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Current and Proposed New-Builds

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by aron33, Aug 15, 2017.

  1. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    @ross Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but however one judges aesthetic appeal, we've had more than a few UK designs fall firmly into the "beautiful but bl**dy useless" category!

    To the majority of British eyes, most locos built to the continental and North American school of design look pretty damned cluttered (and let's not even mention Russian notions of locomotive style!), though there were the odd exceptions. The Bavarian S3/6 pacifics looked OK until the DR got their hands on them! Then there's the NZGR Class JA .... as British as moaning about the weather, even though they don't look it!

    For the record, there's one mid-20th century French design I find particularly elegant ... DeCaso's 232U1 of 1949 (a one-off preserved at Mulhouse).

    And if you ever meet someone who describes the Crosti boilered Riddles 81/2F's as the best looking loco ever, don't stop to argue, just save yourself ....... run!
     
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  2. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Well-Known Member

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    Hermod's intention is to think critically. I have no issue with that. I was more incredulous at the Riddles quote - which, if true, begs the question why he then proceeded to authorise the design of three Pacific classes in his range of standard designs for British Railways.

    All of the original GCR 4-6-0 locomotives were, in short, poor. High coal consumption and not exactly earth breaking performance for their size. The caprotti versions were interesting. There's no doubt in my mind reading my LNER texts that they were in no way a match for the Gresley A1.

    However the rebuilt B3/3 proved an acceptable locomotive, if hamstrung by the GCR frames it retained. This locomotive was rebuilt with a B1 boiler and proved one of the prototypes for the B17 to B2 rebuilding and proving to Thompson beyond reasonable doubt that larger drivers than 6ft 2in were not necessary for mixed traffic locomotives. The locomotive was broken up in 1949 and its standard B1 components went into the pool for the B1 class.

    Many of the GCR 4-6-0 classes were scrapped relatively early on in BR days together with their Atlantic cousins and the same for the NER and GNR locomotives - Thompson's B1 effectively removed around thirty different boiler types and two to three wheel arrangements from those railways. There is much to be said for standardisation and I understand more fully why Thompson looked to the GER and GWR for inspiration with his locomotive designs.
     
  3. D6332found

    D6332found New Member

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    The NER/NBR/GCR/GNR were life expired and none standard post WW2. Thought the Sir Sams and Glenalmonds were poor, all his others were great locos. In fact, from 1923-27 they were the only locos capable of running the West Riding Pullman, sometimes on the Flying Scotsman, and wartime trains of 19. Not saying they were better than A1/V2, but for their era, they were an impressive, reliable design. Coal consumption of these, and the Black Pig, mixed traffic variety, was less than a B16! The GCR 4-6-0s should truly be added to V2s as The Engines that won the war. Many 4-6-0s of the era get a bad press, Cardean, which ran daily for 10 years, the LNWR Prince of Wales and Claughtons, the Highland Castles were fine on a line that could handle their axle load(error to build as such). But they all did the job, and did it fine. Churchwards skill at draughting and firebox really added to the Taper boiler, but compare them to a Star, not the later Castle. These others belonged to an earlier, grander era. Sadly lacking in working preservation. VALOUR would be magnificent!
     
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  4. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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    Riddles second thougths concerning pacifics surfaced after he got out 1953
    A remarkable man that was able to reflect and critizise some former deeds of his own.Most interesting and deserve another book.


    Pacific Steam.Martin Evans.Percival Marschall 1961 Foreword
    Steam World issue 144 from 1999 refers a letter to CP Atkins 1965
    Model Engineer 3495 from 1974 Old man giving live steam advice
     
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  5. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    I'm not sure that Riddles accomplished anything remarkable - and apart from some odd decisions in steam locomotive design, he and his team have to bear much of the blame for the poor readiness of British Railways for modernisation.

    Part of the issue is the different attitudes of private and nationalised railways. The private railways realised that speed was a commercial imperative - they saw a customer desire for high speed and sought to meet it. In 1946/47 all the railways were looking forward to future motive power and they knew that whatever the motive power there would be a need to run faster trains (90 mph rather than 75 mph). The LNER ran a high speed test in 1946 (reaching 103 mph I believe) and the GWR ran a test in 1947 to demonstrate that their automatic train control would work at 100 mph (the train actually reached 97 mph). The big 4 were sensitive to customer needs and they knew they had to return to a 1930s type service as soon as possible and work to towards high speeds being the norm, not just for a few flagship trains. They knew that austerity was a passing phase, not a permanent situation.

