The Roundhouse Journal December 1999
Welcome to the Christmas edition of the Roundhouse Journal, may I wish you all a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you all are able to enjoy the season festivities as we leave this century and move into the new millennium. I hope each one of you and your families find peace and good fortune in the times to come. Hopefully we will all get plenty of model engineering done in the year 2000.
On Friday 3rd December the AGM for the society was held, a report is later on in this newsletter.
As you read this the Model Engineering exhibition will be behind us, again a report hopefully is contained later on in the newsletter.
I have also received a letter and article from Gerald Todd, which is reproduced later on, but suffice to say I have modified the newsletter to three column format at his suggestion, as he thinks its reading may be easier, against the 4 column format in the previous edition. What do you think, feedback welcome.
I can also report that considerable activity is still taking place at the club site, work is progressing on several fronts simultaneously. The clubhouse is having a new central heating system installed - the boiler and radiator have just arrived. Installation work will commence as you are reading this.
The 7¼ ground level track is being renewed in Willowbank station at the arrival platform, this will include 3 new points.
The raised track rolling stock passenger cars are receiving modifications to allow our younger passengers to be carried.
If that wasn't enough a huge effort is being put into some really serious earth works and concrete blocking to retain the earth on the 7¼ ground level line to allow the 'Alps line' to be put into operation next year. This will allow more trains and remove the last real single-line bottleneck.
All in all there is a regular Sunday working group of not less that 15 people every Sunday. Just recently 23 sat down for Sunday lunch at the club. (Soup, bread cheese, sandwiches, bring your own etc. ) Numbers also swell up in the afternoon as extra people come to use the workshop facilities for their own engineering projects.
So all in all the club appears very active which to my mind is what it is all about. Friday nights are also proving popular, watch out for Friday evening specials details will be posted by mail shot or at the back of this newsletter.
So if your at a loose end any Sunday don't forget, there's always a welcome for you at Malden, there's always friendship & camaraderie and the urn is always on to make the tea or coffee.
So we hope top see you there Mark Adlington, EditorHSE Draft document
Following the distribution of the Health and Safety Executives "Model Engineering: Guidance on the safe operation of miniature railways and model traction engines" in the last newsletter. No further information has been received by MDSME. We are still awaiting the final document
Raised track passenger truck redesign - update
The first set of steel safety covers has been manufactured by William Goffe and his team. One set will cover the bogies and couplings on one articulated passenger car set.
New protective top covers for the passenger cars bodies have also been manufactured, as have modified side valences. The complete set of protection will be used for the fist time with our visiting public on the 12th December, when we offer extra rides on the raised track for our visitors who come to see Santa Claus.
William would still like some more help in manufacturing the steel covers. So MALDEN MEMBERS, please contact William Goffe as soon as possible. Remember that the safety modifications will not appear out of thin air. Nor will they automatically manufacture themselves unfortunately!
It is with much personal regret that I have to report the passing of yet another keen Malden DSME member, Ken Boucher died on 21st October at Kingston Hospital after loosing his fight against Ankylosing-spondylitis which had plagued Ken all of his adult life.
I have known Ken for only the last 6 years, but he became my twin at the club, we worked together nearly every week end, either on the locomotives or doing the ground level signaling. We also went to the Model Engineering exhibitions together, as well as our family's getting on very well. I and many other club members will miss his many talents.
Ken was born in 1927 in Risca Monmouthshire, which was in England!. On leaving school he went to University and gained a BSc in mathematics and became a school teacher, he did National service during 1947-1949 teaching literacy and numeracy in the education corps. Leaving the army he moved to Teddington and Thames Valley High school. Here he met Joyce who was also a schools teacher and they married in 1955 at Adlington Baptist Church. Ken taught maths to literally hundred's of secondary children, Ken eventually retired from teaching early, as Ankylosing-spondylitis was causing problems with his health but this didn't stop him because he enrolled with the open university and gained a BA degree in mathematics. Ken was also an accomplished Violinist , and he was one of life's gentlemen, and his philosophy can be summed up as 'learn, teach & help'
Ken's model engineering interest was the SR Schools class locomotive 4-4-0, which he had just started to build in 7¼" gauge, unfortunately his illness beat the completion of this locomotive, and this did upset him a great deal.
He leaves a widow, Joyce who many of you know, as she has often helped out in the gift shop at the club. All our condolences go to Joyce.
I am glad to say that many club members were present at Ken's funeral to pay their respects.
A few days later I received a card for all Ken's friends at the club from Joyce, the card is at the club, but I thought I would circulate it further here. (next page)...........
Dear Friends of Ken at Malden DSME.
