torsdag 18. november 2010

November, 26 years ago Class 37 moves....

This month just shows the gritty determination of a syphon basher trying to get up to 10,000 miles on ED boilereds!

Various links on the internet to class 37s are drying up as 80s bashers get a life less interesting....btw

A testimony to the reliability of the core WHL 37s, it was the usual suspects all the way. Not one line in the book for a whole month, just miles-and-chains.

Only thing of note was that I believe I either mileage-optimised the day with a duke to Crianlarich (even "the Bridge o'" , or prefered Charlie Browns on Buchannan St for lunch......I seem to remember tea and scones at Crianlarichs' repoened platform tea room as well.

03.11.1984 Transcard: restricted area

09:06:00 Home Arrochar 37191
09:45:00 Arrochar Glasgow QS 37081
12:20:00 Glasgow QS (Oban) Crianlarich 37112
14:01:00 Crianlarich Glasgow QS 37191
16:50:00 Glasgow QS Dumbarton Central 37051
18:51:00 Dumbarton Arrochar 37191
20:15:00 Arrochar Home 37011

10.11.1984 Trannie restricted area maybe

09:06:00 Home Arrochar 37043
09:45:00 Arrochar Glasgow QS 37081
12:20:00 Glasgow QS (Oban) Crianlarich 37112
14:15:00 Crianlarich Glasgow QS 37043
16:50:00 Glasgow QS Crianlarich 37012
19:xx Crianlarich Arrochar 37112
19:45:00 Arrochar Ardlui 37051
20:01:00 Ardlui Home 37191


17.11.1984 Trannie restricted area maybe

09:06:00 Home Arrochar 37051
09:45:00 Arrochar Glasgow QS 37043
12:20:00 Glasgow QS (Oban) Crianlarich 37033
14:15:00 Crianlarich Glasgow QS 37051
16:50:00 Glasgow QS Bridge-of-Orchy 37043
19:xx Bridge-of-Orchy Home 37027

24.11.1984 Trannie restricted area maybe

09:06:00 Homer Arrochar 37043
09:45:00 Arrochar Glasgow QS 27053
12:20:00 Glasgow QS (Oban) Crianlarich 37175
14:15:00 Crianlarich Glasgow QS 37027
16:50:00 Glasgow QS Crianlarich 37085
19:xx Crianlarich Arrochar 37175
19:45:00 Arrochar Ardlui 37191
20:01:00 Ardlui Home 37033


onsdag 17. november 2010

Misspent Youth??

I have had the conversation on the electic interweb that really we were mis-spending out youths being bashers. I mean I could have been an athelete or used the training to go into the Marines, being late in the fitness stakes peaking at 21! I could have taken up an instrument to match my vocal talent. Well, even a band member of suede was a 50 basher in the 80s/early 90s alledegly!
Link to

What appealled about bashing to me was not just the "thrash" but as for most bashers, it was the game and the cameradery.

It is certainly an unhealty past time phsiologically: Long time sitting, junk food, too much coffee and cola. Ales midweek for the older lads if something produced. But what is there to gain?

Well of course there is entertainment value : I mean 1982-1985 was a great chess board, a "mouse trap" game of moves and shadowy "'gen' " about what was dropping. It was hilarious often: I mean like "all change at Glen Douglas" for example....dreadfiul

It wa all an absoltuely dreadful-flap.

But apart from being a real life equivalent to playstation, what benefits came from bashing?

Firstly independence: or rather the movement away from the womb into a much wider, much more fre, losse family to decide to follow: usually the "moves" would have a gathering of some neds you would know and a top man or two, so you could just turn up: in fact often you hoped to get a move other "men" missed and come in with a line in the book, especially in 1984 and 85 in the days of the huge NBs and the swansong of the 40s.

Travel is fun and refreshing when you are a teenager. I teaches you in fact that the vast majority of people in the UK are actually nice or at least not dangerous. I went places I would not want to go today without any trouble. In fact I think we never had any real trouble with "chavs" or anything, even the Oban Drunks were tame.