    Come 1948 and the attitude changes. No more work on high speed running, virtually no research into alternative forms of motive power. No interest in customer needs. Riddles and his team acted as if the railways had no competition (true at that time - but it was a temporary situation) and passengers should be grateful for whatever service they received. Riddles did not plan for a more prosperous future where the railways would need to offer speed to combat competition from other forms of transport. That arrived within 10 years - not much in the 25 year life of a locomotive.
     
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  6. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Nope. The smaller, earlier ones.were fine, quite good for their era (before anyone had designed a very good 4-6-0 in Britain, except perhaps Jones). You're thinking of the bigger ones from Robinson's later phases (inside cylinders and four cylinders).

    They have a reputation for high coal consumption, but like many locos of the period, it is not necessarily deserved. Some of their high coal consumption was in comparison with earlier locos of much lower power from which their firemen were moved. Also their drivers didn't necessarily drive them expansively - negating one of the advantages of four cylinder design, that expansive working was more stable. Feeding four cylinder locos with large boilers required a lot of coal. Only a problem if it didn't produce proportionate useful work!
    But they weren't great locos. The LNER, in the early days, did find them a match for the A1s, but quite rightly saw the latter as being capable of much more, with some improvements.
    But beware technological determinism: engineering was an empirical art in those days, and just because a lineage was ultimately not the most successful doesn't mean locomotives weren't good enough in their own day. If they kept the passengers and goods customers happy while not bankrupting the shareholders, they were good enough.
     
  7. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    Aah .... hindsight! To single out Riddles for criticism of policy decisions by the BTC is not merely unreasonable, it ignores far too much about conditions in postwar Britain across the board. At a time when the nation was rebuilding after the cataclysm of WWII, priorities were very different. The No.1 priority was a major export drive to refill coffers drained over 6 years of conflict. Without foreign currency payments, there was no prospect of adequately repairing war damage, far less making large scale investment in infrastructure.

    Ahead of the 1955 Modernisation Plan the assumption across the board was that steam would continue until replaced by electric traction. Diesel barely featured in anyone's plans as it needed imported fuel. Remember that in postwar Britain there was an emphasis on the national balance of payments unimaginable today. We're a quater century before the advent of North Sea Oil, so all petro-chemicals required importing which was the complete opposite of postwar government policy by the successive administrations of Attlee, Churchill and Eden.

    The reality of the postwar labour market was likewise far removed from today. Even had the wages bill not leapt from prewar days, recruitment for many jobs was challenging and the labour intensive steam loco, perfectly tolerable in the 20's and 30's was now a serious issue. Look more closely at the BR standards and you'll see this reflected in labour saving features such as rocking grates and self cleaning smokeboxes, features which in themselves may appear almost inconsequential but which were the difference between available manpower being sufficient, or not.

    The Modernisation Plan itself ensured that many thousands of life expired machines continued in service for almost a decade longer than they otherwise would and that this was a lifespan already extended by six years of wartime conditions. In the normal way of things, with the exception of 'niche' locos of low axle load (used on lines which were never going to be anyone's priority for reinvestment), many would have been withdrawn before 1950. Even without questions about their ability to perfom well on coal which by common consent approached nowhere near prewar quality, much of the loco stud was simply worn out. Would any railway management not seek to get more work out of the money spent on fuel? Or to cut spending on maintenance, preparation and disposal?

    Is it reasonable to suppose that, with no coherent strategic vision from the political masters* of the BTC that any responsible British Railways board and their CME wouldn't have looked to modernise the fleet according to prevailing conditions? Functioning crystal balls were as non-existent in the 50's as they are today.

    * When it comes to UK politicians, some things seem never to change.
     
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  8. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    A 9F may have run at 90 but it didn't do it much good.
     