First , Thank you all, from Ken, for the lovely plant arrangement and card which you sent him in hospital. He appreciated that fact that you were thinking of him.
Then I thank you for the cards, letters and messages of sympathy you sent me when dear Ken died - they all helped give me comfort. Quite frequently, friends said 'he was a lovely man'. Yes, he certainly was, and I was so fortunate to have had him for a husband for 44 years. I was so glad that some of you were able to come to the funeral; I didn't want it to be a mournful occasion and Ken wouldn't want have liked it either, and I hope it enabled you to find out about some of Ken's other enthusiasms and meet other friends and family members.
Most of all I want to thank for the good times Ken spent with you, in the workshop, out on the track with the loco's, in the signal box, at Friday evening get together and exhibitions and outings. He did enjoy your friendship and I bet he was always asking you questions!
Best wishes to you all. Get cracking with your engineering now!
Yours Joyce Boucher
AGM Review 3rd December 1999
AGM – Chairman's Report
By Derek C Smith, MIFireE
As I sat down to compose the Chairman's report, my thoughts immediately turned to the comments made on many occasions by those who would follow me in their respective reports to the AGM, that I, being the first to speak would steal all that they had wished to say in their own reports – so this year, being the last chairman's report in the 20th century, I thought that I would perhaps take the liberty to direct my thoughts to engineering in its broadest sense, and leave the society issues to them, especially as within the next few weeks we will enter the next millennium.
Engineering is perhaps one of the oldest professions. I can think of some others that are older but these are not the subject of tonight's report!
Engineering is the profession or calling that deals with the design and building of machines, devices and structures.
Until the 18th century the "engineer" was rarely distinguished from that of the scientist, the inventor or the builder.
In fact, the history of technology, science and engineering were intertwined for many centuries, technology being in a sense the product of engineering, and science the development of theories to explain natural occurrences.
Tools, as we all know, are a basic necessity of engineering and the early development of engineering was totally dependent on the invention of efficient tools and basic processes.
By the time of the Egyptian empires, early machine tools such as the lathe were already in use. Metal smelting, metal working and casting processes had been developed and such basic devices as the windlass, the endless chain and bellows were widely employed. The pyramids are a demonstration of the Egyptians' great skills in surveying, geometric design, quarrying and construction techniques.
The Greeks were talented inventors of mechanical devices and many of their inventions prefigure machines which would only be developed centuries later. Hero of Alexandria devised two types of heat engine and was the first to study and classify the types of mechanical force. His categories of simple machines, the lever, the wedge, the pulley, the wheel and axle all formed the basis of "Mechanical Engineering".
The water wheel appeared in the 4th century BC, a machine, probably the first, whose power was not provided by either men or animals.
Two centuries later the Greek mathematician and inventor, Archimedes, studied the mechanics of solid bodies immersed in fluids, now called the Archimedes Principle. He also studied mathematics and geometry in which he made the first approximation for pi, the ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle. In addition he developed the early ideas of integral calculus.
Archimedes also constructed a device now known as the Archimedes screw or spiral for transporting water from one level to another. The device, incidentally, is still in use throughout the world, including Holland where it is extensively used to drain water from reclaimed land.
The Romans, whilst not quite so inventive as the Greeks, developed civil engineering to new heights using the masonry arch, for roads, viaducts, aqueducts and amphitheatres.
In about the 4th century AD the double piston bellows, the wheelbarrow and the windmill reached the western world from China where they had been in use for many years.
Engineering in the Middle Ages was mainly confined to the design and development of military fortifications, machines and weapons.
Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest painters of the Renaissance and probably the most versatile genius, being also an anatomist, engineer, mathematician, musician, naturalist and philosopher, as well as an architect and sculptor. The surviving 5,000 pages of Leonardo's notebooks contain research into anatomy, mechanics, hydraulics and a wide range of other sciences. The notebooks also detail many civil and military engineering schemes, plus designs for an enormous variety of mechanical devices-a helicopter, a bicycle, a screw-cutting machine, furnaces, breech loading cannon, rifled firearms, coinage machines and a double swivelling crane.
The invention of the Printing press by Caxton enabled knowledge and invention to be documented and information passed on to others.
Sir Isaac Newton, a brilliant scientist developed an understanding of mathematics, gravity, heat and light, observing the colour's of the spectrum and designing and constructing the first reflecting telescope.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, improvement in basic materials contributed to the development of engineering, in particular, cast iron which could be used in machine construction in preference to wood.
Iron ore, coal and coke would be needed in large quantities to provide the cast iron. New methods would be needed to mine and transport these materials. This was the inspirational spur necessary to develop rail transport.
