MIDLAND AND NORTH COUNTRY
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An Important Series of Official JUST A YEAR AGO, or, to be precise, on the 8th September, 1917, there came into force a set of restrictions issued by the Controller of Coal Mines, and known as "The Coal Transport ReOrganization Scheme," under which the transport of coal for inland consumption was confined between certain areas of production and certain areas of consumption. One of the effects of this was that coal from the South Wales coal mines could only be obtained in an area south of a line drawn roughly from Abe-rdovey on the Welsh Coast through Worcester, Oxford and Chelmsford, to the East Coast. North of that line coal supplies had to be drawn fi.om local coal areas, and there arose from many sources complaints that the coals obtained in the Midland and Northern Counties were more bituminous, and when they were used under the boilers of steam wagons adequate steam pressure could not be raised and maintained, whilst there was an increased cost of maintenance because of the boiler tubes getting blocked up with deposit,and, as a result of the fluctuations of temperature, tube leakage was set up. These complaints poured in upon the Coal Controller. Owners of wagons went so far as to say that the maintenance of essential transport would be jeopardized if Welsh coals were not permitted to be employed generally throughout the country for transport purposes, and even coal merchants, who might be expected to be free from prejudice, informed the Coal Controller—to quote an actual instance—" That Yorkshire coal was totally useless for steam wagons."
The Coal Controller had been 'able to effect suel). an enormous reduction of transport of coal by his re-organization scheme that he was loath to have to introduce such an amendment of it as would permit Welsh coals to be sent all over the country solely for the use of transport wagons, besides involving, if he were to permit this modification of his scheme, a considerable amount of-trouble and the establishment of local supervision schemes in order to prevent the coal from being used for other purposes.
Mr. Wilson, 'Technical Adviser to the Controller, considered that, whilst the Yorkshire steam coal and other fuels might not be quite so suitable, they would, at least, enable owners of steam wagons to carry on with a coal that could be obtained locally, even if it should be more bituminous. It was, therefore, decided to carry out a series of trials over a hilly route with a Yorkshire steam wagon in order to test this contention. The tests which were conducted on the instructions of the Coal Controller were arranged by Mr. W. E. Hardy and carried out by Mr. Malcolm T. Evans (Local Technical Representatives of the Coal Controller for the S.W. area). The Yorkshire wagon was placed at the service of the Department by Mr. Keevil, the manager at Bath of the Fullers Earth Union, Ltd.
The route chosen was from the Bath Electric Tramway's Garage, Bath. to the fourth milestone on the Gloucester Road and back, the distance each way being three miles two hundred and fifty yards, the first mile on the outward journey being very slightly undulating, followed by a long, steady rise to the fourth milestone, with a total rise of 566 ft..
The weight of the wagon when loaded with granite was 13i tons, including the crew of four, and fuel and water for one trial, the useful load being reckoned for the' purpose of the test at six tons, and this figure has been used in calculating the consumption shown in lb. of coal per ton-mile. The fuel used for each of the tests. was very carefully weighed and bagged.
For the tests with coal, steam was raised in the boiler with the same kind of coal as was used for the test ; for the tests with coke, steam was raised with Cwmanan (Welsh) coal ; for the test with briquettes, there was an existing fire of Cwmanan coal and a little coke on which the briquettes were started. At the end of each day's complete test the resIdue left in the grate and the ashes in the ash-pit were weighed, whilst, before the fuel was bagged, all types of fuel were put through a in. sieve and the small portions of the fuel were removed.
Steam was allowed to rise gradually and was not forced in any way, as the tests were not carried out with a view to seeing how quickly steam could be got up. The fires were not cleaned during the tests, out the boiler tubes were cleaned each morning before the tests commenced.
Ability to "Carry On" the Object of the Tests.
The wagon was driven by the ordinary driver under the supervision of Mr. Dodd (Rolling Stock Superintendent Bath Electric Tramways), who had had experience with locomotives, but no specific experience with steam motor wagons. The wagon was not tuned up or overhauled for the tests, but was merely taken as it stood in the ordinary working condition. No effort was made to secure the greatest efficiency, but the figures throughout the tests can be taken as relative and comparative. If steam motor wagon experts had been employed, it is quite possible that the average consumption shown in the tables could have been reduced right through, but that was not the aim of the tests, which were simply to prove whether or not transport could be carried on when using Midland and N. Country coal, the aim being to keep up steam, and to see if the vehicle could move the load over a trying route in a given time. It is important to make this reservation because advocates of coke, for instance, might argue that a better figure than 4.83 lb. of fuel per ton-mile could be obtained. No doubt it could, but, if the effort had been made to secure the highest efficiency throughout the tests, all the figures in the table would have dropped proportionately. The cokes that were employed were not regarded as good samples. They were obtained from the local gasworks, and, after the first series of tests with coke, the fuel was picked over and selected for trze, without, however, any better results.
