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Less than 6ft between two running roads

Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Evening all.
I have looked at this photo from Ernie Brack's collection on flikr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/irishswissernie/51276682475/in/album-72157684478421123/
I have seen this position from other angles, but due to perspective I could never be sure what space there was between the two right hand running roads, though from OS maps I predicted there could not possibly be the clear 6ft gap. Here it looks like less than 5ft. The cameraman has his back to the entrance to the engine stable, so not running lines and it was built like this late 1880s, before 'modern' practices. I'm guessing in a situation like this they'd just use 'common sense', which apparently was popular back then, and make sure they only use one road at a time- there wouldn't be that many movements per day.

Also the third track from the right, the one next to the train, is a siding- normally an ash wagon at the end and that does appear to have 6ft between it and the running line it isn't the 10ft we expect now. The site (Whitby) was VERY compact and presumably this has resulted in corners being cut.

My questions are A) am I right that there were areas with low clearances like this and subject to local rules B) was this typical or one of those unofficial things that took place in remote backwaters (as Whitby was in 1880- at least for trains). C) would this have contributed to its closure as a depot in 1950s due to modernised working practices?

NB for anyone interested in this area, Mr Brack has added several very interesting photos to this collection. NB2- not the interesting tandem (I believe Martin referred to this as 'type 2' where the 3rd road diverges from the 2nd. Again I'm quite pleased as my prediction suggested it had to be one of those type and my estimate for the sizes worked quite nicely too.

Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Derek

Hi Derek,

A photo trumps a drawing every time. :)

I rotated the photo 1.4 degrees to what I judged to be square to the rails and put the pixel ruler over it:

whitby_spacing.jpg


A-B + C-D = 744 pixels, for 2 track gauges (113").

That makes the average pixel spacing mid-way between them at 113/744 = 0.152"/pixel.

Applying that to B-C (446 pixels) = 67.74"

Subtracting 2 rails (5.5") = 62.24" way between the rails at that point.

It's daft to use two decimal places for such a crude approximation to the lens perspective. Lets call it 60" - 5ft way.

All of which means nothing, because there are no rules about track-spacings within sheds and workshops where stock is not stationary being parked or worked on. Which is very unlikely over such pointwork. There will just be a notice in the shed foreman's office telling staff not to walk in the middle of those roads during loco movements -- which it is very unlikely they would need telling. Railways tend not to employ idiots.

The normal loading gauge is 9ft-6in wide max (114"). So to avoid collision on straight track, the absolute minimum track spacing centre-to-centre is about 9ft-8in min, allowing a couple of inches for gauge-slop and off-centre vehicles. More on curved track of course. That gives 54" way between the rails (4ft-6in). So that means just 6" clearance between simultaneous moves over the roads in the photo. Even the dimmest staff member will have realised it's no place to hang about.

Within the engine shed the tracks will be more widely spaced to allow working access etc. 15ft track-centres seems typical:

2_041420_120000000.png


See also:

https://85a.uk/templot/archive/topics/topic_2894.php#p20479

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Derek

Member
Thread starter
Location
UK, Midlands
Thanks Martin. Whitby was a little odd with its track layout as it evolved considerably- at some point there is a 12 ft gap and others as you say 5ft.

I didn't have the means to rotate the picture before taking measurements- I just cut the track width and then pasted it into the '6ft'- I wasn't far off for a crude method.

Thanks for the clarification about the rules and how they dealt with them. I wonder if this is the year I might start printing this out and getting the soldering iron out...

Many thanks
Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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I didn't have the means to rotate the picture before taking measurements

Hi Derek,

You can rotate ("twist") picture shape images in Templot. It is glacially slow compared to a proper graphics editor, but it does work in the end if you have no other means.

p.s. it's called twist in Templot because rotate means something else -- rotating objects around a rotation centre on the grid. Although if you rotate a picture shape (for example when in sync with the templates, such as a map) the contained image gets twisted in the process.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Tony W

Member
Location
North Notts
I think I have mentioned this before, but Andrew Dow's tome "The railway, British track since 1804" mentions on page 326 that in yards, the recommended switch was a B, with a 1 in 8 crossing: this gave a standard spacing of sidings with centre lines 10ft 6 ins apart, or 8 inches closer than in the standard six-foot of the main line. I presume Andrew was quoting from an LNER ER perspective, since that was his field of expertise.
Regards
Tony.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I think I have mentioned this before, but Andrew Dow's tome "The railway, British track since 1804" mentions on page 326 that in yards, the recommended switch was a B, with a 1 in 8 crossing: this gave a standard spacing of sidings with centre lines 10ft 6 ins apart, or 8 inches closer than in the standard six-foot of the main line. I presume Andrew was quoting from an LNER ER perspective, since that was his field of expertise.
Regards
Tony.

Thanks Tony.

I suspect that is a reference to the large marshalling yards, where on-the-ground access isn't needed (it leaves only 2ft between the wagons) rather than the local goods yard or loco shed.

Otherwise it makes you wonder what the A switch was designed for, being nominally intended for use in yards.