Mines have always been plagued with water and its removal has concentrated the mind of many engineers. In 1698, Thomas Savery was granted a patent for a steam powered pump. Thomas Newcomen developed the idea and fourteen years later constructed the first efficient steam engine.
Civil Engineering developed to provide harbours, canals, bridges, highways and sanitation works.
The Institute of Civil Engineers was founded in 1818.
James Watt, George Stevenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel plus many others developed machine tools and industrial systems in order to progress their activities in ship building, bridge building and rail transport.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 held in London at the Crystal Palace provided a showcase for steam engines and machines of all descriptions, there was also a selection of American rifles manufactured with interchangeable parts for the Civil War – a sign of the coming of mass production.
The 20th century saw the development and separation of engineering specialisation's, including civil, military, mechanical, chemical, electrical, electronic, atomic, marine, aerospace and space travel. Names such as Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers, James Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz, Frank Whittle, Barnes Wallace, Alun Turin, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and many others made specific contributions to their varied and various specialisation's.
This last century has seen an exponential growth to the inventiveness and engineering capability of the human race, much of it progressed by development teams instead of individual engineers, unfortunately most of it as a direct result of two world wars.
Model engineering started at the beginning of the century, gaining momentum in the 20's and 30's.
Malden and District Society of Model Engineers is now some 60? Years old and has made a steady contribution to the collective aims of Model Engineering.
We have seen in our midst some notable engineers from whom we have all taken inspiration. Sadly some are no longer with us but all have passed on their skill and talent to a new generation.
As we enter the next millennium we should all take time to reflect on our own personal achievements and the achievements of the society.
The message from the Committee to this society for the next millennium is simple.
Please encourage new members and new ideas.
Please pass on your talents and skills to a new generation of engineers.
Please do your best to support this Model Engineering Society which provides a unique opportunity for us all to share our common interest in engineering in good company and kind fellowship.
Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc.
Oxford Interactive Encyclopaedia
MDSME AGM 3 December 1999 Hon Secretary's Address: William Goffe
Good Evening Ladies & Gentlemen.
I'd like to follow up on what I said at the last AGM and say some more about the Raised Track.
Some of you will have seen the articles in our Newsletter recently, and I'm particularly glad about the very clear one from Aileen Smith giving her "View from the Ticket Office". Aileen does a very important job for the society, not only selling tickets, but also dealing diplomatically with passengers who want their money back. This cannot always be easy, and I should like say a big thank you to her for doing it so well.
But returning to her letter – I am glad because it has provoked a strong and energetic response both from members and from the committee.
A number of people have come forward recently, expressing a serious interest both in maintaining and developing the Raised Track. I am fully confident that next season we shall see several unfamiliar locomotives swelling the ranks and we look forward to welcoming them.
In addition, the committee has opened up a vacancy for a new Officer of the Society. This is as Honorary Raised Track Coordinator and we hope you will appoint the first Honorary Raised Track Coordinator later in this meeting. The intention is to forge an effective two-way link with those members whose prime interest is in the Raised Track.
I would now like to report on what actually HAS been achieved on the Raised Track in the ten months since the last AGM.
We removed 6 concrete beams and replaced them with others. This involved painting the tops with Unibond, floating the thin concrete super elevation on top and refitting the track. That's a quarter of the beams done. We cut the hedge.
We made and installed 17 temporary wooden supports where there were cracks in the vertical posts "as a precautionary measure". We cut the hedge.
We went round the entire track, and made sure it was firmly fixed – putting in about 40 additional J-bolts and welding on several attachment rods. We cut the hedge.
We improved the super elevation on the inner circuit near Angel Road - where there used to be the adverse camber.
We noticed and repaired a failing weld before it caused a problem. And I think you can guess what's coming next …we cut the hedge!
We continued the program of replacing wheel sets on the passenger cars – this will be complete by Easter and has involved machining 48 wheels and 24 axles to an accuracy of half a thou, shrink-fitting the two together, painting them and fitting them to the existing frames.
We cleared the ash from the track bed in the station, and regularly swept the steaming bays.
We reluctantly cut the first set of curls from Dick Vince's fine ironwork supporting the station canopy. I'm quite sorry, because they looked attractive and can't have been easy to make. Unfortunately they had to go on the grounds of safety…. These days, youngsters seem to expect to be able to travel with their arms fully outstretched touching things, and one little boy got a whack on the wrist from the ornamental ironwork. Some might say this was richly deserved, but the Society now has to guard against such occurrences if it can.
During the year at committee there have been several discussions about carrying under-fives on the Raised Track. We are working towards a suitable modification to the passenger cars to allow the present restriction to be lifted. One of the double sets of passenger cars is in the workshop right now being modified, and, if it turns out as we hope, the remaining cars will be done in time for Easter.
