loco handled better on grades because all the weight was basically on the drivers against driving from the front or back.  It was a interesting conversation and it was very detailed of which baffled me at the time, and still does.

 

To sum it up from what I remember, a Garrett on a grade will have to work harder and keep up the boiler pressure because the steam from the boiler has to travel further from the boiler to the cylinders.  An Articulated loco has two sets of engines underneath the boiler, so if one engine was loosing steam through leaks etc, the other one could keep the train hopefully moving.

 

I know it doesn’t answer your question about the U1 but it might give you a insight in why it wasn’t liked.  It could also be that the former LMS men didn’t want a “foreign” loco on their patch.

Edited by jools1959
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As  far as I know it was only ever tried on a train once, eastbound over Woodhead with a lengthy goods it had to stop at Crowden short of steam. If the LNER had left the design to Beyer Peacock they might have had a decent loco but just like the LMS they interfered too much - in the case of the U1 with two unnecessary cylinders.

Silkstone tunnels must have been pretty appalling whatever you were on, double load trains normally had four 2-8-0s on them and would be running at not much more than walking pace. The Garratt was equipped with what were described as respirators (not sure what exactly they were - possibly mine rescue gear) after an earlier incident with an asphyxiated crew.

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17 minutes ago, Michael Edge said:

. The Garratt was equipped with what were described as respirators (not sure what exactly they were - possibly mine rescue gear) after an earlier incident with an asphyxiated crew.

 

I have a pretty good idea what the respirators would have been having worked with breathing apparatus for over 30 years. If you can imagine a gas mask only instead of a filter there is a long rubber tube, this tube is led to somewhere where the air quality is better, in this case as near to track level as possible. The wearer basically sucks (relatively) clean air through the tube with exhaled air going our through a one way exhaust valve on the mask.

 

Again using the LNER Encyclopedia as reference apparently the crews objected to sharing the equipment and their use was discontinued. Given what the conditions in the tunnel must have been like I am not sure what was the lesser of two evils.

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Have to agree with Lantavian.   Beyer-Garratt's worked on some of the most difficult lines in the world, and were incredibly successful as locomotives, and builders.

I think there are a few factors at play,  and I'm certainly not pretending to speak with any expertise, so I'll be slightly provocative!

1.  Interference from the purchasing company, whether LNER or LMS certainly was not helpful in the design phase.  BG had been designing effective engines for years, and should have been given an output spec and left to design it.  Automatic stokers were an obvious thing to have put in. 

2.  Despite what has been said above,  loco men seemed very conservative about engines from other lines, or maybe just anything that was different.   Occasionally it went the other way:  I recall a LMS driver saying what a revelation it was driving a GW pannier and not having to use a Jinty.  The pannier in his view was far superior.  But this seems to have been an exception.  The will to succeed is probably outweighed by the desire to prove things don't work   (there was some evidence of this with the SR Leader class according to Kevin Robertson). Therefore no incentive to make things work:  if a crew had been offered £500 to make a success of the engine for a year you might have seen some improvement in performance!

3.  Autocratic designers seemed to take little thought for the men driving the machines:  the whole history of the locomotive cab shows this. 

4. Resistance to any new developments that would make life easy:  power stoking, standard on US railways for large engines, was never highly regarded;  use of generators for light etc;   roller bearings on locos.   Also the dreadful working conditions in most steam sheds were a disgrace in terms of health and safety, although the newer sheds were getting better, and the very slow introduction of colour signalling and ATC.  Many of these developments were discussed in detail and dismissed on what seems very light pretexts, although cash was probably at the bottom of a lot of them. 

Steam stokers in particular were something which should have been developed.   I know there was a "macho" aspect to shovelling 6 tons of coal in eight hours or whatever,  but it was interesting how quickly engine men decided that riding a cab on a diesel was infinitely preferable,  to the extent that it was often difficult to find a steam crew when the changeover to diesel was in progress!

 

So probably there are a range of factors:  it was not a very successful machine mechanically because of  input rather than output specification;  there was little thought given to the men who would be operating it eg in terms of extra pay or better breathing equipment; and there was resistance to anything new or from "over there",  and there was no lateral thinking about how buffering up etc could be better done  using electric communication  (a shock absorbing intermediate vehicle wouldn't have been too difficult to design I wouldn't have thought.......)

 

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38 minutes ago, jointline said:

Have to agree with Lantavian.   Beyer-Garratt's worked on some of the most difficult lines in the world, and were incredibly successful as locomotives, and builders.

