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The London & South Western page 3


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The Meldon viaduct and the Honiton tunnel (1353 yards, the longest on the line) are the two most conspicuous engineering works, if we except the embankments, which do not appeal so much to the traveller. In the making of the line gradients were not worried about overmuch, and were generally taken as they came. Hence the South Western is more undulating than it might have been had the cost of working it been borne more in mind. Some of the inclines are very long, as shown by the distances between the gradient-boards.

These boards, it may be as well to say, which are on the down-side on the South Western and many lines, and on the up-side on others, are required by the Board of Trade to be placed wherever the gradient changes, the arms pointing upwards or downwards according to the slope of the road. The posts for the miles and their halves and quarters are also placed on the line to satisfy the Board of Trade, but owing to amalgamations and short-cuts they have to be used with some discretion as indicating the old road instead of the new, and it is advisable to check the length of the journey they denote by adding up the distances between junction and junction. The South Eastern, for instance, goes by four ways to Ashford, and they cannot be all of the same length, as they appear to be from the posts beyond that station. Other examples will at once occur to the reader, such as the Great Western roads to Weymouth and to Exeter, and the South Western roads to Guildford, Aldershot, Winchester, Kingston, and several other places.

The South Western is a great line, and has extended far beyond the five towns whose arms figure in its coat of arms, London, Salisbury, Winchester (with the lions and castles), Southampton (with the roses), and Portsmouth. It has always been faster than the others working south of the Thames, indeed in 1847 it was running the fastest train in the world, the Southampton express, which did the 78 miles in 105 minutes including the stop at Basingstoke. Its first locomotive superintendent was John V. Gooch, the brother of the Great Western Gooch, who was just as eager for speed; and this Southampton train was worked by one of his first engines which had 7 ft. wheels, the largest then in use on the standard gauge.

When he left the South Western for the Eastern Counties he was succeeded by James Beattie, who did away with the use of coke as a fuel and in 1855 built the Canute, the first engine to burn coal. In his "smoke-consuming locomotive" he put a combustion chamber, and an enlarged firebox divided transversely by an inclined water-bridge, and containing his great improvement the fire-brick arch. He also perforated the fire-door, and used ashpan dampers and an auxiliary steam-jet to keep the fire going while the engine was at rest. The Canute's driving wheels were 6 ft. 6 in.; she had outside cylinders 15 in. in diameter with a 21-in. stroke; her firebox was 4 ft. 11 in. long, 3 ft. 6 in. wide, 5 ft. 1 in. deep at the back and 4 ft. 1 in. at the front, the area being 107 sq. ft.; her combustion chamber, 4 ft. 2 in. long and 3 ft. 6 in. across, had a flat roof, the area being 37 sq. ft.; she had 373 tubes 1J in. in diameter and 6 ft. long, with an area of 625 sq. ft.; her fire-grate was 16 sq. ft. in area, and the bricks for consuming the smoke had a surface of 80 sq. ft. She had also a feed-water heating apparatus, and was altogether a remarkable engine. Beattie began, it is worth noting, by using two fires, one of coal, the other of coke for consuming the coal smoke, but he soon found that he could get on just as well with coal alone. The 85 in. coupleds - 2-4-0, the leading wheels being 48 in. - which worked the South Western expresses for so many years were also designed by Beattie.

Beattie, who was carriage superintendent before he took charge of the engine department, was the first to make railway wheels of wood and iron. Wooden wheels had been tried before, as in the case of the Kilmarnock engine, but the combination was a novelty and it was a success, one set of his wheels running 75,000 miles before being returned to the lathe. This was about six years before the invention of Mansell's wheel, now generally used for passenger carriages.

The Mansell wheel is built up of sixteen segments 3½ in. thick, fastened to the steel boss by bolts passing through the steel disk. The steel tyre is shrunk on to the wood body, which has the grain arranged radially, and the axle is driven into the steel boss at a pressure of sixty tons, giving such a fit that no key is needed. The wheel is free from noise, fans up no dust, and its tyre does not fall off when it fractures; and it is easily balanced.

