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the purpose of the BR locomotive exchange trials


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Hi

 

over 70 years ago, what were the point of the locomotive exchange trials? did at the time the former big four companies really believe that their locos were that superior to those of the others? Or that they couldn't be worked over the different regions?

 

TIA 

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10 minutes ago, Clive Mortimore said:

Basically the trials were to try and prove the LMS loco types that Riddles wanted to continue were better than any other railways stuff.

 

Hiding in a big hole very quickly

Almost. The trials were to convince the other Regions that their practices and theories would be part of the new Standard designs when really Riddles was continuing with LMS designs only slightly modified.

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12 minutes ago, Stubby47 said:

This book may help

 

395264085_20200908_1325592.jpg.6d1de329c79486754b7a038cf9c976a7.jpg

I'm not sure it will. Allen and Nock's perspective was largely limited to how fast the engine could move the train. The provision of Standard designs to cover all Regions' needs was far more complex than that.

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The Big Four (and the pre-grouping companies that went before them) built locos for their routes & coal. The GWR had a flat & straight(ish) mainline between London and Bristol and access to good quality steam coal from South Wales. The LMS on the otherhand had a route between London and Scotland that was hillier and had more curves and so built locos to suite.

 

British Railways' aim was to have a range of one-size fits all locomotives that could manage a variety of routes on a variety of standards of coal. By running a SR loco on the LNER routes, or a Black Five on something more used to a Hall or Castle they should be able to work out where the compromises could/should be made.

 

In the end as Clive mentions they compromised with LMS designs running with GWR paint schemes (said tongue in cheek!).

 

Steven B.

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The idea was to establish an objective basis on which the performance of locomotives could be assessed, and to determine best practice for the proposed standard locomotives, but of course most railwaymen saw them as either a competition to prove what they'd always said, that their locos were the best, or to impose LMS ideas; as Riddles had been appointed CME it was widely believed that the locomotive policy was to be wall to wall LMS everywhere, and there was in the event some justification for this.

 

What came out if it is debatable; enthusiasts with cameras had a lot of fun, reputations were enhanced and broken, but as with any objective comparative work on steam locomotives, there were really too many variables in day to day running to provide any firm conclusions. 

 

I believe the failure of the exchanges (calling them trials is fine as some locos were found guilty) was one of the factors that led to the building of the Rugby Testing Station, where conditions could be more exactly controlled.  This was used to establish power outputs of steam locos in horsepower, so that the specifications of diesel replacements could be assessed objectively, which was more or less what happened in the 1955 Modernisation Plan.  My opinion (other opinions are available) is that there was a fundamental issue with the Rugby work, which seemed to have persistently underestimated the power that steam locos were delivering to the rollers.  Many of the resulting diesels were badly underpowered as a result; D200 was described as inferior to a 7MT Britannia by the BRB chairman on it's inaugural run, and the class was put on to 8P work on the WCML, which it had difficulty timing.  The ECML specified a loco nearly half as powerful again to replace A4s.

 

As to the 'Midlandification' of the nationalised railway, certainly something that ex GW men were convinced of, I'm not entirely certain.  Of the Standard classes, the Britannia, Clan, and 9F could be described as completely new ideas, the 5MT was held to be based on the Black 5, but had larger driving wheels which to my view make it a new type of loco, the 4MT 4-6-0 used a domed version of the GW no.14 Manor boiler, the 4MT mogul was very much a restyled Ivatt Flying PIg, the 3MT mogul used a domed Swindon no.2 boiler and was a new type altogether, and the 2MT mogul was another Ivatt clone.  Of the tank engines, the 4MT was development of the 2-cylinder LMS 2-6-4T, the 3MT used the domed Swindon no.2 boiler and was in many ways a Swindon large prairie built out of BR standard parts, and the 2MT an Ivatt clone.  

 

So, of 12 classes, 3 could be called completely new, 3 were almost direct copies of Ivatt LMS locos, 2 'owed much' to LMS practice, and 3 could be said to 'owe much' to GW practice.  LMS practice under Ivatt was probably the most adaptable to modern conditions and most suitable for a standard range; the Southern had gone all esoteric and experimental, the LNER had not covered itself in glory under Thompson and Peppercorn had not made that much impact, and the GW was stuck in an 'improved Edwardian' time warp.  

 

The exchanges, Riddles' standard locos, Rugby Testing Station, and the 1955 modernisation plan are all controversial and divisive subjects. and my opinion won't bring any closure to a debate that is already a cold old fire raked over too many times.   

 

 

 

 

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Their avowed purpose was to evaluate a number of designs from each of the big four (and a couple of the wartime ‘Standard’ WD locos I believe) in order to determine what features of each should be included in the ‘standard’ steam locomotives to be made by BR.

