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Old 01-01-2018, 01:23 AM   #1
Mountain Goat
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Default Identifying Great Western 4-6-0's.

As some modellers have seen, the Great Western Railway came out with a number of 4-6-0 locomotives which to a casual observer, looked quite similar but in reality were quite different and intended to do different jobs. They had in their earlier days experimented with a very large 4-6-2 loco called "The Great Bear" but due to its size (And weight) its routes were restrictive, and after a few derailments (As it was just too big to negotiate some of the sharp radius curves... Ever get the feeling that us modellers have similar issues?) it sat for a number of years (Its large 8 wheel tender being used on a small ex Cambrian 4-4-0!) and it was eventually rebuilt as a castle class 4-6-0. The GWR never had need of the larger ashpan offered by the 4-6-2 design so it kept to the more efficient 4-6-0 designs for express locos instead, made more efficient by not needing to drag an extra pair of unpowered wheels.

We shall start with the relatively early 4-6-0's (Not the earliest but will stick to the more popular 4-6-0's built after 1900). Saints and Stars. Saints were built to a lighter design and the Stars were all out express locomotives. Saints were more of a multi use locomotive which being lighter could be used over more routes. Both of these locos are identified by the rear cab sides having no windows, but they did have the curve to allow loco crew to see the line ahead. The Stars had large boilers and the Saints had small boilers fitted which if one looks at the two designs, there is a noticeable difference.
From the late 1800's (Can't remember the exact date) the GWR adopted the taper boiler design for safety reasons which had been first noticed in use in Canadian locomotives where if a loco ploughed into and got stuck into a snowdrift, the tapered boiler ensured that the heated surface area of the boiler retained water and thus prevented the potential of boiler explosions caused by heating air should all water head to the front of the loco.
After the Saints and the Stars, I will start from the smallest and lightest weight and work my way up.
We have the light weight Manors which were built to replace light weight 4-4-0's and 2-6-0's used on the ex Cambrian routes and others. They were almost "Go anywhere" locomotives and used as general purpose in mind. They have small driving wheels and the smallest boilers of all the GWR 4-6-0 designs. All the cabs of these and the larger 4-6-0's now had windows built into the cab sides unlike earlier Saints and Stars. The Manors had straight angled pipes from the cylinders to the smokebox.
Hall class became the 4-6-0 replacement (Not actually a replacement but a more modern version) of the Saints. They shared the same general looks except with a more modern side window type cab.
Grange class came next. This loco was built to haul goods trains though was often found hauling passenger trains. This class is probably the hardest to identify , but think of it as almost looking like a Hall class but has smaller wheels. The idea of the smaller wheels were to give it increased tractive effort and lower gearing then a Hall class.
County 4-6-0's come next. (Do not confuse with the earlier 4-4-0 County class which was a totally different loco along with the 4-4-2T County tanks). The 4-6-0 County class was more easily identifiable by its wheel splashers (Mudguards) which didnt go up and down over each of the six driving wheels but looked like a straight board across the top of the wheels. They looked a bit like Castles in size (Described next) but for this identifiable feature and they had slightly smaller wheels.
Manors, Halls, Granges and Countys all had straight pipes from the cylinders to the smokebox when viewed side on.
Only Saints and Stars in the 4-6-0 locos didnt have side cab windows.
Next come the express passenger locos. The Castles and Kings.
Castles when first introduced, were Britain's most powerful express locomotive. They had large boilers and large driving wheels.
Kings were basically enlarged Castles with even larger boilers though many engine drivers found the Castles more capable engines in reality then Kings, though on paperwork the Kings came on top.
Castles were built to replace (Not replace but to be a modern version of) the older Star class locos.
Castles and Kings (And I believe Stars?) were identified by large boilers and they had curved "S" shaped pipes between the cylinders and the smokebox as their cylinders were set back slightly as to make room for extra internal cylinders built within the frames. Castles, Stars and Kings were 4 cylinder locomotives all built for speed.
Kings had a unique feature to look for apart from the largest boilers. They had external frames over the leading pair of wheels of the front bogies which are quite easy to see should one see a King class.


I hope this information can be of use to modellers wanting to identify Great Western locos from photographs. I am going from memory with the identifiable features so I may have made the odd error. (I hope I've been accurate). The main reason why I learned the GWR 4-6-0's was that in my teens I was a GWR modeller and often found I was looking at photos and needed to find out one loco from another when apart from size and small features all the GWR 4-6-0's do tend to look similar! If I've made the odd error could someone point it out.
Probably the easiest way of identification is to look at the locomotive name and if not, the number, though most photos this is rarely clear enough to see, especially as during the GWR days the locos number was painted in yellow onto the front buffer beam of the loco (Along with the cast plates on the cab sides). In BR days the GWR numbers remained the same but the front numbers were now in white and were moved to the smokebox door. Hence one can identify if the loco photo was taken before or after 1948.

No doubt many of you know far more then I do about the subject. I thought it was a good subject to introduce as new modellers and non GWR modellers may find loco identification a trifle confusing due to the GWR's long term policy of parts standardisation making many locos looking similar but having very different qualities to them.
I've even seen model shops occasionally making mistakes with GWR loco identification, especially in one case when a secondhand loco I saw had been renamed using a name from a totally different class of 4-6-0!

An amendment. Only some Star class locos had the curvy S shaped pipes between cylinders and the smokebox. Some have no visible pipes. Also, on Saint class locos (The ones I've seen) dont have straight pipes either or any visible pipes. I hope this correction helps.

Last edited by Mountain Goat; 01-01-2018 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 01-01-2018, 02:33 AM   #2
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Congratulations M G, the longest opening post so far of 2018
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Old 01-01-2018, 10:55 AM   #3
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Nice one MG, very informative.

I do enjoy your posts
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:00 AM   #4
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A post to cover all of the different types of Pannier tanks used by the GWR would be very helpful too.

John
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Old 01-01-2018, 11:06 AM   #5
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I will do one.. They are 0-6-0s Happy new year.
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Old 01-01-2018, 01:07 PM   #6
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The obvious giveaway ignoring wheel size between a Grange and Hall is the raised footplate over the cylinders on the Grange; a feature that also exists on Manors but which have a far smaller boiler.
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Old 01-01-2018, 01:19 PM   #7
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You put a great deal of work in to that post MG, trouble is over the next few days it will probably disappear never to be seen again.
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Old 02-01-2018, 01:28 AM   #8
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I sometimes get carried away... I often write and write and write and delete it all and then write two lines instead!
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Old 02-01-2018, 05:59 AM   #9
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The GWR's policy of standardisation has been a godsend in preservation when planning to make re-creations of lost classes.
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Old 02-01-2018, 12:55 PM   #10
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What intrigued me was that many locos which didnt have Great Western origions were completely rebuilt to such an extent that they were assumed to be Great Western locos even by GWR modellers, the 0-6-2T being a classic example.
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