Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

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book law
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Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by book law » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:14 pm

Some people debate that he was a bit stupid changing alot of Gresley's designs.

But i think he did a bit of a decent job. The B1's where a fantastic design (My grandad says they are the LNER's
Black Five). I also think the A2/2 was a good design. But he shouln't have used the P2's as test subjects.

So yeah. Any one agree or disagree. You decide.
hush-hush should never have been scrapped

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by Boris » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:30 pm

B1s were much better than a class 5.

We used to get them off The South Yorkshireman and worked them forwards to Liecester on the York Bournmouth.

Hard wooden seat, rough riding, big hole to fire through, not my idea of a good loco'.

Once they sent a Crab from Huddersfield and we got that.

A much better ride that day.
EX DARNALL 39B FIREMAN 1947-55

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S.A.C. Martin
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by S.A.C. Martin » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:18 pm

General opinion on Edward Thompson revolves entirely around the fact that he chose Gresley's Great Northern to be rebuilt to be his prototype Thompson A1. The locomotive itself, when rebuilt, has been cited by several sources as being a better overall engine than either the original Gresley A1s, A3s or single chimney A4s in service, in terms of ability to retain speed, fuel consumption and in respects, was an easier engine to maintain (the advantages of the hopper ashpan and drop gate).

Thompson A1/1

Positives:

1. Drop Gate
2. Hopper Ashpan
3. Kylchap Exhaust
4. 250lb Boiler, bringing with it 37,400lb of tractive effort

Negatives:

1. Aesthetics. When originally rebuilt, GN the running plate was straight edged to the cab (which has short side sheets). This gave the engine an ungainly look with its original stovepipe double chimney. Latterly, it was rebuilt with conventional cab side sheets, running plate and smoke deflectors, and looked more purposeful. Not as handsome as the other pacifics, but very purposeful.
2. The choice of engine. I am under no illusions - there is a lot of evidence to suggest the A1/1 was not the horrendous failure it has been purported to be. Whether you believe Cecil J.Allen or Peter Townend, the engine was a better locomotive than in its original Gresley form. If it had not been 4470, but another member of the class - perhaps, one of the first A3s with the highest mileage aside from 4470 would have been less controversial.
3. Tendency to slip - this has been recorded by several commentators of the time, and it flabbergasts me slightly! There was a pic on here some time ago showing 60113 with her sanders going full pelt, on the level, through a station...I'm not sure why this was so, but the Thompson Pacifics seemed to be easier to wheelslip than other pacifics (unbalanced proportions of length, perhaps?)
4. Frames - the frame extensions and similar use for the A1/1 seem to have been prone to some cracking and other similar stresses, and it spent various short periods out of traffic for repairs of this nature.

Overall, he was a decent CME doing his best in wartime situations - yes, the A2/2s and A1/1 conversions were controversial, but in the latter he produced a locomotive that was, at the time, the best pacific the LNER had (most notably, aside from the double chimney A4s - quite why these were in such a minority for such a long time remains a mystery to me!). Looking at Cecil J.Allen's British Pacific Locomotives, he recounts the 1945 trials - Great Northern against Sir Ralph Wedgwood (single chimney A4), the two engines producing a dead heat in consumptions per mile, GN edging out SRW a little on coal consumption per mile.

I do wonder - if 4470, later 60113 had simply been given a little more TLC, and looked after a bit more, would she have turned out to have been a decent overall engine, instead of spending her twilight years as the Grantham station pilot engine?

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by Bill Bedford » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:55 pm

Simierski wrote:4. Frames - the frame extensions and similar use for the A1/1 seem to have been prone to some cracking and other similar stresses, and it spent various short periods out of traffic for repairs of this nature.
All A1/A3s suffered from cracked frames an were give a spare set of repaired frames at each heavy repair. This was not possible with the A1/1 simply because there were not enough members of the class to justify a set od spare frames.

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coachmann
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by coachmann » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:36 pm

The Thompson B1 was the LNER's answer to the Black Five. It didnt have a rocking grate and ashpan like its LMS contemporaries. The BR Std. Class 5 was based on LMS design.

The L1 was the LNER's answer to a LMS 2-6-4T but it didn't cut it. The Std. Class 4 was based on LMS Fairburn design.

The K1 was a good engine. Was it better than an Ivatt Class 4? The BR Std.Class 4 was based on LMS design.

The Thompson A2-1, A2-2 and A2-3 together with Peppercorn A1's bore the brunt of heavier workings on the East Coast when the older Gresley Pacifics were not in the best of shape after the war. It took diesels to replace the LNE Pacifics.

