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9 hours ago, Theakerr said:

I have a few questions (not all railway related)  that have persisted despite attempts to find answers using the normal channels.  One is why the preference for inside cylinder 0-6-0s?  From a maintanance perspective an outside cylinder should be much easier to service.  I did come across a suggestion that the early wheel bearing quality was such that an outside cylinder would have caused excess wear (due presumably side or twist trust motion) on the bearings and that an inside cylinder arrangement would put a more even load on the bearings. Just curious. 

 

It was probably a trade-off between manufacturing cost and maintenance cost. A two cylinder casting between the frames is less expensive and it automatically adds a lot of rigidity and, as you say, puts a lot less oscillating torque on the frames.

 

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10 hours ago, 2750Papyrus said:

Given Thompson's apparent and laudable objectives to improve availability and maintainability, I find his choice of the inside cylindered J11 as a standard goods loco to be curious.  His rebuilding of a D49 with two inside cylinders appears more so and the experiment was not multiplied.  Apparently, he also earlier tried to persuade Gresley to rebuild the ex North Eastern pacifics (class A2) with two inside cylinders.

I suppose, because the ex-GC 'Pom-pom' was such a sound engine, by improving it with better valves he was producing an even better one, though it's odd that the J39 (which was also a very good engine, and newer) was not selected. 

 

Most of Thompson's rebuilds ended up no better (or even worse) than those locos they were rebuilt from. The P2-A2/2 debate will go on forever, probably; the A2/1s were certainly no better than the V2s they were derived from (not actual rebuilds) and inferior to a double Kylchap V2; the A1/1 was definitely inferior to a double chimney A3 (which GREAT NORTHERN would have become, anyway); the B2s? Hardly; the K5? Remaining a one-off says it all. He couldn't really go wrong with a starting point such as the ex-GC 2-8-0s, and the O1s were excellent locos, though the originals outlived them. Gresley had already shown the way to improve the B16s. The rest? Hardly a success story. Of course, the B1 was new-build, and excellent. Thompson's only design memorial? Probably. 

 

Having now finished reading the latest book on ET, I doubt if it answers any more questions than before. It is a more 'sensitive' assessment of Thompson's life and career, but I doubt if it'll change many opinions. Given the wartime circumstances, it was laudable to try and reduce maintenance costs and improve reliability. The problem is, he really did neither. 

 

Regards,

 

Tony. 

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We had consultants come in and insisted on giving feedback to the management in front of the whole staff. “So everyone was on the same page”  we grumbled about being made to go to the meeting beforehand. Was one of the best 2 1/2 hours of my life. It was great to watch. 
richard 

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53 minutes ago, Tony Wright said:

 

That said, I rejoice in being a cynic. On one occasion, a new teacher (who'd arrived in as a head of department) spoke at one staff meeting about how he was changing his department to become much more inclusive with others. He used a lot of words I wasn't familiar with and phrases such as 'at this point in time' (I assume he meant 'now'), 'at the end of the day' (I'm not sure if that meant the end of the school day or the actual day') and 'we'll generate more light than heat' (I'm still puzzled by that one). He spoke well, and a few other heads of department were seduced (not including cynical old me).

 

Ever played 'buzzword bingo' in such situations, Tony? A group of cynics get together bingo cards with all the stupid phrases on them ('low hanging fruit' is one of my favourites). First one to hear the expert / advisor / consultant (I have a less-polite phrase involving a male bovine creature going about its business) say them all wins!

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Then can be useful.

 

We are having some help working on a new system. I will not be a major part of the new system as I need to work on the current one, and I am in late 50s.

 

But online meeting after online meeting completely breaking down how own current system works.

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1 hour ago, Tony Wright said:

Most of Thompson's rebuilds ended up no better (or even worse) than those locos they were rebuilt from. The P2-A2/2 debate will go on forever, probably; the A2/1s were certainly no better than the V2s they were derived from (not actual rebuilds) and inferior to a double Kylchap V2; the A1/1 was definitely inferior to a double chimney A3 (which GREAT NORTHERN would have become, anyway); the B2s? Hardly; the K5? Remaining a one-off says it all. He couldn't really go wrong with a starting point such as the ex-GC 2-8-0s, and the O1s were excellent locos, though the originals outlived them. Gresley had already shown the way to improve the B16s. The rest? Hardly a success story. Of course, the B1 was new-build, and excellent. Thompson's only design memorial? Probably. 

