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 Post subject: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 1087
Location: Leicester, MA.
So rather creative title aside, a thought has occurred to me and my own research hasn't revealed much so far. In this case I'm trying to figure out what the British Government's reaction was to the supposed 'mixed traffic' pacifics that Bulleid put out for the Southern Railway over in the UK. The first ones rolled out of Eastleigh in 1941, in the middle of World War II. Well, by all indications passenger locomotives shouldn't have been allowed to have been built, but my book on Bulleid's excellent designs just bears a few passing mentions to the first class, the Merchant Navy, being classified as mixed traffic to get them built at a time when the Southern needed the passenger locomotives...

Now I know we like ranking on government all the time for it's many failures, but there's no way that the people signing off on their construction could've believed the mixed traffic line... Or did they? So is anyone aware of any sources that could shed light on the thinking of those people in the British government that would've had to sign off on the construction of Bulleid's pacifics? Because to be frank I am questioning the common wisdom that surrounds the Merchant Navy's allowance to be constructed during wartime. Frankly it seems too convenient when examining it through the lens of history.

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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5837
Location: southeastern USA
To make this argument you must start by assuming you know more about conditions in Britain during a time even before I was alive than the professionals working there at that time did. I know I wouldn't second guess them........ but what is by British standards a heavy pacific might be perfectly suited for moving fast freight of critical materials..... it's the freight cars I'd be concerned about.

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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9707
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Before we pursue this discussion further, how much do you really know about goods trains in pre-war and wartime Britain?

The heaviest goods train hauled by steam in Britain EVER was in September 1982, when preserved BR 9F class 2-10-0 92203 hauled a freight train of 2,198 (metric/long) tonnes at Foster Yeoman's Tor Works. That was the moral equivalent of a tractor pull. Later demonstrations of 9F locos on heritage lines have used a 1,000-tonne cut of cars, and even then it's a sheer spectacle. By contrast, the local to my local power plant averaged 4-5,000 tons behind two GP9s (at not-fast speeds).

What passed for priority freights in Britain would more closely resemble the Santa Fe's Super C or the Central Vermont's Rocket--short, fast trains of intermodal-ish weights. Pacifics such as the LNER A2s and A3s, the LMS Duchesses, and the SR Bullied Pacifics could easily be attached to such freights (and routinely were towards the end of steam).


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:00 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1166
Location: Pacific, MO
NEVER ask "They can't be that stupid, could they"? in today's world.
It is taken as a challenge and not a question.


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:50 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1325
Location: Back in NE Ohio
British steam was a whole different animal from what we across the pond are used to. I was checking out a video on YouTube the other day because it said it was showing the UK's most powerful steam locomotive. I figured it was going to be a BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 (Evening Star Class, the last regular service steam built in the UK). But no, it was a three cylinder Pacific, BR Standard Class 8, 71000, Duke of Glouchester. By our standards, a fairly modest Pacific, 74" drivers, and just over 39,000 lbs. of tractive effort, with the engine weight alone a little over 100 U. S. tons, not even as much as a fully-loaded modern U. S. coal hopper. They consider a train of anywhere near a thousand tons to be massive, freight or passenger. That's not even a decent-sized peddler freight in the U. S. So, yeah, Pacifics were dual-service engines in WWII Britain.


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9707
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
PaulWWoodring wrote:
British steam was a whole different animal from what we across the pond are used to. I was checking out a video on YouTube the other day because it said it was showing the UK's most powerful steam locomotive. I figured it was going to be a BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 (Evening Star Class, the last regular service steam built in the UK). But no, it was a three cylinder Pacific, BR Standard Class 8, 71000, Duke of Glouchester. By our standards, a fairly modest Pacific, 74" drivers, and just over 39,000 lbs. of tractive effort, with the engine weight alone a little over 100 U. S. tons, not even as much as a fully-loaded modern U. S. coal hopper. They consider a train of anywhere near a thousand tons to be massive, freight or passenger. That's not even a decent-sized peddler freight in the U. S. So, yeah, Pacifics were dual-service engines in WWII Britain.