That the wheels of the engine are balanced everybody knows, but it is not everybody who is aware that the wheels of the carriage are treated in a similar way, or that an unbalanced wheel has a tendency to revolve about its centre of gravity instead of the centre of its axle, and soon develops fiat sections on its tread. The balancing of a wheel is not difficult. The pair of wheels on their axle are placed on bearings mounted on leaf springs, and spun round by a pulley for three minutes beneath two markers of chalk fixed so as to just touch the top of the tyres, and by the appearance of the chalk line they take the character of their running can be seen. If they do not run true a small plate of iron of the necessary weight is screwed on to their inside face, and this is altered after trial until the wheel is as it should be. Everything is done to build the wheel so that it requires no balancing, even the segments are weighed separately before being fitted together, but as a rule about 10 per cent, have to carry for life a balance weight of a pound or so.

Another invention of Beattie's was his buffing apparatus, which had elliptical springs of steel separated by layers of flannel placed between a series of blocks working in the under-frame of the carriage, and thereby protected from the weather. Several more small ingenuities were his, and he certainly ought not to be allowed to drop out of remembrance as he seems to have very nearly done. His passenger engines had their steam domes on the top of the fireboxes. The eight designed by his son and successor, W. G. Beattie, had Ramsbottom safety valves on the firebox and the steam dome half-way along the boiler barrel.

When Mr. William Adams became chief mechanical engineer he designed over a dozen classes of engines for the line, the best known being the powerful 85 in. coupled, with the 4-wheeled leading bogie (4-4-0), the frames of which project far in front of the firebox. In these he put a small steam valve in front of the main one to reduce the frictional resistance, and fitted his vortex blast-pipe to reduce the consumption of coal. In this the steam is discharged as a hollow cylindrical jet through a circular orifice enclosing an air-pipe which widens out into a large bell-mouth in front of the lower tubes, these being more difficult to clear by the blast owing to the vacuum having a stronger effect in the upper half, as shown by the upper tubes wearing away faster than the lower ones.

The steam blast, insignificant as it may seem, is the secret of the locomotive, and it was discovered by Richard Trevithick in building his first railway engine. Not caring to part with his waste steam until it had done a little more work, he used it for heating the feed-pipe, and led it into the chimney, perhaps at Rumford's suggestion, to increase the draught by causing a vacuum in the smoke-box. For its effect to be satisfactory the blast must issue vertically from the very centre of the vertical chimney, the very slightest deviation to one side seriously checking the engine's working. The smaller the outlet the sharper the blast, but too small an outlet causes back pressure in the cylinders, and thus the pipe must be large enough for the engine to work well. The size depends on the amount of steam the boiler makes and the engine uses, but is rarely less than 4| in., and generally an eighth or two more, for even the difference of an eighth will make a difference in the coal bill; hence No. 335 of this line, which is a large engine, has a variable blast ranging from 4½ to 5½ in.

The last big 85 in. of the Adams design was No. 686, put on the rail in 1895, for in August of that year Mr. Dugald Drummond became chief at Nine Elms. No. 686, the last of the Adams engines, was the last with a number plate of raised figures on a red ground; No. 242, the first of the Drummond engines, was the first with a beaded rim round the chimney, like all that followed. The most noteworthy of these was No. 720, completed in 1897, the first of five others (369-373), a 4-cylinder engine with the front pair of wheels driven by the inside cylinders and the rear pair driven by the outsiders, the wheels being 79 in. and the heating surface, at first, 1664. As enough steam could not be got to work this double-single satisfactorily, a larger boiler was given her in 1905, the heating surface being increased to 1750. That year came another new idea, a class of thirty (Nos. 702-719, 721-732) being given 61 water-tubes 2½ in. in diameter, sloped across the firebox, and ending in the rectangular casing at the sides which distinguishes all such engines. The cylinders of this first group are 18½, stroke 26, driving wheels 79 in., heating surface 1500, grate area 24, and pressure 175. An improvement on these in appearance, owing to the wider space over the footplate and the absence of the little raised splasher covering the throw of the coupling-rod, was the class begun with No. 300, which, with the tender, weighed in working order 93 tons 14 cwt. One of these engines, No. 336, has brought the American express from Temple-combe West to Waterloo, 112½ miles, in 104½ minutes.

