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BR Leader class Steam engine

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Ady111/12/2013 03:14:40
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4828 forum posts
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An intruiging attempt to take steam into the 1950s

I only found one record of a model being made, in issue 4025

Anyone ever seen one?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SR_Leader_class

Edited By Ady1 on 11/12/2013 03:16:10

Lambton11/12/2013 10:46:33
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694 forum posts
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Andy,

Have you read Kevin Robertson's book "The Leader Project" ? It is very interesting and shows that despite lots of time and effort being spent on the prototype Leader by the Southern Railway and later BR the loco could not be made to run reliably

The main problem was the sleeve valve engines. Sleeve valve are a good idea in theory by notoriously difficult to get to work reliably. The only company to achieve this was the Bristol Aero Engine Company for their Hercules radial engines. How they did it is detailed in "Fedden - the life of Sir Roy Fedden by Bill Gunston"

I am sure the Southern Railway workshops were highly competent at normal steam engineering but the production of reliable sleeve valves is in another league - even for Bristol.

Anyone contemplating making a model of a Leader should think very carefully before attempting to use sleeve valves and thus not repeat "Buliied's Folly"

Folly because all the Southern Railway wanted him to do design and produce a mixed traffic tank engine to replace the old and underpowered M7 0-4-4 locos. instead he went his own way and produced cash eating, but never the less interesting, monster

Eric

Jeff Dayman11/12/2013 13:59:29
2189 forum posts
45 photos

Even with modern steels and lubricants, sleeve valves working with superheated steam would be difficult to do reliably. Poppet valves (balanced or not) would likely not be a lot better as they are prone to seat wear at high superheat. Believe it or not, piston valves or balanced slide valves are probably the best suited ones for high superheat steam, especially if modern antifriction coatings on one of the mating parts of each set of mating parts were used, instead of oil.

Just my $0.02.

JD

John Besley11/12/2013 20:38:27
49 forum posts
Posted by Lambton on 11/12/2013 10:46:33:

Anyone contemplating making a model of a Leader should think very carefully before attempting to use sleeve valves and thus not repeat "Bullied's Folly"

Folly because all the Southern Railway wanted him to do design and produce a mixed traffic tank engine to replace the old and underpowered M7 0-4-4 locos. instead he went his own way and produced cash eating, but never the less interesting, monster

Eric

Trouble is unless someone thinks outside of the box progress is nil , imagine what we might have had if this had worked - anyone remember the ACE2000 (American Coal Enterprise) plans back in the 1980's they even went as far as modifying Ross Rowland's C&O 4-8-4 to get some data together

Niloch11/12/2013 23:38:24
371 forum posts
Posted by John Besley on 11/12/2013 20:38:27:

- anyone remember the ACE2000 (American Coal Enterprise) plans back in the 1980's they even went as far as modifying Ross Rowland's C&O 4-8-4 to get some data together

There was available at one time a VHS video from here entitled C & O 614T Coal Tests - The March to Hinton showing details of the above. Regrettably the title doesn't seem to have made it to DVD. Ross Rowland was in fact chairman of American Coal Enterprises as well as the owner of 614T

Jeff Dayman12/12/2013 00:23:39
2189 forum posts
45 photos

As I recall, the ACE3000 project had a major feature article in Trains magazine published in the USA at the time. Maybe Google can locate it.

The ACE3000 design team didn't seem too bothered by the facts of the relatively low efficiency of electric power generation by steam for widely varying loads. They were very preoccupied with packaging the whole coal burning lot in a nice painted shell no bigger and with the same DC power trucks as a common US diesel electric locomotive of the day. The proprietors of the enterprise were spurred on by the dream of railroads again using coal as their main fuel source, rather than oil. The main reason for this was the fact that the proprietors owned major coal fields in the US with excess capacity, and were tired of paying ever rising diesel oil costs to transport their product by diesel electric locomotives. They also sold the idea to investors as a way to boost domestically mined coal (mined with USA union labour of course) versus using oil from Saudi Arabia/OPEC.

The whole concept had been done quite well by Norfolk and Western RR with their Jawn Henry project many years before. With that job, N&W found out that complexity was hard to build and maintain and efficiencies were not sufficiently better to justify a much more complex machine than their excellent in-house-built conventional steam locomotives.

