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MikeOxon

GWR Absorbed Engines 1854 - 1921

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Some time ago, I acquired a bound set of the RCTS "Locomotives of the Great Western Railway", mainly to learn more about the various pre-grouping designs by William Dean.  I had tended to skip over the volumes on 'Absorbed Engines' but recently found myself browsing Volume 3 and realising what a strange and wonderful collection of engines made up the first standard-gauge locomotives to run on the GWR.

Of course, the early GWR was a Broad Gauge railway and it was only in 1854, during the drive Northwards, that it came to own standard gauge locomotives at all.  The first of these were acquired from the Shrewsbury & Chester and Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railways.  What an extraordinary mix of types these were, quite unlike anything we usually associate with the later GWR.  

Some were Bury-type locomotives, with bar frames, some 'long-boiler' types, with a gothic firebox hung behind all the wheels, and there was even an 0-4-0 with an intermediate drive shaft (built by the Vulcan Foundry). 

 

A little later (1863) former West Midland Railway engines were added to the GWR fleet, which brought in some of the old stock from the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway (frequently referred to as the 'Old Worse & Worse').  The only known illustrations of most of these early locomotives are drawings by E.L.Ahrons, a great chronicler of early locomotive history.  One of his drawings shows an ex-OW&W engine that would, perhaps, have seemed more at home in the Wild West than the West Midlands:

post-19820-0-20518200-1409504678.jpg

There were two of these engines, one carrying the name 'Ben Jonson', and they worked branches in the Chipping Norton area until 1877, the other becoming known colloquially as "Mrs Jonson".  Notice the outside steam pipes to the cylinders and the (somewhat squashed) safety valve cover.

Another ex.West Midland engine, which is better known because its photo appears in 'Great Western Way' and many other places, had the unusual feature of outside Stephenson valve gear.  It became GWR No.219, from a class of six built by the Vulcan Foundry for the Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway in 1853/54.  I found that there are extensive records of all the locomotives built by the Vulcan foundry on the web at  http://www.enuii.org/vulcan_foundry/ These records includes lists of locomotives deliveries by years, in which the S&H engines appear as below:

post-19820-0-68976200-1409504701.jpg

There is also a drawing of one of these engines on the same website, which gives a better sense of its proportions than the oblique photograph.

post-19820-0-91143700-1409504727.jpg

According to Ahrons, one of these engines could still be seen "lying in a heap of scrap behind Swindon Works in 1886".  

Some of these early engines survived well into the 20th century, usually after having been re-built several times.  The last engine from the OW&W seems to have been around until 1921, by which time it had acquired a more conventional GWR appearance, as 0-6-0 No.58.

Since I model a line in the Cotswolds, it seems that there is scope for at least one of the OW&W engines to find its way onto my tracks.  Perhaps others will find modelling opportunities for this unusual collection - proving that not all (standard gauge) GWR engines look the same :)

Mike

Edited by MikeOxon
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Thanks for posting this, Mike! Very interesting, indeed.

 

Regards,

 

Stefan

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A very interesting post, Mike. Are you really going to have a go at building one? The valve gear with outside eccentrics will be a challenge, not to mention finding a suitable motor and working out where to put it. Maybe in the tender, but they were very small as well.

 

I think the early development of the GWR narrow gauge is often overlooked. Perhaps folk don't appreciate how rapid the expansion of the narrow gauge was? Gooch was building narrow gauge engines at Swindon within months of acquiring the Shrewsbury lines and Stafford Road quickly became the main source of GWR narrow gauge engines. Within fifteen years, the GWR had more narrow gauge engines than broad gauge, and narrow gauge track mileage exceeded that of the broad gauge. Five years later at the end of 1875, they had only 8m 16c of broad gauge and 120m 18c of mixed gauge. It was only the acquisition of the Bristol and Exeter, South Devon and a few odds and ends in 1876 that enabled the broad gauge to last until 1892.

 

Nick

Edited by buffalo

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A very interesting post, Mike. Are you really going to have a go at building one? The valve gear with outside eccentrics will be a challenge, not to mention finding a suitable motor and working out where to put it. Maybe in the tender, but they were very small as well.

 

Thank you, Buffalo.  I think if I do build one, it  will be a more conventional design - probably an 0-6-0 goods engine with a motorised tender.  I feel that, having set my layout in a Cotswolds 'backwater', it would be nice to include one of the OW&W types, though in a later re-built form.

