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jools1959

Questions about the North British Class 41 D6xx Loco's

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Agreed - the Paxman re-engine 29s were much more reliable.

 

Neither should it be forgotten that for 10 years the WR of BR relied significantly on hydraulics - diesel electrics were not that common west of Bristol until the early 70s

 

Phil

 

 

That is very true.

 

For example, during a random weekday's spotting at Newton Abbot and Exeter (St D.) in August 1969, I saw 19 Westerns, 20 Warships, 2 Hymeks and 4 Class 22s; plus 7 Class 47s.

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Thanks for the interesting analysis Paul

 

Wouldn't mind betting most of the stoppages were engine/transmission associated - or, for the winter period, train heating boiler failures. And of course the diesel - electrics were subject to that too

 

As for NBL I don't recall hearing of any issues with their own designed and built parts - loco superstructure and running gear. Wasn't it the manufacturing of precise components in MAN engines and Voith transmissions without proper control that caused the majority of their issues? And although the licence built MAN engine were a nightmare after initial bearing problems the Voith transmissions went on to become acknowledged as the better option with their seamless transition rather than the Mekydro gear changes.

 

Just look at the way the Westerns - Voith fitted - were driven later in their careers, try giving a DE notch 7 from a standing start without electrical overload protection kicking in!

 

Phil

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It was not just BR that experimented with hydraulic drive, in the 1958, the US, Southern Pacific and Denver, Rio Grande and Western ordered three Krauss=Maffei ML4000 4000hp C-C loco's each and evaluated them on some of their demanding routes.  DRGW quickly gave up and sold their three on to the SP.

 

SP were suitably impressed with theirs but only in the largely flat areas of the bay area and central valley and nicknames "flatlanders".  In the early sixties, SP went back for 15 more M-K's but with detail differences.  SP also ordered three huge ALCo DH643 home built loco's for evaluation using German technology but by 1967/68, the experiment was over and M-K's all bar one were scrapped.  The ALCo's lasted a little longer and were gone by 1971/72.  Non survived.

 

Their small build, fragile nature, different technology and metric tooling, and the biggest killer was the exchange rate.  Like the NBL class 41's needing to be based at LA, the M-K's and ALCo's had to based at Roseville near Sacramento.  They were often MU'ed with diesel electric loco's often as insurance.

 

I think the only successful railway to use DH technology was Germany's DB.  Mainly because all the resources were nearby.

 

Julian Sprott

 

Thought I would attach some pictures of the M-K's and ALCo's so people would know what I'm talking about.  

 

Copyright is per the photograher,

 

Julian Sprott

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post-9991-0-89179400-1423242051_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the interesting analysis Paul

 

Wouldn't mind betting most of the stoppages were engine/transmission associated - or, for the winter period, train heating boiler failures. And of course the diesel - electrics were subject to that too

 

As for NBL I don't recall hearing of any issues with their own designed and built parts - loco superstructure and running gear. Wasn't it the manufacturing of precise components in MAN engines and Voith transmissions without proper control that caused the majority of their issues? And although the licence built MAN engine were a nightmare after initial bearing problems the Voith transmissions went on to become acknowledged as the better option with their seamless transition rather than the Mekydro gear changes.

 

Just look at the way the Westerns - Voith fitted - were driven later in their careers, try giving a DE notch 7 from a standing start without electrical overload protection kicking in!

 

Phil

In some respects the licence built MAN engines hared traits with the German originals - particularly oil-throwing - according to what I was told by several WR engineers.  But without any doubt the biggest problem was the licence built engines and transmissions closely followed by the boilers.  Oh and sorry to mention it Phil but Voith transmissions still sometimes fell apart on the D10XX and they were not always keen to reverse (there was a simple trick to get round that which seemed to be the only way to actually get some of them to reverse!).

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Many thanks Mike - More excellent insight as always! Did getting them to reverse involve a big hammer? Oh - and what was "tooth on tooth" button for please? That has always intrigued me!

