Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

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jonparkes84
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Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby jonparkes84 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:12 am

I have just finished watching a video on youtube about the Mallards run on the Settle and Carlisle route in 1989 and I got to wondering. With all the advances in technology, could an engine be built today that would quite easily smash the Mallards record or will there forever be limitations on how fast steam can push a locomotive.

Would anyone actually be able to answer this question or would it always be pure speculation. Could the Tornado even, if pushed to her limits be able to beat it or is it a question to which we will we never know the answer?

Jon

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TK421
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby TK421 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:34 am

There was a proposal to build a modern steam engine using modern techniques, but the plan fell through. I think the Yanks are currently working on a new steam loco in an attempt to take the record.

Interestingly the latest copy of steam magazine has an article on A4’s and in particular the enginemen that drove them with claims the locos regularly broke Mallard’s record with one claim that the needle on the speedo was close to 140m.p.h!!!
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Bigmet » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:14 am

Could it be done? Yes. I don't think there would be an engineer anywhere who would plan to do it with a recioprocating engine though; turbine, which was already proving capable when steam locomotive development effectively stopped in 1940, has been the subject of continued advance ever since. That's the steam engine that still runs the electric railway.

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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Pete » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:28 am

It could easily be done with modern technology,aerodynamics, materials and design techniques...but there's no motivation, steam is magnificently inefficient. Also why bother, records like this are so contrived and never replicate real operating conditions, and are always disputed by everyone else (I believe the Germans think they had a faster train). That said I regularly commute on the train and seem to spend long periods on intercity trains doing a mere 30mph... :wink:

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Jim S-W
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Jim S-W » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:04 am

Mallards record was, even at the time, the fastest steam locomotive and not the fastest locomotive. Diesel power wa already ahead. It's really no more significant than HST still holding the fastest diesel train record except they didn't nearly destroy a HST to do it. In that respect mallards record was contrived and didn't represent real rail operations as Pete says.

There's a steam car that has run at over 150mph. If you are going for the record only you could simply run that on a track rather than a beach.

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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby b308 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:38 am

It's debatable if it was even the fastest steam loco of it's time, it was the only one where there was a suitable piece of track where such a record could be set, so by default became the fastest,there were other locos around at the time that given suitable section of track and the CME's will to try could probably have beaten it... As for could it be done now? Yes I've no doubt it could, but as others have said steam is an extremely inefficient energy producer in railway locomotive form so why bother, other than for the prestige...

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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Bufferstop » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:47 am

The last description I saw the American attempt was starting with a 1940's monster from a museum line. As bigmet said a lightweight vehicle powered by a turbine is the most likely approach to succeed, and as Jim added putting the steam car record holder on rails could be contrived to be the record holder. It's all pretty pointless, when Mallard set the record for a steam loco, internal combustion had already established its capabilities, and no one even bothered to classify electric capabilities since they were only really electric motors being fed power from the network. It was only post WW2 France that repeatedly set "records" for heavily modified machines being deliberately run with an overvoltage that could eventually destroy their motors. Mallard was one of a number of locomotives worldwide that represented the pinnacle of their type, almost all further steam developments being in increased haulage and improved fuel economy.
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby D605Eagle » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:19 pm

Didn't Gresley look into dmus for the ECML before embarking on the A4 project?

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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby b308 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:27 pm

Not sure if it was him or Stanier, but both would have been well aware of the Flying Hamburger in Germany and dieselisation in the USA, not to mention electrification. Trouble is they were died-in-the-wool steam CMEs and still felt that steam could work. Whilst there was still cheap coal and labour it could, but it's days were numbered.

It all comes across very "romantic" when people start talking of steam operated railways but in truth they were dirty and dangerous places and other than for tourist lines we are well out of it...

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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby hiffano » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:05 pm

I note, that whenever anyone mentions mallard and the steam record, many people seem to delight in tyring to belittle the achievement.
ok, it messed the loco up, ok someone "might" have gone faster, and sure, with modern technology it could be surpassed, but come on.
a BRITISH designed and built locomotive, went out there and DID grab the official record. show some bloody pride. It's not like we have anything to sing about these days in this place, our little island where everything is made by foreign owned companies, and the spirit of adventure is dead.
We designed and built some fantastic locomotives. As railway modellers you should be pretty chuffed at that. credit where it's due.
It's a fabulous looking loco, and it went pretty fast. thats good enough for me.
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby D605Eagle » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:19 pm

b308 wrote:Not sure if it was him or Stanier, but both would have been well aware of the Flying Hamburger in Germany and dieselisation in the USA, not to mention electrification. Trouble is they were died-in-the-wool steam CMEs and still felt that steam could work. Whilst there was still cheap coal and labour it could, but it's days were numbered.