 

If anyone has any thoughts on how to represent outside Stephenson gear in 4mm scale,  I might be tempted to have a go.

 

Mike

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If anyone has any thoughts on how to represent outside Stephenson gear in 4mm scale,  I might be tempted to have a go.

 

When I said it would be a challenge, I was thinking of the lathe work to produce the eccentrics and what is going on behind the axleguard. The drawing in your last photo is not correct as the drive to the valve rod (the radius rod) should come from near the centre of the vertical expansion link, not from the top.

 

As to the eccentrics, it might be possible to produce these by some accurate drilling of brass disks. Here are some example eccentrics from a Martin Finney inside motion kit:

 

post-6746-0-27440200-1409573319.png

 

The large hole fits over the axle and the small hole is used to pin them together at the right angle like this:

 

post-6746-0-15679400-1409573314.png

 

You'll notice there is a flange on each eccentric that fits inside the big ends of the rods connecting to the expansion links. You might be able to replace these with a simple disk to separate the rods and keep them in place.

 

You also might get some ideas from the Brassmasters inside gear for their 4F kit which uses a similar approach.

 

Nick

 

ps. I should have inclded a scale. In the photos, the large hole is for a normal 1/8" axle and the overall diameter is about 6.4mm.

Edited by buffalo

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......... The drawing in your last photo is not correct as the drive to the valve rod (the radius rod) should come from near the centre of the vertical expansion link, not from the top.

 

I had assumed that the drawing showed the engine in full gear, with the link at one extreme.  The photo of No.219 in 'Great Western Way' shows a more central setting.

 

I had wondered whether an 'inside motion' kit might be adapted by putting the eccentrics on extended axles.  I don't feel ready to tackle something this complicated yet, so will probably go with a simpler engine, in the first instance.

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I had assumed that the drawing showed the engine in full gear, with the link at one extreme.  The photo of No.219 in 'Great Western Way' shows a more central setting.

 

I haven't found the GWW photo but the photo on John Speller's site is much clearer and shows the expansion link and subsequent linkage to the valve rod to be much more substantial and all outside the axleguard.

 

Nick

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I've found another couple of drawings of the absorbed engines mentioned in my OP.

 

post-19820-0-60982000-1409660791.jpg

 

This 0-4-0 was one of two that became GWR Nos. 34 and 35.  They were delivered in 1853 and both were withdrawn in December 1865.  There was a brief vogue for intermediate drive shafts, since these decoupled the valve gear from both vertical movements of the springs and lateral thrusts from the flanges on the driving wheels.

 

post-19820-0-29603300-1409661056.jpg

 

This drawing complements the photo linked in the OP.  It shows both the locomotive and its tender.

 

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After my initial survey of early GWR standard-gauge locomotives, I came across an article entitled "Some Early Great Western Recollections" by C.M.Doncaster in the April 1942 "Railways" magazine, shown on the web at: http://locoyard.com/2014/01/19/19th-century-gwr-locomotives-courtesy-of-nick-littlewood/

The author photographed engines in the late 19th century at Reading Station, as a member of his school's photographic society, and recalls that he casually snapped No.184, never dreaming that this engine dated back to 1853, when it was supplied to the OW&W by E.B.Wilson and Co.  He wrote that, in 1895, it was not unusual to see these engines drawing trains of ten 6-wheel coaches   He even made a simple water colour of such a train, since, most unfortunately, he wrote that his photograph was not fit to reproduce.

This article led me to explore these engines in more detail.  Six were supplied to the OW&W in 1853; they were 2-4-0 engines,somewhat similar to the 'Jenny Lind' 2-2-2 design produced by the same company.  As it happens, No.184 was not camera-shy and appears in two photographs in the RCTS survey of GWR Locomotives (Part Three): one as re-built at Wolverhampton Works in 1877 and another, after a further re-build in 1893. This particular engine was finally withdrawn in late 1899 and the whole class had gone by 1904.

post-19820-0-62254500-1412117495.jpg

While there are several photographs and drawings of the engines, I have not managed to find much information about their tenders.  The tender frame in the above photo looks to be of similar style to that shown in drawings of 'Jenny Lind' but is almost certainly longer.  I have tried applying my method for estimating dimensions from oblique views, which resulted in a wheelbase of around 5' 9" + 5' 9".  

