2013? Hard to believe. We hope you are all well and wish you all the best for the coming year. We also hope to have some news for you in the coming weeks now that Christmas is out of the way.
In the meantime we’d like to bring an article written by Ted Talbot for the January edition of ‘Back Track‘ entitled “Centre Bearings, Weak Frames and all that” to your attention. It concerns the removal of the Centre Bearings and frames from LNWR engines, which was authorised in 1923 and had a deleterious effect on the reliability, maintenance costs etc of the engines. Ted’s article looks at the consequences, assesses the reputation that LNWR engines subsequently received, that of having ‘flimsy-frames’ (undeserved argues Ted) and the likely motivations of this removal (a decision emanating from the smoke-filled rooms of Crewe’s old rival, Derby perhaps?)
The Centre Bearing was a feature of LNWR engines employing Joy valve gear where the space on the driving axle typically occupied by the eccentrics driving the steam chests found with Stephensons gear was instead occupied by a centre bearing in addition to the axle box bearings, which served to lessen the fore & aft shocks on the crank axle. To illustrate what a Centre Bearing and frame was, Ted has kindly provided us with a photograph of between the frames on a 5in gauge model of a D class 0-8-0 (the unsuperheated Whale 0-8-0 with large boiler). Note the central plate or frame and the Central Bearing between the connecting rods and cranks. Note too that the steam-chest linkages to the con-rods known as the valve rods and the reverse gear linkages have been removed here for clarity.
We heartedly recommending Ted’s fascinating article. We also recommend the Back Track journal for anyone interested in the rich and endlessly fascinating history of Britain’s railways.