How good was Gresley?

This forum is for the discussion of LNER personalities, and for use by people researching their ancestors.

Moderators: 52D, Rlangham, Atlantic 3279, Blink Bonny, Saint Johnstoun, richard, Tom F

User avatar
Blink Bonny
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3946
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:21 pm
Location: The Midlands
Contact:

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Blink Bonny » Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:05 pm

Ay up!

There's a few around. This was in the mid 1980s and was I believe the Shuttleworth Collection's machine. This was the one that crashed in Texas.

There are about half a dozen or so that are capable of being restored ( no woodworm or difficult to reach dry rot, wet rot or fungus infestation) mainly thanks to the Civilian Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Units' need for a fast plane that wasn't a jet, plus the films 633 Squadron and Mosquito Squadron which starred 4 and 3 respectively with a fighter/bomber in 633 being the odd man out.

Is that a DH Vampire I see in front of the Mossie or a Venom? Whichever it is, the juxtaposition has certainly got me slobbering all over me keyboard. Squelchy typing - yeuch! :lol:

Drop me a PM please, EM.
If I ain't here, I'm in Bilston, scoffing decent chips at last!!!!

User avatar
2002EarlMarischal
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1402
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:18 pm
Location: Burbage

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by 2002EarlMarischal » Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:55 pm

Blink Bonny wrote:Ay up!

There's a few around. This was in the mid 1980s and was I believe the Shuttleworth Collection's machine. This was the one that crashed in Texas.

There are about half a dozen or so that are capable of being restored ( no woodworm or difficult to reach dry rot, wet rot or fungus infestation) mainly thanks to the Civilian Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Units' need for a fast plane that wasn't a jet, plus the films 633 Squadron and Mosquito Squadron which starred 4 and 3 respectively with a fighter/bomber in 633 being the odd man out.

Is that a DH Vampire I see in front of the Mossie or a Venom? Whichever it is, the juxtaposition has certainly got me slobbering all over me keyboard. Squelchy typing - yeuch! :lol:

Drop me a PM please, EM.
PM sent BB! :)

Sorry not a jet expert I'm afraid!

User avatar
Blink Bonny
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3946
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:21 pm
Location: The Midlands
Contact:

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Blink Bonny » Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:56 pm

Ay up!

No worries, EM!

Anyway, there I was, in the RAF museum at Hendon, happily gazing up into THEIR Mossie cockpit. At Hendon, the walkways are in blue carpet with a low, stainless steel coaming at the side and no one minds visitors getting up close and personal with the exhibits.

"I always wanted to fly them miself," said a broad Cockney voice behind me. I stepped back and had a fascinating 10 mins in the company of one of the security folks. As he went on his rounds he twinkled, looked at me and said "I wanted to say do you two want to be left alone but chickened out!"

We parted laughing and I went back to Mossie gazing.
If I ain't here, I'm in Bilston, scoffing decent chips at last!!!!

Hatfield Shed
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1042
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Hatfield Shed » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:33 am

Back on subject. There is enough published information to show that the main problem facing any LNER CME was finance. Gresley's achievement has to be measured against the 'permanently underfunded' state in which he and his fellow officers had to operate due to the LNER's dire financial state through almost its whole existence. This produced a 'forcing effect', everything was done with an eye to economy. He had the whole hearted support of the board in his programme: the publicity the wide firebox designs procured was gold, and meanwhile the many improvements to existing inherited classes of sound design to improve performance saved a fortune. Staying with the cheaper round top boiler when all about were Belpaire crazy is massively to his credit. It meant the WD 2-8-0 was a lot cheaper for the nation (Doncaster staff persuaded Riddles of the virtue of this course) and when BR ran its comparative tests the much touted performance advantage of the Belpaire firebox was shown in service conditions to not exist. On such slender means to have achieved so much stands out large in the credit column.

Weaknesses: workshop practise stands top of the list. The LNER could really have used a precision specialist like Collett to bring the Plant and other major works up to the machining standards routinely achieved elsewhere, especially at Swindon. Detail design also went awry, suggesting that some of the people lower down the design hierarchy hadn't attended sufficiently to theory. (The design of the inside big end clearly incompetent: not revisionist, this was spotted by experienced engineers while the locos were in service, Peppercorn and Harrison managed to fix this one.) He should have seriously taken up compounding: M. Chapelon was keen to assist, and matching the French results in fuel economy would have rapidly paid off on the LNER's big engine fleet.

User avatar
Blink Bonny
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3946
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:21 pm
Location: The Midlands
Contact:

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Blink Bonny » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:57 am

Ay up!

Couple of points here, Hatfield.

As regards compounding, only one class of compounds has operated in England successfully and that was the Midland Compounds. The GC, NER, GE and GWR all experimented with them. The GWR experience proved that a 4 cyl simple with a well designed front end (Churchward's forte?) was very nearly as efficient as a 4 cyl compound but much cheaper to maintain. The GC, GE and NER came to the same conclusion. Webb's compounds on the LNWR were univerally acknowledged as a disaster, being vastly overcomplicated. The only engines that came close to success were the Remowns.