 

Having now finished reading the latest book on ET, I doubt if it answers any more questions than before. It is a more 'sensitive' assessment of Thompson's life and career, but I doubt if it'll change many opinions. Given the wartime circumstances, it was laudable to try and reduce maintenance costs and improve reliability. The problem is, he really did neither. 

 

Regards,

 

Tony. 

I think that's at the 'harsh' end of a summary of ET, Tony. Unusually, therefore, I find myself ever so slightly defending said gentleman.

 

We all know the context of extreme wartime conditions influencing ET's work - if you were a cynic you might say that he used that as an opportunity? Quite apart from the very obvious situation of bombs raining down, one significant influence (according to accounts I have read) was that the conjugated valve gear on the 3-cylinder engines did NOT take kindly to lack the inevitable lack of maintenance in wartime conditions. Despite ostensibly being covered, in practice the surrounding mixture of steam, oil and ash (from smokebox cleaning) got in and formed a very effective grinding paste leading to rapid wear of the key joints. Without effective cleaning to keep it at bay, this soon led to the five-beats-to-the-bar effect and eventual damage that ET was so keen to show Nock during his 'charm offensive' visit.

 

I also know, from studying the working practices at Grantham, that en masse loco changing was reintroduced there after the war time simply to keep some semblance of a service running, such was the dire mechanical state of the Gresley pacifics at that time. (I presume in war time as well, although train service patterns bear little comparison). By contrast, pre-1939, loco changes were actually relatively infrequent (we depict too many on the layout!), as the nearly-new A4's and latter new-built A3s were so good that they could be entrusted to 400 mile/day diagrams, eliminating many time-honoured loco changes at that time.

 

This led, inter alia, to the bizarre situation of brand new Peppercorn A1s being allocated to Grantham on very undemanding diagrams. Only when the backlog of wartime maintenance and repairs had been caught up with and the Gresley class 8s were in better condition could these relatively inefficient ways of workings being eradicated and some meaningful accelerations put in place (c.1956).

 

Finally - in terms of what I've read - it's often stated that the fitment of the Kylchap exhausts revolutionised the A3/A4s in the late 1950 leading to their glorious 'Indian summer' (that you remember so well) and in that there can be little doubt. However, I have read that it was the adoption of Swindon practices at Doncaster to attain more precise valve settings (a Mr Cook?) that also made a significant impact in the reliability and efficiency of the conjugated valve gear and this also contributed to the improved overall performance of the Gresley machines.

 

I'm happy to be put right on any of that, but taken together it seems to me that ET's intense dislike of the conjugated valve gear does at least have some basis in sound fact and clearly influenced his thinking in terms of his (re-)designs that were intended to eliminate it. As always, a certain amount of balance is required in any summation of somebody's work.

Edited by LNER4479
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19 minutes ago, LNER4479 said:

I have read that it was the adoption of Swindon practices at Doncaster to attain more precise valve settings (a Mr Cook?) that also made a significant impact in the reliability and efficiency of the conjugated valve gear and this also contributed to the improved overall performance of the Gresley machines.

 

I've read that - and then I later read an account by someone who was involved in the overhauling of locomotives at Doncaster that they set up a pacific using this new optical alignment equipment, then took it outside, parked it on a curve and found that the frames had deflected further than the official scrapping tolerance.   I'm not suggesting it did any harm, but it may not have been quite the revolution some have implied.

 

Incidentally I think you may be conflating two episodes of Doncaster learning from Swindon practice; Mr Cook changed the way the frames and cylinders were set up to be assembled; the lesson on valve events was during the 1925 exchange when (allegedly) the valves of the Castle locomotive were taken apart and examined overnight.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, LNER4479 said:

I think that's at the 'harsh' end of a summary of ET, Tony. Unusually, therefore, I find myself ever so slightly defending said gentleman.

 

We all know the context of extreme wartime conditions influencing ET's work - if you were a cynic you might say that he used that as an opportunity? Quite apart from the very obvious situation of bombs raining down, one significant influence (according to accounts I have read) was that the conjugated valve gear on the 3-cylinder engines did NOT take kindly to lack the inevitable lack of maintenance in wartime conditions. Despite ostensibly being covered, in practice the surrounding mixture of steam, oil and ash (from smokebox cleaning) got in and formed a very effective grinding paste leading to rapid wear of the key joints. Without effective cleaning to keep it at bay, this soon led to the five-beats-to-the-bar effect and eventual damage that ET was so keen to show Nock during his 'charm offensive' visit.

