Friday 31 July 2020

Greenly Generates Interest ... (3)

fbb's recently received book about using electricity for powering model railways seems, at first, trying to teach a grandmother, not to suck eggs, but to play with a toy trains set. Of course it is an electric train - what else could it be?

In fbb's youth most Triang locomotives (and indeed Scalextric cars) were powered by the basic easy-to-understand X04 motor.
For those born too late to appreciate the technology, there was a strong permanent magne (cuboid, dark grey), a three pole armature, a copper three segment commutator, two brass brushes with small carbon blocks; and the worm wheel to drive a toothed gear on the loco's axle. 

Maintenance involved occasional lubrication (usually over done), cleaning the commutator covered with too much oil, replacing the brushes when the carbon blocks wore down  and removing fluff, paper clips, bits of toffee and other detritus. If things deteriorated too badly, you could send the magnet off to be re-magnetised but this was rarely necessary.

fbb was recently given a 1959 Triang loco because "it was old and didn't run any more". After maintenance as above (but without re-magnetisation) it runs perfectly  - over 70 years old. Would that fbb worked so well after a clean and light oiling!

But in 1906 such things would have been a wonder to behold, beyond the wildest dreams of a newly enthused electric model railway builder.

Author Henry Greenly lists the various scales available to the potential engineer.
7mm scale is now called "O" gauge and is the smallest Greenly considered possible. Viable "OO" train sets did not appear until over thity years after the first edition of his little book. One model of a full-sized electric loco is illustrated ...
... which ran on a track gauge of 3¼ inches (80 millimetres). It wasn't a model of any particular loco, it had very little detail and most of the space inside was taken up with motors (2) and gearing.

In an advertisement from the world renowned toyshop of old, Gamages, we espy electric motors and, hot news, a complete "O" gauge tank loco for just 35 shillings.
Inflation would put that at about £220 today which makes an "O" gauge tank engine of 2020 manufacture a pricey job at about £500!!!!

But look at those bulky motors; bulky, heavy, electrically inefficient, difficult to control and, compared with today, unreliable.

But, undaunted with these problems, Mr Greenly begins by explaining how an electric motor works from first principles ...
... to a typical motor of his day.
In most respects it is very similar to the much much smaller Triang X04. It has brushes, a commutator, a drive shaft and a ywo pole armature. There is, hoqwever, one significant difference. Instead of the cuboid "permanent" magnet of the X04 you have an electro magnet. where electriciy creates the magnetic field.

The technically minded amongst our readers will immediately spot a problem. Because the same electricity excites the armature and the big magnet, the motor can never change direction - it will never go backuds!

So you need a "reverser" and it all gets complicated.
He explains how all this can be connected up ...
... and how you might fit an accumulator (effectively a small lead acide car battery) inside a larger scale locomotive.
The motor and "battery" fill a 2 inch gauge loco completely.

You could, Henry suggests, even build your own motors and ...
... a resistance frame to control the speed!

It makes fbb's angst concerning the rebuild of his carriage shed seem utterly trivial by comparison!

Of which more as part of tomorrow's blog.

A Good Idea Surely : Re-Opening to Fawley
A few days ago a train ran to Fawley. Big deal, you may say; but what about the oil refinery?

Fawley Refinery is an oil refinery located at Fawley, Hampshire, England. The refinery is owned by Esso, which acquired the site in 1925. Situated on Southampton Water, it was rebuilt and extended in 1951 and is now the largest oil refinery in the United Kingdom, and one of the most complex refineries in Europe. With a capacity of 270,000 barrels (43,000 m3) per day, Fawley provides 20 percent of the UK's refinery capacity. An estimated 2,300 people are employed at the site.
Until late 2017 it was rail served ...
... but these services had been progressively reduced in favour of road tanker distribution. The line also served the Marchwood Military Port.

In 1943 the little-known port of Marchwood was born on the far side of Southampton Water, its purpose to ferry equipment and men to the Normandy beaches the following year. With the coming of peace in 1945 a continuing military presence at Marchwood was needed to support the Army overseas.
The port came into its own once more in 1982, when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Once again the job of loading all the equipment the troops would need for the fight ahead took place largely unnoticed at Marchwood. It was so important to the war in the South Atlantic that the government upgraded the base after the conflict.

The Fawley Branch never had much of a passenger service ...
... which ceased in 1966, having opened late in railway life in 1923.
Most of the basic infrastructure is still in place ...
... but not the station buildings. Over the years substantial housing development means that there has been a growing campaign to re-establish the passenger service.

Thus it was, a few days ago, that a South Western Railway class 159 showed "Fawley" on its destination blind ...
... and took Network Rail and local authority glitterati for a run down the line to take as look.
Chris Heaton-Harris was cautiously enthusiastic.
He is under-minister for Rail under Minister Grant Shapps.

The proposal has been on the table for many years with one possibility being running the hourly Romsey, Eastleigh, Southampton service along the Fawley Branch.

It should be easy to do and cost effective ...

But ...

Don't hold your breath!

