søndag 10. mars 2013

The Best Thrashes!!!

Well which in a nutshell then, were my best ever thrashes?

I am jsut going to make a list, some locos and diagrams to be corrected or filled in later

37028 to Ft Bill

37028 vorh set up if I remember right for far north working. Big at the time, and it was an okay performer. Rarity in that it and 37017 were two of the very few vac'only 37s dotting around Scotland at the time. I ended up only ever bagging a few VO, but quite a few VB's turned up on loan to ScR while they awaited HGR E or H exams.

Good run with my sister in law in tow and a party atmosphere on the train, sarnies and flasks packed on a baking hot day in c 1983.

Track bed went on fire north of Rannoch or somewhere adding to the party atmoshpere ( still cant remember the station, seemed like a disused halt. Have piccies somewhere )

37014 1650 Glas-Ft William.

37014 features in the best ever, ever thrash below. But this was well up there., It was running either load six or eight on a hot summer saturday, and it was particularly thrash north of Ardlui with the curves showing off the attacking punch of the EE type 3 or this torturous route.

26 000 and 26 000 0635 IS to Far North (to Dingwall)  My first ever big overnight and it was to do the classic, probably either october 1982, december that year on a "Loanded" 10 quid freedom or summer 1983. It was damp and chilly at snechie.

This is the only type 2 in the book of thrashes because by in large type 2s were crappy underrated locos which should have been re-engined to 1500 hp at least. You needed two of them to get going, but this route really showed what a pair could do with type 4 power and 140 tonnes of momentum up front. We hurtled through the countryside and it was only with some regret that I bailed for the more usual Achnasheen leap, or perhaps I did cross - Skye for another thrash.

37025 Mallaig to Ft William 198x post my cross Skye bus and ferry move.

The cross skye move was accomplished with the freedom of scotland waived at both ferries and a dosey bus driver: it wasn't valid on the busses but was on the ferries. Seeing I was a 14 year old on my tod he let me on and I journeyed to a sweltering Mallaig. It must have been nearly 30'C there for some reason and the train was unbearably warm until we got going. By god we got going, I have not comeo out of Mallaig so fast since! The driver calmed down after Arisaig, but for those 10 minutes he was as they say, possessed.

37014 + EHTEL

This is the famous one, with Chris Gibb on board : all of us on the ex WCML buffet just behind the sleeper cars with Peter Walker making up almost an hour between Crianlarich and Dumbarton to leave almost on time there as I waved goodbye to him doing what with 37014 ? THats right, more notch 8 and get it all moving !!  This is well written elsewhere, but Peter knew the CAPABLE speeds and with the air brakes he could really just slam them on for Garelochhead, Faslane and then Rhu. The run past cardross was like being on the WCML, must have been 90 mph in the 60-70 zone. Absolute hell, have blogged on it b4.

4514... Bristol- Glasgow Beedz. Blogg3ed on this too, absolutely amazing, waved bye bye to a nice pair of enormouse 37s on lickey as we went up it at over 70 mph. I never respected these locos before or indeed after, but this was a diesel run to remember and a fantastic bit of stick merchanting!!  Also I think we went via Worcester loop or whatever which required a pilot loco : this was  another huge 37 and once again, it was not deemed necessary to plug it on the front as often happened on those services with a duff in tow.

Peter Waterman and some other ex drivers say that the 45 was the best loco they used, beating all comers but that is partly down to huge tractive effort being available with their massive weight. If they had been on ScR when I was a basher (and i did intend to do them out of Edinbra on the ECML  but never got round to it, fearing being stuck without  a last train or decent over night move) then I would have taken them instead of duffs when on option and covered lines with them perhaps. But then 40s may well have lasted longer in that parrallel universe and then 45s were the enemy.

37296 1715 Glasgow Edin

37147/174 Scarboroough- Glasgow, from Edingburg.

Both above showing the ease at which a 37 in standard form could tackle a 70mph average speed on the route with a decent rake of stock.