The Raised Track will then carry young passengers above a specified height – roughly corresponding to the height of an average 3-year old. They will need a ticket, and must be accompanied by an adult until they are five. Passengers below this height will still be able to have rides on the Ground Level track, accompanied by an adult, as at present.
Several members have helped with all this tricky and detailed work, and I should like to extend particular thanks to Colin Gascoyne. Also to Geoff Gillett, Ron Bennett, Phil Johnson and the others; to the workshop for putting up with the wheels; to the juniors for raising steam; and, on behalf of the Society and the public, I should like to thank those members whose contribution is to present their locomotives on public running days, with all the manhandling, preparation, and maintenance that that entails.
Thank you all very much.
Committee Posts as per AGM
Everybody on the committee had agreed to stand for re-election that were due to retire:- The AGM meeting voted everyone back onto their respective posts, these are:
Hon President Mr J. Rowland
Hon Vice President Mr D.M. Wilkins
Hon Secretary Mr W Goffe
Hon Treasurer Mr M. G. Evans
Hon Social Secretary Mr J.R. Mottram
Hon Librarian Mr P.J. Pullen
Committee member Mr R.M. Adlington
Committee member Mr P.K. Henley
Committee member Mr D.C. Smith
For information the following members are in middle of their 2 year posts and were not due for election.
Committee member Dr M.W. Baker
Committee member Mr J. Burchell
Committee member Mr G.J.C. Putz
A new post was created at the AGM of 'Honary Raised Track Coordinator' and Mr Stephen Grey was duly elected to this post.
Honorary President's Address: Jack Rowland
Ladies and Gentlemen, the first thing I want to do - on your behalf - is thank the committee, because this has been a particularly heavy year for them.
They've mentioned the renewing of the lease next door, but we've also had quite a lot of business with the Health and Safety people and it's fallen on William in particular, that has. He does a very good job, and I don't think you realise how much time these people spend on this sort of thing. Not only that, of course, but many of them - not myself included I might add - spend a lot of time down here actually working on your behalf. John, as you've heard, is going to do the central heating - I was hoping it would be done by tonight actually… but, anyway, I must thank them on your behalf.
Talking about the committee - sitting back and listening as I do to what goes on - a great deal - as you will have appreciated from Mike's description of the financial items - a lot of it has to do with the development and the maintenance of the facilities down here for you. The track, the steaming bay, signals, carriage sheds and so on - are all connected, in a way, with running a railway - and, in my idle moments, thinking about this, I think "It's just like running a railway!" In fact, so much so, that Hazel, when I say "I'm going down to Thames Ditton", she says "Oh, you're going down to your railway club, aren't you" - in spite of the fact that I try and emphasise to her that it's a Model Engineering Society - "Oh yes," she says, "a railway club."
But it is a fact that Model Engineering, or certainly Model Engineering in this century - and I would point out today that Model Engineering goes back a lot earlier than what he said - one of the earliest things - as was pointed out to me years ago when we had a stand at the Model Engineer Exhibition, next door to a fellow who made miniature firearms - and he pointed out that one of the earliest examples of modelling, that goes back to the 13th century, was making models of pistols and this sort of thing.
But in this century it's been very much biased towards building railway locos, and rolling stock, and tracks, and, in fact, if you look through the list of the clubs that are affiliated to the Southern Federation, or the Northern Federation or any of them, you find that most are listed as having such and such a track: 7¼", 5" raised track, 5" on the level, and so on. So, it is a fact that we're heavily biased towards the operation of a railway, and that's no bad thing, I suppose. I mean, I'm guilty as anybody about that. But we mustn't forget there are other aspects of Model Engineering. I mean, I can think of Eric Offen with his miniature internal combustion engines - and so on.
And it's always interesting to me - that interest in railways themselves - they still seem to be as popular as ever. I mean, we hear on the news what trouble we're having with privatisation and this sort of thing - but, nevertheless, the railways in this country are carrying more passengers than ever they did, and I remember - I can't remember the details of it - but there was a discussion programme I remember, on television, way back in the '60s, and some pundit said "Well, of course, by the end of the century, I don't suppose we'll have any railways in this country." Well, he's WRONG! And I think they'll go on and on.