I think there are a few factors at play,  and I'm certainly not pretending to speak with any expertise, so I'll be slightly provocative!

1.  Interference from the purchasing company, whether LNER or LMS certainly was not helpful in the design phase.  BG had been designing effective engines for years, and should have been given an output spec and left to design it.  Automatic stokers were an obvious thing to have put in. 

2.  Despite what has been said above,  loco men seemed very conservative about engines from other lines, or maybe just anything that was different.   Occasionally it went the other way:  I recall a LMS driver saying what a revelation it was driving a GW pannier and not having to use a Jinty.  The pannier in his view was far superior.  But this seems to have been an exception.  The will to succeed is probably outweighed by the desire to prove things don't work   (there was some evidence of this with the SR Leader class according to Kevin Robertson). Therefore no incentive to make things work:  if a crew had been offered £500 to make a success of the engine for a year you might have seen some improvement in performance!

3.  Autocratic designers seemed to take little thought for the men driving the machines:  the whole history of the locomotive cab shows this. 

4. Resistance to any new developments that would make life easy:  power stoking, standard on US railways for large engines, was never highly regarded;  use of generators for light etc;   roller bearings on locos.   Also the dreadful working conditions in most steam sheds were a disgrace in terms of health and safety, although the newer sheds were getting better, and the very slow introduction of colour signalling and ATC.  Many of these developments were discussed in detail and dismissed on what seems very light pretexts, although cash was probably at the bottom of a lot of them. 

Steam stokers in particular were something which should have been developed.   I know there was a "macho" aspect to shovelling 6 tons of coal in eight hours or whatever,  but it was interesting how quickly engine men decided that riding a cab on a diesel was infinitely preferable,  to the extent that it was often difficult to find a steam crew when the changeover to diesel was in progress!

 

So probably there are a range of factors:  it was not a very successful machine mechanically because of  input rather than output specification;  there was little thought given to the men who would be operating it eg in terms of extra pay or better breathing equipment; and there was resistance to anything new or from "over there",  and there was no lateral thinking about how buffering up etc could be better done  using electric communication  (a shock absorbing intermediate vehicle wouldn't have been too difficult to design I wouldn't have thought.......)

 

While there are some good points in there, it suffers from a tendency to view things in hindsight, and comparing conditions which were standard in all industries at the time with what is considered acceptable today. For instance, improvements to the footplate environment: it might not be realised just how much objection engine crews made in the mid-nineteenth century, when locomotive superintendents began to fit cabs to their engines. These were fiercely opposed. What is an obvious improvement to us was viewed differently at the time. Designers did, although very slowly, improve the enginemen's conditions, and compare the footplate of a 1900 loco with those of a 1940s one. With the BR Standards, Riddles had made a wooden mock up of the Britannia cab for approval by all concerned, yet when the engines entered traffic they were not liked, the footplate being very draughty and dirty, and vibration from the trailing truck was very tiring. Riddles moved all pipes and backplate fittings outside so the cabs would not become excessively hot; fine until the first winter . . . The steam engine was a labour-intensive machine, as were many others until about the 1950s, and things could certainly have been improved. Many Black Fives were built with rocking grates and hopper ashpans. Good enough, but why were the many hundred others, not to mention 8Fs, Jubilees, Crabs, etc., left without?

 

Mechanical stokers were used with great success in America under very different conditions to Britain's. They worked when grate areas started to rise (in America, hand firing had long become impossible, partly for the volume of coal to be shovelled, but also as it would be impossible to reach the front of the very long grate). It was only late in life that British grate areas began to reach the point where hand firing was becoming difficult, the Stanier and Peppercorn Pacifics as examples. Smaller than these, a lot of what was fired was spread over the surrounding landscape, possibly acceptable on the open prairie but not so in towns. The three 9Fs so fitted did not retain their stokers for long, and Terry Essery is quite eloquent in explaining why.

 

It is true that enginemen are conservative and mistrustful of anything from outside. An L&YR 2-4-2T was tried out of St Pancras on the Midland and returned as no good. These engines on their home railway worked express passenger trains across the Pennines!

 

Giving the outside builder a free hand in a design sounds good and the case of the Garratts, both LNER and LMS, a better engine might have resulted. But it would have been an engine in isolation with nothing in common with the home products. Sheds would need to keep a complete set of spares suitable for that class only, expensive in that more items needed to be stocked and space in a cramped stores found. And while the resulting engine might have been good, there wasn't a guarantee of this; if things turned out otherwise the CME of the railway would still carry the can, despite having had no involvement in the design.

