Railways at the Zenith of Steam 1920 -1940 Railways of the World in Color  Nock

Railways at the Zenith of Steam 1920 -1940 Railways of the World in Color Nock

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Railways at the Zenith of Steam 1920 -1940 Railways of the World in Color Nock
 
Railways At The Zenith Of Steam 1920 - 1940 By O S Nock 184 Pages Copyright 1970  with dust jacket
The first years of the twentieth century were an age of railway pre-eminence all over the world. Men were travelling faster than at any time previously in the' of civilization, and it was by trains, hauled by steam locomotives, that they were doing so. Competition with railways was arising on a limited scale in many areas. Electric tramways were being laid in the streets of many great cities and indeed in smaller townships. The petrol-engine motor car was developing; men were learning to fly, but tip to the year 1914 the supremacy of railways was absolute in all the most highly developed countries of the world. In developing countries the few pioneer railways were virtually the only means of long-distance transport fly the year I920 all was beginning to change. The urgent needs of wartime had acted as a spur to the rapid developments of road transport in petrol-engined vehicles, and of aircraft; in Great Britain in particular the public was quick to appreciate that road motor services, however uncomfortable at first, were in many cases more convenient than railways for local transport, while enterprising carriers gave what was virtually a door-to-door service of goods. At first it seemed that railways in many parts of the world were a little slow in realizing the seriousness of the new competition that was springing tip; but then they began to gear themselves to the need for more competitive services, and with this came the first steps to 'cash in' on what was the most important asset of railways-speed.
This book covers the period when many enterprising developments were in progress all over the world. In locomotive design American steam power grew to colossal proportions. Much of this was to provide little except brute strength for hauling immense loads. Refinements of earlier years, such as the use of multi cylindered engine units and compound expansion, were discarded in favour of making everything as simple as possible and readily accessible for maintenance purposes without the need for going over a pit. Even the largest engines of the non-articulated type had no more than two cylinders. Design skill lay in the direction of producing working parts that would withstand the stresses set up in continuous all-out working for hours on end. Outstanding engines in this category that we illustrate are the Sante Fe '3771' class, and the New York Central 'Niagara, both having the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement.
In Great Britain throughout this period the tendency in top-line express passenger power was just the reverse. Refinements in design to secure economy in fuel were numerous. Not one of the four main-line railways used two-cylinder locomotives for the principal express workings, and in studying this trend it must be appreciated that in Great Britain the railways were constantly labouring under the handicap of being pioneers; that if they had been following, instead of leading, bridges, tunnels, and other hoick structures would have been built to carry heavier, wider, and taller locomotives and carriages. Despite these handicaps, however, the skill of British railway engineers in all branches was such that many outstanding achievements in speed and train services were achieved, on a railway system that operated one of the most dense traffics to be found anywhere in the world. Some of the fastest trains of all had to be routed through this very crowded network.
In this book we see not only the locomotive that ran such services but also examples of the coaching stock, and the signals that regulated their safe running. One thing is noticeable, in comparison with other countries, and that is the size of the freight locomotives. Only one company, the London and North Eastern, introduced a really large engine for mineral traffic. The continued use of loose-coupled, unbraked goods trains precluded any acceleration of service, and longer trains than eighty or ninety wagons were an embarrassment. Consequently, locomotives of traditional proportions were adequate, and the two large 'Pa' class 2-8-2s of the L.N.E.R. were larger than were really needed.
Although the British developments in locomotive design were notably successful, and produced much spectacular running as well as an outstanding degree of reliability in general service, it was in France that the greatest advances in steam locomotive practice were made, following the rebuilding by Monsieur Andrd Chapelon of certain elderly 'Pacifies' of the Paris-Orleans Railway. The larger-wheeled variety was rebuilt as a 'Pacific', which in France went by the name of the 'P.O. Transformation'; and a 'transformation' certainly Chapelon had wrought. At the same time the smaller-wheeled engines were rebuilt as 4-8-os. The interesting feature, in contrast to both British and American contemporary practice, was that the compound expansion was retained, with all its associated complications. Chapelon and those who followed his lead sought high thermal efficiency above all else. There was no question at that stage in French railway history of running at spectacularly high speeds, because with only the slightest exceptions there was an overall speed limit of no km. per hr. (74 m.p.h.) throughout the country.
