(The) ABCs of British Railways...

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(The) ABCs of British Railways...
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 16, 2004 7:49 AM
In the era of classic steam, why didn't English locomotives have effective headlamps? Many English main lines were built on large embankments and through deep cuts...avoiding hazards such as grade crossings...but look at any photo from seventy to a hundred years ago and UK steam only had little marker lights, at best. Headlight, bell and pilot had long been standard in the US. European...meaning on the continent...steam also featured some sort of headlight.

Any thoughts or history from UK fans would be appreciated... Thanks!
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Posted by DSchmitt on Friday, July 16, 2004 9:59 AM
In addition to the grade separations UK railroads were fenced to keep animial and people out of the right of way. US railroads were neither grade separated nor fenced.

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 16, 2004 4:13 PM


Dear Sirs,


Was looking at the British Steam Locomotive "Dominion of Canada" near Montreal Two Years Ago.


Altho' a Speedster of the Top Link, it seemed very Primitive by North American Standards.


Don't think it EVER had Electric Lights at ALL! No Headlight, but no Electric Lamps in Cab, either. For Water Glass, etc. This in Nineteen Thirties.!!!


Won't Discuss the Locomotive Brakes or other Driver Comforts or lack thereof.


Won't Discuss Link and Screw Couplers or Buffers.


British Freight Steam was very Basic. Poor or NO Cabs at all. Spectacle Glass Port Holes on Front 'Cab' Wall.


It gets cold up near Hadrian's Wall, which was Constructed to keep the Southerners Out and Sheep In.


Good Coal would make a difference in the Design requirements, and British Coals amongst the Best.


Loading GAUGE much SMALLER, Trains Shorter and Lighter.


Freight ( Goods ) Trains Braked Manually by Brake Vans.


Passenger Stock Fitted with Vacuum Brakes with Huge Vacuum 'Pots' on Trunnions beneath Coaches as Vacuum Force available thru Vacuum Line from Locomotive Air Ejector less than 15 PSI necessitated Large Area Brake Piston and Corresponding Cylinder Bore.


Locomotive Components Lighter in Construction permitting Higher Rotating Speeds as easier to Balance.


Wold like to see 'Evening Star' 2-10-0, Last Steam Locomotive Constructed for Major British Railway to see what Appliances it might have had.


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Posted by athelney on Friday, July 16, 2004 9:40 PM
The headlights were parafin wick type lights that had to be filled before each trip , they were placed in different positions to indicate type of train, route etc. Were not mean't to illuminate the road ahead but were an identification system. They had red glass lenses for the rear of the train - white for front.
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Posted by athelney on Friday, July 16, 2004 9:45 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by cdnlococo



Dear Sirs,


Was looking at the British Steam Locomotive "Dominion of Canada" near Montreal Two Years Ago.


Altho' a Speedster of the Top Link, it seemed very Primitive by North American Standards.


Don't think it EVER had Electric Lights at ALL! No Headlight, but no Electric Lamps in Cab, either. For Water Glass, etc. This in Nineteen Thirties.!!!


Won't Discuss the Locomotive Brakes or other Driver Comforts or lack thereof.


Won't Discuss Link and Screw Couplers or Buffers.


British Freight Steam was very Basic. Poor or NO Cabs at all. Spectacle Glass Port Holes on Front 'Cab' Wall.


It gets cold up near Hadrian's Wall, which was Constructed to keep the Southerners Out and Sheep In.


Good Coal would make a difference in the Design requirements, and British Coals amongst the Best.


Loading GAUGE much SMALLER, Trains Shorter and Lighter.


Freight ( Goods ) Trains Braked Manually by Brake Vans.


Passenger Stock Fitted with Vacuum Brakes with Huge Vacuum 'Pots' on Trunnions beneath Coaches as Vacuum Force available thru Vacuum Line from Locomotive Air Ejector less than 15 PSI necessitated Large Area Brake Piston and Corresponding Cylinder Bore.


Locomotive Components Lighter in Construction permitting Higher Rotating Speeds as easier to Balance.


Wold like to see 'Evening Star' 2-10-0, Last Steam Locomotive Constructed for Major British Railway to see what Appliances it might have had.





Evening Star still had the wick type headlights when constructed in 1960, the only loco's that were 'modern ' and had electric lights were the Southern Region Bullied pacifics built in the war years -- 1940's
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Posted by passengerfan on Friday, July 16, 2004 10:55 PM
English Locomotive did not need headlights the drivers were bright enough to guess where they were at.
Drivers were much braver better they could not see where they were going that way they couldn't see what they could possibly run into.
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Posted by athelney on Saturday, July 17, 2004 9:10 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by passengerfan

English Locomotive did not need headlights the drivers were bright enough to guess where they were at.
Drivers were much braver better they could not see where they were going that way they couldn't see what they could possibly run into.


