Posted on Leave a comment

#VE75 – Engines at War – Commemorating 75 Years since VE Day – Oliver Bulleid

Q1 0-6-0 Tender Locomotive.

As well as the 4-6-2 Pacific’s, both Merchant Navy and the lighter West Country (Battle of Britain) Pacific class, Bulleid also designed an 0-6-0 tender locomotive for the war effort. This was classed the Q1 and was primarily a freight engine introduced early in 1942.   The complete production of each class was as follows Merchant Navy class 40, Light Pacific’s 110, and the Q1’s 40.

Bulleid employed as many innovative ideas in this locomotive as he had in the two 4-6-2 Spam Can Pacific class designs. As in all these war time engines a lot of the design features were heavily influenced by the conditions at the time. Speed of build, ease of repair and above all economy in both construction and running costs.

The Q1 is a rather ungainly looking 0-6-0 Tender Engine, having no running plates and great chunky Box form ( Bulleid Firth Brown ) Wheels, shared with the Pacific’s, that to me seem to be more noticeable than on the Pacific engines. It is an Austerity Locomotive and was a development, or evolved if you like, from the Original British 0-6-0 Q class tender Freight Engine, which was, at the time, the most modern freight locomotive on the railways. The Q class was the last engine designed by Richard Maunsell (Oliver Bulleid’s predecessor at the SR ). Unfortunately, added to the Q1’s other ungainly assets, the arrangement of the boiler cladding is not a clean line and adds to the locomotive’s ungainliness. Over the years it has acquired a large number of rather unkind nicknames including “Ugly Duckling”, “Biscuit Tin”, “Biscuit Barrel”, “Clockworks”, “Coffee Pot” (I thought that name was reserved for engines with vertical boilers) and the final insult “Frankenstein’s”.

On the other hand, the great beauty of the Q1’s is that they were capable of hauling loads that would normally require a much larger engine. Bulleid developed this amazing locomotive because at the outbreak of war in 1939 the Southern Railway was pushed into the front line of the strategic war effort due to its proximity to Europe. The SR needed to offer high route availability and a much greater haulage capacity.

Bulleid designed the Q1 to require a minimum amount of raw material in the build, with all the superfluous features (frills) stripped away. Function was rated above appearance and style. Bulleid, in designing the Q1, was mindful of the Austerity regime that all war time engines need to conform to, and to this end he designed his locomotives to fit through the coach washers, so that at a time when man power was at a premium, the engines as well as the coaches could be washed automatically.

The boiler lagging was made of a glass fibre insulation material known as “Ida glass”, which was cheap and plentiful at the time, but could not support any weight so a separate casing had to be built and boiler rings adapted to lend the Ida glass support. Unlike his Pacific’s, a copper rather than a steel fire box, was utilized. The wheels were a smaller 5 ft 1” diameter adaption of the Bulleid Firth Brown (BFB) type used on the Pacific’s. The Q1 had only two cylinders unlike the Pacific’s three, with Stephenson link outside admission piston valves, having a travel in full gear of 6 ½”, and a steam lap of 1 5/8”. It was provided with a five-nozzle blast pipe. The boiler design was based on that of The Lord Nelson Class Locomotive and the fire box utilized the same throat plate as did its back plate. The boiler barrel measured 10ft 6 inches in length and a diameter of 5 ft at the front widening to 5ft 9 inches at the back. It sported a grate of 27sqft and a heating surface, consisting of 209 tubes with 21 flues, totalling 1,302sqft. That combined with the fire box of 170sqft gave a total evaporating heating surface of 1,472sqft. This all incorporated a superheating surface of 218sqft very Impressive!

In 1942 The first 20 of these impressive locomotives were built in the Brighton works followed by a further 20 constructed at Ashford. Powerful and exceptionally light the Q1’s formed the backbone of the Southern Railway heavy freight capability over a wide variety of routes. In totality the engine weighed just slightly over 90tons making it accessible to 97% of all the Southern Railway routes. Bulleid had designed the most powerful 0-6-0 Tender steam locomotive ever to run on Britain’s railways.