 

Cheers

 

Phil

Edited by Phil Bullock

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I know this is slightly off topic but here is a link to the people restoring Southern Pacific's Krauss Maffei ML4000 #9010.  It give's service history which is very much like BR's experience with hydraulics and very informative.

 

http://sp9010.ncry.org/index%202014.htm

 

Julian Sprott

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I was always led to belive that one of the reasons for ordering the 'little' NBL locos was so that the hydraulic and electrical transmissions could be compared. Did this ever take place?

 

Is there any info on the stoppages for each class anywhere?

 

It is an interesting point that a lot of the early stoppages were for train heating boiler failures, rather than for propulsion failures. I wonder what the availablity for all the classes of diesels would be if that factor was taken out....

 

Andy G

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Although I think one of D600's engines failed on the inaugural press run, but the loco struggled back on one engine.

 

And didn't D601 fail completely during its delivery run from Scotland?

 

 

Not a promising start.  £85000 per loco (or thereabouts) was a lot of money in 1958, and I'm sure there were a number of old railway sages who mused about how many 'Kings' that would have paid for to gain gold plated coal.

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An awful waste.

 

D9531 was even worse - to Traffic Feb 65, Withdrawn Dec 67 - 34 months!!!

 

Phil

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I think the whole DH program on the railways was rather piecemeal and I think it has to be judged as a comparison to DE locos.  I really think that BR should have either embraced DH technology fully like West Germany with theirs or gone totally with DE.  We seem to think that the hydraulic loco era was a failure but I really don't think there was resources to fully exploit it and when money became tight, anything non standard fell by the wayside.

 

I think we also forget that as the final hydraulics were withdrawn, a cull started on the classes 24, 25, 40 and 44.

 

Julian Sprott

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And classes 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, 28 and 29 had already gone!

 

Phil

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I know this might seem ironic but I have to say that I think the most successful DH loco was the class 14.  Their life on BR was tragically short and some were scrapped after a short working life (nothing new with BR standard steam loco's) but second careers with NCB, BSC and others, most lasted in service until mid 80's, look how many were preserved.

 

Julian Sprott

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I know this might seem ironic but I have to say that I think the most successful DH loco was the class 14.  Their life on BR was tragically short and some were scrapped after a short working life (nothing new with BR standard steam loco's) but second careers with NCB, BSC and others, most lasted in service until mid 80's, look how many were preserved.

 

Julian Sprott

Not just preserved but actually in working order, of the 19 preserved 12 currently work with at least 3 being worked on, not so bad after all.

 

Rob

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Absolutely - it was just that the traffic they were built for disappeared as they were being built

 

Despite its lamentably short career D9531 is my favourite although D9502 - still unrestored in original paintwork - runs it a close second. Both were stored at Worcester 68/69

 

Phil

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D9502 has just moved to the East Lancashire Railway for restoration and as you say Phil is still in original paintwork, there it will join your favourite D9531 and also D9537. The class is a firm favourite of mine and last year's 50th anniversary gala was a brilliant tribute to these often overlooked and underrated locomotives.

 

Rob

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Thank you Rob

 

Is it the same team that restored D9531? That was one thorough job!

 

Phil

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Late to the party and not a lot to add in technical terms as the salient points have already been covered.  But I was in Penzance when the 600s were regular visitors and did speak with a few of what were then still termed footplate men (always men, too, back in those days).

 

They were sent west because they were a small class which had already proven unreliable on the main line.  Having them restricted to working west of Laira depot meant they were not required to run at high speeds nor (for the most part) haul great loads.  They were worked fairly hard over the gradients and around the twists and turns of the Cornish main line on some runs however as a 600 often took over the down sleepers at Plymouth from a Western and that might be load 10 through to Penzance with most of those being heavier-than-standard sleeping cars. 

 

Reliability didn't greatly improve but they didn't disgrace themselves by sitting down in the middle of Brunel's billiard table and blocking everything else for hours on end.  When they did fail they could be rescued reasonably quickly by something at Ponsandane, St. Blazey or Laira and perhaps in between if something suitable was shunting Truro, Liskeard or Hayle Wharves.  

