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Overhauling a steam loco - pre 1968


multivac

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Hello

 

Pre-1968 how long did it take a workshop to overhaul a steam locomotive?

 

For instance, Crewe working on a Pacific from arrival to entering service again.

 

I would be interested in any book titles that might contain a detailed description of the methods used.

 

Thank you

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Hello

 

Pre-1968 how long did it take a workshop to overhaul a steam locomotive?

 

For instance, Crewe working on a Pacific from arrival to entering service again.

 

I would be interested in any book titles that might contain a detailed description of the methods used.

 

Thank you

 

It depends a bit where and when. The LMS reorganised its works in the late 20's. R C Bond in "A lifetime with Locomotives" says that at Derby the time for a General overhaul was reduced from 3 months to 20 days. Less locos in the works meant less capital lying idle and less locos needed to run the business.

 

ASM

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  • RMweb Gold

Hardly my field of expertise, but in the later years there would be some real decisions to be made on each loco as it was inspected. It's rather like taking your not-new car in for a service - how much it costs is far more variable than the menu-pricing that obtained when it was new, and it was only consumables and predictable labour costs. So a steam loco could suffer a myriad of maladies that towards the end of steam might imperill its fitness for further work of any sort, resulting in it sitting while someone used the abacus to see if the repairs were justified, then got financial approval to undertake the work. A badly corroded boiler or firebox, worn or damaged frames etc could be telling in an era when steam locos were on their way out.

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A badly corroded boiler or firebox, worn or damaged frames etc could be telling in an era when steam locos were on their way out.

 

One idly wonders when this fateful decision not to replace or repair was made and indeed how. In view of the fact that steam engines were still being built as the diesels were being rolled out one wonders whether an enormous power struggle was taking place and basically no-one was winning.

 

Bit like now really.

 

Back to the topic. I have no idea but from engineering experience and some knowledge of the engineering used I think there was the heavy overhaul and the as needed maintenance which were both done at a repair shop like Eastleigh in my case.

 

Boiler certificates only last ten years and have to be renewed. There may not have been the resource to have spare boilers on hand to swap and the saving in man hours would be negligible anyway. These boiler replacements must be the three month out of commission or some sort of unscheduled heavy repair after an accident, say.

 

To take the rods down and replace a failed bearing could probably be done locally even if the fitter rolled up in a van and did the job railside.

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One idly wonders when this fateful decision not to replace or repair was made and indeed how. In view of the fact that steam engines were still being built as the diesels were being rolled out one wonders whether an enormous power struggle was taking place and basically no-one was winning.

 

 

 

To try to answer your question, if you read internal BR documents from the mid 1950s onwards you get a sense that up to 1955 orders were being placed for steam locomotives, modernisation came along and so the orders already placed were honoured. The regional requirements after that began to be based on diesel rather than steam locomotives. With Modernisation of course came the Pilot Scheme though that was abadoned by the BTC on 23rd may 1957 in an attempt to reduce their finacial losses by speeding up modernisation. What replaced the Pilot Scheme was a more daring scheme to replace steam area by area. So no power struggle as such just several changes of direction one after the other with the effects of the last policy still being felt.

 

The acquistion of locomotives was down to three main sub committees of the BTC, Works & Equipment, Supply, and Technical. Once they between them had worked out who would get what it would be agreed by the regular BTC meeting before going off the the Ministry of Transport for the final go-ahead. If you read the minutes and supporting papers of those three committees you will be amazed at what was planned agreed and finally didnt happen!!

 

Regards

 

Simon

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Do not know for definite, but I was led to believe that spare boilers, rods, tenders were available at the major repairs works, group standard tenders, boilers, etc., and this tended to speed up time for a major service, hence at one time you could see some of the old loco numbers on the rods and new numbers stamped beside them. There was a rumour way back that they had enough spare parts to make at least one other A4. As an aside, in steam days was the ten rule enforced back then, I would doubt it. I only heard or read about this after preservation took hold.

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One idly wonders when this fateful decision not to replace or repair was made and indeed how. In view of the fact that steam engines were still being built as the diesels were being rolled out one wonders whether an enormous power struggle was taking place and basically no-one was winning.

 

Bit like now really.

 

Back to the topic. I have no idea but from engineering experience and some knowledge of the engineering used I think there was the heavy overhaul and the as needed maintenance which were both done at a repair shop like Eastleigh in my case.