37209 1984 July, to and from Stranraer. Not much on the way down, determined to do the whole route with a big NB 37 though form Glas Cent. After telling the driver I thought it was a good loco, and the train leaving 2 minutes late, the thrash up the glens there was spectacular. A well functioning bit of kit, with a driver who just let it rip.

33000 Crewe- Shrewsbury, Bailing off an Addexx / Mystex at Crewe we took a Cardiff service instead of the duff, sans billett. The wee 33 totally surprised me, being my first ever one and I was truly grateful to Sulzer for making at least one fine LDA variant . Type 3s always had to work for their living and I rate all type threes, even a soft spot for non ETH 31s.

50 008 0900 Bristol-London to Bath.

First run on a 50 with the first compo not stuffed with Ruperts or other neds. Stuck my head out a whiole and the loco just showed how much faster than a duff they were when working well, and how VERY much better they sounded than any sulzer sloshing strummer.

Varioous Roarers

We were lucky in having Bert_Exs and Mystexs from dear aul' Glesga because they were comprised of the old mark I 100mph airbraked stock and nearly always a Roarer. Roarers werent really any good at accelerating from a start, 86s and 87s being better, but over an 86 they did seem to hurtle around at speeds between 70 and 100 for some reason. Maybe the mark Is just made them feel faster, and certainly they went over 100mph if they had the road on these limited stop specials.

By 1983 though the surviving 81s and 85s had begun to go bang quite often so we did record two failures.

More on the night:

37 026/025, to carlisle in the dark down the WCML goign mental and the same on 1S81

I did of course want to do a few routes with 37s and cleared a fair bit of the standard stuff at least. 37s on the Carlisle Via Dumfries in winter were rare, and having 1) not done the line with a syphon 2) not having anything better to do than 110 miles off one thirty seven rather than 35 off three up the WHL.

Nothing of note to Annan because the route is effing boring and effing poor for a 37 becasue a heck of a lot of it is 40-50mph right in 2nd feild divert, the 37s achilles heel on twisty and gradient strewn routes with speed limits of between 50 and 60mph: they rarely impress unless the driver gets above divert and breaks the limit! However upon ajoining the WCML south of Annan rather gingerly over the points and maybe to a signal, the driver vented his frustration at field diversion by going through all three on the WCML, necessitating a rather heavy bit of braking to come to a halt in the station. Jeckyll and Hyde you could say, and the way the mark I's were ratteling I'd say it was over 90mph.

1S81 was usually some crappy tea cup or tip top with boiler on, but it dropped a 37 with boiler, probably 025 one night and it showed the type two diagram that it was just a wee lassie, and the big brother type 3 was now in charge. Thrashed the hell out of it with a very impressive run as far as stirling. I may have bailed there, line acheived for a tractor can't quite remember, but a boilered 37 at Perth on a chilly summer midnight hour does ring a bell .

37 264 ex works, no clag, just thrash up the WHL with Davey Fraser saying it was the best loco on eastfield in his inimitable "old man" way. Great thrash, hardly any clag which equals a well prepared set of valves and timing chaine tuned to perfection.

37 188 was one of my beasts as was 178 . 175 was just too claggy nutty to be a contender but neds love clag these days!!

40170 on the overnight to Perth, blogged before. Nice tunes up the QSt tunnel!!!
40155 as blogged, why oh why did they cut up locos in such good nick when we had rancid type 2s and some tatty duffs whcih could have been cannibalised to keep their bretherin of vermin going at other depots while a selection of the best 40s whislted on providing secondary back up power admirably into the 1990s???

40 118 05 jan 1985 Carlisle Settle with Reidy, Rupert and Co. Particularly hell on the way North really big thrash out of Settle. Two coaches at least more or less stuffed with bashers. I mean the revenue from bashers would have paid for the refurbishment of a class of 20 of these old slugging beauties ???

Apart from that I think there are a few I will remember, including my first decent run behind a 37-4 out of ft bill which was hell in the snow up the valley to Tulloch and beyond " like a canon in the night"

By then I was in fact a bert, I viewed 37-4s as new fangled stuff, 40s were gone, 1984 had happened ( miners strike and all) so I retired pretty much officially in April 1985.