First the Class 7P 71000 is named Duke of Gloucester. That example was in effect the British equivalent of Lima/etc. "Super Power" or one of the D&H experimentals--great, but not enough to fend off diesel's economics.

Second, the 9F 2-10-0s (of which several are preserved) are just modestly more powerful--39,667 lbs. tractive effort as opposed to 39,080 for the 7F.

Third, by comparison, Strasburg's 2-10-0 90, a fair comparison in several ways spiritually to the 9F, is 48,960 lbs. TE. PRR I1s's were 96-102,000 lbs. TE depending on variation.

Imagine that we had both a high-tech, well-engineered Pacific such as a PRR K5 (54-58,000 lbs. TE) AND priority lightweight freights at the same time, such as very long REA/mail trains. One of the 20/20 hindsight analyses of the American RR industry is that they seldom engaged in such freight operation, preferring instead drag freights at slower speeds. Britain's railways, by contrast, figured out the old "a steam loco will run the wheels off a train once it manages to get it moving" adage, and did a fair amount of express freight shipping of everything from parcels to beer to fish..........


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1325
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Sorry for not double-checking my spelling of the name. Wikipedia calls the Duke "BR Standard Class 8", so that's what I went by. Apparently it was a one-off because BR messed up some of the execution of the designer's plans, cut corners on construction, etc. and it never lived up to initial expectations. It ended up being one of the remarkable survivors of the Barry Scrapyard and it's problems were fixed in it's restoration, making it one of the best performers in preservation. And I will admit that the Brits had/have a very different operating philosophy than we did/do. Also, they do suffer with some pretty severe loading gauge restrictions. And even though the PRR I1's were several times more powerful than a BR 9F, they also had a reputation for being rough riding kidney busters above 20 mph, and were pretty much drag freight or helper grade power, where a 9F was considered manifest freight and/or substitute passenger power, and indeed one or two of the preserved ones regularly operate in excursion service today (or will when we can ride trains together again).


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:22 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
The argument can be made (and I'm sure it was) that building slow speed freight engines would totally hose the operation of any high speed line they might be assigned to, while building powerful passenger engines that could make the required speed wouldn't, and those engines could still haul freight... at what speed being controlled strictly by the trailing tonnage allowed, so those engines are indeed dual service.

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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:26 pm 
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Posts: 156
Location: Alberta, Canada
Something else that limited the weight of British freight trains was their coupling and braking systems, or lack thereof.

Many freight cars (wagons or vans across the pond) never had continuous brakes of any kind, leaving only the locomotive and brake van's handbrake to control the train. British Rail continued to operate some 'unfitted' equipment into the 1970s IIRC (corrections on the date and final such operations would be welcome).

The 'buffers and chain' coupling system does not hold up well when subjected to the tonnage and in-train forces of a typical North American freight train.

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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 111
Bullied certainly had his war engines though, look for example at the SR Q1 class. That 0-6-0 freight engine is the poster child of World War Austerity, as simple as possible and quite ugly by the usually aesthetic choices of British steam locomotive engineering. Their ugly lines would look odd even in an industrial setting, I would say the former steel mill engine Rick Rowland's works on is more aesthetically minded than a SR Q1 is for example. Basically the SR Q1 is WW2 minimalism at its most extreme. I sort of love the design for that, but there is no denying its an odd duck.

As for the Pacifics, I would recommend checking out Chris Eden Green's video on the subject. The full video is available for purchase for download or as part of a DVD set, but a bit of what is covered in the full video is available in the trailer that is up on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73BtwB0bZuA


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:07 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:03 pm
Posts: 974
Location: Warszawa, Polska
SD70dude wrote:
Something else that limited the weight of British freight trains was their coupling and braking systems, or lack thereof.

