Prototype Interior of APT at NRM Shildon

Discussion in 'Gallery' started by Rob Pulham, 14 December 2015.

  1. Rob Pulham

    Rob Pulham Western Thunderer

    A couple of weekends ago we called in at the NRM in Shildon and someone was working on the APT meaning that it was all lit up.
    These while not the best shots in the word may help someone.





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  2. lankytank

    lankytank Western Thunderer

    Jeeez....... Looks like a rivet counters dream machine....?
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  3. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Hehe - yep; built on the same production line as the English Electric Lightning...
    Nice to see it getting back together, I was offering the odd 'helping hand' (i.e. getting in the way) when she was at York. I can assure you the guys are very friendly and will welcome you aboard if you show your interest.

  4. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    More like the Comet! :D

    Just think, all that test gear would probably now fit on one small PLC about the size of a cereal box :eek:
  5. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Yep and the g-pack would be a system on a chip...

    Wasn't joking about the intermediate vehicles being built on the EE production line either; the truth is genuinely stranger than fiction!

  6. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    I know, you weren't, I'd read the same, just that all those raised rivets looked more like the Comet construction than the Lightning ;)

    If your going to build a light weight alloy high speed train, then who better to turn to than the aircraft industry :thumbs:
    Last edited: 17 January 2019
  7. Pugsley

    Pugsley Western Thunderer

    I love all the vintage electronics gear, especially the switches and indicators in the first pic.
  8. Paul Cambridge

    Paul Cambridge Western Thunderer

    I guess that’s APT-E from the livery and the 1970s electronics. In 1975-6 I worked at the RTC Derby for my industrial year during my degree course. One of the highlights was a return trip from the RTC to Criclewood on E train as it was referred to. One of the centre cars had a small saloon area with seating. I remember going around Grendon Junction south of Leicester and it tilted over and the horizon disappeared! The purpose of the run was to conduct air pressure tests when passing a train in a tunnel. This was supposed to be between Bedford and Cricklewood. We were running late and we passed the other train in the open!

    On another occasion I had a run on Labotory coach 4 from Derby, around Syston North Jct to Melton Jct then back onto the Old Dalby Test track. No. 4 was an ex Hastings Gauge coach with tilt mechanism for development of the APT tilt electronics. Somewhere between Trent Jct and Loughborough, the engineer determined the system was malfunctioning. Turned of the power to the rack and fixed the problem, apparently.... Turned the power back on, at which point No 4 tilted hard to Port, probably putting us out of gauge! The train was doing 70 at this point. That is one of those Oh Sh1t moments. Rack power goes off and we are back upright. The fault was a solder bridge!

    The electronics was all discrete analogue, op amps and logic chips in those days. The logic chips were either 74 series TTL or 4000 series CMOS. Microprocessors were only just coming onto the commercial market at about that time. Probably more functionality in my iPhone than in all those racks combined.
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  9. richard carr

    richard carr Western Thunderer

    I was lucky enough to have 3 runs on the APT P in 1984, it would run as an unadvertised relief to the 16:40 (about that time) service to Glasgow.
    I logged it at 133mph between Stafford and Crewe and it made Glasgow in 4:31 minutes from London, and I don't think it was trying that hard either.
    Given it had 16,000 BHP on 1 hour rating (two power cars) on a 400 ton train its hardly surprising.
    It was great such a shame it never made it to everyday service.

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  10. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Yes, and the TSR2, and so many other engineering projects - not showpieces for their own sake, but genuine demonstrations of the UK’s technology excellence. I’ll leave it there before I go all political.

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  11. Oz7mm

    Oz7mm Western Thunderer

    Another victim of the short term nature of the decision making in industry in this country, largely driven by the financial sector's short term demands.

    The best man at my wedding was involved in the APT project (he always claimed he had his own train) and I was appalled at the financial variables that were used to compare various cost models. It would always result in "build it cheap, and let someone else worry about the maintenance costs later"

    And yes Simon, the politicians don't help either.

  12. Paul Cambridge

    Paul Cambridge Western Thunderer

    I worked for 37 years in engineering, 27 of which were for a defence contractor, whose primary customer was the UK Royal Navy. Well actually the MoD who issue and manage the procurement and support contracts. Build it cheap and ignore the consequences of excessive through life costs is not value for money, but accountants and executive management cannot grasp that.

    Having an innovative idea is one thing, designing and manufacturing it for the miriad of requirements is another. All the skills and processes to achieve that take time and that equals cost. For example one has to consider product Availability, Reliability and Maintainability (AR&M). For electrical and electronic equipment, there is Electromagnetic Compatability (EMC):- my bit of kit radiates radio waves and interferes with yours and vice versa. Environmental requirements; shock, vibration, temperature and humidity to name some. I could go on, but this gives a flavour of what is involved.

    A university friend of mine who worked all his life in the transport sector complained to me about trains where the build standard between units was variable, unknown in some cases :headbang:and the systems were inadequately documented.