Do I regret not bashing longer because 37s came to work a lot more lines in scotland ? Well hell no!!! I had healthier hobbies to persue and I had had my run for my money of bashing. It was all just a game and I liked the back drop and thrash of my dear old west highland line over anything else. When sprinters came in there, I started using the bus which is a lovely run over via Inverary for anyone going that way, and then I eventually got my driving licence.

I turned up for the last weekend of 37s on the normal WHL serbvices to be confronted by a gaggle of insects (probaby now all "top men" with shares in good 37s!!) calling my beloved Syphons, "growlers" and warning me that this was indeed the last weekend. I felt that they were the new generation and that the old timers were gone, and anyway I was flung off another train because transcards had become invalid on the west highland line which left a fascist bad taste in my mouth. It was time to move on.

Go back and do it all again? Hell yes!!!!1

lørdag 9. mars 2013

Deltic Top Speeds

I was just having a little google about for any facts on the highest ever recorded top speed of a Deltic locomotive.

Well there were plenty of " i heard from..:" ,  or "read somewhere" from neds and "needle off the scale" from actual ECML drivers.

Also there are a few HST idiots who think deltics were a bit rubbisy and needed to be withdrawn for the zinging vermin to take over. The Deltic loco fleet was a small fleet of locos, the smallest of any commissioned main line diesel loco, and was built to supply the top express services on the ECML with improved running times on diagrams as a stop-gap for a decade while electrification was completed on the WCML and later the ECML in that timescale. Improved diagrams over exisiting sulzer powered type 4s entailed sustained 100mph operation on the new continuously welded sections. "3000 HP was needed under the bonnet" as the quote goes.  So that the deltics lasted 21 years in mainline express service is to their credit.

Top speed however is much more a matter of debate, and you then encounter the "short mile" calculation error etc. Firstly let us agree on one thing : 100mph was the maximum permitted speed and not that capable of being achieved. A loco being driver limited in those days means that a higher velocity could be envisaged and that as said above 100mph was the desired cruising speed.

DP1 , the deltic prototype had been uprated in some ways and had safety clearance for 105mph in fact, probably giving this leeway for driver error in maintaining an average of 100mph. That production locos could have been designed slower is not really a consideration if in fact DP1 was not all highly over engineered in terms of electrical equipment.

Throw the next thing into the higher than 105mph camp for them to fight with: The power units were not always set correctly to their top rpm. The non turbo deltic engine 18 cylinder, was rated at 2200hp-2500hp for the admiralty for use in MTB's, first tested in former E boats versus their much larger Merceded engines. These Power Units (PU) ran at 2000 rpm where as the production deltic locos' PU's ran at 1500rpm....ish ...it would appear that the rev limiter was not so finely adjusted and after some improvements to the design and materials during the first 6 years of loco's life with for example variation in the piston head materials, then it would have been ill advised to deliver an engine running a little below 1500rpm or banging off a rev limiting ceiling perhaps so to speak.

It is alleged that D9009 had a fault in this setting while under the cherised protection of the deltic-preservation-society, with an actual power output of c. 2000hp for one of the two PU's!

"secret trials at 3600hp" stories abound when I was a lad too, and have perpetuated on the internet. There probably i some truth in either collusion between fitters or the manufacturer and some managers with an interest more in timings than reliability and service interval! If you rev two car engines to the same relative difference of 500rpm in a deltic, then you hardly really could tell the difference  i'd say.

So here we come to a double ten percent club: firstly you have the permitted top speed being 105 in the prototype, so you could argue that a 10% safety margin was established above this: that being the 115.5mph.

114 mph seems to be quoted often on the internet and IIRC from deltic "men" in their light tweed jackets as they condescended to scurry around the ScR in post deltic 1980s.

Throw in then a second 10% in: 10% more power per PU due to slight misalignments in the limiter governor and Napier or the ertswhile Findsbury park fitter not wanting to disappoint with lower than desired power output. So 3630hp. More importantly actually in the highest field diversion a higher rpm will create a higher voltage with decreasing amps, so that is actually quite important for peak speed running: being able to extend the range before weak field is encountered by applying a higher voltage.

