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The LMS's pre-grouping express 4-6-0s - a question

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by John Petley, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    This question has come about as a result of my borrowing a book LMS 150 by Patrick Whitehouse from my local library.

    I didn't know that much about the 4-6-0s inherited by the LMS from the constituent companies and was surprised that the author was pretty dismissive of virtually all of them. The Claughtons and the Hughes 4-cylinder "Dreadnaughts" were described as adequate but no more, likewise the LNWR Prince of Wales 4-6-0s. What was the real surprise was the verdict on the Scottish 4-6-0s, which were viewed as even worse, with the exception of the Highland "Rivers". I was always under the impression that the Scottish railways were well served and even if nothing could match Churchward's Stars and Saints on the GWR that the Caley 4-6-0s in particular were quite impressive.

    In support of the author's arguments I guess was the rapid withdrawal of the Scottish and LNWR 4-6-0s, especially once the Black Fives came on stream. Also, I found it interesting thet the LNWR new-build group has gone for a 4-4-0 rather than a 4-6-0, which is again in line with Mr Whitehouse's assessment of the LNWR's top link motive power (i.e., that the 4-4-0 George the Fifths were the best express locos which the company built) but I'm genuinely interest to know from people who are knowledgeable on this subject (which I fully admit that I'm not) whether or not they agree with the opinions expressed in this book - in other words, that most of the inherited 4-6-0s were no great shakes and that even Cardean was merely a handsome looking engine which looked great in Caley blue but was not actually that wonderful a performer.
     
  2. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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  3. fisher

    fisher New Member

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    The success or failure of pre-grouping 4-6-0s across applies across the United Kingdom, not just Scotland. Just look at the problems Drummond had with 4-6-0s on the LSWR.

    I think I would put the Highland Clans and Clan Goods in the success bracket and maybe even the Castles which were built over a long period of time. There is also an argument to also say the Manson superheated 4-6-0s on the GSWR were a success albeit only two in number. Unpicking the Caledonian mixed bag is much more problematic; even elegant engines painted in an attractive livery do not mask performance even if you call one "Cardean" and get your publicity department to have an early go at "Fake News".
     
  4. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Well-Known Member

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    It's quite a complicated story, but...

    Scottish 4-6-0s: the River Class (built for the Highland but famously sold to the Caly) were the only really good ones. The Scottish companies produced many fine 4-4-0s (the Caly Dunalastairs, to name but one) but the expertise did not seem to extend to the bigger machines. The Cardeans were magnificent looking engines, it is true, but performance fell very short.

    LNWR: their 4-6-0s were the Experiments (saturated) Prince of Wales (basically a superheated Experiment) and Claughtons. The Experiments were always regarded as sluggish, even when new. They were allegedly a 4-6-0 version of the Precursor 4-4-0, but the wheels were six inches smaller, the boiler was longer and the firebox was shallow rather than deep, so there were substantial differences. The Precursers were very strong and free-running, but with a large appetite for coal. The Experiments were not free-running but otherwise performed similarly.

    The George the Fifths were Precursors with a superheater and piston valves. They would out-perform the Precursors, and do it on less coal. The Prince of Wales were the Experiments similarly treated, and while not having the sparkle of a George, were generally good machines.

    LNWR locos were cheaply and lightly built, and LNWR tradition was to thrash the engine to obtain the performance, a combination which led naturally to heavy maintenance and rapid obsolescence.

    The Claughtons were far bigger engines and were capable of excellent performances, but not consistently. The first one appeared in 1911, so by LMS days some at least were well over ten years old - and had led a hard life. Their problems were twofold: high coal consumption and poor mechanical reliability. The first was, it turned out, shared with even the Royal Scots and the remedy proved quite cheap and effective, but came too late. In any case, the mechanical problems were insoluble in their as-built form and led to their nominal rebuilding as three-cylinder Baby Scots (Patriots to the uninitiated).

    L&YR: The Dreadnoughts appeared in 1907 (I believe) as saturated four-cylinder locos with slide valves and performance was poor, coal consumption high, and availability terrible. Post World War I George Hughes completely rebuilt them with superheaters and long travel piston valves. They were transformed, and could do anything the L&YR asked of them.

    Following the Grouping, they were chosen as the new 4-6-0s to work the WCML. Designed for relatively low-speed, comparatively short-distance work with frequent stops, restarts often against severe gradients, they were unsuitable for the high speed, non-stop, long distance trains on the ex-LNWR main line, and were soon moved north of Crewe. They had similar coal consumption to the Claughtons, for similar reasons plus the provision of ball valves, which leaked, in the valve heads. Elimination of the faults brought the coal consumption down to reasonable levels, but once again, too late. Had they stayed on the L&YR (by then Western Division B), their reputation might have remained much better.

    Both these big classes came down to history as failures, which is unfair. When new, they were good, but neither aged well and a near miss is probably a fairer verdict. But by the late 1920s, they were both getting older and were, by then, too small for the traffic at that time.

    As to the Group building the George, I fear they have succumbed to the lure of the express type and are building the wrong one. I suggested at the time that a Prince would be a better choice, smaller wheels and light axle loading would make it more suitable for preserved lines, but the decision went the other way.
     
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  5. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    It would probably be quicker to list the successes! :)
    H/N/S15
    Star
    Saint
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    À propos the Scottish 4-6-0s and the LSWR ones, it is notable that Drummond, after a series of ponderous 4-6-0s, returned to 4-4-0s - the excellent D15 class - when he needed a bigger express loco than was provided by the T9.