Thompson boilers went on many other machines as did his ideas on valvegear. The postwar metal clad coaches also carry his name.

Personally I think he was a good chap. Modelwise, all his designs have character.

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S.A.C. Martin
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by S.A.C. Martin » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:54 am

Bill Bedford wrote:
Simierski wrote:4. Frames - the frame extensions and similar use for the A1/1 seem to have been prone to some cracking and other similar stresses, and it spent various short periods out of traffic for repairs of this nature.
All A1/A3s suffered from cracked frames an were give a spare set of repaired frames at each heavy repair. This was not possible with the A1/1 simply because there were not enough members of the class to justify a set od spare frames.
Thanks chap - I hadn't put two and two together on that one. :) So really that's not a flaw as such, just an unfortunate side effect of being a one-off locomotive?

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by James Brodie » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:41 am

Dear Sirs, Edward Thompson of the LNER by Peter Grafton from Oakwood Press explains away a lots of the miths re Thompson and Gresley. The Great Northern wasn't chosen by spite but because it was clapped out and might have gone to that heaven in the sky for tired choo choos.
Jim Brodie.

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by stembok » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:05 am

A1s/A3s did suffer from cracked frames as did many other classes of locomotives and not only LNER. They occasionally swapped frames, but in later years the remedy was to weld on a new three quarter frame forward of the rear axle. This happened as late as summer 1962 to 60112. The A4s and V2s seem to have been less affected by cracking. Replacement of frames did not however happen at every shopping.
Thompson, in trying to remedy what he considered to be defects on Gresley designs, substituted them with engines with arguably more serious mechanical weaknesses of their own. The shopping records of the Thompsons -see Vol 3 of Yeadon - highlight this, As for 'Great Northern', as I've said previously, in 1945 a brand new 250lb Pacific with all mod cons was obviously going to put a tired, war weary 180lb twenty year old A1 in the shade. It's like comparing a 1980s British Leyland Metro with the new BMW Mini. Fast forward, however, to say, 1959 and ask East Coast locomen or fitters for their views and preferences on 'Great Northern' or any Thompson Pacific as opposed to a Kylchap A3. I know. I've done it - often. There were good reasons why Thompson's Pacifics disappeared to the scrapyards first. Incidentally, there was a serious proposal by the ER in the 1950s to restore 'Great Northern' to something approaching its original condition. No one is saying 'Great Northern' was a "horrendous failure", but neither was it a world beater and it was not, more tellingly, an improvement on what had gone before, which it should have been.

Coachmann : When diesels began to replace steam the engines in the forefront of operations on the East Coast were not Peppercorns or Thompsons but Gresley Pacifics. Read Peter Townend's book or the 'green book' Part 2A by the RCTs for an account of this. Day after day 1958-61 the down Flying Scotsman would arrive in Newcastle at 14.45 with an A3 or A4 deputising for a Hornsey/Finsbury Park EE4 to return on the 17.00 up from N/cle to K/X.

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manna
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by manna » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:36 pm

G'Day Gents
I think that Thompson had a gift for rubbing everyone the wrong way and the fact that he was ALWAYS right, got him off to a flying start, with everyone on the LNER, except the Directors, where he was very persuasive, and gave a glowing account of all the things wrong with Gresleys loco's (forgetting the fact, that they had served the LNER very well for the past 18 years)
manna
EDGWARE GN, Steam in the Suburbs.

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by James Brodie » Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:14 pm

in defence of Mr Thompson maybe the opinion of proffesional railwaymen should be taken into account not a group of engine number takers standing on a platform end.
I will stand up as one for Mr Thompson. My qualifications-working down the ladder.
Cleaner,,Passed Cleaner,,Fireman,,Passed Fireman (RED A! Royal Engineers) Loco Inspector etc.
I have fired and driven Mr Thompsons engines and IF they are handled in a sympathetic manner ie some blast on the B1s to keep the fire bright and not be frightened to let it out a bit to get up to 83mph.
L1s have the ''feel'' when notching up for a comfortable ride and the luxuary of an enclosed cab when running tank first.
Remember good models Mr Thompson didn't alter them but built more of them. The North Eastern had overhead electrics but Mr-later Sir Nigel Gresley put the railway world back by over fifty years. How many times has that bit of evidenced been voiced?
I'm not anti Gresley or Raven or Robinson, if you treat a B12 (Scotland) as though buffers were made of glass or another expression (North Eastern Freight) look after the guard and the train will look after itself. The crews who had empathy with their choo choo used to have happy shifts.
Ask a fitter if he preferred an A4 with or without valances or which had the least hammer blow a short or long connecting rod?
also working conditions, one a time of plenty the other wartime and material scarceaties to contend with.
Don't let someones biased opinion ( I have a few Yeardon books as well) influence, find FACTS out first.
These comments are not aimed at anyone in particular just trying to defend someone who is not here to reply.
Jim Brodie.