So now we do indeed come up to the possibility that standard deltics pushing out 3300hp, about 1.8kw at rail, could do 114 mph with their ETH off WHILE, an inadvertantly uprated deltic could then go over 120 mph.

You could just ask drivers if they had physically more power handle to pull on, but the situation is more complex due to field weakening, the electrical control system in DE locos and the momentum of the train.

The only real way is to look at timings from fast runs and deduce then the speed troughs for slowing to stop at stations and then be able to back calculate particular speed peaks which relate to the track conditions being straight and probably down hill. With runs of under an hour for 100 miles between stations it is obvious that a higher peak has been hit and maintained for a substantial period in order to allow for the acceleration and braking periods.

I'm of the opinion that a deltic did physically do 120 mph for a mile at least somewhere but however I think the 128.8 quote is probably a miscalculation based on short miles MSTS or whatever they are called.

The top speed for 37s has been quoted in pairs to me as being 114 mph noted by milepost timings on the great eastern, and 116 anecdotally. What speed they ran 37s to propell the APT stock on the ECML during high speed experiments is another story perhaps in the mythology of the blue and yellow railway.

fredag 8. mars 2013

Solutions, Solutions HST-2

I have a pretty clear view on how HST should be replaced.

Firstly I am not disagreeing that HST 1 upgrade is a good idea. It is however a bit typical of many rail companies not wanting to commit capital investment on a scale the public would and blaming short licence periods. However HST1 upgrade could be equally well achieved by a different means which would give the rolling stock more flexibility for use under 25kv wires. More on that soon.

But we need really not just one type o HST -2.  Why? Well we have the pending electrification of the GWR which will render a large part of any new fleet obsolete. Also HST 125 was never all that suitable off the GWR; MML; ECML and latterly WCML. THe single main restricting factor was the legnth of the sets, which precluded their use at several major terminii and a large proportion of platforms across the network. They weren't designed for stopping services but is the amount of first class and the restuarant-buffet vehicle really still relevant?

Also of importance is the fact that the train doesn't tilt of course which may seem like a given no-can-do, but in light of the snail pace of super-high-speed routes in the UK  (HS1 and HS2 maybe very much later) if the UK and Scotland want radically faster services which can out-compete car journeys and compete with medium distance flights then there will need to be diesel powered tilting trains.

The aim is realistically to be 15- 20% faster than current intercity services IMHO. This means 12 minutes per hour which means for example running at 100mph average instead of 75mph or 120 instead of 100mph. Average speed overall journey, and pick up time from stops are the key two factors to consider. Peak speeds help of course the average but there are always sections and diagrams which allow for some peak speed for a non tilting train. So journeys which currently take an hour and a half come down to an hour and 12 , but it is more noticeable when you break down the hour service and the two to three hour service. Take Glasgow or Edinburgh to Aberdeen: an ideal situaion for tilting trains.

However first and foremost we need to erradicate the additional subsidy stops on routes. Reducing these or even going non stop gives you a 5-10% better timetable diagram on even one hour services. So then you only have to run 10% faster on average and you can do this by tilting at 60mph on 50 mph bends for example it doesn't need to be all over 100mph stuff or vastly out of safe signal-stop distances.

Now we cans start to look at a smaller tilt which perhaps allows for a wider body or less mechanical equipment for the tilt, and an easier tilt for the 80 tonne diesel electric power cars.

And I think the answer has to be in using powercars for tilting trains and locomotives for wide bodied standard trains. Multiple units have nearly all had their issues compared to the best of the post war DE locomotives in terms of performance and reliability and also in the hidden respect of capacity reduction which was a sneeky side effect of moving away form drawn-rolling stock.

The most important aspect of using locos / power cars is that after you electrify a route, you can remove then and place in AC motive power. The locos can then be cascaded to other non electric routes, and in the case of tilting powercars, they can be coupled to new built stock to extend the trains to other non AC routes or indeed they can be designed in outset as convertable to AC drive with removal of diesel power units being lighter than normal locomotives anyway.

