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American locomotives seem to have always had very prominent headlamps that contribute to their style, including the old oil burners on the NG engines up to the dual lamps and mars lights on the later engines.

British steam locomotives do not seem to have headlamps or if they do they are not as visible as other engines. Did they just not run at night? I have seen small lamps on the foot boards, but nothing approaching the large lights seen on American engines.


Just curious...
 

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1. You're right - they DO have them - see the recent Youtube movies of the newly-built A1 Pacific 'Tornado' racing through Durham station at night.

2. Of course our steam-hauled trains ran at night. that's why there were trains called 'The Irish Mail' and many others- just like in the USA, mail trains invariably ran at night with RPO picking up and dumping mail en route. There were also many overnight sleeper trains on the longer distances between London and Glasgow/Edinburgh/Liverpool.

3. The small lamps you see are it. That's all there was. Driving at 80mph with THOSE lighting the way must have been pretty exciting.

I guess that part of the reason is that here in UK the rails are all fenced off from the public - the tracks are not directly accessible like yours are most everywhere, nor did we have herds of rampaging buffalo clomping all over the countryside to scare off with bright lights. Most of Europe also had lights the same size as Britiish railways did in steam days.

tac
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Tac,

Thanks for the response. Couple comments - It would be impossible to keep the tracks 100% protected, even with a fence, so if I was on the throttle of one of your express trains at 11:30pm I would be a bit concerned about ANYTHING that could have fallen, stalled, broken, ??? on the tracks. Although at 80mpg, the lights really just tell others you are coming, they don't do much to illuminate any problems that can be dealt with.

re the 'new old stock' A1, I figure that this was outfitted with a headlamp to meet current safety regulations.

as you say, it must have been exciting.
 

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Lamps were used on British engines both day and night. They were for the benefit of the signalmen. Their placement on the front of the engine denoted the type of train, e.g. a lamp placed over both buffers indicated a passenger express. They were lit at night for the signalmen, not for the driver to see by, he was expected to know the route and know exactly where he was.
 

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Posted By Joel779 on 03/27/2009 10:15 AM
Tac,

Thanks for the response. Couple comments - It would be impossible to keep the tracks 100% protected, even with a fence, so if I was on the throttle of one of your express trains at 11:30pm I would be a bit concerned about ANYTHING that could have fallen, stalled, broken, ??? on the tracks. Although at 80mpg, the lights really just tell others you are coming, they don't do much to illuminate any problems that can be dealt with.

re the 'new old stock' A1, I figure that this was outfitted with a headlamp to meet current safety regulations.

as you say, it must have been exciting.





Ah, you see, over here, it is an offence, punishable by death [if you get it wrong] to trespass on railway property, and folks tended to stay away from the tracks - still do, in fact. Without ready access by either people or animals, and with 95% of all crossings gated, what then will stray onto the tracks?

You would be surprised as to just how few of your 'problems' actually occurred. Trains hitting objects on the line are usually due to somebody screwing up on a level crossing, either accidenatlly, or, like a year or so ago, on purpose. Having decided to klill himself by parking on a crossing, he then chickened out and left the car - seven people died in the ensuing crash.

And as for current safety regulations, our preserved steam locomotives are required to conform, safety-wise, to steam locomotive headlamp codes.

To my knowledge, there has never been an accident of any kind involving a preserved steam locomotive at night.

tac
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Posted By Rob Meadows on 03/27/2009 12:44 PM - Lamps were used on British engines both day and night. They were for the benefit of the signalmen. Their placement on the front of the engine denoted the type of train, e.g. a lamp placed over both buffers indicated a passenger express. They were lit at night for the signalmen, not for the driver to see by, he was expected to know the route and know exactly where he was.


Quite correct. NOW you know why British railway locomotive lamps are painted white.

tac
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Posted By tony23 on 03/27/2009 3:48 PM
a thing to note was most of the early locos did note have electric so the lamps were oil then on the later engines dynomos or generators were fitted, as for the new A1 Tornado she has the latest LED's fitted http://www.footplateequipment.co.uk/news.shtml


Wow!!!!!!!
What a neat link. It sure has a lot of interesting items listed.
Thanks Tony for giving it to us. It is now listed on my Favorites.
 

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Joel,

the answer is simple - Lucas made the electrical systems. Since they never worked to begin with, the Brits took them off.


-Mark (who is presently ducking for cover)
 

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Posted By Mark Scrivener on 03/27/2009 5:06 PM
Joel,

the answer is simple - Lucas made the electrical systems. Since they never worked to begin with, the Brits took them off.


-Mark (who is presently ducking for cover)

Tac, I'll let you reply to this one
 

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Ah, yes, being a British subject on electrics I just knew that Lucas would come up. Few people know that they not only made electrical components for cars but they also made vacuums....they were the only thing they made that didn't suck. (BA BOOM)
 

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Just out of interest, the 2 locos of the narrow gauge Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway (Staffordshire, England) had large headlamps, because I understand there were ungated crossings along its short route. I seem to remember reading there is/was some debate whether they were ever lit though! Apart from the dark winter days I don't think the timetable extended into the night!

http://www.kachuzyn.fsnet.co.uk/

Ken Wright

 

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As one well-known British politician was once heard to say after a visit to the former colonies........

'Ah, yes. America. All those great wide empty spaces.

Surrounded by teeth'.

tac
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Posted By tony23 on 03/28/2009 3:53 AM
I'm still trying to think of an invention from the States
as yet nothing comes to mind


Easy, The Big Mac !
 
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