French policy in design was possible only because of the unique standards of maintenance that then prevailed. Locomotives had their own drivers and firemen; the drivers were all skilled mechanics, and looked after their machines with the diligence and care bestowed on a highly cherished and personally serviced motor car. At the same period in railway history many of the crack American express locomotives were engaged on duties that took them in a single run half across the continent; they would be handled by six, seven, or eight different crews successively in the one journey, and at many of the stops they would be routine-serviced by men whose only tool seemed to be a grease-gun. British practice in many areas was a half-way house between the two. Single manning was rare, but on the hardest duties selected links of engines and men worked in rotation, and the results were closely watched.
Towards the end of the period of this book it was becoming evident that steam had reached its limit in certain areas, and its replacement by newer forms of traction was beginning. To some extent this was governed by economic conditions relating to fuel supply. It was no longer economic to ship coal across the South Atlantic Ocean to be used as a locomotive fuel in Argentina. Electric traction gave many advantages, particularly in securing rapid acceleration, yet at the same time political upheavals, local wars, and civil commotion in far countries could seriously affect fuel supplies. Many countries reconsidered their motive-power policy in the light of the fuel that was indigenously available. In France, for example, the Paris, Lyons, and Mediterranean Railway no longer used its own colliers to fetch high-quality bituminous coal from South Wales; locomotives were adapted to use the qualities available in France, and on certain sections of the line to burn oil.
With these changed economics came also the realization that railway services must be intensively advertised. The great increase in civil air travel suggested to many sophisticated patrons that railways-particularly steam-were out of date. The railways had to show they were 'with it', and one facet of publicity took the form of streamlining locomotives and coaching stock. Sonic interesting and quaint examples of locomotive streamlining are illustrated in this book. It was claimed that such adornments had their practical value, as well as creating publicity. But the reduction of air resistance and the slight reduction in coal consumption that resulted were perhaps more than off-set by making the working parts inaccessible, and bearings and such like were more likely to heat. Streamlining proved little more than a passing phase, but it was a picturesque one while it lasted.
In the period under review not a great deal of change took place in passenger rolling stock. British designs were usually the most colourful, while the coaches of the principal countries on the continent of Europe were, externally, most unrelievedly dull. With the streamlined locomotives came a few gay new colour schemes, particularly in the U.S.A.; but generally speaking, carriage design remained traditional. There was nevertheless a marked change in the type of rail-motorcars, or railcars, as they came to be known. From the car propelled by a miniature steam locomotive on the same chassis the pure railcar began to emerge, sometimes steam propelled, as in the Clayton and Sentinel types, but also in diesel and electrically propelled cars. It must be admitted, however, that the potentialities of attractive, speedy railcars for local services, particularly in scenic districts, were not exploited, and the cumbrous method of running ordinary locomotive-hauled trains of standard coaching stock remained. The German 'glass train, operating from Munich, was a most notable exception.
Concurrently with the changes in locomotive practice and style therecommenced also a change in signalling methods. In former days the great arrays of semaphore signals made a most picturesque setting to many a busy railway scene. In the 1920s the immense advantage of colour-light signals was gradually realized, and although not adopted extensively at that date, the standards were established. The pictures in this book show some of the stages passed through in the British development of this art. Although the U.S.A. was first in the field with the introduction of light signals, British practice was developed into an extremely simple code which has proved adequate for the far faster and more intense main-line train services of today. On the continent of Europe the introduction of light signals came generally at a time Liter than in Great Britain, and some of the codes of practice worked out were considerably more complicated. In these days, when the red, amber, and green lights of road-traffic signals are so familiar to so many, it is sometimes imagined that the colour-light signals now being so extensively installed on British Railways are a derivative of the road signals. As a matter of historical fact the first day colour-light signals on a British railway were installed six years earlier than the first road-traffic signals; the latter, which were installed in Piccadilly, London, at the junction of Sr. James's Street were of purely railway type. The design was subsequently modified extensively to render it suitable generally for road conditions.
All in all, the period front 1920 to 1940 on railways all over the world was an exciting and fruitful one.

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