When to withdraw a locomotive from service

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Andy873

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I'm looking at a particular period, September 1967 and steam locomotives.

I notice at Rose Grove MDP, 9/9/67 there were 21 8f locomotives sighted, of which 8 were listed as withdrawn.

BR was phasing out the steam locomotives at a fast rate by now, but I was wondering why a particular engine would have been withdrawn, as some of the 8f still in use were older / newer ones than some of the withdrawn ones.

Was it as simple as that if an engine developed a fault and it wasn't worth fixing it the reason?
Did they have too many engines left and there was not enough work for them all? and if so why that engine?
Just the look of the draw?

Or a combination of the above?

Just curious as to what you all might have to say about it...

Thanks,
Andy.
 
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delt1c

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A combination of many factors which you quoted. Could be due to a defect which is not worth repairing. Could be due an exam, many different criteria
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The accountants would have been keen to get steam locos off the premises, close the depot and related works, reduce the staff etc.
BR was desperate to cut costs.
 

341o2

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In 1965, it was ordered that no major repairs were to be carried out on steam engines, the first withdrawal of a BB pacific occurred when 34055 suffered a cracked cylinder. I recall, in the final days of steam, there was a low speed derailment by a loco coming off shed, and it was simply withdrawn there and then without any further investigation
 

Andy873

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Interesting...

I know / well think that sometime around later 1965 there were then more non-steam locomotives than steam ones.

I did wonder from the viewpoint "well, we're getting rid of them anyway" that if any suffered some sort of complicated / expensive repair then it's time up for that engine.

Just looking again a my favourite engine 8f 48218 that it seemed to go in for some sort of service around every three years. The last "service - (HI)" was mid / late August 1964, and was spotted as withdrawn early September 1967 (about three years).

Maybe as said, it developed a fault, or it was time for another inspection / service and the powers that be simply decided "forget it".

Just another observation, I've gone through all the 8f engines that were at Rose Grove MPD and over half of them seem to follow the same pattern of withdrawal , i.e. three years or thereabouts since there last inspection / service.
 
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Clarence Yard

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The accountants would have been keen to get steam locos off the premises, close the depot and related works, reduce the staff etc.
BR was desperate to cut costs.

Not quite.

The region would be working to their annual budget plan, which would have outlined the traction to be introduced and withdrawn during that year. That number would have been agreed between the Regional Ops Manager and the Regional CM&EE before being signed off by the Regional GM with the BRB. The Commercial side would also have an input, especially if it involved service changes. The BRB would be monitoring progress on this plan and how it related to their overall objectives.

By this time in 1967 no steam loco was receiving heavy repairs so as closures happened and dieselisation progressed, there would be a gradual reduction in duties and steam locos would be rendered surplus. So the Ops side would require less traction and the CM&EE would decide which locos would go to meet that reduction, usually on condition. Depending on the region, either the Regional Ops Manager or the Regional M&EE would issue the final stock alteration sheets.

Down at depot level, there would have already been a discussion as to which individual locos would go, usually with their Divisional colleagues and this would have fed into the final decisions. Where good locos were being held, either spare or in store, they would replace others when they fell by the wayside or get culled themselves when it was decided there wasn’t a further use for them.

If a loco required a repair that put it into the bracket for withdrawal, that discussion would take place and the loco then withdrawn. On the LMR locos were officially withdrawn each successive Saturday.

The accountants making any decisions is a myth. They would monitor progress and there would be outturn changes as the year went on but the real decision making on traction went on in the other non finance functions. In the 1960’s “the accountants” was a derogatory term used to describe Beeching and his team, who could be aggressively commercial and expected the Regions and their staff to behave likewise.

Governments from the early 1960’s kept the Nationalised Industries cash poor so they were always under pressure to dispose of assets relatively quickly.
 

