Front couplings on locomotives

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Jim Summers
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Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Jim Summers »

I am having difficulty in getting my mind round the use/value of the single upright coupling link, which is so prominent on the front bufferbeam of passenger locomotives on the Caledonian (and other lesser companies).
Can anyone provide enlightenment, please?

Jim S
caley739
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by caley739 »

Jim
I too have occasionally mused over this same question without reaching any conclusion!! It should be interesting to see what the collective brain of the forum comes up with on this point.

Tom Robertson
Ian Smeeton
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Ian Smeeton »

Having had a quick look at Caledonian locomotives on Google images, I tink hat what you are seeing is the lower link of the screw coupling placed over the couping hook.

There is one (painted )image which has a very definite single link look about it, but on quite a few of the other views the coupling is as I describe.

Regards

Ian
jimwatt2mm
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by jimwatt2mm »

Ian Smeeton wrote:Having had a quick look at Caledonian locomotives on Google images, I tink hat what you are seeing is the lower link of the screw coupling placed over the couping hook.
Ian
That may be the case in later days, and certainly in LMS times, but what Jim S is referring to is the practice of only fitting a slightly longer than usual single shackle link to the front coupling of passenger tender locos and that link being carried laid upright against the front edge of the footplate.

Presumably it was not expected to work tender first on a regular basis and when double heading the coupling of the leading loco was used.

I can only also assume that they were carried in an upright position for aesthetic reasons.

My 2d (1p?) worth.

Jim W
Jim Summers
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Jim Summers »

For those curious to know what the current opinion is on this matter following my query on this Forum and elsewhere: no one seems to be able to point to any official documentation which might answer my question.

My own view now is that the hook was indeed cosmetic and of no practical use, as Jim Watt has suggested. An esteemed scholar of Victorian locomotives and friend of mine has speculated, on the basis of facts at his disposal, that Drummond, at least, wanted a useless link to emphasise that his locomotives did not need lowly pilots in front to assist them. The link became a feature, as can be seen from its polished state in photographs.

Jim S
jasp
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by jasp »

Having been aware of the front buffer beam arrangements for many years, I was interested in this thread.
I am grateful for Jim S's "research" into this.
I understand that there was something similar on the Highland Railway.
All that I can add is, these Drummonds have much to answer for and, more importantly, to be proud of!
Jim P
jimwatt2mm
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by jimwatt2mm »

jasp wrote:.......
I understand that there was something similar on the Highland Railway.
All that I can add is, these Drummonds have much to answer for and, more importantly, to be proud of!
Jim P
These two comments got me thinking (not always a good idea!). A quick Google for LSWR Locomotives produced this image http://www.semgonline.com/steam/pics/DD ... 5p8btm.jpg of a Drummond 4-6-0 showing the same thing, but without the link 'standing up'!
I rest Jim's case . :)

Jim W
Alisdair
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Alisdair »

What is the earliest the practice is known to have occurred to have happened on the Caley?
The Highland seemed to have been doing it in the early 1870s (could even have been earlier). Could it have emanated from Stroudley, given the link between the great man and Drummond and Jones on the Highland? (In which case, you would have thought the LBSCR would have followed the practice, but I don't have any photos of that railway)
Alisdair
jimwatt2mm
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by jimwatt2mm »

Alisdair wrote:What is the earliest the practice is known to have occurred to have happened on the Caley?
The Highland seemed to have been doing it in the early 1870s (could even have been earlier). Could it have emanated from Stroudley, given the link between the great man and Drummond and Jones on the Highland? (In which case, you would have thought the LBSCR would have followed the practice, but I don't have any photos of that railway)
Alisdair
I had the same thought regarding Stroudley (bad habit this thinking - must try to break it!), but in a search for 'Stroudley Locomotives' all the front couplings which are visible on LBSCR locos are three link albeit with a small centre link. They are all also shown with the end link carried on the hook, so that the small centre link is hanging down. One exception is where the end link is hooked up onto the centre lamp bracket and another is carried on a hook which appears to be fitted to the nearside buffer.

I've looked through 'Caledonian Cavalcade' at some of the pre-Drummond locos, but they are nearly all shown side on, so the front coupling can't be seen. Two, however, are interesting. Dundee Bogie No 128 (in what appears to be 'photographic grey' and pre-Drummond livery) has no link on the front hook and indeed the hook does not appear to have anywhere to fit a link. A side on photo of Brittain Oban Bogie No 183, albeit taken c1890, looks as though it has a single link being carried upright.

It would appear, therefore, that the practice didn't emanate from Stroudley, but as to when it started on the Caley,.....?

Jim W
caley739
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by caley739 »

One of the earliest images I have found so far where the single link can be clearly seen is Highland Railway 2-4-0 No.2 Aldourie at Thurso "about 1874" on page 21 of "Highland Railway Locomotives Book 1" by RCTS. On page 107 is 4-4-0 82a as LMS 14278 awaiting scrapping at Kilmarnock in 1930 still with a single link, but I don't think this was typical. Most Highland locos by this date seem to have had either a screw coupling or just a hook with no shackle.

North British Atlantics seem to have sported the single link. I even have a postcard of 4-4-0 N0.633 which seems to have both a single link and a screw coupling!

I didn't think the G&SWR indulged , but have just found a postcard of Drummond 4-4-0 No.330 with single link. Many G&SWR passenger engines seem to have just a hook with no shackle.

I have looked through the RCTS books on The London Brighton & South Coast and all the Stroudley locos seem to have either 3 link or screw couplings. So if the idea originated with Stroudley on The Highland he did not take the idea with him to Brighton.

The Caledonian Railway Livery book page 242 has 2-4-0 No.24 at Biggar c1860 with a single link. So the idea seems to predate the Drummond era, although both Drummond brothers seem to have favoured the idea.

So what was the purpose of this single link? I still don't know!

Tom Robertson
Ian Smeeton
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Ian Smeeton »

I can't help with the single link, but current practise (and I believe that it is in the rule book)is to use the train coupling to couple the train to the loco.

I have no idea how long this has been the case, but it might explain the fact that some locs had no coupling at all.

Probably just added more wet wood to the fire to further obscure everything with smoke. No mirrors though.

Regards

Ian
Barry Rhys
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Barry Rhys »

Is there a reason that an upper link may be fitted for a purpose unrelated to coupling? For example if it were decided that front couplings were not required for passenger tender locos of a certain type, would the upper link in itself serve another important requirement - for example to prevent the drawbar being pulled inwards through the buffer beam in the event of an accident? There are several eventualities I can imagine where that may be of importance, although all speculative nonetheless.

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
jimwatt2mm
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by jimwatt2mm »

Looking at TTL 133, p10, the photo of 187 as built shows this feature. So it would appear to go back to Brittain's time, then perpetuated by Drummond and taken by Peter to the Highland? More speculation!

I have difficulty visualising how the drawbar could go through the buffer beam in an accident other than in a head on collision, in which case the buffer beam would be pretty mangled anyway!

Jim W
Jim Summers
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Jim Summers »

Ian wrote:
"I can't help with the single link, but current practise (and I believe that it is in the rule book) is to use the train coupling to couple the train to the loco.
I have no idea how long this has been the case, but it might explain the fact that some locos had no coupling at all."

I have to say that the BR General Appendix 1960 states categorically that the loco or tender coupling must be used, when coupling to carriages or fitted freight stock, and that remained the case despite several amendments to ancillary aspects of the instructions on which couplings to use. There was quite a lot to this coupling business, especially in BR days,

I hope to cover coupling definitively in my book on "Operating the Caledonian Railway". So all opinions and facts are still welcome, especially as the Caledonian itself seems to have been rather reticent on the matter in its own instructions.

Jim S
Graham R
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Graham R »

Maybe one obvious use for a shackle is to allow a cable or rope with a hook to be safely attached, in a way not possible if only the coupling hook was fitted?

I imagine tow ropes for shunting - where the loco was providing the power - would use the coupling hook, but any use of a heavy cable to recover a failed or derailed loco which could not be coupled to directly, for whatever reason, would be safer if towed by a cable with proper thimbles and a hook - or indeed another shackle with a bolted closure - rather than a heavy enough chain, which a breakdown van might be less likely to carry.

That's pure speculation, but I do remember at one point working with old men with long experience of recoveries and crane work, and they were very particular about how to use cables safely when several tons of force were required. The last thing you want is someone improvising with insufficient experience.

Regards
Graham
Ian Smeeton
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Ian Smeeton »

Sorry about the misleading info, I really should check sources before opening my big mouth.

Regards

Ian
Jim Summers
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by Jim Summers »

Ian,
Don' t be too apologetic. I carefully did not refer to current practice, which was your point, but only to the BR period.
Things may have changed further in today's railway, and with locomotives in many cases nowadays equipped with buckeyes, who can say what is coupling to what nowadays!

Jim S
dunalastairv
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by dunalastairv »

Just a thought to join the many others, but the purpose of the front coupling link may be more simple than we think. It was only used on tender locomotives and the design ensured that in the event of double-heading, the leading locomotive HAD to be coupled to the trailing in the desired manner, so that any force exerted from the rear was managed. When there was a crisis, such as a derailment which required force to be exerted on the front end of a dead load, then a ready-fixed closed link was available on which to attach a hook or chain to keep the weight in tension.

Maybe?

Michael.
David Blevins
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by David Blevins »

Enclosed is a picture of CR 172 0-6-0T built in 1912 at Perth and has the upright coupling on a shunting engine.
Once I gwet the hanf of posting photographs I will supply others.
David Blevins
Attachments
T060727E - 172 - Copy.tif
T060727E - 172 - Copy.tif (642.13 KiB) Viewed 15028 times
David Blevins
Posts: 211
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by David Blevins »

Sorry chaps back to the drawing board.
David Blevins
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by David Blevins »

Here is a copy of CR No. 247 0-6-0T with front coupling also, this also applied to Passenger Tank Engines.
David Blevins.
Attachments
T060722B - 247 - Copy (3).tif
T060722B - 247 - Copy (3).tif (416.09 KiB) Viewed 15025 times
David Blevins
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by David Blevins »

One last attempt at trying to post a photograph, this time it should be a Beetlecrusher CR No. 510 0-6-0T.

David Blevins.
Attachments
T060734a - 510 - Copy.TIF
T060734a - 510 - Copy.TIF (89.51 KiB) Viewed 15024 times
caley739
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by caley739 »

A scan through "The Caledonian Railway Jumbos" shows many steam braked Jumbos with single link, not just the Westinghouse braked ones that you might expect.

Tom Robertson
David Blevins
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by David Blevins »

Hopefully I have mastered the uploading of attachments.
CR 247 built 1899 0-6-0T
CR 172 built 1912 0-6-0T at Perth
CR 510 built 1920 0-6-T

David Blevins
Attachments
T060734a - 510 - Copy.jpg
T060734a - 510 - Copy.jpg (67.23 KiB) Viewed 15009 times
T060 - 247 - Copy.jpg
T060 - 247 - Copy.jpg (46.75 KiB) Viewed 15009 times
T060 - 172 - Copy.jpg
T060 - 172 - Copy.jpg (39.51 KiB) Viewed 15009 times
David Blevins
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Re: Front couplings on locomotives

Post by David Blevins »

Two passenger tank engines to consider also:-

CR No. 169 0-4-4T at Dalry road, Edinburgh.
CR No. 2, 4-4-0T in original Blue Livery C. 1894.

Hope these are helpful to the discussion.

David Blevins.
Attachments
T440 - 2.jpg
T440 - 2.jpg (41.49 KiB) Viewed 15007 times
T044 - 169 - Copy.JPG
T044 - 169 - Copy.JPG (73.18 KiB) Viewed 15007 times
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