 

Things, as always, could have ben done better and we can look back today and wonder how the men managed in those poor conditions. Will people in a hundred years time look back at us and ask how we managed in such primitive times?

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I guess I was trying to stimulate debate!  

 

Yes, hindsight is a valuable commodity,   and as usual there were a few very far sighted folk at the time who saw the way forward.  

28 minutes ago, LMS2968 said:

Mechanical stokers were used with great success in America under very different conditions to Britain's. They worked when grate areas started to rise (in America, hand firing had long become impossible, partly for the volume of coal to be shovelled, but also as it would be impossible to reach the front of the very long grate). It was only late in life that British grate areas began to reach the point where hand firing was becoming difficult, the Stanier and Peppercorn Pacifics as examples. Smaller than these, a lot of what was fired was spread over the surrounding landscape, possibly acceptable on the open prairie but not so in towns. The three 9Fs so fitted did not retain their stokers for long, and Terry Essery is quite eloquent in explaining why.

Nothing to disagree with here,  and even if they were wasteful, coal was a lot cheaper in the USA.   

However the point I'm pushing is that, as you say,  these were the conditions at the time, but if diesels/electrification had not come along, do we think that the development of the steam locomotive would have stood still and men or women would still be shovelling coal on a footplate?   No serious attempts seem to have been made to develop a mechanical stoker that would be effective on smaller grates.  Obviously no need while there were people willing to do it, and necessity drives invention a lot of the time.   Even Bulleid,  a noted innovator,  on the Leader class,  which had a top notch boiler in thermal efficiency terms, didn't seem to think anything about the crew,  who only had access to the firebox from one side of the loco,  and whose working conditions were so bad that it dictated that only non-union labour would work them. 

 

The issue with having an outside builder design an engine is of course unanswerable with only one of a type.   Although the  LMS  could have, horror of horror, contracted maintenance out to Beyer Peacock and rotated the engines through a service schedule.  Or do what the GWR  and others did, which was to deal with boilers as a separate item, and have spare chassis and boilers for rolling maintenance.

 

So many what ifs, and, as you say,  I wonder what they'll think of us in 100 years (if there's anybody left....)

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I'm not the biggest fan of Oliver Bulleid around, but to be fair, the Leaders were always intended as oil burners; coal, and the fireman's admittedly unenviable position, was forced upon him after the design was well established, oil was no longer an option and coal was to be the fuel, and wasn't the intention. How much more user friendly the middle compartment would have been with oil is a moot point, but the fireman would not have had to swing a shovel!

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I just wanted to say that it was a interesting conversation and I neither agreed or disagreed with the general topic.  Having no experience of either a Garrett which I know is articulated or the US “articulated” version.  I suppose people have their different ideas and aspects of locomotive design.

 

It’s interesting to note that Garrett’s noticeably absent on US rails whereas they were found in Africa and Australia with great success.  I’d just like to note that the 1955 designed Garrett even though shared similar footprint was probably a much improved to the 1920’s designed for the MR and LNER.

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3 minutes ago, jools1959 said:

It’s interesting to note that Garrett’s noticeably absent on US rails whereas they were found in Africa and Australia with great success.

 

Part of the NMH/NIH syndrome (Not Made Here/Invented Here)  which pervades most cultures and countries, the USA in particular!   Presumably the US railroads would have had to pay a licence fee for using the design as well.

 

Was reading a book about India the other day,  and it is clear that the supply of machinery, including railway equipment, was largely determined by the (British) owners and managing engineers of companies using firms of engineers in UK that they were familiar with,  rather than sourcing best value or best technology from the rest of the world.  This changed dramatically at independence.    This largely explains the "success" of British engineering around the former Empire, and in the Commonwealth.   (And the UK products were good of course, but there was a lot of other stuff out there in Europe and the States which never even got a look in).

But all changed when dieselisation happened,  as we were way behind the US development curve, and  coinciding with the end of British administration and retirement of British engineers,  it started the decline in British manufacturing.   (of which there were, of course, many contributory factors....) 

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15 minutes ago, jools1959 said:

I just wanted to say that it was a interesting conversation and I neither agreed or disagreed with the general topic.  Having no experience of either a Garrett which I know is articulated or the US “articulated” version.  I suppose people have their different ideas and aspects of locomotive design.