AndyW33

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As many here, but not all, know, the 8Fs had a complicated history, caused by the Second World War. Some LMS-owned 8Fs were requisitioned by the military, others were built new against government orders, some of these did indeed do their military service, others never left the UK. These were allocated numbers in the LMS series, following on from the highest number used. Not only that but the locos were built not only at LMS works but also at various private loco builders, and even the works of the other mainline railway companies. As they were built in batches, the number wasn't necessarily an accurate indicator of the age of the locos, as blocks of numbers were allocated to batches of locos, but more than one batch might be under construction at the same time but in different places. Then at the end of the war some of the locos returned from overseas, those which had LMS numbers resumed them, with some exceptions (notably 8233 and two others, which didn't return to the UK until the early 1950s, by which time the history had been forgotten and they were allocated numbers following on from the highest used so far, even though their original numbers had never been reused. This is relevant because 8233 thus became 48773 which is preserved.)
Steam locos didn't received overhauls based on time, but on mileage run. Rose Grove's 8Fs might well have been shopped at about 3 yearly intervals based on the work they did, but a loco transferred in from elsewhere might have received its next overhaul at anywhere between two and four years from the last one according to what it had been doing at its previous shed.
 

geoffk

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“The 1960s experienced 29 identified write-offs of steam locomotives. The main reason for condemnation was that it was not worth repairing them as their demise was not far away. Even bent buffer beams and heavy shunts amounted to a death sentence for some during that period.” [Railway Magazine September 2003]. Most of these write-offs were the result of collisions but, for example, standard tank 80103 was found to have its main frame broken in two, after complaints about rough riding by Tilbury crews, and it became the first BR standard loco to be withdrawn in August 1962.
 
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Andy873

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“The 1960s experienced 29 identified write-offs of steam locomotives. The main reason for condemnation was that it was not worth repairing them as their demise was not far away. Even bent buffer beams and heavy shunts amounted to a death sentence for some during that period.” [Railway Magazine September 2003]. Most of these write-offs were the result of collisions but, for example, standard tank 80103 was found to have its main frame broken in two, after complaints about rough riding by Tilbury crews, and it became the first BR standard loco to be withdrawn in August 1962.
Thanks everyone for the replies, it gives me a much clearer picture now as to what was going on.

Just wondered, would any decisions like which engines to withdraw be written down anywhere? there seems to be a whole mass of internal BR paperwork which appears to have vanished into thin air.

I don't think I'm alone in saying that the more they put details to digital the more you can't find them.

Thanks,
Andy.
 

Clarence Yard

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To understand the lack of paperwork, we need to go through how a loco “shopping” works and what paperwork a depot (& maybe a district/divisional office) would keep.

Shopping isn’t a random activity of putting locos into the main workshops as they come up for repairs or mileage. Each class was subject to a minimum shopping periodicity for overhauls, usually expressed in months as well as in miles. Each region would have an idea of how many of each class would be shopped and an annual plan would be drawn up. On the ER, at least, that plan would be shared and as the month approached the loco would be SP’d (Shop Proposed) by the depot using an SP (Shop Proposal) form. The regional shopping controller would then decide whether to accept it into shops or request a re-proposal in x months.

If a loco was in good condition, it might get pushed out in favour of one that needed shops earlier than expected, either because it had run it’s minimum mileage or significant repairs were needed. Locos would also be shopped for unclassified repairs and that can happen at any time. So the shopping controller had to constantly balance the needs and capacity of the workshops with the needs of the fleet, especially with people like me at a Divisional office trying to bump their nags up the queue (47410 was my push in early 1979!).

A lot of the decision making would be done over the phone with very little written down. In any event depots were supposed to only keep documentation “shop to shop” when it came to overhauls. Most individual shopping documentation has not survived and it is now very hard to say exactly why a loco was withdrawn earlier than others in the same class. One can make assumptions but you can’t easily replicate the knowledge of the condition of a loco that a depot or division would have had at that time.

The surviving LMR shopping records of LMR locos peter out in the early 1960’s so not all works overhauls (please, not servicing - that is a very minor depot activity, not something that main works do) visits are definitively known but we know 48218 was outshopped from Derby on 1/9/61, after an HI. So, given the rundown of steam, I would have expected another visit in or around 1964, which would fit in nicely with a 1967 withdrawal date. Whether that further visit would have been another HI, an LI or even an HC to see it through to withdrawal, I don’t know.

