Posts Tagged ‘60163’

The magic of steam

Saturday, 4 April 2009


2008 built, Peppercorn A1 pacific, 60163 approaches Newcastle on Saturday 31 January 2009, hauling her first main line train carrying passengers, The Peppercorn Pioneer. Photo Wikipedia Commons.

(Click to see original high resolution photograph and details of licensing.)

There is a great article in today’s Times by Michael Binyon which nicely captures the magic of steam. It is steam that draws people to ride on heritage railways. It is steam that brings tens of thousands to Wielkopolska to photograph Europe’s last scheduled main line steam service and it is steam that could yet come to the rescue of Poland’s crumbling heritage railways.

All aboard for the new age of steam

Tornado, the engine that has brought back the romance of rail travel, is a hit across the length and breadth of Britain

Wherever it has ventured, it has attracted crowds of people. As it raced up to the North or cruised down to Southampton, thousands turned out to wave and cheer. Children were hoisted aloft. Men hung from bridges and stood on car roofs.

Enthusiasts waited hours in muddy fields for a fleeting view. At King’s Cross throngs blocked the platforms and when it blew a cloud of steam over the Duchess of Cornwall in York, the Prince of Wales burst out laughing.

Indeed, in its six short months of life, Tornado, the first mainline steam engine built in Britain for almost 50 years, has been a film star, splashed across newspaper pages and filmed in action by the thousands who contributed to its £3 million cost and waited 18 years to see an A1 Pacific locomotive running on Britain’s main lines again.

Click here, for the rest of the article.

Alas, too many of Poland’s historic steam engines are not chuffing along the lines to which they belong. Instead they are ‘plinthed’ outside railway stations, or locked up in skansens, or stored in sidings known only to scrap thieves. Open air storage, particularly in Poland’s extreme weather conditions, means slow death to a complex iron and steel machine.

Binyon’s article should be translated into Polish and be sent to all Polish local authorities that own narrow gauge railways that are operated by Romanian diesel locomotives. It makes my blood boil that the Mayor of Rewal who has launched a 34 million PLN EU assisted project to restore his fragment of the Pomeranian narrow gauge railways is spending most of the money on buildings and not a single zloty is earmarked for acquiring a steam engine or rolling stock restoration.

Meanwhile a few people have seen the light. The Mayor of Smigiel is meeting Howard Jones on Monday to discuss the possible restoration of Px48 1765 to working order. The Mayor of Krasne, the custodian of the Mlawa Railway, would love to hear from a ‘well off Englishman’ or a consortium of Brits who would wish to become a ‘godfather’  to his derelict Px48 1758 and help him restore the locomotive to working order. Favourable terms available. He would even consider alternate years working on the Mlawa Railway and the narrow gauge railway of the benefactor’s choice. I guess that depending on how much work was actually carried out by consortium members, such a project would cost some 200,000 – 250.000 PLN, approximately 41 – 50,000 GBP.

So how about it BTWT readers? We can’t all build a main line pacific, but we could restore a narrow gauge Px48 to active life!

Mława Railway videos:

Tornado and the Duke,

Monday, 2 February 2009

probably the most advanced steam locomotives in the world.

60163, Tornado, hauling the Peppercorn Pioneer, North of Darlington on the East Coast Main Line Saturday 31 January 2009.  Video nymfootage.

60163’s maiden main line run in revenue earning passenger service on Saturday is all the excuse that we needed to post another video clip of the locomotive running at speed. Through the magic of You Tube and the Internet there is quite lot of video material to chose from. (Just go to You Tube and type ‘Tornado A1’ into the search box.) We were highly selective. We wanted a clip that conveyed something of the power of the locomotive and that was also reasonably professional. 

Nymfootage’s clip is in our eyes, the best clip by far. The cameraman has gone to immense trouble to choose a location that gives him a long panning shot of the locomotive working at speed. The camera is set up on a tripod and the panning and zooming effects are used sparingly and professionally. The result is an impression of immense power, like a greyhound being held back on a leash or a race horse being taken for a light trot. The clip is only marred by wind noise. An external ‘gun mike’ with a decent windshield would have easily cured the problem.

60163 is fitted with a Kylchap exhaust, as originally specified by Peppercorn for his A1 pacifics. The result is a free steaming locomotive that combines the seemingly contradictory design goals of a good draught through the boiler and minimum back pressure in the cylinders. From the lineside the locomotive sounds more like a well-tuned diesel than a traditional steam locomotive. We will probably be lynched by the steam fraternity for saying this! 

60163 is a three cylinder express locomotive built by the A1 Locomotive Trust between 1990-2008. Apart from design changes which were necessary to accommodate modern manufacturing techniques and contemporary safety regulations, the locomotive follows the 1946-47 design drawings of Arthur Peppercorn. The Peppercorn A1 class is a logical progression of the engineering work of Sir Nigel Gresley, former Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER, and the designer of A4 Mallard, the fastest steam locomotive in the world.

A final note, the locomotive has not had her naming ceremony yet. (There are rumours that it is to be performed by HRH Prince Charles.) which is why we refer to her as 60163 rather than Tornado.

71000, Duke of Gloucester, hauling the Tynesider near Bradbury on the East Coast Main Line. Saturday 2nd February 2008. Video nymfootage.

Having found the clip of 60163 running at speed we looked at some of Nymfootage’s other work and were delighted to find this amazing clip of BR 8P ‘Standard’ pacific 71000 Duke of Gloucester. Again the location has been carefully chosen to show the locomotive running at speed and an impression of massive, yet contained, power is conveyed.

The ‘Duke’ was designed in 1952-53 by BR CME, Robin Riddles, and incorporated the revolutionary Caprotti valve gear, but with severe time and budget constraints, the design was not properly ‘debugged’ and the single locomotive was not considered a success. After a short working life of 8 years, the locomotive was sent to the scrapyard minus its cylinders. One of these was sectioned and set up with its valve gear in the Science Museum in Kensington.

In 1973 the locomotive was rescued from Barry scrapyard by the 71000 Preservation Society. The Society later became the 71000 Duke Of Gloucester Steam Locomotive Trust. A 13 year rebuild followed, during which all the known design defects were put right. The ‘Swindon’ double chimney was replaced with a Kylchap exhaust, and a new ashpan was constructed which admitted more air to the firebox.

In 1986 the ‘Duke’ steamed again working first on the preserved Great Central Railway and later on the BR main line. A major overhaul was completed in 2004 when the opportunity was taken to ‘tune up’ the locomotive’s valve gear and effect a number of other improvements. The result is that today, the ‘Duke’ is the most powerful steam locomotive to work in Great Britain.