The results of the tests were set out by Mr. Evans. in a series of charts accompanying a report. The contour of the route is given on each chart, and, above it, is a record of the intensity of smoke emitted along the route, set out on a scale, zero being no smoke, 1 being light smoke, 2 being dark grey, 3 very dark grey, 4 black smoke, and 5 very black smoke. Records are shown at each point of the route as to opening and shutting of the .fire-hole door, of the position of the damper, of the points at which the fire was stoked, and at which the feed was turned on or off, where the brakes were applied, when the steam was turned on or off, whether high or low gearing was employed, the steam pressure in lb. per .sq. in. at each stage of the journey, and the time elapsed from starting point.
The results of each separate test arc also recorded on the charts, which show as well the weather, tho B34 state of the roads, the time the fire was started. and steam was up, the time occupied over each of the running tests, and the average time per test. Records were kept as to the fuel used in getting up steam, the consumption on each of the tests, and, after allowing for the fuel only partially consumed, the total fuel used per ton-mile run and the total fuel used running per ton-mile run. (There is a difference, of course, in these two figures, as the first figure includes the amount of fuel used in getting up steam and standing.)
Records have been kept and shown of the water used in getting up steam, and, in each of the tests, of the total used and the quantity evaporated per lb. of fuel used running. A record was also kept as to whether or not sparks were emitted, and, finally, there is a record of the state of the boiler tubes at the end of each trial on each fuel.
To reproduce the whole of these charts, even on a reduced scale, would occupy a very much larger proportion of the issue of THE COMMERCIAL Moron than we can reasonably spare, but we have taken the two essential factors in connection from four typical charts, viz., intensity of smoke and steam pressure records, and have grouped them together under a single reproduction of the contour of the route. To get the charts into the width of a page we have unavoidably had to contract them ; whilst the vertical scale is (like that of the road contour) exaggerated. In tabulated form we give a comparison of results for the -whole of the 11 fuels tested. From the figures we give, it will be seen (and this is the opinion of the Technical Adviser to the Coal Controller) that practically as good a set of results were obtained from the Northern and Midland coals as were obtained from the Welsh coal. This fact has been clearly established to the satisfaction of the Coal Controller, and it shows that there is no justification for the statement that transport cannot run when using local coals other than Welsh.
The Smoke Problem.
With regard to smoke, it will be seen from the charts that none of the fuels, except, of course, coke, and to some degree, briquettes, could be regarded as equally satisfactory as Welsh. The Coal Controller quite recognizes the disadvantage arising from the use of other coals, due to an increase in the smoke nuisance. To meet this point, the Home Secretary was approached and the facts were pointed out to him, and on these facts he promised to circularize the Chief Constables of the different districts to relax their prosecutions.. The Home Secretary, later, proposed to call a conference of Chief Constables to point out the circumstances of the case to them, and that there should be no. prosecution of owners and drivers of stew wagons for the emission of excessive smoke unless there was evidence of gross carelessness in firing. Some magistrates, on the evidence brought forward by the police, have decided that smoking can be prevented by the use of coke. This, however, is not a practical way out of the difficulty in every case. The furnace of the wagon must be entirely suitable for the use of coke and the proper fire bars must be employed, and, generally, coke must be used with a large amount of discretion and with consideration for local conditions of quality and supply.
The results of the tests show that, beyond the smoke question, Welsh coal is not essential for the working of steam lorries. As we have said, some of the Yorkshire coals gave as good results as Welsh coal. Some of the running times on the Yorkshire coals are better ; anyway, there is so little difference in the running time that it would be impossible, from them, to hold up any one class of coal as being immeasurably superior to the others--apart, of course, from the question of smoke. It may be said that the state of the boiler tubes at the end of each series of tests with different fuels was practically clean, whilst, as for sparks, only one fuel, the Brodsworth Main, emitted sparks, and that not often.