Sadly, only one Q1 has survived into preservation. The very first of its class the 33001 C1 has been preserved and can be seen at The National Railway Museum in York. It is presented in its original SR livery with its original number. Before the Q1 was installed in York in 2004, she worked on the Bluebell line in East Sussex. As a point of interest for our younger readers, The Locomotive “Neville” featured in the Thomas and Friends children’s television series is based on a Q1 Number 33010.  Video of Q1 on turntable at NRM.

Posted on Leave a comment

#VE75 – Engines at War – Commemorating 75 Years since VE Day – Oliver Bulleid

Heavy and Light Pacific’s

Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid – 19/09/1882 – 25/04/1970. Born in Invercargill, New Zeeland to immigrant British parents. We felt that as this is the 50th anniversary of Bulleid’s death it would be appropriate to explore some of this noted engineers’ achievements during the second world war.

At the outbreak of The Second World War Oliver Bulleid had been employed as Chief Mechanical Engineer for The Southern Railway (SR) since 1937. During his time with SR he developed many well-known locomotives. It was during 1938 that Bullied gained approval to build the Merchant Navy and West Country class of modern 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives.

Bullied had worked and trained under Gresley, and for a time had travelled Europe whist he worked with the Board of Trade. Bulleid drew on these experiences when he was drawing up the designs for the new 4-6-2. He employed all of the most up to date equipment in these engines, incorporating partially welded boiler’s and fire box’s, forgoing the traditional original rivet design.

He also employed Thermic Syphon’s. These are heat exchange elements incorporated into the fire box and combustion chambers of the steam boilers, because these elements are directly exposed to the radiant heat of combustion they have a high evaporation capacity relative to their size, and if arranged vertically they also provide very good water circulation by means of this thermo-syphon effect, circulating the water by passive heat exchange based on natural convection ( a method employed today in solar water heaters ). This provided the 4-6-2 locomotives with a complex but compact and lightweight means of increasing boiler capacity.

Bulleid believed that it was better that the working parts of a steam locomotive were not exposed to the open air and elements. He wanted to draw steam locomotive design closer to the internal combustion engines which enclosed working parts and pumped lubricants to enable smooth running.

To this end he designed and patented the radial chain driven valve motion, which he immersed in an oil bath. Unfortunately design errors in the casing for this caused leaks to form over time, this was problematic if the valve gear was not maintained properly and was of course an extra difficulty under war conditions. Bulleid aimed for a boiler pressure of 280 lb the highest ever used in England, the barrel of the boiler was tapered but on the base side only. All SR Locomotives designed by Bulleid are fitted with B.F.B ( Bulleid Firth Brown ) a complex form of disc wheel which gave an even tyre support. In America similar wheels are known as Boxpok wheels, however these are of segment construction unlike the BFB which is one solid casting. Instead of spokes the wheels have contoured solid struts throughout the wheel, rendering them shatter proof, extraordinarily strong and easy on track ware. These wheels did not completely eliminate the need for balance weights on the wheels however combined with the setup of the Bulleid valve gear, and 3 cylinder layout it did eliminate wheel hammer blow. Later, when some of the locomotives were retro fitted with Walschaerts valve gear, balance weights had to be added to the 4-6-2 engine wheels.   They also featured multi-jet exhausts.

The whole simple locomotive was streamlined and encased and was fondly named the “Spam Can” after its resemblance to the oblong can of “SPAM” luncheon meat.

The first Merchant Navy Pacific 4-6-2’s were introduced in early 1941 and as the first ten emerged from the Eastleigh works, they were named after well-known shipping lines. The very first was Merchant Navy 21C1 Channel Packet after this a further 39 were built, the last one being Pacific 35030 Elder Dempster Lines.   A remarkably similar but slightly smaller lighter version Pacific as also designed utilizing the same mechanical principals, but with a higher route availability, enabling them to be used on lighter track as found on some secondary routes. The complete class of this lighter type of locomotive amounted to 110 and they too were classified not as passenger locomotives but mixed traffic motive power. Many the class bore the names of the West Country towns and cities in the area’s they served; hence the Class were referred to as the West Countries. Later, some were named after wartime aerodromes, squadron’s or famous war leaders, for example “Biggin Hill”, “Squadron” and of course “Winston Churchill” which hauled his funeral train. These so named members of the class became a sub-class The Battle of Britain Class.

Bulleid also designed the SR Q1 an SR Austerity type 0-6-0 tender engine (A truly Ugly engine) for the War Effort.