40 & 8 box cars.

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sat Sep 17 21:44:38 EDT 2005

Not to be knitpicking fellows, but in England and on the continent there is
no such thing as a box car. They are universally known as goods wagons.
I spent two years in England in the 8th Air Force during World War Two.
I had plenty of time to check out British Railways. On one occasion when
I traveled from Bradford, Yorks. to Blackpool on the LMS ( London
Midland & Scottish Railway ) I struck up a conversation with the engine crew
prior to leaving Bradford. I had a wallet sized pohoto of a UP Big Boy to
show the crew, and they both were in awe of the size of American railroads.
At the first stop out of Bradford, the fireman came back to my carriage,
which was the first car behind the 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive, and said
"hey Yank, would you care to ride the footplate? ( cab ). "We would have
put you on at Bradford, but the Super may have been about." So off we go,
everything completely backwards with the engineer on the left side and
the fireman on the right side. HOw he managed to keep a head of steam
with the coal he was burning, was a mystery to me. Some of those lumps
were the size of a football. He would put in a fire and then sit down and
ride for 15 or 20 minutes. There was no such thing as a mechanical stoker
on the British Railways. Now came the good part. It began to get dark.
British locomotives did not even so much as have a steam dynamo to
generate electricity. There was no headlight at all. T%he only sign of a
light were two classification lights on the front of the smokebox, and they
burned kerosene oil. There we were clipping along at 60 MPH through
the dark with no headlight. They had some form of signal system, and we
were getting high green at amost of them. Consider this fact. Every mile
of railroad in England is fenced in with some sort of fencing, and roads
either passed over the railroad on a brick overpass or were beneath the
railroad. Every crossing at grade had a crossing guard on duty. There were
two actual gates that were swung across the track when no rail traffic was
near. The crossing guard had a panel in his shack with an indicator light
and bell would announce to him that a train was in the block about two
miles away. He would then proceed to swing those same gates across the
road to literally block any automobile traffic. In England, you had might
as well been in the lobby of a bank at 2: 00 AM in the morning as to walk
along the railroad right-of-way as folks are prone to do in this country.
The British people just simply played more by the dictates of safety than
people in this country ever hope to do. I know it sounds rediculous to
be clipping it off at 60 MPH through the dark with no headlight, but it
finally dawned on me that there is nothing to hit on the right-of-way, so
after a few miles I got used to the idea. Had there been a train in front of
us not in the clear, we would have had a restricted signal in plenty of time
to stop. There were only four railroads in wartime Britain, THe London
Midland & Scottish ( LMS ), The Southern Railway, which was the
original Southern Railway to use green and gold locomotives, the London
& Northeastern Railway ( LNER ) and the Great Western Railway ( GWR )
I put in quite a few miles on the LNER. The Flying Scotsman passenger
train on the LNER ran the 400 miles from London to Edinburgh,
Scotland in just over six and one-half hours. They picked up water from
a pan between the rails a la New York Central. It stopped only for a
crew change in Doncaster. They used three cylinder 4-6-2 locomotives
with a Poppet valve gear, and the locomotives were semi-streamlined
with a jacket a la 611 without the bullet nose. Although it has been
discussed, some American made USRA 2-8-0 locomotives were built for
use by the British in a civilian capacity on their railways. The crews were
complimentary about the tractive effort of the consolidations, as well as
their braking ability. Bill Sellers

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