The ACE would have had a prettier paint job than Jawn Henry though...

JD

julian atkins12/12/2013 00:51:27
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1244 forum posts
353 photos

Bulleid always pushed the boundaries. he might have made a radical step forward with LEADER. unfortunately this was not to be the case. if you dont try new things then arguably things stagnate. it might have worked - but with hindsight perhaps very much not! if you read Holcroft he had lots of other ideas he tried out that seem to have been forgotten these days. see Locomotive Adventure part 1 (ian allan).

i dont think in miniature you should try and copy an unsuccessful design from fullsize! it's hard enough copying the successful designs!

cheers,

julian

Lambton12/12/2013 08:59:50
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694 forum posts
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John,

Trouble is unless someone thinks outside of the box progress is nil ......

I agree with you in general as progress is only made when new ideas are tried out and consequent problems are sorted out. However Bulleid was too late in his attempt to make an improved steam locomotive as at the time he designed his Leader class loco steam was in its death throws with the more thermally efficient diesel loco taking over across the world.

There were arguments to have developed steam locos further in the face of completion from diesels but these would only be on the grounds of using an abundant local fuel (coal) rather than imported oil, social reasons such as keeping people employed in the rail and coal industries instead of raising unemployment etc. However the tide of dieselization became a tsunami wiping out all serious steam engine development through out the world. All the thinking outside all the boxes in the world would not have changed this particular issue.

Eric

Stovepipe12/12/2013 12:04:33
196 forum posts

Also, what about his turf burner loco for CIE ? Now that would be a challenge in miniature.

Dennis

Andy Ash12/12/2013 14:14:14
125 forum posts
33 photos

It is just not right to present Bullied as a second class engineer, unable to see the limitation of technology.

The poor bugger made an incredible job out of a very difficult deal, and he never complained.

Bullied not only understood the limitations of technology. He worked with the limitations and found new and better ways to solve problems. He had courage, and everyone knew he was inspired.

You have to view bullied from the perspective of the Brighton locomotive works and the constraints that it had always posed since the time of Craven. It was not poised to be easily converted to the manufacture of diesel or electric traction. No-one wanted to lose the skills or lay off the workers. Least of all bullied.

The writing was on the wall early in the 20th century. Brighton wasn't big enough for the manufacture of the engines it was still designing at the end.

The history, the knowledge, the lineage was present right up to the end.

Far from not understanding the technology, Bullied designed an engine that would ideally use all of the capabilities at Brighton, and ensure continuity of the site.

As it happened, days of steam were numbered, and no-one would sanction switch-over of the site (it's skills, facilities and capabilities) from steam to diesel or electric. The site at Brighton wasn't big enough, and had nowhere to expand. Logically it could never have competed with larger locomotive works.

There is no way that Bullied could have gone off on a tangent on his own. He worked within the scope of his financial masters. They allowed it to happen because they knew they were on the line too. They needed his inspiration, and he delivered something that no-one else could.

In my view, when Brighton finally died, it was inevitable that Pendolinos would be manufactured in Italy. Just as Isetta micro-cars would be made on the site of the old railway works. From the birth of the modern age, to the recent turn of century, the story is complete. It is now almost impossible (except for the observant) to know that the engineering works was there.

The thing is that although the closure of Brighton railway works was bitterly lamented for a long time locally, it's brains were always best. It always did more with less. It's just that in the end land costs were too high.

Edited By Andy Ash on 12/12/2013 14:28:47

Greensands13/08/2021 10:45:47
263 forum posts
50 photos

To resurrect an old posting I notice that Kevin Robertson' book on the Leader project refers to the action of the oscillating gear in action as resembling that of a figure of eight. Was this action ever filmed and if so is the film still available for viewing? Have not had any success when trying to Google the subject.

Redsetter13/08/2021 12:07:14
192 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by Greensands on 13/08/2021 10:45:47:

To resurrect an old posting I notice that Kevin Robertson' book on the Leader project refers to the action of the oscillating gear in action as resembling that of a figure of eight. Was this action ever filmed and if so is the film still available for viewing? Have not had any success when trying to Google the subject.

Yes, there is a short film which was available on youtube fairly recently. No idea whether it is still there, but it is absolutely fascinating and well worth searching for.