    Best practice is out there. Problem is, if this was properly costed into a proposal, those holding the purse strings would say it is too expensive. We are back to accountants and politicians.......
  13. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    In defence of accountants (of whom I am not one), but responsible in a previous life for cutting edge engineering in a specialised industry I have to say that a good accountant who listens to all the arguments, including through life costs, can be a great ally in a budget argument. However, accountants should report to and through practical people and never be put in charge of running companies.

    It's a truism that accountants know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. But to return from where I started, a good engaged accountant can save a company a heap of money.

    Discuss. :D

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  14. Paul Cambridge

    Paul Cambridge Western Thunderer

    I’m not disagreeing with your scenario Brian.

    There is no point designing a Rolls Royce, if the customer wanted a Dacia (Other makes are available). Or spending Rolls Royce money designing a Dacia. The problems that engineers have are i) Accountants who are just ‘bean counters’ and do not comprehend the engineering process from concept (commercial product i.e. cars) / request for tender (bespoke design i.e. trains, onboard naval equipment) on through the design process via prototype to production equipment and delivery, ii) a lack of understanding of technical and programme risk by accountants and technical risk by project managers.

    For only 4 years of my career was I employed by a ‘commercial product’ company. The balance was in the bespoke engineering product industry. I therefore come from the proposal - bid - contract award - design - design verification - production run - customer acceptance - delivery lifecycle of a product school. A bid manager will coordinate the costing, the technical proposal and the requirement compliance aspects of the bid among host of other things. Senior management (I’ve only worked for SMEs) will review the bid and that will include the costings by those with financial experience. But ultimately they must listen to the engineers when they say EMC and Environmental testing / compliance verification will take n hours because of x, y and z. Cutting the costs here because the accountant can not grasp why you have to do this is folly.

    True story. As a Systems Engineer, I was tasked to review technical compliance of a product against the customer’s requirements. An individual had released into production sub-assemblies in order to achieve monthly output targets. I found non compliance in a number of circuits where the designer had specified an incorrect wire size. They were undersized and would not carry the required current. Result, costly re-work, missed targets and late delivery.

    I highlighted risk above. That’s the art of managing the things that can wrong, how likely that is, the impact of the event and the risk mitigation actions to reduce the impact. I don’t think politicians understand that (ducks below parapet) and it requires the sort of accountant that Brian highlighted to understand it.

    Going back to APT-P, which is really where this discussion started, my gut feeling based on a hunch, rather than fact, is a good idea was condemned to failure because of cost and project pressures which lead to engineering shortcuts resulting in a design that failed to meet the operator’s requirements; technical performance, reliability, availability, maintainability etc.

    Q. How many MPs were/are engineers? It would be interesting to know. I’m not turning this into politics, which is prohibited for very good reasons, just curious.
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  15. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Very succinct, Paul. I'm with you 100% of the way. A good accountant as distinct from a bean counter is worth his weight in gold.

    My true story (then back to the APT, with apologies for the diversion :))). I was working for a multi national manufacturing company in the UK - in fact running it. Our CEO, an accountant by profession, never got his head around the indisputable fact that machines and processes sometimes break down. All his production calculations were made on the assumption of 100% machine reliability. The only way around this was to lie and tell him that the machines were running slower than they actually were which created other problems when we exceeded 100% of fictional capacity. My relationship with him, and the fact that I'd forgotten all the lies I'd told him but he hadn't was one of the reasons I opted for early retirement. So it wasn't all bad.....:)

    Last edited: 19 January 2019
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  16. Paul Cambridge

    Paul Cambridge Western Thunderer

    Working on equipment for the Royal Navy, we had to perform calculations that showed that the equipment would achieve target availability figures for set mission periods i.e 99.95% for 30 days, 99.85% for 60 etc. Note the figure is not 100%., but it is high. Our illustrious Senior Service recognise that there is no such thing as 100% availability for an infinite time period. When you sail into a conflict zone, you need confidence in the on-board kit.
    If I recall from when APT-P was running the failure rates were high and consequently the availability poor. That was the nail in the coffin.
    I don’t know the ARM figures for Class 390 Pendolinos, but they are in squadron service now. It shows that tilting trains can work.
  17. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    I imagined the number of MPs who are or were Engineers would be tiny. Why would anyone swap the satisfaction of engineering for the chaos & frustration of Westminster?

    In any case, Google is our friend,

    Page 15; apparently 7 individuals were “Architects, Surveyors or Engineers” prior to the 2017 election, just over 10%. I bet most of them wish they still were...

  18. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Didn't the Italians use and refine the APT technology for their Pendelinos on which the Class 390 is based upon?
  19. DrIain

    DrIain New Member

    Simon - 10% would indeed be impressive but I am afraid it is 7 of 626 or about 1.1%.

  20. simond

    simond Western Thunderer


    Thank you, a “D’oh” moment. It did seem very high. 1 % seems much more reasonable!