So, now, what of the future? As Derek said, we're nearly entering another year, another century - another thousand years in fact by the way we count them - and I find as I get older, the speed of progress, especially in engineering and its associated things is becoming - the speed is becoming bewildering. It was brought home to me in no uncertain fashion last week at the jumble sale. There were two computers for sale - and there was not a single bid for either of them. I presume - because I haven't got a personal computer I must admit - but I presume, if you buy one, in two years it's out of date. So, trying to look into the future, the future of Model Engineering - I'm sure we've got a future - but what it will be like, I've just no idea. I mean, shall we be sitting in our armchairs with computer controlled machines producing... you know, sitting there watching television while your workshop's clanking away with a computer controlled lathe, a computer controlled milling machine, and so on... and we go out there, and there's a finished loco - except, perhaps for some painting it... (You wish...[Derek])
I'm not very good at painting: all locos - I'm with Henry Ford - all locos should be black I think - Or shall we merely strap some gadget on to our heads and enjoy it all as virtual reality? I think your guess is as good as mine. Thank you, gentlemen.Other AGM Business
The old ticket office that was destroyed by fire is to be demolished during January / February 2000 as it is beyond repair. Agreement was reached at the AGM meeting for a new ticket office and ice cream parlour to be constructed in wood which will be about 2/3rds of the size of the existing building. A model of the new building was presented to the membership by Dave Wilkins and following a short discussion full approval to proceed was granted. Full details of the proposals were circulated to all members in the previous edition of this newsletter. If any member wishes further details or wishes to see the model, this can be obtained from Dave Wilkins or Peter Pullen
A Man with a Hat
by Gerald Todd
I like hats. I believe in hats. My belief is that you should wear the right hat for the right job. That is why I have a collection of hats. I have a special hat for gardening, another for crawling under the car, a different one for driving the car, and so on.
My favorite hat is my engine driver's hat, or "grease top" as they are traditionally known. This name evolved because the top of the hat is made from American oilcloth. This serves the dual purpose of being both waterproof and oil proof, thus affording protection from these elements.
I wear my grease top when driving my model steam locomotive, either around the club track, or at away events. When I wear it together with my boiler suit overall, it represents some sort of image of officialdom. Members of the public are easily able spot and identify that this man is indeed an engine driver. Even the badge above the peak of the hat bears the legend, "Engineman".
Little children, also grown-up children, after they have enjoyed the thrill of riding behind my steam locomotive, come up to me and say, "Thank you driver". Just a small gesture such as this gives me a feeling of fulfillment and pleasure, caused simply by wearing a hat. Take away the hat and what do I become? Just another member of the public, merging into anonymity amongst the other members of the public.
Comments on the new layout of "Roundhouse".
By Gerald Todd.
On being asked for comments on the new layout of "Roundhouse", I would like to offer my two-pennorth. (Old Pre-decimalisation expression)
My initial reaction on reading the latest copy of the newsletter was to utter expressions like, "Well done! Bravo!". Obviously the need to move forward with the times has been seen and a move to meet this need has been made. The ability to incorporate pictures and diagrams along with the text is a great improvement. It goes without saying that a picture to illustrate what a particular author is trying to describe has a great advantage. Presumably this has come about by the acquisition of, or access to a scanner.
I welcome the larger font size. Those of us with advancing years and impaired eyesight find this to be a distinct advantage. The four column format does present a problem. I find this uncomfortable to read, particularly when it can lead to a two word line of print. This led me to make a comparison with page layout of a model engineering publication. They have opted for a three column presentation coupled with a smaller font size, which to me, makes more easy reading.
Being a latecomer to the world of computers, I am still way down on the learning curve regarding utilizing one of these keyboards wired to an electric fish tank. (I am sure that at this point, something along the lines of teaching a new dog old tricks must spring to mind). One has to be able to drop expressions like, "Word Processor" and "Desk Top Publishing" into the conversation just to let it be known that one is trying to keep abreast of the latest technology. Meanwhile I am struggling with Microsoft Word in order to produce this item. At the end will come the real technical feat, saving to disc in Rich Text Format so that this may be forwarded for publication. I will think about that in a minute.
Many years ago, I did have a try at producing a house magazine. This was much more laborious than present-day methods. The text had to cut into a Gestetner stencil using a manual typewriter with the ribbon parked in neutral. Any mistakes had to be blobbed out using correcting fluid which smelt and looked like nail varnish. In fact I remember one secretary who used it for just that purpose! Drawings and diagrams had to be laboriously inscribed into the stencil by hand using a ball-ended stylus requiring the utmost care not to rip the stencil in the process. Finally the stencil was applied to the ink laden drum of the duplicator, paper stacked in the feed tray and the handle vigorously turned, unless it was electrically driven. One of the hazards was that the duplicator used to develop static electricity and quite a hefty belt could be suffered by the unsuspecting operator.