I learnt a lot about logistics and thinking that way about connections and "if shit happen
s" back up plkans: changing course quickly to correct mistakes, which is a good thing in life and business. Also to communicate, discuss, propose, debate etc.

A few bashers were into cycling and walkign, combining it with "viewing" and "photting", tunring up with bikes or boots on occasion. Gricing...all stemmed from a basher-spotter hillwalk near Glossop.

For me I came from a tory area and bashing helped me see beyond my own nose ( although most of my mates since 1980 were wo'kin' class come to think of it) and become both egalitarian and able to see the value of public services, and the hard labour and love employees had for "T' Railway". So socio politically it widened my horizons too.

I look back and regret I did not do more physical exercise when I was an early to mid teenage basher: my ideal jobs when I reached twenty were either Royal Marine or tour-de-france rider (grand tour pro), neither of which I was built enough for from the important early teen spring board in body development. Other things I could have done were playing rugger in the class team but they were all too dull for me in the team anyway.

Sod it, basher I was, and after all, life is all about a mis-spent youth and growing old disgracefully....

søndag 14. november 2010

What Might Have Been .::Locos Nearly... Syphon

The class 37 has proven to be the best locomotive from the original dieselisation in terms of both longevity, reliability-service interval and performance relative to original design breif for miixed traffic type 3s.

( Only time will tell if the freight only class 66 will better this from the new world of standardisation , with the sheltered lives of the Class 59s not being comparable.The class 31 and 47 failed in meeting their original design missive, both requiring expensive re-engineering. Class 33s came very close, but lack the outright pulling power in maximum and starting tractive effort that the 37 delivers)

Why did we not see more variants of a successful formula while sulzer managed to work with three different manufacturers, is lost in the past. EE had success with export and Australian manufactured 12CSVT and of course the 16 in portugal and several other countries, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) Malaysia, and also various V8s in SVT and CSVT ( Portugal and Malaysia). The only other "variant" of the V12 was of course the almost type 3 class 31, originally a Mirlees PU machine.

However we came very near to some closely related machines: firstly it is stated that the last batch of 37s could have been "T bone" and 2000hp rated machines in 1965 ( as went to "East Africa" in the late 60s) This uprating prove to be unreliable in 37 292 and of course the BR Class 50/ D400, being compounded by other faults inherent in that locomotive. However an even higher per cylinder specific power capacity was achieved by EE australia (AEI) who delviered the malaysian class 22, with a V8 CSVT rated at no less than 1710 hp.

The v12 is a smoother engine than the 8 and 16 deriviatives because the firing cycle of the pistons is more balanced. The class 50 unveils this in the suprising "dubbing" which is the pulse of several cylinders firing in very close succession/ simultaeneously, creating shock in the engine block which resulted in failures through the 1980s. This was also seen in some class 40s, while such failures are very rare in the 12 cyclinder variant.

Given an improved timing chain, or gear driven system, and better valve gear, then the v12 in the mid to late sixties could have had a reasonable life span at 2000hp in my opinion. Of course the specific capacity of the 270 mm bore ( 10 inch bore, 12 inch stroke over square engine) went on much further, especially in marine environments. The 215mm RK215now achieves almost twice the standard traction rating of the 12CSVT.

The T bone class were a near miss, but even by the late 60s, there was marked down turn in the demand for freight and continuing electrification entailed that more type 4 , generally peaks and 40s, could be released to work the type of traffic envisaged for type 3s. The class 50s are really an after thought in dieselisation.

Back up here though! We almost got a 175hp /cylinder v16 CSVT; EE offered apparently BOTH a CVST engine for the forties in 1960 AND Co Co design to RA 6 at some point. Given these could have been made pre 1962, the loco would have been nosed, centre coded, tumble home sided CoCo. Stretched? Well not really absolutely: the portugeuse 1800s are shorter and much lighter than a class 50, being really an RA5 loco. We could have seen two variants: a no boiler compact freight machine made in the 37 body, and a dual heat longer bodied variant, both rated at between 2200hp and 2450hp, being the proven rating/cylinder of the 12CSVT from 1958 onwards.