The Midland Compounds were driven like any other engine, with the changeover valve from "simple" to compound working being automatic in operation and were small. Plus when trials were run between class 4 compounds and simples on the Settle and Carlisle, the result had been probably decided before the trials were begun. Put the compounds on a line like the Somerset and Dorset and they wouldn't go, probably why they preferred the feeble 2P simples.

Incidentally, does anyone know of the changeover valve arrangements on the Hush-Hush?

The other point regards finance. Gresley wanted to provide the best facilities he could. The Marine type big end proved to ne a mistake but then again, the frames on many of the Pacifics in particular were so badly out of alignment it was a miracle some of them ran at all! In that light, the number of big end failures suggests that, far from being absolute rubbish, may have been the right choice at the time. After the war under BR auspices, Sam Ell from Swindon introduced optical lining ip of the frames, resulting in a number of Gresley Pacifics in particular getting brand new frames. Big end problems didn't exactly vanish but certainly eased.

Churchward and Collett were standardizers more than anything else. Components such as boilers, cylinders, axleboxes etc were rigorously standardized because the GWR believed in one size fits all. Hence the large numbers of their standard classes. Gresley on the other hand believed in horses for courses so many of his designs were built in fairly small numbers for specific jobs. He did standardize on many components - wheels and axleboxes for example - but wasn't frightened of a total "one off" like the P2s, designed for a road that just did not suit them! Why weren't they used further south on the mammoth troop trains on the ECML? Or do we have ET to blame for that.

To sum up, Gresley produced some super engines which were still fit for purpose 30 odd years after they were designed. Sure, some of the detail design was improved upon later, but there is nothing made that cannot be made better.
If I ain't here, I'm in Bilston, scoffing decent chips at last!!!!

User avatar
S.A.C. Martin
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 2007
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:11 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by S.A.C. Martin » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:05 pm

Hatfield Shed wrote:The design of the inside big end clearly incompetent: not revisionist, this was spotted by experienced engineers while the locos were in service, Peppercorn and Harrison managed to fix this one.
Did they?

Three sets of divided drive for three cylinder locomotives were first seen on Thompson's Pacific designs. Thompson also authorised the first modifications to the big end straps on the A3s and A4s during the second world war.

There was nothing wrong with the big end on the Thompson Pacifics but, accepted, they had other problems elsewhere in their makeup.

Peppercorn and Harrison had the benefit of the Thompson Pacifics as "pathfinders"; and whilst the outline of a Peppercorn A1 or A2 is Gresley-like aesthetically, the three sets of divided drive and engineering ethos is still closer to that of a Thompson Pacific.

User avatar
notascoobie
GCR O4 2-8-0 'ROD'
Posts: 533
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:43 pm
Location: S Yorkshire

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by notascoobie » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:14 pm

Hatfield Shed wrote:Back on subject. There is enough published information to show that the main problem facing any LNER CME was finance. Gresley's achievement has to be measured against the 'permanently underfunded' state in which he and his fellow officers had to operate due to the LNER's dire financial state through almost its whole existence. This produced a 'forcing effect', everything was done with an eye to economy. He had the whole hearted support of the board in his programme: the publicity the wide firebox designs procured was gold, and meanwhile the many improvements to existing inherited classes of sound design to improve performance saved a fortune. Staying with the cheaper round top boiler when all about were Belpaire crazy is massively to his credit. It meant the WD 2-8-0 was a lot cheaper for the nation (Doncaster staff persuaded Riddles of the virtue of this course) and when BR ran its comparative tests the much touted performance advantage of the Belpaire firebox was shown in service conditions to not exist. On such slender means to have achieved so much stands out large in the credit column.

Weaknesses: workshop practise stands top of the list. The LNER could really have used a precision specialist like Collett to bring the Plant and other major works up to the machining standards routinely achieved elsewhere, especially at Swindon. Detail design also went awry, suggesting that some of the people lower down the design hierarchy hadn't attended sufficiently to theory. (The design of the inside big end clearly incompetent: not revisionist, this was spotted by experienced engineers while the locos were in service, Peppercorn and Harrison managed to fix this one.) He should have seriously taken up compounding: M. Chapelon was keen to assist, and matching the French results in fuel economy would have rapidly paid off on the LNER's big engine fleet.


Good morning.

To follow on from Hatfield's interesting comments.

Surely compounding had already been thoroughly tried out on the large Atlantics. SNG chose to leave that behind and went down the highly experimental high pressure boiler route with 10000. That was after he had introduced the conjugated 3-cylinder design which had been largely only talked about before. SNG was undoubtedly an innovator with the backing of his board and with the power to excite and encourage others. Other mere mortals were focusssed on improving what had been done before.

Not that I'm biased.

