Thursday, 30 July 2020

Greenly Generates Interest ... (2)

In Decarbonisation
Before he even begins to examine the somewhat revolutionary idea of using electric motors to power model and miniature trains, Henry Greenly has two tasks. Today we continue to follow his overview of electric power for the fill-sized 12 inches to the foot railway.

Whilst the Central London Railway was opening with trains hauled by heavy locomotives, there were developments in Germany. UK readers are doubtless familiar with AEG domestic appliances.
The company dates from 1883.

Emil Rathenau ...
... founded Deutsche Edison-Gesellschaft für Angewandte Elektricität in Berlin, which became Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft in 1887. Initially producing electrical equipment (such as light bulbs, motors and generators), the company soon became involved in AC electric transmission systems.

In 1900 AEG built an experimental electric locomotive.
It was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle Paris in 1900 in the ...
... Palais de L'Électricité, where it received significant interest ...
... although it does appear that current collection from overhead wires was somewhat complicated! This was because it used "three phase" electric.

On to 1901.

The Ganz Works was a group of companies operating between 1845 and 1949 in Budapest, Hungary. It was named after Ábrahám Ganz, the founder and the manager of the company. It is probably best known for the manufacture of tramcars, but was also a pioneer in the application of three-phase alternating current to electric railways.
Ganz built locos for the Valtellina line in Italy ...
... famous for its innovative engineering ...
... and spectacular scenery.
The Ganz loco (like the AEG machine) worked on three-phase electricity - which was, yet again, a revolutionary development. You might need to ask a techy person what three-phase is, but fbb thinks that it was a way of pumping big electricity in waves which cancelled each other out so the return current only needed a thin wire.

In 1902, there was as further development in the UK. The North Eastern Railway was a serious enthusiast for electrification, not just of suburban services but of main line trains.
Locomotives were built to haul trains on the Quayside branch in Newcastle upon Tyne, moving wagons from river to the main line at Manors.
The line was steep, curved and passed through three tunnels. Interestingly power was collected from overhead cables on sidings and open terack but fom third rail in the tunnels.
.The NER went on to electrify the line between Shildon and Newport (Middlesbrough) ...
... as a precursor to full main line wiring.
Who knows what might have happened if World War 1 and the consequent railway grouping had not dominated railway history. We might have had main line electrification into Kings Cross in the 1930s.

The Quayside branch was not electrically operational until 1905.

Meanwhile, in 1903, high speed main line electrification experiments were afoot in Germany.
To railcars were tried between Berlin and Zossen (on the line to Dresden) ...
... and, yet again, they used three-phase current making the overhead pick-up very expensive and complicated. Henry Greenly does not mention the railcars in his book. but does refer to a locomotive ...
... and although attribution is unclear, it looks as if the excited crowd looking down on the train is being wowed by the new system!
On third thoughts, the above is almost certainly NOT the Zossen train, although it looks similar. We are probably back at Baltimore, looking at the overhead rails.
fbb is fairly certain that his book is not a 1906 edition. This is reinforced by sketches and brief details of locomotives on the Metropolitan Railway in London.

In 1906 the Met started using "camel back" or "steeple cab" locos ...
These offered the passenger a very helpful destination board on the front ...
... and were followed by more "conventional" locos in 1907.
Or maybe our Henry had access to advanced drawings?

The preserved "Sarah Siddons" arrived in 1923.
fbb supposes that fast trains on the "Met" were the closest that the UK got to main line loco hauled electrics until the Woodhead route work was completed post WW2.

But in 1906 Henry Greenly certainly whetted the appetite of his model engineering adherents to explore further using electric motors to power their models. He wrote ...

I have approached the subject from the standpoint of those amateur mechanics who, although they understand the ordinary difficulties of (live) steam locomotive building, may wish to enter the electrical side of the hobby by installing an electric model railway, yet perhaps have no idea how an electric motor works.

So he is going to tell us!

The Great Carriage Shed Rebuild.
Yesterday - disaster.

fbb spent much of Wednesday morning fixing his new wall to the old roof structure and the frail but still intact rear wall. It was tricky and involved laggy bands, copious amounts of glue and required ast least four hands to hold everything in place.

But after adding assorted adhesives and bracing the joints with varying strengths of laggy bands ...

... it fell to bits!

There was insufficient strength in roof girders and back wall to maintain the integrity of the structure.

Sadly it was ...
Work starts on the new rear wall today. Aaaagh, more window holes to cut!

 Next Saturday Variety blog : Saturday 1st August 


  1. Andrew Kleissner30 July 2020 at 07:02

    Two thoughts on the NER electrification. The Quayside branch was of course part of the Tyneside suburban electrification which used third rail pick-up. However overhead was used on the quay because this was where shunting took place and people walked about - it was a safety issue. The same happened in goods yards with the Kent Coast electrication in the late 50s, with the E5000 (Class 71) locos being fitted with pantographs as well as collector shoes.

    Second, the North Eastern had main line electric haulage on the Shildon-Newport line (18 miles) from 1915, with ten locomotives. However this was exclusively for coal traffic not passenger. Traffic declined during the 1930s due to the Depression and, when the electrical equipment came up for renewal, it wasn't felt viable to replace it. So the line reverted to steam haulage although the locos were retained for reuse on the Woodhead line. That never happened although they all survived into BR days with one ending up as a shunter in Ilford carriage sidings after the Great Eastern suburban lines has been electrified after WW2.

  2. The NER did get as far as building a 2-Co-2 prototype main line electric loco, perhaps prophetically giving it the unlucky number 13.

    More information and photos on the excellent LNER website (no, not that LNER!),

  3. The picture of the red train on the viaduct is on the Bernina line in Switzerland, not the Valtellina - though the two do meet at Tirano, just over the Swiss/Italian border. If you'd illustrated the Italian line it could (sadly,based on what we saw last Autum) be a heavily graffitied mess, not the Rhaetian Railway's smart stock.

  4. Andrew Kleissner30 July 2020 at 21:12

    I've just noticed that fbb did mention the Newport-Shildon electrification - sorry! One other interesting scheme was high-voltage overhead scheme on the Lancashire & Yorkshire's Holcombe Brook branch which was basically an experiment by Dick, Kerr & Co.