EE could have come close to another type 3 : The baby deltic could have been a truly half deltic instead of the heavily framed diversion into type 2. In other words the 18 or a turbo 12 or 15 variant could have been put in a light tubular framed shell onto BoBo, or into a class 37 / D6700 body directly: WHy? Well why on earth did they get away with building the baby deltics in the first place? A full 18 deltic would have been fully compatible with the big sister's PUs and the CoCo bogies the same as type 3s. Lunacy? Not nearly as daft as the T9 in the bobo.

Another flight of lunacy, was the twin engined t9 deltic for both diesel hydraulic and D-E applications: the idea behind the DE version being that one engine could be turned off for hauling empties or working slower trains. That would have been a 2200 hp noisy beast.

Finally, had we seen a more rapid reduction in non standards in the late 60s, like all deisel hydraulics, then in the early 70s there may have been a gap for something standard enough to other loco fleets but of type 4 power: the last quote i have found on the 12CVST engine's rating prior to it becoming the super powered class 58 RKT, was 2500hp in a marine application, meaning about 2250hp for traction. Fitted in a shortened 50 body, or in the 50 body with dual heat , utilising an auxillary power generator, this would have been a very flexible loco: essentially a 37 with more grunt for both freight and 100mph trains. Given the superior power delivery of EE then this would have probablky outperformed the peaks and 47s.

But what could have happened with what we had. 37s !?

1) double headed high speed sub class: double heading is very standard in north america and many other countries to haul longer trains, shorten journey times and ensure higher reliability of services. This set up was tried at least three times on BR:

i) On western region, a trial in comparison / substituion to unrelaibel westerns on the highest speed expresses at that time. Deemed a failure as it wore the locos too hard for their current set up, and to do with fuel used and availability of locos to displace steam.

ii) on the Glasgow-Edinburgh service they were trialled perhaps in comparison the class 27s, end to end though with Blue Star cables run through the train. 37s could keep within 5 minutes of the heavily maintained class 47-7 route, using about 48-52 minutes on the route with the stops at Falkirk and Haymarket included.

iii) two thirty sevens were uprated to work over 100mph to propell the unpowered APT set on the ECML prior to electirfication and type 4 stock coming into use. Possibly a 37 10x and 17x. Presumably allowed to run at 1000 rpm or some electircal modification??

Given a sub class with a separate ETH geneator ( as planned , see wikipedia link to an EE document as a pdf) and four field diversions, the last coming in at about 80 to 85mph, then the syphon could have worked faster services.

The highest speed I heard was a pair working on the Great Eastern, which was calculated at 114mph, according to John a "top man" from Alfreton. Given some of the timings on the ECML and the Glasgow Edinburgh route, 37s could get up to and sustain 100mph in their original gearing.

An alternative option would be regearing to the class 40 gearing ratio, and altering the field diversion and electrical system to deliver a somewhat smoother progress for 200-400 tonne passenger trains cruising at 90 and peaking at 100mph on good sections of track. As a supplement to this option, running in pairs with the front loco switching to control would have been a sensible option for many semi fast routes.

tirsdag 2. november 2010

The Duff :Class 47 12LDA locomotive

In my last blog on syphon days I pulled toghether my own learning and electric webernet 'gen' on the short falls of the class 47 aka "duff" or spoon. Really though in the early to mid 1980s ( and probably near the demise of diesel hydraulics and the Deltics before that), the Duffs were well and truly hated by the majority of bashers.

There were of course duff bashers, but they were thin on the ground and tended to hide themselves amongst "rat" bashers, at least they could feel twice the men they were on single headers! Another of Brushes efforts, rescued by EE-Rustons with a decent reliable PU, was the class 31s and in 5 years bashing I never met anyone who proclaimed to be a 31 basher let alone just a fan.

Why did we hate duffs though?

Pretty straight forward: they displaced more popular locomotives from their diagrams. The problem was in fact with the loss of general freight traffic in the 1970s and the introduction of IC 125s, duffs were displaced to other traffic.