1964 was when the squeeze really came on overhauls. The BRB workshops started to apply quite strict “money limits” on repairs and steam overhauls, which were declining rapidly anyway, started to become lighter overhauls, there being very few HG done from the 1964 budget intake onwards.
 

geoffk

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Some interesting information here and a good insight into what went on. I understand that, as steam locomotives did not have mileometers, mileage figures for main line engines were usually calculated from actual locomotive workings; a passenger or freight duty was deemed to cover x miles and total distance travelled was calculated from these. In the case of shunting engines, the figures were generally estimated from hours in traffic, much of which was spent standing still, and were therefore not an accurate record of miles run.
 

D6130

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To understand the lack of paperwork, we need to go through how a loco “shopping” works and what paperwork a depot (& maybe a district/divisional office) would keep.

Shopping isn’t a random activity of putting locos into the main workshops as they come up for repairs or mileage. Each class was subject to a minimum shopping periodicity for overhauls, usually expressed in months as well as in miles. Each region would have an idea of how many of each class would be shopped and an annual plan would be drawn up. On the ER, at least, that plan would be shared and as the month approached the loco would be SP’d (Shop Proposed) by the depot using an SP (Shop Proposal) form. The regional shopping controller would then decide whether to accept it into shops or request a re-proposal in x months.

If a loco was in good condition, it might get pushed out in favour of one that needed shops earlier than expected, either because it had run it’s minimum mileage or significant repairs were needed. Locos would also be shopped for unclassified repairs and that can happen at any time. So the shopping controller had to constantly balance the needs and capacity of the workshops with the needs of the fleet, especially with people like me at a Divisional office trying to bump their nags up the queue (47410 was my push in early 1979!).

A lot of the decision making would be done over the phone with very little written down. In any event depots were supposed to only keep documentation “shop to shop” when it came to overhauls. Most individual shopping documentation has not survived and it is now very hard to say exactly why a loco was withdrawn earlier than others in the same class. One can make assumptions but you can’t easily replicate the knowledge of the condition of a loco that a depot or division would have had at that time.

The surviving LMR shopping records of LMR locos peter out in the early 1960’s so not all works overhauls (please, not servicing - that is a very minor depot activity, not something that main works do) visits are definitively known but we know 48218 was outshopped from Derby on 1/9/61, after an HI. So, given the rundown of steam, I would have expected another visit in or around 1964, which would fit in nicely with a 1967 withdrawal date. Whether that further visit would have been another HI, an LI or even an HC to see it through to withdrawal, I don’t know.

1964 was when the squeeze really came on overhauls. The BRB workshops started to apply quite strict “money limits” on repairs and steam overhauls, which were declining rapidly anyway, started to become lighter overhauls, there being very few HG done from the 1964 budget intake onwards.
Did 70013 Oliver Cromwell not have a 'Heavy General' overhaul at Crewe in 1967.....or was it a 'Heavy Intermediate'?
 

Clarence Yard

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70013 was a HC, including a boiler change and a repaint. Whether this (casual) repair would have been classed as something heavier, i.e. a classified repair, in 1966 or before is not known but it only had an intermediate in November 1965 so wasn’t due one.

Mileage recording officially finished for steamers at the end of 1963 (and in 1968 for diesels) so any shopping of steamers afterwards would be on shopping periodicity and/or condition. This was the type of shopping I got involved in the 1970’s with diesel locos.

Mileage was indeed estimated for locos on shunting or local duties where compiling such statistics would have been onerous. For example, a 57xx pannier nearly always was on estimates and this can be seen in the average shopping periodicity for the class (about 4 years at 80k miles) - even the LT ones, which were on “WR Maintenance” for main works until 1965, when they were transferred to Eastleigh’s responsibility.

A word about officially storing locos. Officially, this would stop the clock on shopping periodicity and this could lead to some odd intervals as well as some relics wheezing around when they really should have shopped. In the last few years of steam LMR had a habit of storing low mileage (or little used since shops) locos until others fell by the wayside.
 

Bevan Price

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Not quite.