 Next Saturdat Variety blog : Saturday 1st August 

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 

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Greenly Generates Interest ... (1)

... In Decarbonisation!
Henry Greenly, one of the fantastic four pioneers of model and miniature railways, begins his book (first published in 1906!) with an enthusiastic review of the development of electric traction for the full-sized railway.

He starts by referring to events in 1879 when he was just three years old.

fbb has somewhat embellished the tale for the benefit of modern readers who will, most likely, have little appreciation of the shock and awe that electricity brought to the operation of passenger and goods trains world wide.

Your writer begins with an extract from a letter from Werner von Siemens (left with snazzy whiskers) to his brother Carl, dated June 12th 1879.
Our electric railway is quite a spectacle here. It is running even better than expected. In just a few hours’ time, around a thousand people a day are being transported for a donation of 20 pfennigs to charity. The train carries 20 to 25 people and runs at roughly the pace of a horse-drawn tram. This is something we certainly can develop!

Werner is writing about the Berlin Industrial Exposition which, as well as proclaiming German industry and technology, also presented itself as a "theme park".
One of the main attractions of the event was the first electric locomotive from Siemens & Halske. It pulled three small cars fitted with wooden benches, each car being capable of carrying six passengers for a ride along a 300-meter circular track.

Electrical power was supplied to a third rail from a nearby generating station. During the four months of the exhibition, it carried 90,000 passengers. The original locomotive is now displayed at the Deutsches Museum in Munich and a replica is shown at the German Museum of Technology (Berlin).
IN 1879, the loco was developed into a more practicable machine for use in a (coal) mine, this time with two driving positions and overhead power pickup via two skates and a track at ceiling level.
The practical electric railway was born and Greenly includes a drawing of that frst passenger carrying train in the world in his little book.
Way back then, photographs were hugely expensive to reproduce and print so books had to be content with "plates" produced separately and inserted between the printed pages.

Siemens is still a major international player in the field of electric traction, being the builders of the UK's new "Thameslink" stock ...
... and developing a UK production plant at Goole.
You do wonder what Werner and bro Carl might think if they could see what had happened to the "something we can develop".

Greenly passes quickly over this momentous event in Berlin and begins his brief review of the burgeoning tale of electric traction in London in 1890.
In that year the City and South London Railway opened; the first "tube" line in the world. Carriages. known informally as "padded cells" ...
... were hauled by stubby little electric locos, sketched by Greenly ...
... but better appreciated from a modern photograph of a preserved power car.
Presumably the "padded cell" design drew its gloomy inspiration from the fact that the tunnels were in darkness and station names were announced lustily by on board staff!

Ultimately this line became the City branch of today's London Underground Northern Line - with proper windows.
Next comes this vehicle in 1893 ...
... a quality line drawing of one of the original cars of the Liverpool Overhead Railway, again experienced for real at the Museum in its home city.
Electric traction is now spreading over the pond and we press on to 1895.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railway had started in 1830 and had a substantial network by the mid 1870s ...
... including a route to Chicago.
Its pioneering electric loco was hardly a big deal, but it was a start, fortunately recorded photographically.
Clearly staff and management were justfiably proud of their new tech, numbered "1"!

On a portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad system, the company had constructed the Howard Street Tunnel that runs beneath a section of the central part of Baltimore.
City ordinance prevented the installation of smoke flues and vents to exhaust the heavy smoke produced by steam locomotives in the tunnel, especially when moving passenger and freight trains on the steep northbound upgrade. The need to reduce or eliminate the dense smoke and toxic fumes in the tunnel was the impetus for what became the world’s first main line railroad electrification.

Power came from overhead "rails" (Severn Tunnel, eat your heart out!) ...
... and was generated by a specially built power station near the southern (Camden) portal.
 Thus we have the first "Main Line"electrification in the world.

Henry Greenly then takes us back to London and it is 1900.
The Central London Railway (The "Two Penny Tube", later the Central Line) opened in 1900 and its trains were hauled by electric locomotives.
These were very heavy ...
... and there were vociferous complaints from property owners along the line about vibration and possible damage to property. After experimenting with lighter electric motors, it was decided to change to multiple unit operation (normal underground trains) ...

... and the locomotives were "retired" in 1903.

In just over ten years, we have seen significant development of the idea of electric trains - and that development would continue all over the world. 

Greenly widens his overview ...

The Great Carriage Shed Rebuild.
After limited progress due to inclement weather, yesterday saw some forward steps in fbb's terrifying but rewarding project - to re-scratchbuild a disintegrated carriage shed.

Sheets of glazing plastic have been stuck in behind the front "skin" of the building ...
... the Meccano strengtheners have been painted and re-affixed and the painted window frames are set in place.
The "meat" of the plinth to cover the screw heads is glued on; to be followed by strips of stone "plating". 

The whole caboodle is held in place on the wobbly remnants of the building by a couple of laggy bands - prior to fixing the new wall to the roof structure.
This is quite complex as the plastic wall is thinner than the old now-crumbled plywood, so extra spacers will be needed (hidden from view) or the roof won't fit.

Tricky, eh?

 Next Greenly electric blog : Thursday 30th July