Then came the big breakthrough. A device was developed by which the manuscript was attached to the right hand side of a revolving drum and the stencil was wrapped round the left hand side of the same drum. An optical scanner traversed the manuscript as it rotated and every time it saw black instead of the white background a high tension electric spark was triggered which burned a corresponding hole in the stencil. This meant that not only print but also pictures of sufficient contrast could be reproduced. Since then, it is obvious that technology has come a long way. As a footnote. I have to say that my house magazine ran to all of two editions!
What does the future hold in store? The first edition of "Roundhouse" in colour?
Reply... From Editor
Colour is possible, but printing cost is prohibitive, last quote for full colour production run as per last newsletter was £998 for 200 copies... Out of question unless the subs go up by a large amount.
Back on Track
Fifty years after they seemed to hit the buffers, steam trains are poised to a comeback. Jeremy Webb reports
The following article is reproduce with kind permission of the New Scientist . The article was originally published on 17/7/99. www.newscientist.com
AS THE ELECTRIC trolley bus sweeps quietly and cleanly through Winterthur just north of Zurich I try to imagine the person I'm about to meet. The notion of a Swiss engineer who is also a steam train enthusiast conjures up in image of someone between a boring banker and a socially challenged adolescent in an anorak. Yet, a quarter of an hour later, having met Roger Waller I realise that my preconceptions are in for a battering.
His flamboyant black and white shirt betrays a relaxed style and dry, sense of humour. And he's clearly in touch with the way most people perceive steam. biggest problem facing steam is not efficiency but its image," he says. "People see it is dirty and old-fashioned."
But this doesn't deter to Waiter, who is it charge of developing steam power for Sulzer Winpro, an engineering firm based at the historic Swiss Locomotive and Machinery (SLM) plant in Winterthur. In this huge and once.Swiss Rack 0-4-2T for the Brienz Rothorn Bahn
bustling site, half of which now stands sadly empty (but scrupulously, clean) in the drizzling rain, Waller has managed an astonishing feat. Fifty Years after most commercial development of steam engines ended, his team has designed, built and sold steam locomotives that run as economically as diesels and are more environmentally friendly "When we started this thing, everybody thought we were mad," he says. "Now we have trains in regular, daily service."
Other groups have modernised old steam locomotives, or built replicas, but the SLM team is unique in the 1990s because it his built a steam engine from scratch using modern ideas. Waller believes that in the right place "new steam," as he calls it, can compete with electric and diesel traction. Many rail engineers think this, too, is mad. Just how far this miniature, renaissance will spread depends in large part on how Waller and a small group of like-minded engineers around the world can change people's prejudices.
When Waller joined SLM in 1978, he designed and developed electric and diesel locomotives. But by this time he was already hooked on steam. "Book a steam trip yourself," he says "You will see, feel and hear, even smell the power and the speed. No other human invention has so much life. in it as a steam locomotive." So strong was his craving that, in 1982, that he quit his job and headed for South Africa. Here, he joined a British engineer, David Wardale, who had modernised a locomotive called the Red Devil in an attempt to convince South Africa Railways that steam still had lots to offer. While he was there, he had a revelation.
"I saw an economic study, by, South African Railways comparing steam, diesel find electric for the Kimberly to De Aar line," he recalls. "It concluded that under the conditions then prevailing in South Africa, steam would be the most economic form of traction." Electrification would have requires the installation and maintenance of costly overhead wires, and diesel oil was in short supply while coal was cheap and plentiful. "I started believing that there could be a future for steam," says Waller.
Spurred on by this study, and by now back at SLM, Waller started analysing the disadvantages of steam locomotive, and concluded that they could be overcome with modern technology. He chose to focus on the one area where everyone agrees that steam is an asset rather liability - tourism. "For tourism, people see that steam adds to the value of train Journeys," he says. He approached the operators of the only non electrified railway, in Switzerland, which runs steam trains and diesels up the ascent from Brienz to Rothhorn. He proposed building a locomotive for them that would look like a 1930s steam engine but perform as well as, or better than, their most modern diesel engine. The reply was "go ahead."
One of the big cost disadvantages of steam is the need riot only for a driver, but also for someone to shovel coal into the firebox. Waller's team removed the extra person by replacing coal with oil, which is far easier to control. "Almost every boiler in industrial is operated more or less automatically he says. "Nowhere in industry do you see a fireman sitting next to the boiler so our was this could be done on a locomotive, to."
Oil-fired steam engines hive run before, especially in the US. But these used fuel oil, xvliicli is dirty and needs preheating before it can be burnt. Waller and his colleagues decided to light oil, like that used for lifting homes, which is easier to handle and less polluting. The oil-firing system they designed, which atomises the oil in a stream of air and steam is highly efficient, leaving only about 0.5 per cent of the fuel unburned so what comes out of the stack is virtually smoke free.