If anyone has any more details regarding these early standard-gauge tenders, I would find them useful for modelling purposes, since I think No.184 is a very handsome engine, appropriate for the assumed location and period of my layout.

 

Mike

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Looks like a fairly standard type of Armstrong era tender to me. Plenty of examples in RCTS part four, and photos and drawings in Russell vol 1. As with later types, there's quite a variety of capacities and wheelbases.

 

Nick

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Looks like a fairly standard type of Armstrong era tender to me. Plenty of examples in RCTS part four, and photos and drawings in Russell vol 1. As with later types, there's quite a variety of capacities and wheelbases.

 

Nick

Hi All,

This may or may not offer any help as regards modelling the outside gear but might it be worth looking up old articles by that Master of modelling Victorian locomotives, Mike Sharman.

His locomotives were many and varied and although I cant recall all the details now he might well have modelled something that could help here.

Just a thought.

Regards

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Looks like a fairly standard type of Armstrong era tender to me. Plenty of examples in RCTS part four, and photos and drawings in Russell vol 1. As with later types, there's quite a variety of capacities and wheelbases.

 

Nick

Thanks, Nick.  It was the oval cut-outs in the frames above the axle boxes that looked different to me.  I thought that these were perhaps an 'E.B.Wilson' design feature. 

 

So far, I've not spotted anything similar in the sources you mention.  I measured a tender wheelbase on a broadside image of No.244 and this also seems to be 5' 9" + 5' 9" [see note below].  I've not found exactly this spacing in any dimensioned drawings, yet, but I have noticed that some of these early tenders have unequal axle spacings.

 

Mike

 

Note: since my initial post, I have realised that GWR No.244 was re-built with new frames.  RCTS Part 3 records that "in January 1877 it was virtually renewed with new frames and altered wheelbase".  Unfortunately, the new wheelbase is not stated, so my reference dimension is uncertain and I can no longer be sure of the tender wheelbase.

Edited by MikeOxon

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I see what you mean about the oval cutouts, Mike. There's a similar pattern in the tender frames in Fig C21 and C56 in the RCTS Absorbed engines volume. You mention measuring the tender on 244, was that from Fig C60? If so, I'm fairly certain that's an Armstrong tender.

 

Nick

 

ps. given the amount of rebuilding some of these absorbed engines went through, it would not surprise me if many tenders received new tanks and bodies on older frames.

Edited by buffalo

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It seems that we've both been poring over our books, Nick.  I agree with your p.s.  plus the fact that tenders were probably swapped around - some of the photos I have seen of No.184 show different tenders.

 

I was somewhat amused by Russell's comment "To enable dimensions to be readable ...." under his Fig.516 of an early Swindon tender.  I struggled a bit with the print in my copy but decided that it showed a wheelbase of 6' 2" + 6' 10" or 6' 4" + 6' 8" in the case of  lots A, B, and C (the change was, presumably, to distribute the axle load more evenly).  The first of these appear, for example, in drawings of early  'Queen' class tenders (Figs. 62 & 67).

 

My own investigations came up with the following (all from Russell vol.1):

 

Beyer 0-6-0 (Fig.175) and their '322' class (Fig.181) both have 5' 6" + 5' 6" tenders (presumably supplied by Beyer-Peacock)

 

Many other early designs, including Armstrong Goods have overall 13' wheelbase, either symmetrical or as described above.

 

No doubt the various independent manufacturers had their own standards (and would probably supply smaller, unless the contract stipulated otherwise!)  I could, therefore, guess that E.B.Wilson may have produced 5' 9" + 5' 9" as their standard type.

 

I've also measured various tenders of Armstrong Goods, from photos in the RCTS vol 4 (Figs. D125 - 127) and found dimensions of 6' 3" + 6' 3" for the top photo and 5' 9" + 6' 6" for the other two.  I would estimate that all these dimensions are ± 1".

 

Having found a broadside view, my method is to scan the image and display the result in Photoshop Elements.  I use the Line Tool to draw lines between reference points and check the lengths of these line in pixels, either against a grid or rulers in the workspace.  In the case of the Armstrong Goods, the spacing of the rear drivers was 8' 4" (100"), so other dimensions can be determined in proportion to this known distance, as shown below:

 

post-19820-0-05660300-1412191430.jpg

 

My conclusion is that these early tenders were very variable in dimensions, especially when bought from outside contractors.  Several designs seem to have space at the back for a toolbox above the rear buffer beam.