 

Scientifically, the tests were a total shambles - not all important factors were noted in the data (coal was counted, but I believe that water and lubrication oil were not), crews were given different aims (some ran for economy of fuel, others to maintain timings) and this would have led to a conclusion which was as clear as mud.

 

As said above, the standards eventually followed established LMS practice, with a few features thrown in from the SR for crew comfort and ease of maintenance. Whether as a result of politics at BR or by erroneous conclusions from the trials, the designs that were decided upon were decided upon - and they weren’t such a bad bunch of engines were they? :)

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22 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

My opinion (other opinions are available) is that there was a fundamental issue with the Rugby work, which seemed to have persistently underestimated the power that steam locos were delivering to the rollers.  Many of the resulting diesels were badly underpowered as a result; D200 was described as inferior to a 7MT Britannia by the BRB chairman on it's inaugural run, and the class was put on to 8P work on the WCML, which it had difficulty timing.  The ECML specified a loco nearly half as powerful again to replace A4s.

 

Starting with your final point: the Deltics were very specifically asked-for in order to markedly improve performance, not equal that of the A4s.

 

The question about steam vs diesel performance is interesting though, and what eventuated seemed to hint that the BR engineers and train performance bods thought that by very dependably, uphill and down dale, being able to match or exceed the average or possibly sustained power outputs of the big express steamers the biggest practicable diesels would be able to maintain the same schedules with the same loads, and that their thinking may not have given due weight to the short-term capability of steam locos, whereby they could tackle the worst climbs using the exhaustable reserve of energy held in a boiler at full pressure.

 

OTH, it may be that everyone was clued-up to the limitations of the initial diesels, but was equally clued-up to how shockingly expensive steam locos were to operate.

 

What I doubt is that the test-plant obtained the wrong figures, the physics involved in measuring instantaneous power were very well understood and had been for a long time, and fairly simple calculations could be used to check that the values being obtained were within the bounds of expectations, not suspisciouly low or suspiciously high. More likely that what they did with the numbers was mildly off-beam, than that the numbers themselves were wrong.

Edited by Nearholmer
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1 hour ago, 18B said:

Hi

 

over 70 years ago, what were the point of the locomotive exchange trials? did at the time the former big four companies really believe that their locos were that superior to those of the others? Or that they couldn't be worked over the different regions?

 

TIA 

 

In a word - yes. If not why did they build them like that? To misquote Bulleid.

 

Although all of them probably knew that their locomotives were a bit dated. They had just lost 10 years of development because of the war.

 

But what many people forget about the 1948 Trials was it was about economy as much as performance. Locomotives that were efficient did better than the high powered ones.

 

A lot of it was also about what was going to be kept. Were things like the GWR 28XX and LNER O1s still capable of working trains for the next forty years? That's why they were involved.

 

Don't forget diesels and electrics weren't even being considered at this point. This was what steam locomotives were going to be working for the next fifty years.

 

 

Jason

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2 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

Don't forget diesels and electrics weren't even being considered at this point. This was what steam locomotives were going to be working for the next fifty years.

 

Not quite the entire story. In fact, nothing like the full story.

 

Electric traction particularly was under very active discussion at this time, and immediately prior to nationalisation was the SR's very clearly articulated policy for all lines Southampton main-line and east thereof, with a few minor exceptions, which were to be diesel, and shortly after nationalisation a very substantial report about electrification was prepared by BTC.

 

Diesel was also being pursued, if in rather a lukewarm and confused way.

 

Nobody in a position of influence in 1948 expected the railway to be all, or even predominantly, or even at all, steam powered by 1998.

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8 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

 

OTH, it may be that everyone was clued-up to the limitations of the initial diesels, but was equally clued-up to how shockingly expensive steam locos were to operate.

 

 

 

I think that it was a much as how variable the costs of operating steam locos were - this was as much a competence and training issue than loco. I infer from the output, that aside from crews going for efficiency or not, those who had experience (presumably from the start of their careers) of fireing and driving different types of boiler and firebox design were more adaptable to working locos on exchange. This sometimes were not the top link drivers and fireman who drove the same big locos every day.

 

I think that this behind why some regions or areas faired better. The sheds which had O6 previously had less issues with standard than others in the ER and I assume why CF men liked Brits better than others on the WR.

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32 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

I believe the failure of the exchanges (calling them trials is fine as some locos were found guilty) was one of the factors that led to the building of the Rugby Testing Station, where conditions could be more exactly controlled.  

Sorry to disagree here, Johnster, but the Rugby Test Plant was a joint LMS / LNER venture initiated by Sir Nigel Gresley (the private builders were initially to be involved, but later all dropped out) pre-WWII, and the shell of the building was in place before war was declared and the measuring equipment delivered and moved into safe storage.