Howard Lewis13/08/2021 13:31:41
5562 forum posts
13 photos

Bristol Aeroplane Co were the only company to make sleeve valve engines a success.

Daimler used sleeve engines in their cars, but they were always followed by a blue smoke trail, so that line was eventually abandoned..

Using sleeve valves with superheated steam could have been made to work, no doubt, but development would have been needed to cure the problems.

Possibly, had steam continued on BR allying Swindon's precision to Bulleid's thermic syphons, (plus possible input from LeMaitre and Porta ) .some quite outstanding locos might have been produced.

But we shall never know!

JA13/08/2021 14:11:15
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1248 forum posts
74 photos
Posted by Howard Lewis on 13/08/2021 13:31:41:

Bristol Aeroplane Co were the only company to make sleeve valve engines a success.

Howard

Having been a Bristol engineer I would love to agree with you but the Napier Sabre, once it’s problems were overcome (and there were many) could be considered a success. Far too few RR Eagles were made to pass comment on that engine.

JA

duncan webster13/08/2021 14:38:46
3598 forum posts
66 photos

Bullied converted a conventional loco, Hartland Point, to sleeve valves and couldn't get that to work. Despite that he embarked on building 6 Leader class locos which as well as the unproven valves had fireboxes with no water walls, which resulted in roasted firemen, and chain coupled axles. Rash to say the least. His Merchant Navy locos also had to be rebuilt. Brilliant engineer? I think not. If you want to depart from custom and practice do it one step at a time and prove it on a prototype before embarking on quantity production

Edited By duncan webster on 13/08/2021 14:39:24

Redsetter13/08/2021 14:40:57
192 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by Redsetter on 13/08/2021 12:07:14:
Posted by Greensands on 13/08/2021 10:45:47:

To resurrect an old posting I notice that Kevin Robertson' book on the Leader project refers to the action of the oscillating gear in action as resembling that of a figure of eight. Was this action ever filmed and if so is the film still available for viewing? Have not had any success when trying to Google the subject.

Yes, there is a short film which was available on youtube fairly recently. No idea whether it is still there, but it is absolutely fascinating and well worth searching for.

I have just had a trawl through youtube and it seems the video is unavailable. Possibly the Bulleid Society may have access to it? I'd like to see it again.

Andy Carlson13/08/2021 18:31:03
402 forum posts
130 photos

I've always been fascinated by the Leader ever since reading a few sketchy details about it as a teenager and eventually finding a picture of it in a library book.

More recently I've discovered a couple of other attempts to modernise the breed from Union Pacific in the States... Firstly a prewar steam turbine loco with electric transmission... in what appears outwardly to be a diesel body style. This was a failure but preceded the better known postwar oil burning gas turbines which were successful enough to be made in three incarnations.

The final one was a turbine loco running on pulverised coal. That one was a failure too. Apparently pulverised coal is not good for turbine blades. Who'd have thought?

DMB13/08/2021 20:37:27
1190 forum posts
1 photos

Kevan Ayling of Worthing club built a 5"G Leader. As the end cabs look like those of a tube train, I called it the "Ongar Express." That remark went into the newsletter and ended up being quoted in ME.

Greensands13/08/2021 20:55:21
263 forum posts
50 photos

I have often wondered if the Leader and for that matter the H1 Class Hartland Point would have stood a greater chance of success if the oscillating gear had not been fitted at the the start of the project but held back to be installed once the initial teething problems had been overcome. Indications were I believe that once the gear had been removed somewhat late in the day both engines became more reliable. I think it was Harry Ricardo's idea to install the oscillating feature for what seemed good reasons at the time but at the cost of unnecessary complications. Do hope a copy of the film showing the gear in action can be found and put back on YouTube

duncan webster13/08/2021 21:21:44
3598 forum posts
66 photos
Posted by DMB on 13/08/2021 20:37:27:

Kevan Ayling of Worthing club built a 5"G Leader. As the end cabs look like those of a tube train, I called it the "Ongar Express." That remark went into the newsletter and ended up being quoted in ME.

But it had piston valves. Had Bulleid stuck to piston valves and a conventional firebox he would have had a winner. He could have put the driver in with the fireman as well, even called it a Kitson Meyer, which was a well proven type of loco

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