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coachmann
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by coachmann » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:07 am

Stembok, I didn't word my entry properly. My reference to Thompson and Peppercord Pacifics working the East Coast expresses while Gresleys war-weary Pacifics were under a cloud was in the 1940s/early 50s period.

Speaking with my old passed-cleaners hat on, the best locos to me were those that made life easy (rocking grate and ashpan). I'd have gladly exchanged a LYR 0-6-0 for anything Thompson or Gresley designed when shunting in the pouring rain at Royton Junction or Mumps if it kept me dry..... :lol:

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by stembok » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:56 am

James Brodie: I have spent more decades than I care to remember finding out the FACTS from railwaymen of all grades up to the very senior. Incidentally, I have never heard any of them refer to steam engines as 'choo choos' Also, the members of this forum are, despite not being professional railwaymen in the main, a group of extremely knowledgeable people so your jibe at 'platform enders' is incorrect and insulting. For example, Peter Grafton, whose book on Thompson is referred to on this thread, is/was not a professional railwayman.
I am neither a 'Gresley lover' or a 'Thompson hater' being more interested in the decisions taken and the reasons for them. I admire Gresley, but he was by no means perfect .I am more interested and always have been in history rather than personalities. I confess to being somewhat puzzled by many of the points you make in your post, but we will agree to differ!

coachmann: I agree with you on the use of labour saving devices. Gresley was always solicitous of the comfort of his engine crews and would I am sure have adopted them. They were only really beginning to be adopted generally on his death.

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coachmann
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by coachmann » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:40 pm

Gresley was always solicitous of the comfort of his engine crews and would I am sure have adopted them. They were only really beginning to be adopted generally on his death.
A Thompson B1 came on shed (Lees 26F) one afternoon, brought in from Mumps for some reason. Before long there was a congregation around the B1's cab. It couldn't have been worse if it had been an alien! "Sithee........armchairs, electric light, baffle to shield the driver from th' firehole.....Flamin' mard lot on't th'eastern........

All that was missing was 'Give me an A Class anyday'... :P

(A Class is an LYR 0-6-0 built in the 1890s with a rudementary cab).

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brsince78
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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by brsince78 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:02 pm

I have purchased and read all of the major publications that have covered the development of the Pacific class locomotives on the LNER. Those written by people from within the company / region (e.g. Yeadon / Townend / Rogers) and those not (e.g. Grafton / Cox / Bond). Speaking as a 'platform ender' or more correctly former 'platform ender' may I summarise my understanding of what I have read.....

In summary I believe that Thompson's Pacific designs were a creditable attempt to address the problems that wartime conditions uncovered in Gresley's large engine designs. But it took Peppercorn's design team (including the re-instatement of Bert Spencer) to carry these through to a truly successful conclusion in the A1 class of 1948.

The problem with the Thompson Pacific design was the front-end and his insistence in using equal length piston rods for all three cylinders. This led to the problems with keeping the steam pipe connections tight and cracking of the frames at the front-end and what appears to be a general imbalance in the proportions of the resulting locomotive.

Thompson attempts to fix the Gresley middle big-end on the A4s by lining up the middle cylinder treated the symptom but did not provide the cure. This was only fully resolved under Kenneth Cook's reign at Doncaster (an ex-GWR man). It is interesting though the effect the middle big-end problems at Doncaster had on Freddie Harrison. His design for "Duke of Gloucester" has been credited as the best and was no doubt influenced by his time as Pepp's No.2 at Doncaster.

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Re: Edward Thompson. Good or Bad

Post by Jades » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:19 am

The thing that's always interested me about the whole controversy about Thompson's apparent attitude to Gresley's philosophies about locomotive design is that there never seems to be much talk about the much bigger differences between Wilson Wordsell and his predecessor Thomas William Wordsell - his brother. Wilson rebuilt entire classes introduced by T. W. (most noticeably the Class Cs) and in general doesn't seem to have had a particularly high opinion of any of his brother's ideas other than the cab and the classification system.

Regarding Thompson, he'd been told to retain as much as possible of the P2s when he rebuilt them as Pacifics and in general a lot of his policies have to be viewed in the light of the experience during WW2 with much reduced maintenance due to manpower shortages and a greatly increased workload for the actual engines.

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