 

I agree that the Plant personnel's interpretation of the recorded figures left something to be desired; there are several instances were their verdict on a particular engine's abilities were way below decades of experience by the men who operated them day in, day out. What the rollers gave was a column of figures which became the basis for the calculations, and errors in these were possible, and that assumes the rollers were correctly calibrated to start with. I've done a bit of this in the past, although not on steam, alas.

 

There were many problems with the Trials. Firstly, the track was still suffering from wartime lack of maintenance so TSRs were common, and new ones could appear overnight. Second, the loads and conditions were not constant as different train formations, weather conditions applied and coal varied; and as already mentioned, no clearly defined objectives were given to the crews, so each interpreted what was expected of them in their own way and this interpretation varied enormously. Quite frankly, the results of the Trials were useless for any form of comparison as to best practice in any area.

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A point on locomotive use. The Warships, which were derived from the German V200 design were not as reliable, that's being charitable, as the V200s on home ground. Eventually a German group from the manufacturers came over and duly registered surprise at how hard we (BR) were driving 'their design'. I got this from a loco engineer who was working on the Warships and their woes at the time.

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I did not know that the Testing Station had already been planned before the war, never mind nationalisation.  It does seem to have not made a particularly accurate contribution, though how much of this was down to the personnel and how much to the equipment is beyond my ability to make any useful comment on, which is a shame because it means that, overall, the attempt to provide objective and accurate information about steam locomotive power output resulted in more compromised and inaccurate stuff to add to an already large amount!

 

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4 minutes ago, GeoffAlan said:

A point on locomotive use. The Warships, which were derived from the German V200 design were not as reliable, that's being charitable, as the V200s on home ground. Eventually a German group from the manufacturers came over and duly registered surprise at how hard we (BR) were driving 'their design'. I got this from a loco engineer who was working on the Warships and their woes at the time.

A well known tale on the WR in the 70s.  DB had been using V200s very successfully on secondary main lines which had not yet been electrified, but with lighter loads with easier timings, and largely at lower speeds, than the WR, which put them on it’s heaviest and fastest expresses where they had to thrashed to keep time, resulting in much more maintenance and downtime than the Germans were experiencing.  

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19 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

 

Not quite the entire story. In fact, nothing like the full story.

 

Electric traction particularly was under very active discussion at this time, and immediately prior to nationalisation was the SR's very clearly articulated policy for all lines Southampton main-line and east thereof, with a few minor exceptions, which were to be diesel, and shortly after nationalisation a very substantial report about electrification was prepared by BTC.

 

Diesel was also being pursued, if in rather a lukewarm and confused way.

 

Nobody in a position of influence in 1948 expected the railway to be all, or even predominantly, or even at all, steam powered by 1998.

 

I think you misunderstood me. I meant diesels and electrics weren't being considered at the trials and I don't know why they were mentioned in the first place as I thought we were discussing the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges not the 1955 Modernisation Plan.

 

I didn't say it would still be all steam. Just that in 1948 they were planning on building locomotives that will be working for fifty or sixty years. I fail to understand why that is seen as wrong. :scratchhead:

 

 

 

Jason

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It was the phrase “..... diesels and electrics weren’t even being considered at this stage......” that threw me.

 

I read you to mean “being considered at all”, whereas I now understand you to have meant “ ..... diesels and electrics weren’t within the scope of these exchanges”, which indeed they weren’t.
 

 

 

 

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Presumably the test-house data would be useful in a comparison situation but some way off any real-life performance (particularly efficiency).

Just compare your car's 'official' MPG figures - you can use this to compare different engines/brands but as any fule kno, they bear little resemblance to those obtained in everyday use.

 

 

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4 hours ago, 18B said:

Hi

 

over 70 years ago, what were the point of the locomotive exchange trials? did at the time the former big four companies really believe that their locos were that superior to those of the others? Or that they couldn't be worked over the different regions?

 

TIA 

The stated purpose of the trials were to show that which detail features of the modern steam engine as implemented by the different group companies could be carried forward to the future.  The end result was locos like the Britannia which had what was basically an LMS boiler but with LNER detail features in it and a delta truck that was very Bulleid. Other features were the 6'-2" drivers from US and Gresley/Bulleid practice, the high level platform and the idea that the minimum number of cylinders for the job was a great one; also from the US. I suspect also there were a number of internal similarities with US engines such as the S160. I once heard, on the WSR, an engine approaching which I could have sworn was a Britannia, it was actually an S160 being driven rather faster than 25mph!

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4 hours ago, The Johnster said:

The idea was to establish an objective basis on which the performance of locomotives could be assessed, and to determine best practice for the proposed standard locomotives, but of course most railwaymen saw them as either a competition to prove what they'd always said, that their locos were the best, or to impose LMS ideas; as Riddles had been appointed CME it was widely believed that the locomotive policy was to be wall to wall LMS everywhere, and there was in the event some justification for this.