Tilting should have been ideal for the voyagers, but that is another story. It is an ideal solution transpennine, far west, MULE and ScR to taking 30 minutes off a   a current two half hour journey.

The GWR and routes like the N.Wales and Midland and Great Eastern whcih are still largely not AC, lend themselves though to high speed non tilting stock which by in large has more capacity for passengers and their luggage. Coaches can be longer and wider and have more luggage volume above seating.

Now that GWR to Cardiff at least will get wires, it seems obvious that proven technology should be applied with mark 4 type stock or an updated , light mark 3 like stock being developed. On top of this you would either place a 4000 hp single power unit ie LOCO, or HST type power cars and then you replace these sets with DVTs at each end and a twin power car PSO in the middle of the set, or leccie loco at the end allowing for swap of loco and through services to the west or flexible rostering on the Bristol-Birmingham-Oxford-London triangle with swapping of motive power as needed.

Glasgow Edinburgh is often hailed as a route begging for super high speed trains, but really many of these routes just dont need it: Manchester to all the northern cities needs only the 10% acheivable by less stops and further 10% by tiltign OR line improvements IMHO. Glas-edinburgh needs only electrification, certainly not tilting at 100mph - the route needs capacity and reliablilty and this could even  be done with refurbished 318s!! A ten percent improvement is all that is needed really in terms of the wider picture of need-cost-benefit: do we need glasgow -edinburgh in 20 minutes? No , the car journey centre to centre takes well over an hour on most days so a 38-46 minute journey will be ample and proabbly have a far lower carbon footprint than sparking stuff over at 120mph peak.

It is more routes like Liverpool/Manc- Newcastle and those NW cities south to Bristol , the same in Scotland with  Aberdeen and Inverness services which can gain big wins over cars, where current flight travel is marginal.

What I am then saying is that it is indeed horses-for-courses : the GWR and MML need long, high capacity rolling stock with 140mph maximum built in for the near future. Also this solution must allow for redundancy of diesel when wires come uip, but also allow for hauling of through trains to the west. Transpennine, far west and Scottish 2 hour plus  services need a tilting diesel solution.

lørdag 2. mars 2013

zing zing hst 125, Maggie Thacher, House of Lords....that 'ss stoon the vinegar

Well most people hated zings, trams call em even HST or IC  125's, but they pretty much single handedly reversed the ailing reputation of B's intercity division. A reputation not deserved really at all in my opinion..

Generally in the 1970s there was a malaise of all the rubbish Britain had becom,m was just a huge e reluctance reluctance to invest in a time of what can now be truly alled hyper inflation.

Goal Posts Wider than the whole Pitch

The main issue was that the big railway, InterCity, was expected to compete with the average speed of 70mph on motorways. As I ranted before about efficieny of high speed and ultra high speed trains, that is of course a fantasy. Cross birmingham or into London centre you are starting on a false premise and being made to compete with a goal post far wider than the true width of the whole pitch.

Intercity from the days of the Deltics and 'Roaring' AC locos was a very competitive service in the 1960s, while the perception of the motorway competition in the 70s lead to unrealistic diagrams (timetables for joe public). There was not enough slack for slight delays or any HSE caperrs, let alone a class 50 witha  warning light  on at carlisle

In the late 70s you got to London on the WCML in just under 5 hours from Glasgow, which is lightening fast for the time. At the time, the shuttle flight from Abbotinch to Heathrow was a little over an hour with boarding and arrival taking at least another hour, while the tube or taxi into Westminister or the like was around an hour too. So you were up at two thirds of the time for often ten times the price.

The "Up" Royal Scot left 0910 and at one point it was non stop to Preston.

Enter the Tory Mysterons in the NW

But there was a mysterious lot of additional stops added to many of the services on the WCML in the early 80s. Penrith of all far flung and inconsequential places was popped on the express diagrams. Congestion was blamed and the need to serve the N.W. at all of carlisle,  penrith/oxenholme/kendel and the "city" of Lancaster. However what lay behind it was the privatisation of British airways and the need for BA to look like a shingin example of privatisation and get people off the train.