The SLM team also wrapped the firebox and boiler in a blanket of insulating mineral wool. Old engines had no, or very poor, insulation, so radiated vast amounts of heat whenever they were fired up. They also cooled down overnight unless they were continually tended Getting up a head of steam next morning could waste a lot of time and fuel.
The thick insulation and a cap on the, chimney to stop draughts drew the sting front these problems. The pressure in the new locomotive's boiler might be 14 atmospheres at the end of the day. Heat retention is now so good that by next morning, the pressure will still be about 8 atmospheres. "By the time you have shunted your coaches, You should have a full [head of] steam," says Waller.
In order to meet weight restrictions on the Brienz line and still pull as many passengers as the resident diesels, "Waller was forced to cut 5 tonnes from the weight of the locomotive on which he based his design. He saved this by scrimping all round, exploiting modern construction methods, computer calculations and new materials. Out went antique riveted seams and cast-iron cylinders for the pistons. All were replaced by welded structures made from lighter steel. In the firebox, the heavy old brick arch that was used to increase the length of the flames disappeared.
SLM NG ("Next Generation") 52 8055
As modified for the Orient Express its place was a lighter, heat-resistant stainless-steel screen. "That wouldn't have been possible until recently" says Waller, "Because the material simply didn't exist."
'The SLM team also designed the locomotive axles to run in modern roller bearings. The original 1930s engine had plain bearings, simple brass collars that needed constant lubrication. The new sealed bearings not only cut out the steady dripping of oil along the tracks but also help to improve efficiency.
On the face of it the prototype engine, which rolled out of SLM's sheds in 1992, was the epitome of modern, maintenance free, green steam. But would it perform is expected? Early tests looked favourable. It converted about 12.5 per cent of its heat into kinetic energy at the axle, nearly double the efficiency of its 1930s ancestor but still was, below the 30 per cent efficiency of diesel locomotives
"In transport, however, thermal efficiency is not the final word," Waller argues. Trains sometimes stand idle for long periods, for example, when their efficiency is zero. A better measure, he says, is fuel consumption per passenger. By this measure, on the Brienz line, diesel beats steam by 2 to 1, although as light fuel oil is cheaper than diesel, the cost difference favours steam slightly. On other lines, the ratio is 1 to 1.
On emissions, the SLM locomotive also performed well, releasing lower levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides than a diesel engine. Its sulphur dioxide emissions were higher than those from a diesel (see Diagram), but using low-sulphur fuel can almost halve these emissions. The notion that a steam engine can be made cleaner than a diesel comes as a big surprise to many people, says Waller." They still see steam engines belching smoke."
The SLM team designed the 300-kilowatt locomotive especially for mountain lines. Its pistons drive a large cog, or pinion, which locks into the teeth of a "rack" bolted to the ground between the rails. To date, eight of the machines are running on the three mountain lines at Brienz, Glion above Montreux and at Schafberg in Austria. Each one costs about 2 million Swiss francs (£800 000), which is about 20 per cent cheaper than a comparable diesel, says Waller. Unlike a diesel, however, each steam engine must be taken out of service for one day every, twenty, to thirty working days to have its boiler washed out. This ritual cleaning is one disadvantage of steam that its advocates have not yet overcome.
Waller has not confined himself to rack engines. Late last year, SLM rolled out a more familiar adhesion locomotive which drives its wheels directly against the rails, 'This was not a new design but a modernised German locomotive, a giant 2000 kilowatt machine. In April, it started taking tourists out for day excursions in luxury coaches from the old Orient Express. The Germany company that runs the excursions found that its steam trips were always more popular than diesel or electric equivalents, but they also received complaints from the public about the smoke. Today, after the full SLM treatment, the train emits less pollution than a comparable diesel, and fuel costs have fallen by as much as 40 per cent. "We've made big efficiency gains," says Waller. "But it was a compromise because we didn't start building from scratch."
Another of SLM's projects has a sweet irony.' The company is marking new steam engines for four paddle steamers that ply Lake Leman, 'These were originally driven by steam, but the old engines needed an engineer and stoker to operate them. Forty years ago, these ships were converter to diesel so the engines could be operated from the bridge. Today, with the diesels reaching the end of their lives, Waller has convinced the operator to switch back to steam, but this time one-person operated new steam.
It's not just Waller who recognises the potential of steam. Engineers in other countries, such as South Africa and Argentina, are also working on improving steam locomotives. In Ushuaia, near the southern tip of Argentina, for example, Scan MacMahon is modernising two oil-fired engines that run on a tourist line dubbed the railway" at the end of the world". Just about every system from the burner to the brakes will be updated to improve its performance.' The line runs through a national park, so MacMahon has particularly strict emission and noise targets to meet.