 

Those men I spoke with were philosophical.  I'd guess most or all had driven steam until a few years before and didn't suffer oil-cans gladly.  They were said to be good riders - better than an 800 with their 6-wheel bogies - and quite nippy on their rostered mid-weight duties.  The preferred power was generally a Western but few of those crossed the Tamar in the 1960s.  There were some rostered duties to Penzance and some last-minute replacements of 600s and 800s.  Even the 1000s weren't foolproof however.  On one occasion the loco was failed with the train still partially in the platform and the loco barely past Penzance signalbox.  The verdict was that "Western Thunderer aren't going' to Thunder any further".  After about half an hour's delay D601 took the train forward having first removed the failure.

 

The 600s were ordered (along with other types) in indecent haste and without enough evaluation and planning.  BR paid dearly for their mistakes in the early diesel era and lost traffic and reputation through endless failures.  Only perhaps the 8000s (later class 20) really shone as examples of reliable and durable Modernisation Plan locos and they too weren't fault-free by any means.

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Thank you RobIs it the same team that restored D9531? That was one thorough job!Phil

Your welcome Phil, yes its the same team that did D9531 and latterly D9537 so it'll be another top notch restoration if the other 2 are to go by.

 

Rob

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The quality of NBL workmanship in the early 1950's was appalling.  The 70 Victorian Railways R class 4-6-4 built in 1951 had to spend an average of 105 days each having manufacturing defects fixed when they got there.  Things like misaligned crossheads,  poor welding, having to re-drill and bush the valve gear, etc.  (the book "Hudson Power" goes into detail).  It is unsurprising that the diesels they built were also awful and quickly scrapped.   It is also unsurprising that the export market was quickly lost.

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Talking of poor build quaility of the NBL loco's, what about the Romanian built Class 56's?  All they had to do was build the bodies as everything else was sub-assembled, then wire them up!!!   I think it's recognised that Beyer-Peacock had the best build quaility of any UK loco builder.

 

Julian Sprott

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I know this might seem ironic but I have to say that I think the most successful DH loco was the class 14.  Their life on BR was tragically short and some were scrapped after a short working life (nothing new with BR standard steam loco's) but second careers with NCB, BSC and others, most lasted in service until mid 80's, look how many were preserved.

 

Julian Sprott

Definitely the longest lived in revenue use but otherwise not the most successful - that accolade rests very firmly with the Hymeks.  Aprt from their early gearbox troubles they were reliable, rode like a Rolls Royce and were constructed by a company (and no doubt its workmen) who took a pride in what they were building and endeavouring to turn out a fully tested loco which was ready to roll reliably.  And from almost teh start they were put onto duties on the South wales mainline which were timed for Type 4 locos with loads to match and the Hymeks kept time although they had to be hammered to do it.

 

And with the most powerful engine used in any of the hydraulics they also made a nice noise (excepting some of the nasties which came from the gearbox).  The tragedy was regrettably that they lost out in a straight fight with the EE Type 3 when it came to the big order to dieselise South Wales Valleys freight and the final 200 never appeared - because, basically, they didn't have enough wheels or weight and that change from 1st to 2nd gear was at just the wrong speed for a lot of Valleys freight work.

 

By contrast the D95XX were something of a failure shrouded endeavour which appeared far too late.  Their reliability was poor and at some depots - including 2 of the 3 I worked at only a few years later - they had a poor reputation among footplatemen.

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Talking of poor build quaility of the NBL loco's, what about the Romanian built Class 56's?  All they had to do was build the bodies as everything else was sub-assembled, then wire them up!!!  

Ah yes, a product of Britain's 'let's be nice to Romania because their dictator doesn't like the Russians' phase of the mid to late 1970s. 

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Ah yes, a product of Britain's 'let's be nice to Romania because their dictator doesn't like the Russians' phase of the mid to late 1970s. 

I thought it was a favour to Captain Bob...

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I don't want to open a can of worms with this but why do people insist that these locomotives were class 41 under TOPS? They were withdrawn before TOPS was introduced and therefore there wouldn't be placed under TOPS. My father, who worked for BR in the 1960's and 1970's told me that they never were given a TOPS class.

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