Digging from the depths of my memory he visited Germany and saw the flying hamburger but due to political questionability of Germany at the time decided not to get involved. I might have got that wrong, and apologies if I have but I seem to remember something about it from long ago.

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Jim S-W
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Jim S-W » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:36 pm

hiffano wrote:I note, that whenever anyone mentions mallard and the steam record, many people seem to delight in tyring to belittle the achievement.
ok, it messed the loco up, ok someone "might" have gone faster, and sure, with modern technology it could be surpassed, but come on.
a BRITISH designed and built locomotive, went out there and DID grab the official record. show some bloody pride. It's not like we have anything to sing about these days in this place, our little island where everything is made by foreign owned companies, and the spirit of adventure is dead.
We designed and built some fantastic locomotives. As railway modellers you should be pretty chuffed at that. credit where it's due.
It's a fabulous looking loco, and it went pretty fast. thats good enough for me.


It's not belittling mallard but mallard diverts attention from the thing we really should be proud of. The HST. Ran at mallards speed daily, covered much more of the country, much more miles, moved more people, much longer service life. Not taking anything from Mallard but the HST is vastly superior and ultimately more historically significant in every way.

I don't want the celebration of mallard to be reduced but I do want our national pride in the HST to be at least as recognised.

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Jim

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skyblue
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby skyblue » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:47 pm

Jim S-W wrote:I don't want the celebration of mallard to be reduced but I do want our national pride in the HST to be at least as recognised.

The HST is recognised to some extent - I noticed the other week at Sheffield that Cross Country make a point of announcing the HST services as a 'High Speed Train' service. I can see why they would make a point of doing this, as even getting on for 40 years old they still look incredibly modern and sleek. And I'm sure that the many people who ride on them regularly appreciate the comfort and lower noise levels they offer compared to, for example a Voyager, even if they aren't railway enthusiasts.

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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Bigmet » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:38 pm

D605Eagle wrote:Didn't Gresley look into dmus for the ECML before embarking on the A4 project?

Yes, the 'Flying Hamburger'; don't laugh, this wasn't some early precritique of MacDonalds...

The German railway had a very successful fast Diesel train service running Berlin-Hamburg, and following Gresley taking a trip on it he persuaded the LNER board to invite the builders to quote for the London Newcastle run. The best they could offer because of the difficulties of the East Coast route was a fairly crowded train with a cold buffet meal service, and a 4 hour 15 minute time. So the LNER tried the equivalent accomodation - four bogie coaches - behind what was known to be a distinctly average A3 pacific in Flying Scotsman; and for the first time in the UK with a dynamometer car behind, 100mph was just touched. (Forget all other claims, including one that wasn't mentioned until over twenty years after it was thought to have happened - this is the first reliably recorded ton-up on UK rails.)

What was then done was try the London Newcastle run, and it was shown that an A3 could time a larger capacity train with full restaurant service at four hours. While doing this development work they got an A3 up to 108mph with the dynamometer car recording.

Then came the day of the Silver Jubilee and a new A4 design, and the demonstration press run of September 27th 1935. I do not believe these records have been beaten by steam. No charging downhill only, this was out on a road that goes up as well as down. Twenty five miles with the speed over 100mph, averaging about 107mph, forty odd miles at an average of 100mph. To do this with a hand fired steam loco is pretty spectacular. No other UK steam loco has ever been made to perform like that; Mallard's later dash was part of a brake application test series, no passengers on board and a shorter run.

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Old Man Phil
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Re: Modern Steam technology and the speed record.

Postby Old Man Phil » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:06 pm

All true, but critics do not take it in the context of the time...the mid 1930s. Development was not restricted to Great Britain...on the contrary, Europe, particularly France and Belgium were well ahead of us in many things. Before that, its important to remember that the Superheater was an American Invention and they were made under licence in UK. Also, the double chimney fitted to Mallard was a Kylchap design which was a Joint design by Andre´Chapelon, SNCF, and the Finnish Inventor Kylala. Without this chimney Mallard would not have had the free steaming and exhaust to achieve the record. Even the valve gear, Walschearts, was designed and patented by a Belgian, but the 2 to 1 inside valve gear, which utimately failed, was a Gresley design. So you see, there was a lot of 'sharing of ideas' back then and the possibility of making it all work and 'getting a record' was a real challenge. Had WW2 not intervened, there was every possibility that Mallard's record would have been broken.


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