Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

September 13th 2011

Penrhyn ladies are Queens of the Hill

The fastest run over the timing section from LC 44.31 Coed Mawr to LC 41.16 Pont Cae'r Gors went to Garratt No. 138 with a time of 6 min 36 sec which required an equivalent drawbar horsepower (EDHP) of 460.

On the unrestricted more open section from LC 42.54 Hafod Ruffyd to LC 41.34 Cae'r Gors the EDHP increased to 508, rather more than the 437 EDHP developed by No. 87 on the Bronze special last autumn, which holds the overall record for the fastest start to stop time from Beddgelert up to Rhyd Ddu of 17m 47s, but had the benefit of the lighter FR stock.

Queens of the Hill. Picture: Jon Potter
"But the real interest was in the locos from the Ffestiniog and further afield," says chief timekeeper Sean Emmett.

"The Fairlies covered the timing section in 7m 13s and were faster than the other single headed Garratt runs, but were eclipsed by the ladies in their second run which covered the section in 7m 04s at an average of 16.6 mph - although they were a couple of seconds adrift of the Fairlies above Hafod Ruffydd. For the ladies to have eclipsed their bigger stable mates on a slightly heavier train was a truly astonishing performance in less than ideal conditions.

"Comparing outputs from different types of loco is notoriously difficult. One of the yardsticks used is to relate the EDHP produced to the grate area. There is a further complication in that the ladies,138 and DLG are oil fired and with more consistent steaming may be expected to produce better outputs than coal fired engines of the same size, though this is not always the case as dirty oil and clean coal may switch the advantage the other way.

"Nevertheless, by considering the EDHP developed in relation to their grate area the ladies eclipsed even the efforts of No. 138 and I therefore declare them Queens of the Hill."

Sean adds that L&B replica Lyd performed better than in earlier runs timed over Easter 2011, maintaining a steady 14 mph up the grade increasing to 17 mph within sight of the summit.

Comparing this with a run from Single Fairlie Taliesin at Easter 2011 it would appear that Lyd is slightly the stronger.

Adds Sean: "The Statfold Barn Mallet is a strange beast with a very quiet exhaust. It overcame its previous tendency to run hot and produced some respectable runs, particularly its second run on the Saturday.

"The Darjeeling B class had one run alone with its own two replica carriages, which I am amazed to discover weigh in at only four tons tare each. Needless to say they were full, and I timed the runs standing in the brake van.

"I have compared this with a run with Prince from 2009 with three carriages. The locos produced similar runs, but with Prince having the edge.

"The B Class and Mallet teamed up to make an attractive sight and their runs got better though unfortunately we did not have a timer available for their Sunday morning run.

"The wooden spoon goes to diesel Castell Caernarfon, pressed in to take a standard WHR set whilst the three Garratts were heading off to Porthmadog together. Its times were slower than everything else, including the B class."


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