 

Boiler certificates only last ten years and have to be renewed. There may not have been the resource to have spare boilers on hand to swap and the saving in man hours would be negligible anyway. These boiler replacements must be the three month out of commission or some sort of unscheduled heavy repair after an accident, say.

 

To take the rods down and replace a failed bearing could probably be done locally even if the fitter rolled up in a van and did the job railside.

A fitter in a van? don't be daft! Fitters didn't have vans in those days, probably very few could drive. No, I suspect the parts would be ordered from central stores, sent down by a pick up goods or the regular stores wagon every week, and the shed fitters would do the job. Most of this stuff was done locally and with most steam sheds about 20 miles apart, it was never too far to drag something that had given up1 Oh for the good old days....
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  • RMweb Gold

Do not know for definite, but I was led to believe that spare boilers, rods, tenders were available at the major repairs works, group standard tenders, boilers, etc., and this tended to speed up time for a major service, hence at one time you could see some of the old loco numbers on the rods and new numbers stamped beside them. There was a rumour way back that they had enough spare parts to make at least one other A4. As an aside, in steam days was the ten rule enforced back then, I would doubt it. I only heard or read about this after preservation took hold.

 

 

Ten year boiler certificates etc are a modern idea and, I think, largely something which emerged from the insurance 'industry' - in BR days boilers were continuously assessed for condition by shed Boilersmiths and a Boiler Inspector was called in (regular visitor in any case) when something was considered a bit suspect or to support a shopping proposal. In the case of many classes the boiler was likely to be the last thing to suffer from mileage although things could be very different at sheds with 'bad' water.

As far as main works spares/pools I think things varied between the companies/BR Regions. On the Western rods etc tended to go back to the loco they came off with stamped numbers changing very little and parts only 'moving on' when recovered from a withdrawn loco - even by 1960 it was very unusual to see 'Castle' motion or wheels with more than three stamped engine numbers and no more than two was the norm, rather exciting to see bits of loco stamped '111' in 1961cool.gif GW tenders were 100% pooled and there were usually fewer of them than there were locos as they could be turned round through works much more quickly than a loco. Similarly boilers were pooled as - depending on the work they needed - their turn round rate was different from that of the engine part - hence such amusing things as 'City of Truro' carrying a boiler, and sundry small components which were also pooled, which had previously graced a 94XX tank engine.

As for taking down rods etc - it wasn't unknown for a particularly handy Driver and his Fireman to take down parts of motion if a loco failed out on the road and then work to somewhere where it could be changed 'on one side'. As Roythebus has indicated 'fitters in vans' were unheard of back then - in fact if some Fitters needed to travel out to a job they either caught a train or were despatched on an engine. I've an idea that the first we ever saw of a Fitter with a van was when they were introduced to cope with temperamental (i.e. most it seemed at the time) tamping machines in the 1970s; with a failed train the idea was to clear the line pdq, not block it forever while someone took it to piecesrolleyes.gif

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  • RMweb Gold

A couple of decades ago, a friend and I were admiring the hardware in Sheffield Park shed. We looked closely at the motion of the Schools sitting there and found each component was stamped with the loco's number. I think we found items from at least 4 locos on one side alone!

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As a slight aside to what Mike says above about tamping machines, the early LT tampin machine were fitted with Leyland engines and radiators from the RTL buses for the very reason that if they broke down, they could always get a fitter and spares from the local bus garage.

 

The problem there was the majority of the LT bus fleet at that time were AEC engined and RTL trained fitters were few and far between. Oh well, another good idea bites the dust..

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  • RMweb Gold

Everything the Stationmaster says makes sense, I thought that the 10 year certificate was a 'modern' thing probably 'elf and safety'!

 

 

 

I think it's more likely insurers covering their backs (or pockets) more than anything else. It is probably based on experience (from traction engines most likely?) of the way boilers behave in occasional use rather than much else and I suspect has little or nothing to do with BR mainline steam experience. I remember one Boilersmith of my acquaintance in the preservation world declaring it to be a stupid figure because it was based on nothing practical and didn't fit with any sort of average tube life he had ever come across meaning a boiler would have to be taken out of service for tube replacement before the 10 years or taken out at 10 years with a perfectly decent set of tubes in it (incidentally the figure is actually 7 years with extension to 10 years depending on the condition of the boiler).

 

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