 

What came out if it is debatable; enthusiasts with cameras had a lot of fun, reputations were enhanced and broken, but as with any objective comparative work on steam locomotives, there were really too many variables in day to day running to provide any firm conclusions. 

 

I believe the failure of the exchanges (calling them trials is fine as some locos were found guilty) was one of the factors that led to the building of the Rugby Testing Station, where conditions could be more exactly controlled.  This was used to establish power outputs of steam locos in horsepower, so that the specifications of diesel replacements could be assessed objectively, which was more or less what happened in the 1955 Modernisation Plan.  My opinion (other opinions are available) is that there was a fundamental issue with the Rugby work, which seemed to have persistently underestimated the power that steam locos were delivering to the rollers.  Many of the resulting diesels were badly underpowered as a result; D200 was described as inferior to a 7MT Britannia by the BRB chairman on it's inaugural run, and the class was put on to 8P work on the WCML, which it had difficulty timing.  The ECML specified a loco nearly half as powerful again to replace A4s.

 

As to the 'Midlandification' of the nationalised railway, certainly something that ex GW men were convinced of, I'm not entirely certain.  Of the Standard classes, the Britannia, Clan, and 9F could be described as completely new ideas, the 5MT was held to be based on the Black 5, but had larger driving wheels which to my view make it a new type of loco, the 4MT 4-6-0 used a domed version of the GW no.14 Manor boiler, the 4MT mogul was very much a restyled Ivatt Flying PIg, the 3MT mogul used a domed Swindon no.2 boiler and was a new type altogether, and the 2MT mogul was another Ivatt clone.  Of the tank engines, the 4MT was development of the 2-cylinder LMS 2-6-4T, the 3MT used the domed Swindon no.2 boiler and was in many ways a Swindon large prairie built out of BR standard parts, and the 2MT an Ivatt clone.  

 

So, of 12 classes, 3 could be called completely new, 3 were almost direct copies of Ivatt LMS locos, 2 'owed much' to LMS practice, and 3 could be said to 'owe much' to GW practice.  LMS practice under Ivatt was probably the most adaptable to modern conditions and most suitable for a standard range; the Southern had gone all esoteric and experimental, the LNER had not covered itself in glory under Thompson and Peppercorn had not made that much impact, and the GW was stuck in an 'improved Edwardian' time warp.  

 

The exchanges, Riddles' standard locos, Rugby Testing Station, and the 1955 modernisation plan are all controversial and divisive subjects. and my opinion won't bring any closure to a debate that is already a cold old fire raked over too many times.   

 

 

 

 

I would point out one thing, Rugby Testing Station started life as a joint project between the LMS and LNER and it was only WW2 which stopped it being completed earlier.

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I would suggest the results of the rugby testing station have been largely disproved in recent years with the advent of the "steam specials" over Shap and the S&C.

 

Witness the Bulleid Pacific going over Shap with a heavy load on plus a diesel on the back for the ride with the safety valves lifting.

 

Or the remarkable video of 3 steam trains following each other on the same stretch "on the block" with one train catching up with the one in front. Were all these specials heavier than the average train in the 1950s I wonder?

 

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6 hours ago, Stubby47 said:

This book may help

 

395264085_20200908_1325592.jpg.6d1de329c79486754b7a038cf9c976a7.jpg

The above book and the writings of OS Nock and others have managed to make these "show" exchanges something of a railway discussion that has lasted longer than the locos that supposedly came out of the trials.

 

5 hours ago, The Johnster said:

As to the 'Midlandification' of the nationalised railway, certainly something that ex GW men were convinced of, I'm not entirely certain.  Of the Standard classes, the Britannia, Clan, and 9F could be described as completely new ideas, the 5MT was held to be based on the Black 5, but had larger driving wheels which to my view make it a new type of loco, the 4MT 4-6-0 used a domed version of the GW no.14 Manor boiler, the 4MT mogul was very much a restyled Ivatt Flying PIg, the 3MT mogul used a domed Swindon no.2 boiler and was a new type altogether, and the 2MT mogul was another Ivatt clone.  Of the tank engines, the 4MT was development of the 2-cylinder LMS 2-6-4T, the 3MT used the domed Swindon no.2 boiler and was in many ways a Swindon large prairie built out of BR standard parts, and the 2MT an Ivatt clone.  

 

Hi Johnster

 

The Class 4 4-6-0's boiler was a slight lengthened Fairburn tank boiler, which in turn was the same as used on a Stainer tank (both 3 and 2 cylinder classes). They were taper versions of the Fowler class 4 tank locos boiler , which was a Midland railway G9S boiler as fitted to Deeley's wonderful looking 990 class 4-4-0s ( and the compounds).

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