Perhaps the most influential thinker on steam deveopment is Argentinean engineer Livio Dante Porta, who has made big improvements to combustion and exhaust systems. Much of his recent work has been done in Cuba. "He has totally transformed a 1919 built steams engine into machine that is cheaper to operate and maintain than a diesel or electric locomotive says MacMahon. It can burn coal, oil, wood, even bagasse waste left from the sugar cane industry- as required. If all goes well with their existing projects, Porta and MacMahon hope to build a modern locomotive for the Ushuaia line to show off what new steam can do.
For Waller, too, modernising steam engines is just a step towards the real goal of building modern locomotives. This means finding customers, and when rail operators think of steam, they still think of old steam Very few, if any, of them even consider steam when modernising a line. Waller thinks this is a mistake." I claim that there are many lines in the world where, new steam is the best option," he says. Some lines, such as the Zillertalbahn, near Innsbruck in Austria, run steam locomotives for tourists and diesels to carry local people and freight." One could look at replacing all of these with new steam," he says." The tourists will hardly notice, and the change will reduce maintenance costs."
The reaction to all this from other rail experts is often negative and unequivocal. "The Stephenson form of steam locomotive his no potentially useful role on the modern railway despite, despite the improvements made to it by, Porta, Wardale, et at," says Michael Duffy, senior lecturer in engineering at Sunderland University in the, north of England. He accepts that steam will continue to thrive on tourist lines, and that it may also find a place in developing countries where labour costs are low. But he argues that steam locomotives are still fundamentally labour intensive and inefficient, that they destroy the rails on which they run, and that they cannot sustain the kinds of speeds that modern trains need. Rail networks today are becoming highly computerised so that virtually everything from signalling to the very, motion of trains themselves will be controlled from one centre. That vision "has no place for a steam engine," he says "least of all one that is crudely monitored and controlled by two men on the foot plate."
Waller shrugs, "Most rail engineers nowadays do not have enough knowledge of steam locomotives to be able to judge the possibilities," he says. "They usually forget that the power provided to drive their electric locomotives is produced in a steam cycle power plant, all remote controlled. Is it all that difficult to imagine that this could be done on a locomotive too?" He stresses that he's not advocating TGVs driven by steam. "I simply suggest using modern steam wherever it is more economical, or ecological."
Events Diary 2000
Friday 18th - Sunday 20th February Model World 2000, BIC Brighton, Sussex (BIC is on sea front, central Brighton)£4.00 Adults, £2:00 Children
Sunday 16th April Tune up Sunday, BOILER TESTING.
Friday 21st April Good Friday, final clear up.BOILER TESTING
Sunday 23rd April Easter Sunday, Public open day. (BBQ) Monday 24th April Easter Monday, Public open day.
NO BOILER TESTING EASTER SUNDAY OR MONDAY
Sunday 30th April Public open day (BBQ)
Monday 1st May May bank holiday, Public open day.
Sunday 7th May Public Open day.
Sunday 28th May Public open day. (BBQ)
Monday 29th May Spring bank holiday, Public open day.
Sunday 4th June Public open day.
Sunday 18th June Mencap.
Sunday 2nd July Public open day.
Saturday 8th July BBQ / Night Run / Visiting clubs
Saturday 15th July Guildford Inernational Rally
Sunday 16th July Guildford Inernational Rally
Sunday 6th August Public open day.
Sunday 27th August Public open day. BBQ
Monday 28th August Bank holiday, Public open day.
Sunday 3rd September Public open day.
Sunday 1st October Public open day.
Sunday 8th October 7¼" Gauge Open day.
Saturday 4th November Bonfire Night + Fish & Chip + Films
Sunday 19th November Decorate Club house / wrap presents.
Friday 24th November Rummage Sale.
Sunday 10th December Santa run. (to be confirmed)
Tuesday 26th December Boxing Day steam up.
Any other dates / information will be sent direct to members bandon the traditional look and workings of steam trains altogether and just retain the steam cycle. Use higher pressures, condensers to keep the steam circulating in a closed loop, perhaps even drive shafts. Static steam engines, Waller points out, can reach efficiencies of as much as 30 per cent. "This shows you what potential is left in the technology," he says. "Actually, 1'm quite happy when other engineers, don't see the potential in modern steam, for as long as they don't see it, they won't start competing with us."
Editors footnote, all pictures about SLM locomotives from theInternet,
We welcome the following new members, Tom Rickard, Chris Cave & David Oliver.