Regards,

Vernon

User avatar
strang steel
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 2241
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: From 40F to near 82A via 88C

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by strang steel » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:28 pm

Blink Bonny wrote:
<snip>

Gresley on the other hand believed in horses for courses so many of his designs were built in fairly small numbers for specific jobs. He did standardize on many components - wheels and axleboxes for example - but wasn't frightened of a total "one off" like the P2s, designed for a road that just did not suit them! Why weren't they used further south on the mammoth troop trains on the ECML? Or do we have ET to blame for that.
Maybe the reason was purely due to operating convenience?

Would it have been practical to move a class of engine south to where very few railwaymen would have had any experience of driving, firing and routine maintenance of them?

Were the infamous 20 coach troop trains actually running before HNG's death early in 1941, or was that more a phenomenon of 1943-45 when the Americans arrived in force?

Presumably, trains were running to much more generous timings and with a 'push' from the rear out of Kings Cross, if the Pacifics could cope with the ECML trains why bother with anything bigger?
John

Hatfield Shed
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1042
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Hatfield Shed » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:43 pm

To argue that compounding had been thoroughly tried out in the UK is to argue from a position of extreme national parochiality. The French school were the masters here, as in the little matter of the steam circuit design, from which Gresley derived so much benefit. If a Chapelonised compound pacific had been able to run in the 1948 trials, the fuel consumption would have left all the UK entries dead in the water.

The main obstacle I suspect was the training of the footplate crew. You didn't get to drive a compound express loco in France by the 'Buggin's turn' system universal in the UK. You were formally trained and passed by examination in the art of either driving or firing, in order that the fuel efficiency benefit of the compounding could be obtained on the road, by firing and driving the thing correctly. None of the 'acquired art' which saw all too many links trundling around the UK on first valve and one and a half turns up, and burning half a Yorkshire pit's daily output covering a hundred miles per loco...

User avatar
manna
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3306
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 12:56 am
Location: Booborowie. S. Aust

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by manna » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:01 pm

G'Day Gents

To go very slightly off thread, Anyone know how Sir Nigel, got to work ! at KX, London Colney is not on any branchline (except an imaginary one, on my Edgware thread) so he couldn't catch a train to work, directly, or did he drive to the nearest mainline station, Hatfield !! because I can't imagine him coming to work on the 'Midland' mainline ??

Any answers or even conjecture !! :lol:

manna
EDGWARE GN, Steam in the Suburbs.

Hatfield Shed
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1042
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Hatfield Shed » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:45 am

He may well have driven to KX. He was an enthusiastic motorist by all accounts, though I don't know what cars he owned. The house was just a few miles from the Great North Road (A1), including a stretch of the Barnet by-pass, then the fastest road in the UK, essentially the only autobahn in the UK at that time. (Which was why the blower Bentley's were developed on a site in Welwyn Garden City: cheap light industrial buildings available near the only piece of road in the UK anything like the Mulsanne straight. Tales of fearsome speeds achieved during night time testing...)

If you want to see driving conditions of the time follow the link. In glorious colour, what England looked like in 1939, and the best of it because we are in LNER territory too...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm_Q7X_-2Ck

User avatar
S.A.C. Martin
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 2007
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:11 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by S.A.C. Martin » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:50 am

Thanks for that link Hatfield - eyeopener that! Britain looked so much more beautiful, dare I say. The lack of cars everywhere, and traffic is particularly noticeable. I guess you had to be there to understand it, to me as a 26 year old, a road with few cars on it looks distinctly odd...

Hatfield Shed
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1042
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Hatfield Shed » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:06 am

Living in the area, much of the route is still recognisable today, totally bypassed by the A1 (M). The part of Old Stevenage High Street in the film looks much the same today, except for all the parked cars. But just a few miles off route and there are places that still look as lovely as they did in 1939.

It wasn't all sunshine though. Did you notice the heavily laden truck 'bogging down' on the relatively slight gradient in the first minute? This was the peril of the time, the government having imposed a tax regime that favoured engines with low torque and restricted power output. As a result once laden commercial vehicles went uphill in the walking pace to 10mph band. Many a motorist ended their career rear ending an effectively stationary heavy object with poor illumination, due to the car driver driving fast in poor visibility or at night; no safety belt, no airbags, and the steering wheel column a rigid piece of steel ideal for impalement. There were some grim accident black spots on that road, such that some of the roadhouse pubs kept a room set aside for use as a temporary morgue.

silverfox
GER D14 4-4-0 'Claud Hamilton'
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:49 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by silverfox » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:17 pm

I think i have read somewhere he lived in Hadley Wood ( or was that the wartime HQ?)

Hatfield Shed
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1042
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: How good was Gresley?

Post by Hatfield Shed » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:32 pm

AKAIK he took up Salisbury Hall on landing the LNER CME post, and then moved to Audley End to be looked after by his daughter after he was widowed

Post Reply