Ok, so I’ve broken a promise and it’s only post 2. I said I’d talk about the plans in this post but I’m not. I’m going on a gentle meander off topic.
I don’t like it when emotions get in the way of the facts. Let me explain. In railways emotions tend to run high but sometimes this clouds and distracts from what would otherwise be really interesting. Here are 2 examples for you.
A locomotive in the Southern Hemisphere was under overhaul. It was discovered that the loco which is the prototype of its class actually has its frame numbered 5. Was this another Albert Hall / Rood Ashton Hall? Some members of the custodian organisation were worried that if they had to change the number of the loco it would damage its reputation and appeal.
Frankly that’s rubbish. It’s the only 1 of its type left so its appeal is there whatever. Rood Ashton Hall still has plenty of appeal despite its name change and the publicity from the name change gives it a place in preservation history that would otherwise not be there. In this case it led to a statement being put out by the custodian organisation decrying those that were investigating why it had a different frame. Which has led to the interesting truth being ignored.
So was it a masquerade? Actually no. It always had that frame. What appears to have happened is that the frame no.1 was cast just before Christmas of one year and the remaining 5 at the beginning of the next February. Why the delay? The emotionally driven custodian organisation members decided they were on holiday for a month – that is normal for places where January is summer. But the frame was cast in the USA. Where it’s winter. The drawings give the answer.
There are 2 modifications to the drawing for the frame. 1 in mid January and 1 just days before the next 5 frames were cast. Whatever the fault in the original design was, the drawing isn’t clear. However, loco 5 which it is thought got lumbered with frame 1 suffered a hydraulic incident and blew the end of its cylinder off and was never the same again. So that’s why loco 1 has frame 5.
Presumably the railway were told frame 1 was dodgy and rightly decided putting it on the prototype wouldn’t look good if it failed. Why did they get frame 1 at all? Because WWII had just started and the US were busy not being in the war but supplying the UK with all they needed and frames for steam locos in countries that weren’t war-torn came 2nd in the pecking order. That’s a presumption but it makes sense. This great story hasn’t been published before because emotion brushed it under the carpet.
My second example is City of Truro. Did it do 102.3 or 99mph? It raises so many emotions in people especially the GW v LNE brigade but actually it shouldn’t matter. 100mph is an arbitrary boundary decided by us humans for no reason other than it is three figures not two. I bet you couldn’t tell the difference between 99 and 102mph anyway.
What is important is to acknowledge the engineering of the time that produced a loco that was capable of getting anywhere near that speed. And whatever you think of the GWR, at the time they were streets ahead of any other company. OK so they went off the boil in the 30s and 40s and we are left with locos with no grease lubrication and 134 oiling points (Castles), no seats for the crew and right hand drive. But a Castle, as a senior driver told me on the NYMR, would pull Grosmont village up the hill to Goathland.
So City of Truro, as the photo at the top of this post depicts, shares its place of honour in the company of giants.
Do I ever let emotions get in the way? Yes of course I do. Why isn’t a loud American loco running on the Ffestiniog? Why won’t East Riding of Yorkshire council protect the Beverley-York railway line? But I try to decide what’s important based on fact not emotion.
So let’s forget the politics , keep the emotion driven claptrap in check, and enjoy the stories and marvel at the engineering brilliance that we have been fortunate enough to retain to educate our future generations.
Oh and I’ll leave liveries for another time…