Dealing now with the qualities of coal employed in the tests, and first taking Cwmanan coal as a standard with which all the other coals are compared, the average time over the trip was 1 hr. 234 mins., whilst the fuel used running was 3.185 lb. per tonmile. Smoking only showed up on three occasions, rising to light grey (or 1 on the scale) on three occasions when stoking. Steam pressure was well maintained.
Of the Yorkshire coals, samples from six mines on the Barnsley seam were used, and of these the Houghton Main (Herds) coal seemed to give the best resuI ts.
Dinnington Main (Herds) gave an average time of 1 hr. 231 mins., the same as for the Welsh steam coal, the consumption of fuel used running being 3.78 lb. per ton-mile. The steam pressure maintained was excellent, b-ut there was a small amount of light smoke, rising at the stoking periods *to 3, or very dark grey, and as high as 4 or black smoke on one occasion.
The fuel from Dalton Main (Herds) gave the best average time, viz.,. 1 hr. 174 mins., the fuel used running being 3.315 lb. per ton-mile. Steam pressure on the outward and uphill journey stood at about 200 lb., rising at points to 225 lb.The smoke intensity was low on the whole, keeping at about the dark grey with two rises to very dark grey and black for a very short stretch of the route during stoking periods. The coil from the Denaby Main (Hards) gave an average time on the journey of 1 hr. 184 mins., the fuel used running being 3.9 lb. per ton-mile. Steam pressure, again, was Food, remaining generally along the 200 lb. line, and rising to just over 225 lb. on one occasion. When stoking there was a fair amount of smoke, rising on three occasons to 4, or black smoke. Brodsworth Main (Hards) coal gave an average running time of 1 la. 22 mins. the fuel used running being 3.58 lb. per ton-mile. fie steam pressure from this coal .was practically constant at 200 lb, and smoking only rose from the greys to the blacks during two periods. Coal from the Houghton Main Collieries (Herds) gave a running time of 1 hr. 20 mins., and a consumption no greater than that for Welsh, viz., 3.185 lb, of fuel used running per ton-mile. Steam pressure, again was regular throughout, and the smoking leas than with the other Midland and Northern coats tested.
The seventh series of tests were made with coal from Manton colliery, from the Nottingham fields: This has a rather lower calorific value than the Yorkshire coals. The average running time was 1 hr. 28! mins., whilst the fuel used running was 3.58 lb. per ton-mile. Steam pressure was constant at 200 lb., and the intensity of smoking was, on the whole, very low, only rising atone point to the very dark grey line
-on the scale.
The last of the Yorkshire coal was from the Askern
Main and gave an average running time of 1 hr. 24-5 mins., the fuel used running being 34 lb. per ton-mile. Steam pressure was constant, and a fairly large amount of smoke was given off, rising up to the black on five occasions, although there were a number of periods in which no smoke whatever was emitted. The ninth test was on local coke, which, of course, gave no smoke, and the steam pressure remained fairly constant at 200 lb. The average time on the journey was 1 hr. 27 mins., and the fuel used running
was 4.35 lb. per ton-mile. With a selected coke from the same gasworks smoke showed once, at the starting point of the journey. This coke, however, gave an average running time of 1 hr.
33 mins., and the fuel used running was 4.83 lb. per ton-mile. The steam pressure from this sample was exceedingly low, falling to 100 lb. at some points on the outward journey, and below that on the homeward journey down hill. The tests with this coke, however, were made when the roads were very wet
and heavy. The last test was made with Phcenix Briquettes
from. S. Wales. This fuel gave a running time of 1 hr. 325 mins., and a consumption of 3.185 lb. of fuel used running per ton-mile. This is as good as on the test with Houghton Main coal, and, taking the total of the fuel used, including that for getting up steam, slightly better than the results from the Cwmanan coal. The steam pressure was about constant at 200 lb.,
and no smoke was emitted except on five occasions when stoking, and then the intensity was never higher than dark grey.
If steam wagon users would wish to see the steam pressure and smoke intensity records of the remainder of the fuels which we have not dealt with in our chart we shall be pleased to publish them, whilst we may say. that the complete charts are available for exanimation by those who wish for the fullest details. Transport has now been carried on over a year under
this coal-distribution scheme. There may have been a few hardships, but really since users have settled down and have become accustomed to the use of more bituminous coals, there have been very few complaints.. There may be a slightly increased cost of maintenance, but this is far less important than the ability to carry on, and the plain practical tests which have been conducted by the Coal Controller should go a long way towards convincing those who are still doubtful of the advisability and possibility of using local coals.