Saturday, 4 April 2009

Study of an LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0 (48305...GCR)

When locomotives of the London Midland & Scottish Railway are mentioned, it is likely that one's first thoughts will turn to the massive 7P Princess Coronation/Duchess Pacifics. However, there were of course humble, incredibly powerful freight locomotives trundling cautiously along the slow lines with their heavy loads. The LMS' best design for freight surely has to be William Stanier's 8F Class 2-8-0. During my visit to the Great Central Railway on April 4th, I caught a few round trips behind privately-owned, preserved 8F No48305, before compiling my notes and images to make this study of this well respected class which saw service both in the UK and overseas:-
With construction beginning in 1935, the 8F was first designed as a 'freight version' of William Stanier's hugely sucessful 5MT 4-6-0, the 'Black 5'. The locomotives had to be cheap to build, powerful and, perhaps most important of all, robust. Their first planned task was to replace under powered 0-6-0s and the inadequate Garratt locomotives on freight work. When first released into service, the 2-8-0s were only classified '7F', later being reclassified to the more familiar '8F' once they had proven themselves worthy. Before the outbreak of war in 1939, the LMS built 126 examples of the class, putting them to work at once. However, though they were already a proven design, the 8F's biggest claim to fame would come during World War II when it was chosen to be the Standard Freight Engine for Britain's railways. Just as Robinson's 8K 2-8-0s had been in World War I, the 8Fs were to be mass produced and even shipped overseas to help with the conflict. Therefore, by 1946, a grand total of 852 Stanier 8F's had been built and were completing their tasks admirably.
Some of the locomotives which were sent abroard remained there, and continuing to work for many more years, with a few operating into the 1980s. Some examples of the class are even preserved in country's such as Turkey. 666 of the 852 8F's that were built made it into BR ownership, following the amalgamation in 1948. Withdrawals of the class from service began in 1960, with only 150 of them still operating by the last year of BR steam, 1968. Many ended up in Barry scrapyard which, some may argue, aided their preservation. 48305, the GCR's 8F, was a particular Barry favourite, sporting the words "Please Don't Let Me Die" on her severely corroded smokebox door. However, she was rescued and now leads a retired life, proudly displaying her BR Black livery.
Now to talk about the workings of the 8F. My first image shows the two mechanical lubricators which stand proudly on the running board. These high capacity machines aid regular and sufficient oiling during long journeys. My second image shows the lead, and 2nd driving wheels on the Fireman's side. The 8F used typical valve gear linked to two outside cylinders. (Cylinder size=18.5"x28"). Coupled to their eight 56.5" driving wheels, these cylinders gave the locomotive a tractive effort of 32, 440 lbf. This raw power enabled the engines to pull extremely heavy loads but at relatively low speed. However, with lighter loads, the 8F's could be quite speedy! Without the tender, an 8F weighed around 73 tons in working order, further increasing their adhesion.
Now into the cab. The first thing that we notice from a Fireman's point of view is the raised shovelling plate. This was no doubt an improvement against other designs such as the infamous LNWR tenders which didn't even include a sloping coal-space floor, let alone a raised shovelling plate! With the shovelling plate raised, the fireman, theoretically, would have to arch his back less, resulting in easier firing. Therefore, this was no doubt favoured. On either side of the shovelling plate can be seen two handles. These operate the water-feeds for the two steam injectors which are used to fill the boiler with water from the tender. These injectors seemed remarkably reliable from my perspective. The typical 8F tender is of course the Stanier 4000-gallon type, allowing plenty of water space whilst also carrying around 9 tons of coal, if required.
The boiler used with the 8F was the 'LMS 3C' type. It was tapered (a Churchward inspired feature!) and had a Belpair firebox. The boiler was pressed to 225psi which allowed for great power but was still not as high as the Duchess Pacifics, which operated at 250psi respectively. I was told that the firebox is approximately 15ft long, not as long as a Jubilee apparantly but still quite sizeable! In the above image, the Brick Arch can be seen, as can many of the Stay's and the Baffle Plate. The drop-down flap, included to reduced the air in take on the fire, is seen at the bottom of the image. (This design was also seen on many GWR locomotives, such as the Castle Class). The relatively traditional "warming plate" can be seen above the firehole, sporting a Teacan.
The above image shows some of the boiler-backhead controls. The central red lever is of course the regulator with the two 'cocks' at the top of the image being the injector steam feeds. The two water gauge classes can be clearly seen, as can their individual 'blow-down' valves. The central control (pointing west in the image) operates the Blower.
The above image shows the drivers controls. The lever at the bottom left is for the locomotives Drain Cocks, with the red device above being the Screw Reverser. The Gauge in the top left corner is the Vacuum Gauge with the 'Cock' below being for the large ejector (I think). The device below that is the Vacuum Brake which slides from left to right. Looking from the driver seat, the view is very good. Also, the driver has the ability to lean out of the window whilst at the regulator. He may also protect his view using a small "Windshield" which is also included on the Fireman's side. In the cab roof, there is also a small sliding door which allows heat to escape and also, light to enter. All in all, the 8F was no doubt a fantastic machine, popular with its crews and extremely powerful and robust. It is therefore a testament to them that 48305 is still in operation today, as is 48151 which is even main line certified! Other 8Fs remain scattered around the country, either on display, awaiting restoration or undergoing overhaul. So, Well Done Mr Stanier, another fantastic design...

No comments: