In the previous entry we left the London Suburban traffic growing at an exponential rate prompting the building of the final two batches of R24s with new boilers pressed to 160lbs per square inch, and the handing over to the running Department of the last of the class, no.169 on 6th December 1901.

However, even by the time no.169 had entered service, both the Chingford and Enfield lines had reached saturation point, and severe overcrowding was rife on the fifteen-carriage close-coupled 4-wheel sets during peak hours.

R24R no.372, rebuilt in January 1905, prepares to leave platform 10 at Liverpool Street with an ECS working to Temple Mills. No.372 was from the N33 batch of 1894 with integral condensing chambers, and the new widened chambers extending to the tank sides can be seen. Photograph © Public Domain.

R24R no.372, rebuilt in late 1904 but not released back to traffic until early 1905, prepares to leave platform 10 at Liverpool Street with an ECS working to Temple Mills. No.372 was from the N33 batch of 1894 with high side sheets covering the integral condensing chambers on the tank tops. The new widened chambers extending to the tank sides can be seen here. Four-column safety valves in the forward position on the back ring of the boiler. Not looking particularly clean is it? Also note the express in the background still has a 6-wheeled brake van; the GER was very slow to introduce bogie brakes, even to top link services. Photograph © Public Domain.

Holden’s answer was to design a 12″ wider set of four-wheeled carriages which could seat twelve passengers in each third-class compartment, and collectively these became known as the ‘six-a-side stock’.  At 9ft wide, the carriages, still only 27 feet long,  pushed the limits of the loading gauge and the doors had to be recessed 1¾” into the body to keep the handles from exceeding gauge. As before, each set consisted of 15 close-coupled carriages with a convenient break-point where the two carriages involved had standard buffing and draw-gear fitted so the set could be divided for slack-hour services. The sets were made up thus:

Brake 3rd / 3rd / 3rd / 2nd / 2nd / 2nd  – break point – 2nd / 2nd/ 1st / 1st / 1st / 3rd / 3rd / 3rd / Brake 3rd

The design was a success, and between 1898 and 1903 a total of 531 carriages entered service. Although none were built in 1904, a further 70 were built in 1905 bringing the total to 601 examples.

Poor quality postcard (I'm on the lookout for a replacement) but very appropriate subject matter. Number 386 was the last of the F36 series built in 1895, and the first of the class to receive the extra wide 5" tank extensions in early 1904 (see text below).  The photograph was taken within a year of rebuilding and is seen at Hackney Downs on an Up train from enfield Town to Liverpool Street. A new wide suburban sets of 1898 is in the down platform and the recessed doors are clearly visible. The round tops to the doors reflect the practice on not only the Metropolitan Railway, but the Great Western, where Holden was not only Chief Assistant to William Dean, but at the forefront of converting broad gauge carriage stock to standard gauge.  Photograph © Public Domain.

Poor quality postcard (I’m on the lookout for a replacement) but very appropriate subject matter. Number 386 was the last of the F36 series built in 1895, and the first of the class to receive the extra wide 5″ tank extensions in early 1904 (see text below). The photograph was taken within a year of rebuilding and is seen at Hackney Downs on an Up train from Enfield Town to Liverpool Street. A new wide suburban carriage set of 1898 is in the down platform and the recessed doors are clearly visible. The round tops to the doors reflect the practice on not only the Metropolitan Railway, but the Great Western, where Holden was Chief Assistant to William Dean and at the forefront of converting broad gauge carriage stock to standard gauge. And yes, some of the passengers have been inked in with Ye Olde Photoshoppe! Photograph © Public Domain.

Concurrently an unique suburban train was designed and built for the Enfield line comprising of six 12-wheeled 54ft bogie carriages bookended with a pair of eight-wheeled 46ft bogie brake thirds. Although the comparatively luxurious ride was a tremendous success with passengers, it was far heavier than a 15-carriage set of four-wheelers, and although (to the delight of the travelling public) it remained employed on the Enfield line for the next 48 years, the experiment was not repeated.

Holden instead turned his attention to the existing 8ft wide suburban stock built between 1882 and 1898, and rather ingeniously split the carriages down the middle and spliced in a 12″ wide insert. These widened carriages had the same capacity as the new six-a-side sets, but to the delight of the Directors of the Board, the exercise required only a very modest expenditure of £30 per carriage, effectively postponing the introduction of new suburban stock beyond the demand met by the new six-a-side carriages for many years to come. Cigars and champagne all round!  In consequence a total of  710 suburban four-wheel carriages were widened between 1902 and 1904.

No.358 of the R29 series built in 1892 was given 5" tanks at its second rebuild towards the end of 1904. The separate narrow condensing chambers are prominent on the tank tops and there's considerable blistering of paint from the tank side from scalding water and steam.  The location is Palace Gates and the destination is Liverpool Street. Not quite the regulation number of crew on the footplate...

No.358 of the R29 series built in 1892 was given 5″ tanks during its second rebuild towards the end of 1904. The separate narrow condensing chambers are prominent on the tank tops and there’s a considerable blistering of paint on the tank side from scalding water and steam. The location is Palace Gates and the destination is Liverpool Street. Ghostly faces peering through the spectacles show there’s not quite the regulation number of crew on the footplate…Photograph © Public Domain.

The new, heavier trains tested the R24 Buckjumpers to their limit on the steeply-graded, tightly timed suburban services. Although they shared the boiler type with the T18s, it was by fortune rather than design that the 6″ longer trailing wheelbase of the R24s could be exploited to fit a new boiler with a longer firebox and pressed to 180lbs per square inch.

In July 1902, no. 332 of the original R24 batch was passing through the Works and chosen as test subject for the new boiler. The longer firebox extended into the cab by an extra 8 inches, giving a corresponding  increase in the grate area by 2 square feet and increasing the tractive effort of the locos from 16,970lbs to 19,019lbs.  Four column Ramsbottom safety valves within a rectangular casing were fitted instead of the usual two-column valves in the usual position over the firebox.

The success of no.332, classed in the Great Eastern Loco Register as R24 Rblt or R24R was soon evident and in September three more locos, numbers 329, 341 and 342 passed through the Works and were similarly dealt with.

Following trials it was decided that an increase in the water capacity was desirable. In February 1903 no.334 was fitted with the new boiler and at the same time the side tanks widened by four inches, increasing the water capacity from 1000 to 1140 gallons. Down to January 1904 a further ten locos (some sources erroneously suggest nine) had their tanks widened thus, and all except no.379 were from the earliest batches, originally built without condensing apparatus. When rebuilt these locos retained the square-topped shape to their side tanks and the original narrow condensing chambers on top. No.379 of Order F36 had side sheets which extended upwards with an integral condensing chamber, and when rebuilt the chambers were also widened to the full width of the tanks.

From the original R24 series of 1890, no. 335 was one of the 1903 rebuilds with 4" tank extensions and the new four-column Ramsbotton safety valves still on the firebox. The condensing chambers are the ones it was fitted with in 1893 and are in the same position, so now lie inboard of the tank edge. The Macallen blastpipe and condensing cranks and operating rods are clearly seen on the smokebox, and the loco retains the separate handrails. The square diamonded board on the nearest lampiron indicates the loco is not to be moved. photo © Public Domain.

From the original R24 series of 1890, no. 335 was one of the 1903 rebuilds with 4″ tank extensions and the new four-column Ramsbottom safety valves still on the firebox. The condensing chambers are the ones it was fitted with in 1893 and are in the same position, so now lie inboard of the tank edge. The Macallen blastpipe and condensing cranks and operating rods are clearly seen on the smokebox, and the loco retains the separate handrails. The square diamonded board on the nearest lamp iron indicates the loco is not to be moved. Steam entering the tanks via the condensing pipes has distressed the paintwork and caused it to blister. With so many engines fitted with the apparatus it’s surprising that the GER didn’t fit a protective side sheet to the tanks as the Midland did to its own condensing locomotives. Photograph © Public Domain.

At least the first half-dozen or so rebuilds, and possibly all of those rebuilt in 1903 had their four-column safety valves fitted in the usual position over the firebox, but thereafter it was decided the firebox crown needed to be comprehensively stayed, and the valves were moved forward onto the back ring of the boiler. Later, as the R24Rs with valves over the firebox were rebuilt for a second time, the valves were moved to the forward position.  When the four-column valves were moved forward, a small kink was set into the condenser pipe linking the two chambers to clear the valve seat.

We're rather fortunate to have two shots of No.335 taken on the same day at Enfield and this one clearly shows the effect of the 4" tank extensions and how the livery was altered to accommodate them. The bunker is rather neatly stacked to capacity and you can bet that in practice there simply wasn't time between trains for such precision, coal being poured in from wicker baskets pre-filled on the timber coaling stages at either end of the line.  new brass plates were cast

We’re rather fortunate to have two shots of No.335 taken on the same day at Enfield, and this rear three-quarter aspect clearly shows the effect of the 4″ tank extensions and how the livery was altered to take them into account. The bunker is rather neatly stacked to capacity and I’ll wager a jar of jellied eels that in practice there simply wasn’t time between trains for such precision, coal being poured in from wicker baskets pre-filled on the timber coaling stages at either end of the line. How frequently did they have to replace the spectacle glass? Great Eastern practice was to cast new brass number plates each time a locomotive was rebuilt (i.e. fitted with a new boiler), and the plate on No.335 clearly states that it was rebuilt at Stratford Works in 1903. Photograph © Public Domain.

From February 1904 and starting with no.386, all R24s entering Works for rebuilding had their water capacity increased to 1180 gallons by receiving five inch tank extensions. None of those fitted with four inch tank extensions in 1903 ever received the larger 1180 gallon tanks, but the first four rebuilds from 1902 which still had their original 1000 gallon tanks were eventually given the five inch extensions.

The year 1904 turned out to be the most prolific year for rebuilding the R24 class with twenty four examples passing through Works. By the end of the period covered by Basilica Fields one half of the passenger R24s had been rebuilt, and by 1921 a final total of 95 out of 100 locos had been converted.

No 382 was in for Works at the same time as no.372 (above), between late 1904 and early 1905, but in this case the number plate records 1905 as the date.  It makes a nice comparrison with no.377 in the previous entry. Photograph © Public Domain.

No 382 was in the Works at the same time as no.372 (top), between late 1904 and early 1905, but in this case the number plate records 1905 as the rebuild date. The profile makes a nice comparison with no.377 in the previous entry. Suddenly the Bucks look like they mean business! Photograph © Public Domain.

Services

The rebuilding process didn’t alter the fact that a high proportion of the locos were only required during peak hours, and so the process of minor maintenance and goods trip/shunting duties during the slack hours and overnight continued as before.

Modelling the R24Rs

Although it might seem natural to follow the example of the Great Eastern and convert the Connoisseur J67 kits to R24Rs,  in fact that involves a considerable amount of work as not only will new parts be needed for the boiler, tank sides, fronts and tops of the tanks, wider condensing chambers (on the later builds) but a new, wider running plate/footplate too.

Far easier then to utilise the excellent Connoisseur J68 kit (Great Eastern class C72 which appeared too late for Basilica Fields) which has the correct boiler, running plate and condensing chamber, and simply use new milled tanks from Colin Dowling’s range of parts. I have sufficient kits and bits here to produce two examples, one with square-topped tanks and four-inch wide extensions and the four column safety valves over the firebox, and one with the higher tank side sheets, integral condensing chambers, five-inch wide tank extensions and the safety valves in the forward position over the rear ring of the boiler.

References

  • Great Eastern Locomotives Past & Present 1862-1945 – C Langley Aldrich RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 8A
  • Locomotives Illustrated #116
  • Yeadon’s Register Volume 48
  • The Locomotive Magazine
  • The Great Eastern Society Special #3 ‘All Stations to Liverpool Street’
  • Lyn Brooks of the GERS
  • John Gardner of the GERS
  • Suburban set composition SX11702 – NRM
  • Model Railway Constructor Annual 1984 – article by John Lewis on Dean’s GWR stock.
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