AIrlines were are one time in history like the channel tunnel: they were too captial intenstive for private investment alone and they were too important and perceptually salient to be left to the vagiaries of the stock markets. However in principle airlines are very different from railways: there is no infrastructure on the ground which is significant enought to touch literally so many locations, people and transit nodes as to really need public ownership. Airports and planes take up little space. Airlines used to run a premium transport service and have no real social responsibility for transport like the railway has had through history.

Into the era of Thatcher, who was pretty much anti rail but tolerated it so as to keep some of the hoi palloi off the M1 and M4 on her way to Chequors or her Boston home.The railways always has been and always will be run as a highly beaurocratic or rather HSE and operative administration heavy business. Outside war time, the railway has always been run with the aim of breaking even on operations while it's captial invest,ment and failure history makes the internet bubble seem like  brownie picnic.

Asphalt Folly

The Irony was that the 1970s and 80s mass expansion and interconnectivity of motorways, and the advancement of them as ring roads, in the aftermath of the mistakes in planning of the embryonic 1960s network, lead to the grid lock of M6 Birmingham and the m25 amongst many other snail speed areas on the network. It took a while for planners to realise that they had built a magnetic monster for traffic which sucked more people into their cars in search of the house-price to income trade of. Coupled to the zero convenient public transport industrial-estate of the late 70s and 80s, then grid lock beame inevitable.

So the railway was shoe horned in the early 70s to competing with the new magnet for motorists, on which an averag speed of 70mph over six hours was not achievable outside travel commencing at 11pm! Then in the 1980s it was tethered back to allow for greater growth in shuttle passengers.

Now back to the ZIng. This was the one saving grace against the adversity of all this: the zing was chosen to run on the by then extablished high speed routes with continuous welded rail and usually 100 miles or more between stops. The zing lays its routes clearly to the blue pullman, a kind of BR being allowed to act like a proper private company and offer a super premium service. By the late 70s actually the main glasgow route was far less relevant : the once second city of empire had lost a great proportion of its production and trade in the 1970s. It still retained then a population of a second city of empire, only exceeded by Birmingham or combining Liverpool and Manchester. However, letting 'wegies eat humble pie of slower services to London while Scottish Enterprise propped up the shuttle profits with executives  on a basis of a higher passenger volume at a poorer leverl of speed and comfort.

The WCML has its issues of curves and gradients. BRB had then their dose white heat of technology up their sleeves: the zing was nothing very special actually- the diesel powerunits were already capable of  suprpassing 4000 hp in two units, or a twin PU locomotive by the mid to late 60s. BR type 4s at 2000-2600 hp did 85-95 mph steady, Deltic did 100-110 mph at 3300hp, the 125 would do 110-132 mph at 4500 hp. The rolling stock from prewar could do over 100mph. But BRB wanted solutions to avoiding the huge capital investment in making hte WCML as straight as the ECML and Great Western Main Line. It had two aces up its sleeve, 25kv overheadup the WCML and tilting trains.

Tilting trains were so near yet so far from being acheived in the 1970s.

Tilting trains were so near yet so far from being acheived in the 1970s. THe APT_E was apparently so encouraging as a gas turbine prototype that BR ordered not one complete prototype set of rolling stock but 6. In principle they were preparing a faite accomplis because six sets would allow for covering Glasgow-London and London Manchester for the peak expresses as operational trains and the APT itself never did look very protorype to me: looked internally and externally rather better finished that mark IIIs with a stubby 87 on the front!

The APT class 370 really did work, but was let down by low technology ( dowel / cotter pins for the low speed friction breaks being consistently poorly machined by a supplier and the hydraulic oil actually installed being too standard to cope with on the one hand cold weather on the other the high temperature of the dynamic breaking system.

Death and Two Phoenixes of the East and West

The sets were still runining for some reason into the mid 80s but were killed off by Thatcher. Once again being able to actaully do London glasgow in less than 3 hours woudl be too much competition for British Airways and for the motorway allure. The main success though was firstly the mark Iv sets with class 91s running at 140mph on the ECML and then much later, the pendolinos which now have finally improved the WCML times over those of the late 1970s.