Rumours abounded that less reliable members of the class in the early 80s, were encouraged to become somewhat itinerant by their home depots. Thus they would replace a failed 45 or the like on a newcastle, get sent to Edinburgh and work a sunday "drag" down to Carlilse, monday up to glasgow replacing a failed class 25 or 27.

More specifically, and a saving grace for we syphon bashers, duffs would turn up on various 1x and 2x passenger bookings which were type 4 : thus the two most popular EE classes in the early 80s, 40s and 50s, were often substitued to for a spare duff.

Even on syphon terratory they dared to show their ugly faces: the occaisional Tain to Inverness shoppex was duff as the line was in fact RA6 rated. Once in a blue moon a 47 would work the sleeper portion at Dumbarton or pick up a failed 37 south of Criagendorran ...( a rare event on the WHL despite the conditions and often poor state the locos arrived at ED from their previous depots)

For other enthusiasts they also bowled them out for a good line in the book: type 2 bashers had to put up with duffs being dropped onto some services. For example the Stranrærs and the Type 2 bookings to Dundee.

And ugly they were: flat nosed, slab sided, nearly all identical. Void of personality and any individuality in engine note, the revised liveries were something of a relief. So another reason to hate them, when the 20s, 37s and 40s had diverse appearances and personalities, and deltics and 50s had something of an exlusivity by their relatively low class numbers.

The other annoying thing about them, was that when you did HAVE to take one and wanted a fast diagram to get you there, Duffs often lived up to their name by either not turning up, running slowly or failing underway. The only good duffs for us were the shove-duffs, the 47/7s which in 1982, would whizz you Glas-Edin faster than the plastic does today. The 47-7s also lead to a spate of 37 workings on the route in 1984: IIRC, there was a spate of excessive brake wear and overheating engines in their small fleet, necessitating entire sets to be dropped in favour of the spare Mr I or II sets from Cowlairs depot.

47-7s were seen as the flagship duffs, but they were also the flagship general repair budget and I guess they probably had double the number of A, B and C insepctions in order to keep them going ( on what is a very demanding route, which would have destroyed many other classes like the 50s) 37s actually nearly got chosen for the route over end-to-end 27s and were trialled during the early 70s. The worries about the fuel bill and the use of ETH stock perhaps were the issues there.

Æsthetically it wasn't just the looks and lack of variety: It was also the sound and performance. For all that strumming and whining they make, progress was often embarresingly slow up to 60mph. Often up QS tunnel the load 5 , the shove duff would not reach as good a speed by cowlairs as a 37 on a bigger load. Compared to a 50 on western region, duffs were slower. On those good running metals I believe peaks were in fact overall faster, maybe by virtue of brute force/ momemtum in pushing through field diversions.

The other "glory duffs" the generator 401-420 were supposedly good enough to challenge deltics: according to deltic bashers, they were often ETHELS, with only the auxillary generator in fettle to work trains. The gennies were well maintained at Gateshead, but seemed worse for failure when ever they wandered off patch a little. More power at rail on ETH stock, but still not as impressive as a 50 which should be laying down less kw at rail when ETH is on.

mandag 1. november 2010

The class 47 : Why were they " duffs"?

By doing a kind of Google vox populi, I come across what seems to a majority of blogs and class descriptions which quote that the class 47 was the ipso facto best DE locomotive of all time on UK rails.

This was very much far from the perception of the class through its' entire fleet history and not in the experiences of most enthusiasts and many rail staff. This is especially true when the troublesome early years of the class at the original design rating of 2750hp are taken into account.

There are a good few emotions which can arise on discussing "duffs" given so many insects today have suffered such main line deprivation as to fall to the dark strumming side. Putting the memotions and love of any other class's noise, look and performance to one side, why were the "duffs" not the best?

1) Success of Original Design in Operation: FAIL

Background to the failure of the Class 47 to live up to its' original design is as follows:

Following the mixed fortunes of the "peak" classes, and the somewhat low performance of the D200s, more modern type 4s of higher horse power were desired by the BTC & /BRB.