 

I also know, from studying the working practices at Grantham, that en masse loco changing was reintroduced there after the war time simply to keep some semblance of a service running, such was the dire mechanical state of the Gresley pacifics at that time. (I presume in war time as well, although train service patterns bear little comparison). By contrast, pre-1939, loco changes were actually relatively infrequent (we depict too many on the layout!), as the nearly-new A4's and latter new-built A3s were so good that they could be entrusted to 400 mile/day diagrams, eliminating many time-honoured loco changes at that time.

 

This led, inter alia, to the bizarre situation of brand new Peppercorn A1s being allocated to Grantham on very undemanding diagrams. Only when the backlog of wartime maintenance and repairs had been caught up with and the Gresley class 8s were in better condition could these relatively inefficient ways of workings being eradicated and some meaningful accelerations put in place (c.1956).

 

Finally - in terms of what I've read - it's often stated that the fitment of the Kylchap exhausts revolutionised the A3/A4s in the late 1950 leading to their glorious 'Indian summer' (that you remember so well) and in that there can be little doubt. However, I have read that it was the adoption of Swindon practices at Doncaster to attain more precise valve settings (a Mr Cook?) that also made a significant impact in the reliability and efficiency of the conjugated valve gear and this also contributed to the improved overall performance of the Gresley machines.

 

I'm happy to be put right on any of that, but taken together it seems to me that ET's intense dislike of the conjugated valve gear does at least have some basis in sound fact and clearly influenced his thinking in terms of his (re-)designs that were intended to eliminate it. As always, a certain amount of balance is required in any summation of somebody's work.

I'm inclined to agree with your summary, Graham,

 

There's no doubt that the Gresley gear suffered through lack of maintenance (but any complex machinery will do so). Was the independent gear more robust? I've heard tales of it failing because (more porcine?) crew members were reluctant to get 'inside' to check it (something not necessary with Gresley's three cylinder locos). Thus, lack of oil caused it to fail on occasions. I think it's Peter Townend who reported that (after the Cook improvements) the failure rate of his locos with Gresley's gear was even less than the A1s! 

 

After the Cook improvements, the ECML steam swansong was achieved mainly using big locos with conjugated valve gear (working to diesel schedules), and the final fling in Scotland was nothing less than epic. Thompson's big locos hardly featured at all. 

 

I still come back to the rebuilding of the P2s, and my knowledge of (from primary sources) how appalled the professional railwaymen who had to operate them were with the notion of their rebuilding. Effectively, Geoff Lund's notes more or less say 'We had a 'flawed' engine which could do the job. What we got in return was a flawed engine (different flaws) which couldn't'. Was it for nothing that Malcolm Crawley (he of first-hand experience) named his layout Thompson's End?

 

In fairness, history, and circumstances, have been unkind to ET. He was in the 'right place' at the 'wrong time'! 

 

Regards,

 

Tony. 

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15 minutes ago, jwealleans said:

 

I've read that - and then I later read an account by someone who was involved in the overhauling of locomotives at Doncaster that they set up a pacific using this new optical alignment equipment, then took it outside, parked it on a curve and found that the frames had deflected further than the official scrapping tolerance.   I'm not suggesting it did any harm, but it may not have been quite the revolution some have implied.

 

Incidentally I think you may be conflating two episodes of Doncaster learning from Swindon practice; Mr Cook changed the way the frames and cylinders were set up to be assembled; the lesson on valve events was during the 1925 exchange when (allegedly) the valves of the Castle locomotive were taken apart and examined overnight.

 

 

Thanks Jonathan,

 

Didn't someone once write that Doncaster's 'clearance' tolerances were greater than Swindon's 'scrapping' tolerances? 

 

Regards,

 

Tony. 

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What a strange coincidence.

I was looking through "Steaming through Berkhamsted" about an hour ago.

My wife has just told me that she was in touch with Mrs Green earlier on and they will be having coffee together next week now that we are allowed out. 

(Mrs Green and Mrs Lamb are both German for those who are unaware).

Bernard

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Continuing the present tangential diversion regarding ET; whilst Peppercorn takes the credit for the production K1s - and we know from 62005's sterling service over the years (and the wonderful work that NELPG and others do to keep her in good condition) how good the design was/is- I believe that much of the work was done before Pepp stepped up to the top job? Do we know what fine tuning, if any, was done by Pepp and his team before the design was signed off?