The region would be working to their annual budget plan, which would have outlined the traction to be introduced and withdrawn during that year. That number would have been agreed between the Regional Ops Manager and the Regional CM&EE before being signed off by the Regional GM with the BRB. The Commercial side would also have an input, especially if it involved service changes. The BRB would be monitoring progress on this plan and how it related to their overall objectives.
So, presumably, when all survivors of a class were withdrawn on a single date, that was part of the budget plan, rather than something related to loco condition? For example when all the remaining Duchesses were withdrawn in around the late Summer of 1964 (although 46256 was allowed to survive for a little longer to work its farewell railtour. )
 

Clarence Yard

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So, presumably, when all survivors of a class were withdrawn on a single date, that was part of the budget plan, rather than something related to loco condition? For example when all the remaining Duchesses were withdrawn in around the late Summer of 1964 (although 46256 was allowed to survive for a little longer to work its farewell railtour. )

Absolutely. The LMR would have decided to withdraw certain classes or numbers of classes in a year and had a plan, which should have been timed to a month or would be enacted when deliveries of new stock reached a certain point. They could also bring a plan forward if circumstances allowed so you could withdraw a 1965 plan locos in, say, late 1964. The LMR had a habit of doing “sweep up” withdrawals with numerically smaller classes on their patch - the Standard 4 tanks in 1965 are another example.

The plan could be modified. In the case of the ER, it was originally envisaged that the late 1963 changes on the GN main line would result in the retention of 6 x A4 pacifics at New England. That was changed to 6 x A3 pacifics when the ScR wanted the A4’s. In either case they were supposed to be the ones with greatest remaining shopping life/lowest mileage from shops although if one had just had a No 12 (v&p) exam, it could jump the list if mileages were close.
 

Andy873

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Absolutely. The LMR would have decided to withdraw certain classes or numbers of classes in a year and had a plan, which should have been timed to a month or would be enacted when deliveries of new stock reached a certain point. They could also bring a plan forward if circumstances allowed so you could withdraw a 1965 plan locos in, say, late 1964. The LMR had a habit of doing “sweep up” withdrawals with numerically smaller classes on their patch - the Standard 4 tanks in 1965 are another example.

The plan could be modified. In the case of the ER, it was originally envisaged that the late 1963 changes on the GN main line would result in the retention of 6 x A4 pacifics at New England. That was changed to 6 x A3 pacifics when the ScR wanted the A4’s. In either case they were supposed to be the ones with greatest remaining shopping life/lowest mileage from shops although if one had just had a No 12 (v&p) exam, it could jump the list if mileages were close.
This really is interesting, I have gone through all 21 of the 8f locomotives that were spotted 9th September 1967.

8 of them were already "withdrawn", and two of them 48506 & 48550 (similar numbers as Clarence mentions) were officially withdrawn the same date as 48218.

All of the 21 8f's were possibles (instead of me seeing 48218 that day) but running through a town, when there was no other sightings / mentions of any other locomotives for at least two years minimum, plus actual photographic evidence of 48218 being the only locomotive I have to conclude the following:

While I cannot be 100 percent certain it was 48218 I saw, given the weight of evidence, service histories and patterns & photographic proof it must be 48218. I have spent five years researching this and if I am wrong then I'm wrong - but if I was on a jury it would convince me - what does anyone think?

Regarding servicing, the pattern of service was around every three years and typically went like this:
HI
HI
HG & boiler change.

48218 was due a HG & boiler change August 1967 and must be the reason for withdrawal.

Just in case anyone is interested, I have attached part of 48218's engine record card confirming this.

Sometimes when you ask a question, the answer is a sad one, but at least it's an answer.

Andy.
 

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Clarence Yard

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Andy, can you please drop the term “service” for a main works visit - it is anything but. “Servicing” a steam loco is just sticking coal and water in it at a depot - it’s the lowest level of attention you give an loco and usually carried out by unskilled staff, in complete contrast to the repair and overhaul activities carried out at Works. You tell a fitter at a main works that he “serviced” locos and you will get a very sharp reply!

Thanks for sharing the info on 48218. The 1964 repair is not in the Irwell book and shows how the major repair intervals stretched as steam declined in the 1960’s. As to it’s withdrawal, I don’t think that “being due an HG” was the reason - by 1967 shopping had finished - it was the survival of the fittest, although those that were longest out of shops or had done the most work since works were obviously the ones more likely to go first.

The LMR were passing around their best locos as sheds ran down or closed, or even when they got substituted by other classes. During 1967 Rose Grove seemed still to have a need for around 18 x 8F on it’s books and received several transfers in during August and September, prompting withdrawals of those that were were in worse condition than the new arrivals, 48218 presumably being one of them.
 

43096

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Andy, can you please drop the term “service” for a main works visit - it is anything but. “Servicing” a steam loco is just sticking coal and water in it at a depot - it’s the lowest level of attention you give an loco and usually carried out by unskilled staff, in complete contrast to the repair and overhaul activities carried out at Works. You tell a fitter at a main works that he “serviced” locos and you will get a very sharp reply!
Even now, servicing is minor work - fuelling, cleaning etc. Anything beyond that (A exam upwards) at a depot I'd say is exam/maintenance work and work that would be covered under the old main works (or the later CEM) regime is an overhaul.
 

Andy873

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Even now, servicing is minor work - fuelling, cleaning etc. Anything beyond that (A exam upwards) at a depot I'd say is exam/maintenance work and work that would be covered under the old main works (or the later CEM) regime is an overhaul.
Okay folks, apologies!

I shall expunge the word "service" from my brain.

We are talking for a service:
A + B = C

At a workshop:
#pIndex[1].Entry[INSTR(KeyWordLetters,MID$(#p[a].Words,1,1)),LEN(#p[a].Words),c[LEN(#p[a].Words)]] = a

As you can see I am a computer programmer with no prior knowledge of engineering and limited knowledge of the railways, so it's a steep learning curve for me here - but I get the difference!

Regarding sharing 48218's details:
You're all very welcome, I find people fall into two categories:

1. Those that share.
2. Those that tell you they know something but won't share.

I fall definitely into the number 1 category.

I still have one thing that puzzles me though:

Why was 48218 spotted as "withdraw" on the 9th of September, and yet the engine record card and all other documentation I can find state the 30th of September. All of you tell me BR was trying to get these locos of the books as fast as possible. So why not record 9th of September? or was this just a catching up with paperwork thing?

Could it be as simple as someone simply said (when asked) "that one's withdrawn" or maybe an assumption by the spotter?

I know 48218 was still in service at the end of August as the SLS have a photo
"D6848 with brake tender behind loco, freight train banked by 8F 2-8-0 48218. Copy Pit. 29/8/1967"

Thanks,
Andy.
 
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Clarence Yard

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Withdrawal dates are not the day a loco ceases work - a withdrawal date is the date it is officially removed from book stock.

The process of deciding to withdraw an individual loco can take time. 48218 could have been laid aside either with a fault, or pending decision on repair, or just because it was now surplus. Eventually the decision from higher authority would come through and the loco would be officially withdrawn.

That decision making process has one one eye on the total fleet and the likelihood of any loco being needed in the future so it may not be an instantaneous one - there is no set time to make any such decision.
 

Andy873

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Withdrawal dates are not the day a loco ceases work - a withdrawal date is the date it is officially removed from book stock.

The process of deciding to withdraw an individual loco can take time. 48218 could have been laid aside either with a fault, or pending decision on repair, or just because it was now surplus. Eventually the decision from higher authority would come through and the loco would be officially withdrawn.

That decision making process has one one eye on the total fleet and the likelihood of any loco being needed in the future so it may not be an instantaneous one - there is no set time to make any such decision.
Clarence,

I want to thank you & everyone for all the help and information given here.

I have been told on a different thread (on this forum) some time ago that a "withdrawn" engine might not be completely "official" until higher authority came through and sometimes these "withdrawn" engines could and were used for some duties occasionally.

The important thing for me is that the date for when I saw 48218 is narrowed right down to just a few possible weeks circa mid August to the end of September 1967.

Any exact date would just be pure speculation and probably impossible to find...

Many many thanks,
Andy.
 

Clarence Yard

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It's never all over until it's official and that withdrawal doesn't necessarily preclude use afterwards, if it was still in date for a boiler exam or was specially examined for use for a particular purpose (such as towing others for disposal or to works).

But, by 1967, official withdrawal usually meant that was it finished, for good.
 
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