Many freight cars (wagons or vans across the pond) never had continuous brakes of any kind, leaving only the locomotive and brake van's handbrake to control the train. British Rail continued to operate some 'unfitted' equipment into the 1970s IIRC (corrections on the date and final such operations would be welcome).

The 'buffers and chain' coupling system does not hold up well when subjected to the tonnage and in-train forces of a typical North American freight train.


Hanging out in Europe it amazes me how wimpy looking those couplers are.

But I suspect one thing that Europeans and North Americans don't understand about each other is how condensed the former is and how vast the latter is. In Europe, there is simply no need for the massive trains of North America, because there are so many major cities in such close proximity to each other.

Western Europe is about the same size as the Province of Ontario, which has 1 major metropolitan area in it, compared to all the national capitals of Europe and every major European city, in the same area.

Europeans don't have a concept for how vast North America is. Look at Canada, with... THREE really major cities? Toronto-Vancouver-Montreal. Toronto to Vancouver is 3500 km, with almost nothing in between. Berlin to Paris is about 1700 km, with EVERYTHING in between.

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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:09 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 342
Well, I admit I'm not up to speed regarding the decisions of the British regarding what locomotives to build during WWII.

But I do know that in the USA the War Production Board (WPD) strictly limited what types of loco could be built. The later NYCRR Mohawks and Niagaras where only approved for production if they where "dual purpose" (ie Pass/Freight) loco's.

In the end it worked out, up until the "End of Hostilities" (Surrender of Japan) the US railroads where shipping freight and passengers (troops) as fast as possible. Then they shifted to "Bringing the Boys Home". The dual purpose loco's enabled both massive efforts. The US Aircraft Carriers in the Pacific shifted almost overnight from weapons of war to troop transports, in some cases they welded sleeping bunks 6 layers high in the aircraft bays where only a few months earlier bombs and torpedoes where being slung onto combat aircraft.

Lots of info going into decisions made many years ago, could do with a little more research before calling anyone "stupid".


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:21 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 342
"But I suspect one thing that Europeans and North Americans don't understand about each other is how condensed the former is and how vast the latter is."

I have heard it said; In the USA everyone thinks a Hundred Years is a really long time and in Europe everyone thinks a Hundred Miles is a really long distance..

I went to a multi-week training course in South Florida with some folks from Germany, I was amused when they talked about driving to Houston (Texas) for the weekend and coming back in time for classes Monday morning.... (Miami to Houston is about 18 hours one way by car on an interstate highway, 2.5 hours by jet plane)...


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:29 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 462
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Coming back to the USA, a number of roads had freight Pacifics and 4-6-0's before WWI. I suspect the roads didn't trust a 2-wheel lead truck at higher speeds.

As to PRR's mail and express trains, these were always set up as passenger trains and rated passenger power and crews. Even ConRail's Mail trains with intermodal equipment had crews called from the passenger roster, at least for a while. [these are NOT CR 3-4 on the NEC which used passenger equipment.]

PRR's two K5 4-6-2's had tractive effort of 54675 lbs. but they only had 207600 (5698) and 209410 lbs. (5699) weight on drivers. This gives factors of adhesion of 3.79 and 3.83 respectively.

The two K5's normally worked the hilly Northern Central Branch between Baltimore and Harrisburg where their horsepower could keep speeds up. PRR's Washington-Chicago/St. Louis service used this route.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: They couldn't be that stupid, could they?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 462
Location: Philadelphia, PA
In the 1950's PRR's (also used by PRSL) Camden Terminal Enginehouse (CTE on the pilot beam) had a limited amount of freight power and sometimes got caught short of a road freight engine. Not to worry: CTE had a lot of passenger engines. I know of at least one extra freight to Ft. Dix that went with a K4s. A book has a photo of a PRSL Camden-Salem NJ freight with doubleheaded H9s 2-8-0 and E6s 4-4-2.

Phil Mulligan


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