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  9. ross

    ross New Member

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    The only reason anyone is now knocking Mr Riddles, whose BR Standards are, in normal circumstances, universally respected, is that some people posting on this forum have decided to credit him with almost god-like wisdom compared with all other CME's ever whose designs, however successful, economical, graceful or beautiful we may have thought them, were apparently the products of blinkered buffoonery.

    Bless you Mr Riddles. The Britannias were splendid
     
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  10. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    No hindsight - the foresight was there at the time. In 1945-47 each of the Big 4 were investigating diesels and gas turbines. I'm not suggesting Riddles should have started mass production in 1950 - but he should have been been building and running pilot batches to gain experience. For example DMUs had been used on British railways since the 1930s and evolution seemed to have stopped dead in 1948 - perhaps someone can say whether any were built by BR between 1948 and 1955?

    Did anyone work out what traffic density was sufficient to warrant electrification - did they really think that every single line would be electrified or did they think that steam was going to continue ad infinitum on non-electrified lines?

    Many of the standards were good locomotives - but I doubt whether they were necessary. It would have been more cost effective to continue building existing types and concentrate design work on future types of motive power.
     
  11. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    His 9F's weren't half bad either! I was more trying to give some context to the era in which some decisions got made, especially some of those which might seem odd to anyone who's grown up since Woodham's scrapyard emptied.

    Actually, IMO 'Blinkered Buffoonery' would make for an excellent thread title under just about any of the header categories. Controversial?
     
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  12. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Gosh, it's almost like there had been a huge national catastrophe in the early 1940s and the money had run out... What *could* it have been?!?!?!
    Was Riddles really in a position to keep experimenting with diesel prototypes in the late 1940s? Was it his remit? I'm asking, as I don't know.
     
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  13. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    From a viewpoint limited to economic railway operation, I'd agree with you, but it's imposssible to divorce BTC policy from the national policy of the time. To do so implies levels of latitude which just didn't exist under the 1947 Transport Act. Recall that the government sponsored experiments in oil firing in the run-up to nationalisation were terminated due to that same government pulling the plug under the drive to minimise demand on (especially foreign) currency reserves.

    Please refer back to my mention the fiscal policy of postwar governments of both flavours. This couldn't be simply ignored by any UK industry, whether private or public sector. With hindsight, was it successful? Some effort to maximise export and supress imports was essential postwar, but in this case I suspect UK development of IC engines suffered to the benefit of US manufacturers and there's probably a good case to be made that it crippled not only our loco manufactureres, but did the domestic automotive industry no favours either. Hardly the first (or last) time a UK government's short sightedness has damaged prospects for the economy.

    It's probably worthwhile noting that while postwar continental economies were rebuilt largely on the back of the US Marshall plan, our Lend-Lease debt to our wartime ally wasn't finally discharged until Gordon Brown's tenure at the Treasury ..... and don't get me started on North Sea Oil revenues ..... seriously, don't!

    Slightly tangentally, as the BTC retreated from N.Ireland (where it's interest was confined to the ex-LMS(NCC) lines anyway) in very short order, where in the RoI the CIÉ relied on imported fuel, be it coal or oil and the cross-border GNRI was a law unto itself, things developed very differently. I'd recommend the book "Diesel Dawn - Ireland's contribution to developmemt of the DMU 1931-1967" by Colm Flanagan. It gives quite an insight into how the new technology was approached by 'traditional' railway engineers and railway management .... and railways didn't come much more traditional (or skint) than in Ireland! As an aside, the (1948) AEC production units of the GNRI (and subsequently the CIÉ) were direct linear descendants of the prewar GWR railcars.
     
  14. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    Following that national catastrophe all of the Big 4 ordered prototypes of future motive power. They knew you cannot switch overnight - you need to prepare with small scale trials. Riddles chose not to build on that. He did choose to spend scarce money on designing and tooling up for his standard locomotives - whereas he could have chosen to continue to build existing steam designs. He is in part responsible for the immense waste of money and chaos of modernisation in 1955-1965.