Many such locations never got as far as having REA switches anyway, retaining older loose-heel switches to the end.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Tony W

Member
Location
North Notts
Hi Martin.
I also wondered about the safety aspect of this if shunters were intended to go between the roads as they would to couple rafts of wagons. Alright I suppose if nothing is moving, but I wouldn't fancy it much. It is also true that many wagons were narrower than coaching stock so left a bit more space in between. Indeed about 1935 the LNER reduced the width of their covered goods vans from 8ft 2in over body to 8ft 0in to improve the route availability and more particularly give access to constricted sidings. They also reduced the height by almost 2 1/2 inches as well. I know land was expensive, but it would need a wide yard to fit extra tracks in the space saved, about 1 in every 16 tracks.
Prior to reading the above, I had thought that the LNER preferred B-7s for yards as their B-7 was slightly different to the rest of the REA designs with a longer straight section in the curved closure rail before the crossing than usual.
Just shows how the rules got bent from time to time, if indeed there were any at that time.
Regards
Tony.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Tony,

Here's a shunter with pole in some sidings:

https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrbg1333c.htm

Pixel-scaling on the image puts the first tracks at normal 6ft way.

Even there it would be difficult to use the pole between occupied roads. Possibly the photo illustrates the usual practice -- wait until the adjacent road is clear before coupling up? In that case closer track spacing would be feasible, but it would need some careful work planning in a busy marshalling yard.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Tony W

Member
Location
North Notts
Hi Martin.
Interesting picture. However the caption contains an example of bad practice. Brake sticks should be used to apply pressure to brake levers, not shunter's poles.
Regards
Tony.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Tony,

Checking the photo more closely, the next track seems to be about 5ft-4in way -- i.e. 10ft-6in centres as you suggested.

Hmm. Makes me wonder about adding a 10ft-6in setting in Templot?

Also thinking about Derek's photo, where my first calculation was 5ft-2.24in way -- not so far away from 5ft-4in.

10ft-6in centres may be a common spacing in such circumstances, but I can find no reference to it in BRT.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Interesting picture.
@Tony W @Derek

Hi Tony,

There is a wider view (1954) at:

https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrbg1333.htm

This is interesting:

bordesley_sidings_map.png


This is the location on the 1903 map from the NLS. The photo view is from the road bridge.

It was unlikely to be unchanged half a century later in 1954. Unfortunately the 1945 25" map has had the railway lines removed under the wartime restrictions, and the old-maps.co.uk site which might have had other dates is no longer available.

However, at 1903 the track spacings reading top to bottom were:

7ft-6in way
5ft-4in way (10ft-6in centres)
5ft-4in way (10ft-6in centres)
8ft-6in way
5ft-4in way (10ft-6in centres)

which is remarkable, and suggests a rethink of this dialog and the help notes is needed (it's off the scale):

10ft_6in_way.png


Many thanks to Derek for throwing this particular spanner into the works. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Derek

Member
Thread starter
Location
UK, Midlands
Many thanks to Derek for throwing this particular spanner into the works. :)
Martin,
I wonder how much of this is recorded officially as X but in practice was Y. The reason I wonder that is that at Whitby this oddity of close spacing was quite widespread, with the siding between a stable/ shed entry road being <6ft (reason accepted as per your explanation above) but also on the other side of the siding was a running line, again it's questionable whether it was 6ft. This is more remarkable when you realise that siding was used for ash waste wagons and was manually loaded by blokes with wheelbarrows- ie lots of movement in a very restricted space.

Then between platform 3 and 4 the gap was sufficiently narrow (I have no photos clear enough to measure, even with your tricks of the trade) that platform 3 had to be taken out of service as there was a risk of collision when anything other than short 4 or 6 wheel carriages were used. In fact, now the grey matter is waking up, the same applies on the main station between platform 1 and the centre road, where the supports for the roof had to be re-engineered to avoid being hit by overhangs.

*

I find the idea that this was restricted just to one location and not repeated elsewhere to be a challenging concept, yet the official diagrams show there was sufficient clearance; measurements taken by the late and great Ken Hoole matches up with all the photos I have which show the official NER diagrams were wrong.

Sorry for A) the spanner B) the long post.

* EDIT: I recall now that there was an actual error when they were laying the West platform (1) where someone got the measurements wrong and it was built too wide- but the official NER drawings that lived at York and now in the care of the NRM still show the planned measurements of the platform and not the actual measurements if you go there now with a tape measure. If that can happen at Whitby then it can surely happen everywhere (except the GWR which was entirely perfect, apparently (no sarcasm intended))
All the best
Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Tony W @Derek

Hi Tony, Derek,

I have now added an other... button which can be used to set a WAY dimension outside the limits of the arrow slider:

adjacent_centres_otherpng.png


Will be in 233c shortly.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Could I use this option to make a return curve with setting greater than 12 foot?
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Yes, but you can do that now. It just means you need to enter the track centres spacing directly, instead of letting Templot calculate it from the desired prototype WAY dimension. Click one of these two buttons:

set_adjacent_centres.png


But note that if you set a wide spacing it is likely to be a very long return curve.

WAY is the prototype distance between the inner rails. Centres is the distance from track centre line to track centre line. The prototype traditionally uses the WAY dimension when setting out tracks, modellers more usually need the centre lines spacing. Templot calculates the track centres for you from the WAY, based on the prototype track gauge and rail-head width. If you are using a reduced model gauge such as 00 or EM, the actual distance between the rails will be slightly wider because of the narrower gauge.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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