For sound principles of purchasing (risk managing large capital renewal, whilst also some dubious political motivations, the modernisation plan in it's first phase intended to spread the risk and supply of public money to diverse UK manufacturers. Unfortunetly the mixture of principles and politics produced acquisition of motive power from no less than xx suppliers, entailing two major traction transmission- DE and DH- , with xx power units (PUs: diesel engines) and variations within those PUs and transmissions, creating yet more diveristy and lack of standard equipment.

However the folly of this race to dieselise and keep many constituencies happy, was evident to the BTC & BRB almost immediately by 1960. Such a wide "spread betting" on types and manufacturers demanded that every class had its own introductory run in and rectification, and every class required it's own list of consumables and spare parts. This obviously placed huge strains on not only training labour to work on these machines but also maintain them.

In a rapid change of strategy towards standardisation, by 1962, BTC & BRB had a new ethos in the future of DE being the flat ended, single power unit running at medium speed (rpm) , 110 to 124 tonnes max (19 t / axel) , CoCo . As if by some sudden flash on insight, the BRB had decided that a far greater degree of standardisation from far fewer suppliers was the economic way forward.


The concept of a such a lighter, more powerful type 4 was already mixing in the ether. Even a single super engined Deltic variant was drawn.

English Electric had delivered the most reliable range of locomtives to date, and themselves realised the gap in their power range between the D6700s/D200s and the Deltics. EE utilised one of the two spare deltic locomotive bodies to test the "16 CSVT" air charge cooled version of the RK derived v16, in producing a private and speculative second prototype, appropriately numbered DP2.

BRCW prepared the immaculate looking "lion"
prototype, with the higher horse power 12LDA intercooled engine uprated to the desirable 2750hp and with an axel wieght of less than 19 tonnes. This locomotive is in appearance the obvious forerunner of the class 47. Also its less than reliable history in service was a forerunner to the disatourous introduction of the class 47.

Despite the superior reliability of nearly all their types, and the supremacy of the Deltics on the premier ECML route, BRB did not want to commit to a single supplier and did not take up the DP2 as a potential class in the early 1960s. Perhaps the BTC &BRB decided EE - rustons were too dominant a supplier by that time. Brush had already had major issues with their type 2 AIA, which were dventually entirely re-egined to EE-Rustons 12 SVT, and the class 46 which required serious remediation after only a couple of years in service.

To defend Brush however, who had pehaps more experience of higher ampage / voltage generator-motor equipment than AEI who supplied BRCW for "Lion", on paper the class 47 looked like being a winner and in outset deserved at least a significant proportion of the new type 4 order, if not the "lion's " share which BRB/BTC came so soon to regret. Also of some noteworthyness in Brush's design, it was not only the highly durable electrical equipment which prove the test of time. Also the innovative stressed frame has shown itself ideal for performance and longevity. In this major structural strategy, the loads of haulage are carried by the entire body frame elements and not a traditional, heavier twin "I" beam "chassis".

The key issue was that the 12LDA as mass produced at 2750hp, was over rated and the stress on the twin bank engine resulted in serious faults. This has been attributed to Sulzer engaging sub contractors, but in essence the design had probably reached its ultimate reliable rating at 2500hp/750rpm. However it is no mute point that Sulzer later withdrew from traction power unit production.

Thus the 47 did not live up to its original design missive and furthermore, was a hugely expensive folly. Not only was the power unit more than twice the cost of the superior 16 CSVT, the cost of rectification carried out at Vickers in Barrow ran into the millions of pounds, and in todays money this would be tens of millions of pounds.

This cost of rectification and the loss of revenues in delivering lower performance and reliability than anticipated of this large class of locomotive, far outshadow the design and reliability issues with the 50 D400s from EE.

2) Superiority to the 16 CSVT : Little Comparability

DP2 reportedly delivered both a higher performance and more reliable operation than expected, as initially trialled and also after the refitting with the advanced KV10 engine and power control equipment. Projected service interval was in excess of 6000 hours and performance in acceleration was superior to the twin engined deltics.