    As ever, steamindex is a good source:

    http://www.steamindex.com/people/riddles.htm

    it includes... The Executive was quicker to investigate the feasibility of using light-weight diesel units on branch lines and cross-country services. With the encouragement of Pope and Elliot a special committee was appointed in August 1951, but the combination of a lack of enthusiasm in railway circles and a disagreement with the Commission over the selection of test areas delayed the project. Riddles's attitude was demonstrated by his request for a concurrent experiment with steam push-pull units. It was not until the last months of the Executive's life that firm plans were established for the introduction of diesel units in specified areas. Undoubtedly, the effect of the general procrastination was to shift most of the costs of technical transition into the years of the Modernisation Plan
     
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  15. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    @Courier So the publically stated policy of successive governments prior to the 1955 plan had no bearing? Come off it! Riddles did not set govenment policies which circumscribed BTC policy, nor did he set BTC policy which in turn informed British Railways policy. If he was less than enthusiastic about trialling a technology which ran counter to publically stated government objectives of the day, given what budget was available and without the benefit of the hindsight you're evidently resolved to deploy, that's scarcely surprising.

    I originally wrote more at this point, but TBH, since you refuse to engage in any sensible debate, with not a single valid point I've made getting so much as the courtesy of an acknowledgment, I can only conclude merely ignoring anything which disagrees with your conclusions is a matter of routine. Under such circumstances, any further engagement is meaningless.
     
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  16. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton New Member

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    =


    immediately after WW11 the GWR put in hand plans to convert the steam fleet in the west country to oil burning. it was well planned and the performance of the locos was good.
    the scheme was abandoned when it was realised that we were too skint to pay for the fuel.
    I suspect the new diesel locos fell foul of the same problem .
    Riddles was told to give us locos that gave us the most horsepower for the money spent .that meant more coal burners .

    the will was there but the dosh wasn't.

    there were an awful lot of locos that survived the war that would have been scrapped in the normal course of events .such as the Highland Rivers and the NER Atlantics and plenty of others we could name. they had to go , and a standard steam fleet for the medium term was the obvious answer .
    you also have to remember how peoples aspirations . we wanted a brave new world and sod the war . the Exhibition of 1951 as part of that . 70004 on the Golden Arrow , the Skylon, Battersea Fun Fair with the funny clock . I could go on . we wanted new and shiny even if we couldn't afford it . then the King died in 1952 - I remember that day - but we got a new young Queen and we were going to have a new Elizabethan Age. well we got a train called the Elizabethan , and some A4s were patched up to run it . and sweets came off rationing

    people don't always do the logical thing - they do what they want to do . I remember the '50s . it was a great time . we were all skint the bloody miners and ASLEF kept going on strike , but we were gonna fix it and enjoy life .
    then Bill Haley turned up and ....
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
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  17. Hermod

    Hermod New Member

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  18. Eightpot

    Eightpot Part of the furniture

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    I think in all fairness to the GC 4-6-0s they were designed before the knowledge/understanding of the benefits of more modern long lap, long travel valves had sunk in. I believe this explains why the Caprotti conversions of the 'Lord Farringdons' of the 1930s were much improved as far as coal consumption was concerned.
     
  19. Courier

    Courier New Member

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    I apologise for not addressing your points. I'm afraid that I have the bad habit of spending the limited time I have in answering the posts that wind me up the most :) - and yours did not come in that category.

    To be clear - I am not suggesting that Riddles should have started building diesel locos in full production volumes - the cash wasn't there and the technology was not ready. But he should have being doing the preparatory work to be ready for when the change came. For instance building 10 or 20 locos and operating them as a link - learning how to design, how to maintain and how to best use them - and NOT spending cash on developing a new range of steam locomotives.

    Far from this being against government policy, Riddles was requested to look at future forms of motive power by the BTC - and did not. I don't normally recommend books by Summers but British Railways Steam 1948-1970 is worth a read - not for the conclusions he reaches but for the sources he quotes. Among other things some of the statements Riddles makes show poor engineering judgement. For instance he stated that the BTC are wrong in saying that a 2000 hp diesel would have better acceleration than a 2000 hp steam loco - but the civil servants were right and the engineer was wrong; a steam loco cannot use its full boiler power until 20-30mph.

    Best regards - and thank you for the points you have raised.
     
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  20. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    it wasn't a shortage of money, it was a shortage of foreign exchange, which tipped the balance in favoiur of Brtiish coal.
     
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