In 1905 another class of 4-cylinders (330-334) was introduced, with six wheels coupled, the drivers being 6 ft. and the bogies 3 ft. 7 in. In these engines, which complete with tender weigh 117 tons 17 cwt., the cylinders are 16 in. with a 24-in. stroke, and the heating surface, including that of the 112 water-tubes in the firebox, 2727 sq. ft., the grate area being 31½ sq. ft. One of these, worked up to 1060 horse-power, attained a maximum speed on the Exeter to Salisbury road of 75 miles an hour. In 1907 came the bigger No. 335, the first of the South Western engines to be fitted with a pick-up water attachment, though no water-troughs had been laid down. This was of the same type, but with cylinders 16½ and stroke 26; and later on in the year came five more of these 6-coupled 4 cylinders, with a cylinder diameter of 15 and a stroke of 26, and 1920 sq. ft. of heating surface.

The reader is doubtless aware that in the ordinary locomotive boiler the water surrounds the tubes, while in the firebox-tubes the water is in the tubes; thus this 1920 sq. ft. of heating surface is made up of 140 for the firebox, 200 for the 84 water-tubes in the firebox, and 1580 for the 247 flue-tubes in the boiler. All these engines carry the Drummond feed-water heating apparatus, consisting of tubes in the well from which the condensed steam passes out into the air through the baffle-plates at the back of the tender, the water entering the boiler at a temperature only twelve degrees below boiling point.

Like the Lancashire & Yorkshire, the South Western uses dwarf locomotives for its rail motor-coaches. When engine and coach are in one, any breakdown of engine or coach means keeping the whole affair in the shops for repair, but by having them separate either can be in the shops while the other is at work - a system which has evident advantages. These little engines, with wheels a yard across, have 9-in. cylinders with a 14-in. stroke. They work at a pressure of 150, and have a heating surface of 347, of which 119 is given by the water-tubes.

All these engines were built at Nine Elms. For half a century or more these works had been doomed, but something always happened to delay the inevitable. So definite was the notice to quit that the men used to be warned on engagement against taking houses or lodgings for long periods, and yet things lingered on in the old style until the shift to Eastleigh became a standing joke. Even the removal thither of the carriage works failed to convince people that Nine Elms would one day cease from engine-building. Eastleigh, like Crewe, is a railway town pure and simple, and it started with a smaller nucleus, for on its site were only a few straggling cottages and a lane or two between the farm-lands where miles of rails run into and about as fine a group of workshops as can be found. At present there is space enough and room to spare, but whether that will be the case for long remains to be seen.

From the removal of the carriage-building department to Eastleigh dates a great improvement in the line's rolling stock. The railway carriage has developed considerably since the days of the four old Bodmin & Wadebridge coaches, which are still kept as curiosities - the open thirds, the second-class with glass only in one panel, the gay blue and white composite, the buffers like boxing-gloves made of leather and stuffed with hair. Really the contrast is great between these survivals and the comfortable invalid or family carriage that can be sent through on to any line, the long sleeping saloons, the restaurant cars ready for any meal to which a name can be given, or the carriages that form the bulk of the ordinary trains. In the old days it was the fashion to make up a train of as many different varieties in colour and shape as possible, nowadays it is the train and not the carriage that is the unit, and the South Western expresses to Bournemouth, Cornwall, and elsewhere are equal in good looks to those of any of the lines to the north.

The South Western owns about 750 engines and nearly 19,000 carriages and wagons, and it runs nearly 20,000,000 miles a year,, three-fourths of this being passenger traffic, which yields three and a third out of its five and a half millions of revenue. This is a much smaller proportion than that of the Brighton or the South Eastern, the greater amount for goods, and so on, being due, of course, to Southampton. In fact the South Western makes more out of its docks and shipping than any other railway company, more even than the Lancashire & Yorkshire, nearly 100,000 a year more than the Cardiff, 120,000 more than the Barry, and 80,000 more than the North Eastern and Great Central combined.

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