• British Mountain?

  • Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads
Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads

Moderators: slide rules, Typewriters

  by Allen Hazen
I believe that at least one of the pre-nationalization railways in Britain considered building a 4-8-2 ("Mountain") steam locomotive. (If asked to bet which one, I'd put my money on the LMS, but without too much confidence.) Does anybody have more information about this? How close to being finalized was the design?

Related query: is there an internet site devoted to might-have-been and almost-were British locomotives? (I don't remember the title or the author, but I know there was -- published I think in the 1980s -- book devoted to unrealized British locomotive projects, illustrated with paintings of what might have been.)

Related train of thought: In a railroading context, I think one of the most interesting alternative history hypotheses is: what would have happened if containerization had begun a few decades earlier? If, say, the ISO shipping container had been designed and widely adopted before WW II? In a British context: if the LMS (say) had launched Freightliner immediately after VE Day, so Freightliner's fast, air-brake equipped, freight trains had been part of British Rail's core business from day 1? I'm trying to imagine a "BR Standard" 4-8-2: perhaps something like a lengthened 8MT Pacific with slightly smaller driving wheels....
  by Pneudyne
Hi Allen:

I suspect that the book you have in mind is:

Locomotives That Never Were
Some 20th Century British Projects
Robin Barnes
Jane’s, 1985
ISBN 0 7106 0326 6

No 4-8-2, but it does include a 1942 LMS proposal for a 4-8-4.

Barnes p.76.png
Barnes p.77.gif

You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
  by Allen Hazen
That is almost certainly the book I was thinking of-- I saw a copy once in a bookstore when I felt too poor to buy it.
Story about book. The late American philosopher David Lewis (a frequent visitor to Australia and New Zealand, b.t.w.) was a theorist of alternative "possible worlds" (which have lots of technical uses in semantics, both of formal "modal" logics and in the description of natural human languages), and wrote a book "On the Plurality of Worlds" (Blackwell, 1986). He was also an avid railway enthusiast: he and his wife were card carrying members of the (British) Great Western Society. He told me that when his book came out, he had wanted to use the painting of the projected just-before-nationalization GWR Pacific from the Barnes book. He said that Blackwell had refused, saying they were afraid some railway enthusiast might buy it by mistake and be angry when they found it was a philosophy book! (The book actually contains a section on the GWR: using the GWR before and after Grouping as an example in discussing identity and whether or not it makes sense to say that one and the same entity can exist in two different possible worlds.)
  by Allen Hazen
300 p.s.i. steam! And a power stoker. It's not just the wheel arrangement that would have been revolutionary in British practice had this engine been built. Thanks for posting the extract from the Barnes book.
  by Pneudyne
It certainly would have been a major advance in British domestic steam locomotive practice. On the other hand, the GWR 4-6-2 proposal does not appear to have been a major step forward, rather, apart from wheel arrangement, it was more of what had gone before. Here are the pages from the Barnes book:

Barnes p.86.png
Barnes p.87.gif

You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
  by Pneudyne
Apologies for my mistake. Upthread I said that the Barnes book did not include any 4-8-2 designs. That was wrong. There was an LNER 4-8-2 proposal of the late 1930s. Not as advanced as the LMS 4-8-4, I think.

Barnes p.72.png
Barnes p.73.gif

You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
  by Allen Hazen
Thank you again!
(I checked Amazon, and the book is still, I fear, out of my price range: the pages you have posted here are a real treat for me!)

Remarks: (i) There is an unusual air of mystery about the GWR Pacific: evidently no paperwork survived (so I guess we can't tell how fully worked out the design was?) and Hawksworth refused to discuss it after his retirement. ... I suppose senior management thought there was no benefit to the stockholders of the soon to be nationalized company in bringing out a final express locomotive under the old name? (Maybe they were less sentimental than the later managers of Swindon works who had "Evening Star" nameplates affixed to their final 9F.)

(ii) The LMS Northern looks right to an American eye. 66 inch driven wheels were smaller than those on any North American 4-8-4, but LOOK right on a locomotive sized for the British loading gauge(*). The 80 inch drivers on the LNER Mountain, however... No North American 4-8-2 had drivers that large, though I know the French railways had several high-rivered 4-8-2 designs. Perhaps Gresley and his colleagues thought express service on the East Coast main line called for high drivers, but Barnes expresses doubt about the rationale.

(*) Scale matters for aesthetics. The (I think) 63" drivers on Victorian Railways's "Heavy Harry" 4-8-4 just look too small, but the South African Railways 26-class has a very North American look despite its 60" drivers: indeed, between the driving wheel diameter, the 3'6" track gauge, and the over all dimensions, it looks like a 3/4 scale model of a New York Central Niagara!