 

Mike

 

 

 

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I'm not sure if this information is of use or not, but I was at the NRM in York last week, researching an early Australian Railway - The Geelong & Melbourne Railway, and found something that may interest Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton/Early GWR modelers...

 

A pair of 2-2-2 well tank engines had been built for the G&MR by Stephenson's in 1855, to drawings prepared by Daniel Gooch, who was acting as their Inspecting Engineer. They were builder's numbers 1006 & 1007. I'm bulding one in HO, but never mind that...

On September 12th 1858, the OWW ordered two engines, Builder's No.s 1197&1198, to the same design. Differences being 20" stroke instead of 22", 5'6" drivers instead of 6', and just a few minor dimensional differences. Also, they had an awning for the crew, and they may have had domes. (also, standard gauge, instead of our 5'3".) They became OWW engine Numbers 52 & 53.

 

Here's what our version looked like:

 

post-23242-0-66810000-1413377425_thumb.jpg

 

I have copies of the Stephensons's Dimension Books for these, if anyone wants them.

 

See ya,

Rick

Edited by Geelong1857
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Hi Rick and thank you for the fascinating information about the G&MR engines.  It seems that these engines are the same as one shown in my original post on this thread, which became GWR 223 (named 'Ben Jonson').  The drawing by E.L.Ahrons shows the awning and dome that you mentioned.  The illustration you have posted complements the other drawing very well by, for example, showing the layout of the well tank much more clearly. 

 

It is interesting to see how the early locomotive builders supplied their designs around the world.  Some ended up staying in Britain because of cancelled export orders - the famous 'North Star' being one such example, which presumably, was behind the link between Daniel Gooch and these other Stevenson designs.

 

I'll be interested to hear how your model progresses - perhaps you will share some photos?

 

Mike

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Hi Mike,

 

My model is scratch built from a mixture of home etched brass and styrene, with a Mashima 1015 motor running through a High Level gearbox. The decoder is a Zimo MX648, with a Zimo 8x8x12mm speaker... fitting all that in has been a challenge! It's been through a few revisions... the last one caused by a little accident with a drill! (Don't ask...)

 

Also, since these pictures, I've made a proper chimney cap, and have a safety valve cover from RT models that looks about right... It's almost time for the final assembly...

 

post-23242-0-84971400-1413459510.jpg

 

post-23242-0-78423400-1413459545.jpg

 

post-23242-0-90485900-1413459584.jpg

 

post-23242-0-27556100-1413460478.jpg

 

These engines were named "Titania" and "Oberon", and were very heavily modified through their lives, first with domes and spectacle plates, and then conversion into an 0-6-0 and a 2-4-0. They lasted this way into the 1920's, finishing up as industrial shunting locos. (The G&MR only lasted until 1860 - after that everything was taken into the State owned Victorian Railways...)

 

Here's how they looked in the 1870's

 

post-23242-0-38639100-1413460059.jpg

 

And in 1885...

 

post-23242-0-41848800-1413460143.jpg

 

See ya,

Rick

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Many thanks for sharing your model photos, Rick.  I've just started building a different OW&W engine - see http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/1405/entry-14895-another-new-old-engine-1/

so it is useful to see your approach. in particular, I'd be interested to know how you made the curved fillet between the raised firebox and the boiler.

 

Mike

Edited by MikeOxon

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Hi Mike,

 

The firebox is made from a 1mm thick piece of styrene, heated just enough to drape over the boiler tube, and then sanded to shape. On this engine the firebox is both taller and wider than the boiler.

 

Take care,

Rick.

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As mentioned in post#18, above, I am in the process of building a 4mm scale model of GWR No.184, which started life as OW&W No.23.  

I have researched some of the background to both this locomotive and the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway, so share this information, in case it is of interest to other modellers.

The OW&W was initially planned as a mixed-gauge line, with Brunel as chief engineer.  Apparently, Brunel grossly under-estimated the costs and the money ran out in June 1849.  After a lot of wrangling, the line was eventually completed as standard-gauge only.

