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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)

Maintenance of Locomotive Stock

Maintenance of Locomotive Stock.

Railway mechanical engineering embraces no more important task than that of maintaining in good running order, the locomotives of every type utilised for passenger and freight train haulage. page 29 On the larger railway systems this task assumes colossal proportions. In Britain, for example, the four big group railways actually own 23,303 steam locomotives, and in 1928 some £11,926,591 were spent on their repair and renewal, this figure not including a sum of about £550,000 for superintendence. During the year in question 8,562 steam locomotives received heavy repairs and 8,151 light repairs. In a recent paper read before the Institute of Transport, Sir Henry Fowler, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, described in detail the methods followed by his system in the repair of locomotives, and the elaborate costing system carried out in connection therewith.

Comfort In Railway Travel. Twin first-class compartment, German Railways.

Comfort In Railway Travel.
Twin first-class compartment, German Railways.

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway was formed by the amalgamation of eight large and 27 smaller railways. These individual lines owned at the time of amalgamation 10,316 engines of about 300 types. By the end of 1928, Sir Henry Fowler stated, the stock had been reduced to 9,871, and the number of different classes cut to 129. One of the first essentials of rapid and economical repair was put as the standardisation of renewable parts, including the boiler. Probably the best method of determining the time the heavy repair of a locomotive should be undertaken was the mileage basis. As regards the boiler, however, the number of times fired up was also a factor to be borne in mind. The process of repairing a locomotive might follow one of three courses, viz.: (1) The whole of the repair might be carried out while the locomotive was in one position. (2) The locomotive might, after being put on wheels, be moved forward on the same road at predetermined intervals on what is styled the “belt” system, as common in motor car construction and repair, (3) The system by means of which the frames or locomotives were moved two or three times during the period they were in the shops. The first method, Sir Henry Fowler stated, was the one to be most commonly used in the past, and it was one which gave fairly good results. It meant, however, that men who carried out specific repairs had to take with them their tools and appliances, and this was not an ideal arrangement. The second method was that followed in the Crewe works of the L.M. and S. Line, and it proved most successful. The locomotive, on receipt, was stripped in two days, and received frame repairs occupying four days while stationary. After this, it was placed on wheels, and for one day then formed the last link of a chain of six locomotives coupled together by wire ropes, each day from this moving forward one place until it was drawn out of the shop a completely repaired machine. Method number three was that favoured at the Derby Works of the L.M. and S. Railway.