 

It’s interesting to note that Garrett’s noticeably absent on US rails whereas they were found in Africa and Australia with great success.  I’d just like to note that the 1955 designed Garrett even though shared similar footprint was probably a much improved to the 1920’s designed for the MR and LNER.

As already noted above (a point made by Michael Edge) Garrett design by Beyer Peacock was always considerably more successful than when customer railway companies in Britain threw in their own bright ideas.  Both the LMS and LNER Garretts suffered, in different ways, as a result and if they had been left to Beyer Peacock to design would have been far better engines.

 

As far as mechanical stokers are concerned for British use there were two main problems - except for some very late designs the grate areas and level of continuous power output required simply didn't warrant spending money on a mechanical stoker.  And secondly mechanical stokers worked best with small coal and until the post war period (and not always then) the Railways did not buy small coal because it wasn't ideal for hand firing, and the vast majority of engines would have remained hand fired.

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6 minutes ago, jointline said:

 

Part of the NMH/NIH syndrome (Not Made Here/Invented Here)  which pervades most cultures and countries, the USA in particular!   Presumably the US railroads would have had to pay a licence fee for using the design as well.

 

Was reading a book about India the other day,  and it is clear that the supply of machinery, including railway equipment, was largely determined by the (British) owners and managing engineers of companies using firms of engineers in UK that they were familiar with,  rather than sourcing best value or best technology from the rest of the world.  This changed dramatically at independence.    This largely explains the "success" of British engineering around the former Empire, and in the Commonwealth.   (And the UK products were good of course, but there was a lot of other stuff out there in Europe and the States which never even got a look in).

But all changed when dieselisation happened,  as we were way behind the US development curve, and  coinciding with the end of British administration and retirement of British engineers,  it started the decline in British manufacturing.   (of which there were, of course, many contributory factors....) 

Going slightly off tangent as the Mallet articulated principle was patented did the US railways which moved to it in the early 1900s pay any patent fees on it?  I can't run all of Mallet's patents to earth but it seems fairly definite that the compound articulated was patented although I'm not so sure about the simple.  But of course a lot of the big US engines articulated on the Mallet principle were not compounds.

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10 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

As far as mechanical stokers are concerned for British use there were two main problems - except for some very late designs the grate areas and level of continuous power output required simply didn't warrant spending money on a mechanical stoker.  And secondly mechanical stokers worked best with small coal and until the post war period (and not always then) the Railways did not buy small coal because it wasn't ideal for hand firing, and the vast majority of engines would have remained hand fired.

 

Not much to disagree with here,  but top link machines would have benefited, and small coal could have been easily supplied to the few sheds those engines were stabled at.  Think availability of cheap labour was more of a  deciding factor against mechanical stoking than technical constraints  (which can normally be solved given the necessity!)  As you say, they didn't warrant the cost,  even if they may have been desirable from a lot of other perspectives.

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52 minutes ago, jointline said:

 

Part of the NMH/NIH syndrome (Not Made Here/Invented Here)  which pervades most cultures and countries, the USA in particular!   Presumably the US railroads would have had to pay a licence fee for using the design as well.

 

Was reading a book about India the other day,  and it is clear that the supply of machinery, including railway equipment, was largely determined by the (British) owners and managing engineers of companies using firms of engineers in UK that they were familiar with,  rather than sourcing best value or best technology from the rest of the world.  This changed dramatically at independence.    This largely explains the "success" of British engineering around the former Empire, and in the Commonwealth.   (And the UK products were good of course, but there was a lot of other stuff out there in Europe and the States which never even got a look in).

But all changed when dieselisation happened,  as we were way behind the US development curve, and  coinciding with the end of British administration and retirement of British engineers,  it started the decline in British manufacturing.   (of which there were, of course, many contributory factors....) 

That's not quite as true as usually thought. Indian railways were buying German and American in the 1890s because British manufacturers couldn't cope (and of course the Midland, GNR and others also bought American at the same time for the same reasons); Borsig sold 32 goods engines to East Indian Railways in 1902/3 (assembled in India); Herschel supplied ZF class narrow gauge 2-6-2T in 1935 and I am sure there were many other examples. 

 

(The Indian railways also got many locomotives from the US and Canada in the Forties but of course there was a war on and the UK wasn't in a position to supply).

 

After all, if India (and other dominions) had been automatically buying British anyway,  'Imperial Preference' wouldn't have become a political issue.

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