David Joy (best known as the designer of the 'Jenny Lind' and of his radial valve gear) was appointed locomotive superintendent in 1852 and his diary (see http://www.steamindex.com/library/joydiary.htm) gives some idea of the precarious state of the railway at that time.  He writes that when he arrived, the line was due to open in a fortnight's time, on May 1st, and he had to scour the country to get some locomotives for working the railway.   He scraped together a miscellaneous collection for the opening day, including a four-coupled " Jenny" (known as engine 'A') from the Railway Foundry in Leeds, with the cheque (£1,250) in his pocket to pay for it!

post-19820-0-26167400-1417198109.jpg

Fortunately, after a few months working with these second-hand machines, relief came with the arrival of the first new locomotives, built by Hawthorns in 1852, and six more by the Railway Foundry (then recently re-named E.B.Wilson & Co.) arrived in 1853, starting with No.21.  It was these latter engines that later became the GWR '182-class' and they were clearly David Joy's favourites.  He wrote "This 21 class would always answer to any little nursing, and would go"  For example he: "received an order for an engine, two first-class carriages, and a van, and a driver who dare run........ We were at Yarnton or Wolvercot Junction on the morning, and all ready to take our passengers from the Great Western Railway special. I was, of course, on the engine — No. 21."  A report was sent from one of the stations that the "special train had passed at 60 miles an hour." , This report, in due course, came before Joy, who remarks " I countersigned it, ' Yes, all right.' ".  There are plenty of other fascinating insights into the running of these early engines in the diaries, including several accidents, which Joy described as 'spills'.

post-19820-0-50453600-1417198241.jpg

All this colourful history convinced me that one of these engines would be an excellent subject for a model.  I found that No.23, re-built as GWR No. 184,  survived until October 1899, still working trains in the Oxford area.  It was photographed at Reading by C M Doncaster, while a schoolboy, in 1895.  He remarked that it was not unusual to see these engines hauling ten coaches, though these were mainly six-wheelers, as bogie coaches were still in short supply.  He made a delightful drawing, showing one of these small engines at the head of such a train - see http://locoyard.com/2014/01/19/19th-century-gwr-locomotives-courtesy-of-nick-littlewood/

In 1860, the OW&W amalgamated with the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway and the Worcester and Hereford Railway, to become the West Midland Railway, which, in turn, was amalgamated into the GWR in 1863

post-19820-0-76578300-1417198349.jpg

List of OW&W Locomotives

nos. 1 - 20     12 Passenger 2-4-0 and 8 Goods 0-6-0,  built by Hawthorn in 1852/3
        became GWR 171 – 181 (Pass - with some exceptions) and 239, 241 – 243/5/7 (Goods)

nos. 21 - 26    6 Passenger 2-4-0 built by E B Wilson in 1853
        became GWR 182 – 187

nos.  27 - 30/ 34    5 Goods 0-6-0 built by E B Wilson 1854/5
        became GWR 248 – 252

no. 31        Engine 'A'  2-4-0, built by E B Wilson in 1849, bought second-hand 1852
        converted to 2-2-2 in 1855,
        became GWR 206

nos. 32, 33    'Ballast' engines 0-6-0, built by E B Wilson 1854/5
        became GWR 278 & 279

nos  35, 36    small 0-4-2ST, built E B Wilson 1853
        became GWR 221 & 222

nos  37 - 39    3 Goods 0-6-0, designed Peacock,  bought from MS&LR 1854
        one (38) sold, others became GWR 237 & 238

nos. 40, 41    2 Passenger 2-4-0,built by E B Wilson 1855
        became GWR 188 & 189

nos. 42, 51    2 Passenger 2-2-2, built by E B Wilson 1856 (large 'Jenny Lind' type)
        became GWR 207 & 208 (51 named 'Will Shakspere' sic)

nos. 43 - 46    4 Goods 0-6-0,built by E B Wilson 1856
        became GWR 264 – 267 (264 rebuilt as no.49)

nos. 47 - 50    4 Goods 0-6-0T, built by E B Wilson 1856
        became GWR 231 – 234

nos. 52, 53    2 Passenger 2-2-2T, built by R Stephenson 1859
        became GWR 223 & 224 (52 named 'Ben Jonson')

nos. 54, 55    2 Goods 0-6-0,built by Kirtley, bought from MR 1860
        became GWR 280 & 281

nos. 56 - 59    4 Goods 0-6-0, two built by Kitson and two by R Stephenson 1860
        became GWR 294 – 297 (294 rebuilt as no.47)

Examples of each of these types are illustrated in RCTS 'The Locomotives of the GWR - Part Three'

 

Mike
 

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