 

I must read Tim Hillier-Graves' new book too.

 

Mark

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1 hour ago, jwealleans said:

I'm working my way through the David Larkin book at the moment.   Very useful indeed.

Hi Jonathan

 

It is a wonderful book, no more getting away with any number on a grey 1923 RCH mineral.

 

Back in the early 80s David came to my house. In our chat he said he was trying to match private owner wagons with their BR numbers. In this book he says what the limitations of making a full list are but his hard work has given us the most complete list we will ever get.

 

A book all modellers of the 1950s and early 60s should have as a reference point for those 7 and 8 plank mineral wagons.

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2 hours ago, Tony Wright said:

There's no doubt that the Gresley gear suffered through lack of maintenance (but any complex machinery will do so). Was the independent gear more robust?

I don't know the real answer to that question Tony but logic would suggest that the very simplicity (relatively speaking) of the design of the conjugated gear results in fewer moving parts and bearings compared with a complete additional set of Walschaerts gear and the fact that those bearings could be relatively big would result in a more robust result whilst well maintained and in good condition.    

 

I think the main drawback is the fact that as the motion of the third valve is derived from the other two any play / lost motion that develops will have an amplified effect on the events of the third valve and so once the motion has been abused by over-work and inadequate maintenance over a long period (i.e. the war)  the results would seem very poor.   But wouldn't the basic simplicity of the design mean the performance could easily be restored by the simple expedient of providing new bearings ....... ?   

 

Perhaps we need to speak to the venerable Mr Townend to get the real answer from someone with real experience who knows!

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2 hours ago, Bernard Lamb said:

I was looking through "Steaming through Berkhamsted" about an hour ago.

As I know the area well even though "it's the wrong railway" I thoroughly enjoyed that book when I received it as a birthday gift a few years ago.

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2 hours ago, Tony Wright said:

Some interesting new titles for review in BRM in a month's time

 

Tony,

 

Have read the Thompson book and a very good read it is too.

Interestingly it's focus is much wider than the usual book about a CM&EE exploring Thompson's private life and the impact of his WW1 service in France on his character. Given the general low esteem in which Thompson is held by many it makes a refreshing change. It would have been difficult for anyone to follow Sir NG except perhaps Bulleid? Only kidding!

 

Kind regards,

 

Richard

 

 

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3 hours ago, Tony Wright said:

Some interesting new titles for review in BRM in a month's time...........................

 

 

1900892251_LostColourVol4.jpg.3b90145fd4139ffdcd6f1b986e694926.jpg

 

 

T E Williams - another volume. These are excellent colour photos if accurate weathering is to be done based on the prototypes rather than guesswork.

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The comments on tolerances and clearance were also applied to the products of  the ell'of a mess by the chaps on the Western. It often felt there was some truth in it when a Black 5 or class 8 which was pretty rough under steam felt as if it would shake itself to pieces coasting.  Western engines could be very rough under steam and sometimes for it! but coasting was usually very smooth. Happy days!

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On 07/04/2021 at 09:14, Tony Wright said:

There's no doubt the Midland was a great railway, and its 'small engine' policy suited its requirements perfectly. But not for the LMS.

 

What you overlook here is that the LMS had a fleet of 210 4-cylinder 4-6-0s by 1924*, all but 60 of which were under five years old, along with 245 superheated 2-cylinder 4-6-0s, 90 of which were also only two or three years old, for the heavy express passenger work of the Western and Central Divisions. Likewise there were over 600 0-8-0s for heavy goods work, mostly under a decade old. So the pressure from the operating department (he who pays the piper calls the tune) was not, initially, for more of these big engines but for replacements of ageing 4-4-0s and 0-6-0s for the secondary passenger (express and ordinary) and goods trains. 

 

*By which date the GWR, generally acknowledged as being well ahead of the game at this period, had 82 such engines and the LNER just 29 4-6-2s, but of course in both cases with more under construction.

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1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

So the pressure from the operating department (he who pays the piper calls the tune) was not, initially, for more of these big engines but for replacements of ageing 4-4-0s and 0-6-0s for the secondary passenger (express and ordinary) and goods trains.

... hence the Class 5s being built in such large numbers prior to WWII (partly funded by government grants). Its was fast, fitted goods and parcels traffic that paid best in terms of revenue, so far more Class 5s in service by Sept 1939 than 8Fs.

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