However when coming to eventually order from EE as policy, for part of the higher powered type 4 CoCo supply, (having bought so many 12LDA type 4s alread yet not wishing to place all eggs in one basket), the BRB/BTC demanded the most advanced equipment, much of it still experimental, be implemented and the locomotives. Furthermore these untried technologies would be introduced on the most demanding high speed passenger route in the UK : The northern end of the WCML.

In effect BRB ordered 50 advanced prototypes.

Had EE been free to produce a simpler locomotive based on proven equipment, as they did for the portugeuse with the 1800 class, then the comparability to Brush type 4 CoCo would have been more apparent. Also given any discussion on reliability being extended by a 10% downrating in power unit output then the 16CSVT would have no doubt enjoyed more reliability. in practice being the same output per cylinder as the ubuiqtous and very reliable class 37 /D6700.

It has been suggested by some commentators that a senior manager at BRB/BTC proposed replacing all the 12LDAs in the 47s with 16CSVTs given the documented performance of DP2 and the yet to transpire issues with the overly complex D400s / class 50s. At less than half the price of the swiss-franco 12LDA, there may have been a comprimise in seeking reparative costs from the suppliers.

IIronically then, in their next significant order for locomotives, Brush actually opted for this very combination in designing the class 56 with essentially an uprated 16CSVT engine with a turbo configuration not unlike that found in the Portuguese 1800s.

Another point on comparability of class 50 type 4, post 1980s refit, and the 47. Class 50s were from outset charged with the most demanding passenger operations on the network and this followed them onto the western region. In the 1980s they continued to work 100mph load 10 + expresses before being relegated to the unsutiable MULE services out of waterloo amongst others. In comparing MIles Per Casualty ( MPC) then the comparison was made previously on the interweb, that class 47s fair no better on high speed expresses with punishing accelerations.

The fleet of original 47/7s were frequently lacking in availability and demanded much extra attention at ED and HA depots in order to keep them running on the Edin-Glasgow, Glasgow-Aberdeen and Edin-Perth via Markinch services.

On the other measure of "fleet availability %" 47s could enjoy availability by declining need for traction. In fact even derby includes a quote from the mid seventies, where Crewe works alone had 38 members of the class in for repair, almost 10% of the fleet requiring works attention at only one of 5 works who conducted major repairs upon them excluding the manufacturer.

In their favour, the twin crank, single turbo 12 cylinder LDA PU was easier to rectify and generally faster to resolve faults on that the more complex v16 from EE/ Rustons. In addition to simpler control and electrical delivery systems, this undoubtely contributed to a rosier picture of fleet availability as the class 47 locomotives despite failing quite frequently, could be turned around at shed's quicker than many Ruston engined locomotives. Also the Brush electrical equipment has been quoted on the itnerweb, as being easier to work upon by fitters.

FOOTNOTE: The One That Got Away: The class 48

Despite the LDA being both a well grounded 2500hp power unit and only uprated 10% to achieve the desirable 2750hp, the engine appeared to be at it's maximum practical rating at 2500hp, at least within the engineering design and build committed to for the price. However for somewhat bizzarre reasons, the 12LVA engine was also offered.

This engine is quite a departure from the twin bank engine, but by the mid sixties had already shown its performance and reliability being the prime motive DE power unit of SNCF in France.

Some "duff" enthusiasts cite this engine as being the major let down, but this is far from the truth. The issue with a simple locating pin on a tool used to assist fitters in mounting and this lead to incorrect positioning with dammage to the "dowel" resulting in metal parts in the crank case, and probably other more serious acute failures which were not attributed to this.

SNCF enjoyed lognevity and relaibility from their LVA engined locos which were encharged with a range of express passenger services, such as Paris-Basel, and diverse frieght and regional workings.

Further to this was the 16LVA engine as mounted in the speculatively produced "Kestrel". This suffered the same fate from poor alignment of the bearings, but the issue was rectified.

The power units of LVA woudl have been a welcome variety to railway enthusiasts. and no doubt reliability being built to more modern tolerancies demanded in a Vee form. A class of Kestrel derived locomotives could have challenged the later supremacy of the IC 125 and provided 120mph + extended running on services where a locomotive change was practical between electrified and diesel routes.