Have to agree that drivers had to have a vast knowledge of track routes -- ie where signals were placed , junctions, curves , speed restrictions etc. Thats what made their job so skilled , as well as knowing how to operate a live, moving steam loco . -- a lost trade today !
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, July 17, 2004 3:42 PM
The BR Class 9F 2-10-0 was one of the finest steam locomotives built in Britain. From its main duty as a heavy freight loco' to its use on passenger trains when nothing else was available sometimes reaching 90 mph to maintain time, although frowned on by the management. It was fitted with electric lights in the cab. 92167 was fitted experimentely with a Berkley automatic stoker and on the Consett iron ore trains was used for banking as it was not fitted with the Westinghouse air brake as used by the other class 9F's on this duty which entailed climbing 1000 ft. in 23 miles in 1 hour 50 mins. with a load of 780 Engli***ons behind with inclines as steep as 1in35. On the way they passed through Washington where your first President's ancestors came from. Another trial involved the Crosti boiler, an Italian invention to try and get a further use of the combustion gases by reversing the flow at the chimney end and exhausting the smoke just in front of the cab at the boiler side. It was not a great success. I don't think America tried this idea!
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Posted by athelney on Sunday, July 18, 2004 9:35 PM
9F - 92079 was used as a banker on the lickey incline - 1 in 37 from Bromsgrove to Blackwell . It was specially fitted with a real electric headlight for use in banking duties ,
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Posted by athelney on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 12:15 AM
Just to stir up the hornets nest!! How many british loco's had bells ? A really north american idea . I can think of 2 or 3 -- any takers !
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 4:23 AM
British practice on banking was to push unconnected so that train could pull away as incline eased. The headlight on the Lickey incline Class 9F was to show when the train was moving ahead and to shut off its power.The banker then returned in reverse with headlight off! Ready to go when needed again. On the iron ore train the Banker was only used on one incline from a standing start at the docks! The 9F managing without for the rest of the trip including other inclines nearly as steep as the first. The 0-10-0 mentioned on the Lickey was specially constructed as a banker, the crews called her Big Bertha! When she wore out all types were tried to replace her, only the 9F being selected. Then came the Diesels! Bankers were redundant.
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Posted by athelney on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 10:39 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by ray burslem

British practice on banking was to push unconnected so that train could pull away as incline eased. The headlight on the Lickey incline Class 9F was to show when the train was moving ahead and to shut off its power.The banker then returned in reverse with headlight off! Ready to go when needed again. On the iron ore train the Banker was only used on one incline from a standing start at the docks! The 9F managing without for the rest of the trip including other inclines nearly as steep as the first. The 0-10-0 mentioned on the Lickey was specially constructed as a banker, the crews called her Big Bertha! When she wore out all types were tried to replace her, only the 9F being selected. Then came the Diesels! Bankers were redundant.


Don't they still use class 66's as bankers at Lickey when required for steel trains?
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, July 22, 2004 3:28 PM
I meant bankers on all steamtrains, and the use by 66's as bankers at the present time shows that diesels are not as powerful as I assumed they would be in Britain after forty years use.
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 10:16 AM
After some recent reading about the Class 9 2-10-0's, I was surprised to find that 2000 tons is considered an especially large train in the UK. In North America, this is average to small.

The loading gauge looks like it is only slightly larger than that of the Chicago Transit Authority. Compare an SD40-2 with a JT26CW-2, which are almost identical mechanically, and the tight loading gauge becomes obvious.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 5:17 PM
The British loading gauge and its restrictions came about because if you are first with an idea, your sponsors want a return quickly on their investment so the loading gauge was the smallest that could be worked at that time. Except for Brunel's Great Western of seven foot gauge, later converted to standard, the Great Central's London Extension was standard gauge line but Continental loading gauge! This was because the company chairman was also a shareholder in the Channel Tunnel Company and thought if they could manage to dig the tunnel, his Great Central would benefit from having the monpoly on through traffic. Too bad that he was only ninety years early!

Further to the 9F discussion, I saw one in action on one of our two local preserved lines The Churnet Valley Railway near Stoke-on-Trent in England. They had hired it in as their stock was under repair. It was certainly an impressive sight without headlight or bell and the road crossing was controlled by a man with two coloured flags who shut the gates to stop the road traffic. Modern times are a'coming to Britain!
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Posted by athelney on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 9:06 PM
THe 9f 2-10-0's were very versatile in the short time they were employed on BR - 92220 was named Evening Star and was the last steam loco built for BR in 1960. They had all been withdrawn by 1968 . A total of 251 were constructed. There are reports that have been verified of 9F's being used on passenger trains and reaching speeds of up to 90mph . Not shabby for a freight loco!!
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