    Bradley notes the following about the genesis of that design, and whether it should be a 4-4-0 or a 4-6-0:

    "No decision had been reached by March 1911, when, holidaying in Scotland, he [Drummond] took the opportunity of observing the local railway scene as offered by the Caledonian and Glasgow & South Western, both of which employed recently built 4-6-0s. Whatever thoughts Drummond gained of Scottish railways without his guidance can only be imagined, although they were probably profound, for on returning south, he ordered five large 4-4-0s from Eastleigh Works. Could this have been the outcome of finding that the latest Scottish 4-6-0s performed little better than his own?"

    Tom
     
  7. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    Thanks one and all for these interesting comments, particularly the very detailed reply from LMS2968. I was hoping you might chip in as you seem to be a walking encyclopaedia of all things LMS! I have learnt a lot. Please keep them coming!

    As a "Southern"man, I was aware of the failings of the LSWR Drummond 4-6-0s. What I hadn't appreciated was that he was clearly far from being the only loco engineer of this period who turned out some good 4-4-0s but couldn't transition to the 4-6-0.As an aside, if, as suggested, the Urie 4-6-0s were the next best in the country after the Churchward locos, it's good that two of his S15s have been saved.
     
  8. John Stewart

    John Stewart Part of the furniture

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    Fowler, at the Midland, never built any 4-6-0s as the board went along with the civil engineer's preference for light bridge loads. If he had they would probably have been as mediocre as those of many of his contemporaries. When at the LMS it seems to me that he was nearing the end of his career and the board there effectively went over his head to obtain the Scots.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    There do seem to have been a lot of duds! Ropey 4-6-0s being introduced with great fanfare and then rapidly replaced by more modern 4-4-0s seems to have been not uncommon - it happened on the LSWR; on the Caley as recounted above; on the NER I believe; and no doubt elsewhere.

    A common feature seems to have been getting the relative proportions of boiler and cylinders wrong, sometimes coupled with too shallow a grate such that the boilers wouldn't steam well. So you end up with locos that are nominally powerful but which can't supply the required steam - sometimes hampered by archaic front-end designs. Drummond at least also made a step from 2-cylinder to 4-cylinder designs at the same time, exacerbating the "under-boilered" nature of the designs and introducing an even more radical departure from what was previously known: not a happy design choice.

    If you follow 4-4-0 designs up through particular "school", then you get a basically successful design (possibly derived from an earlier 2-4-0), that then gets a bit of a tweak on cylinder size, and then a bit of a tweak on boiler capacity, and so on. After twenty-odd years between, say, the 1890s and 1910s, you have a revised design that is far larger than anything before, but each step has been incremental and building on the previous success. Whereas a 4-6-0 was pretty well a leap in the dark, requiring working out afresh such fundamentals as where to place the cylinders; how to arrange the grate above / between the driving axles etc. Probably not surprising that it took a number of years to get to a point where there was a roughly successful design that could then serve as a template for development. At the same time, 4-4-0s could be more easily (and less riskily) transformed by super-heating (as happened to the T9 and D15) and maybe by applying piston valves (as happened to the D/E --> D1 / E1), giving transformation in performance that kept them ahead.

    Tom
     
  10. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    The worst of the Caley 4-6-0s were the 3-cylinder type. They looked magnificent, but were utterly dreadful.
    One successful pre-grouping type of 4-6-0 was the GS&WR 500 class, but history meant they were a cul-de-sac. The unsuccessful 400 class were more numerous.
     
  11. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    GWR No 36, Dean's experimental wide firebox freight 4-6-0 doesn't seem to have been a failure, but by the time it was 9 years old the GWR had a fleet of Churchward 2-8-0s and there was no point in keeping it in *that* company... It was an interesting design with double frames that turned into outside frames only at the firebox, so the wider box could fit between the frames.
     
  12. 8126

    8126 Member

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    The LNWR Prince of Wales class also gave rise to the rather bizarre "Tishys". Eliminating the Joy valve gear and its troublesome connecting rod left them with outside Walschaerts valve gear driving inside valves above inside cylinders. Surely unique?
     
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  13. LesterBrown

    LesterBrown Member

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    Great Eastern 1500 class?
     
  14. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Good point, forgot those.
     
  15. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Ironic that whilst Churchward produced magnificent 4-6-0s, his 4-4-0 (the 38xx County Class) was not so good.
     
  16. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    Counties were capable enough, they just needed a padded cab and safety harnesses for the crew [grin]... And there was a lot of Churchward in the later outside frame 4-4-0s because Dean was apparently suffering health problems.
     
  17. huochemi

    huochemi Active Member Friend

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    David Smith gives a view of many Scottish loco classes, including 4-6-0s, in his own idiosyncratic manner in books such as Legends of the Glasgow and South Western Railway in LMS Days. Possibly one of Pat Whitehouse' sources?
     
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  18. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    They evidently didn't do anything that a Saint or 43xx couldn't do though, at least as well, but without the rock and roll, hence their early demise.
     
  19. Jimc

    Jimc Well-Known Member

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    The story I heard was that 4-6-0s weren't allowed on the Midland section of the Bristol Birmingham line in Midland days. Once that changed... The GW scrapped all their large wheeled 4-4-0s in pretty short order, the outside frame ones 1927-1931 and the Counties 1930-33, so you'd think there must have been a policy decision. Its one of those interesting sidelines that while the GWR scrapped the last of their express 4-4-0s the LNER and Southern were building more. But I don't think there's much doubt the Churchward 2 cylinder front end with the big rocking couple was too much for a 4-4-0. For a powerful 4-4-0 the better balance of a 3 cylinder loco looks like a superior solution.
     
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  20. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    I thought it was the North & West route between Hereford & Shrewsbury (Joint GW & L&NWR) but you could be right.

    As Maunsell proved with the Schools Class!
     
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