Bulleid "Leader" Class 0-6-6-0T
Design and Construction

Enthusiasm for the new locomotive was now running high, but Bulleid was still troubled by the problem of the driving position. What did diesels and electrics do? They put the driver at the front. So, decided Bulleid, could steam. His next drawing had the boiler moved slightly to one side to allow for a corridor, and duplicated controls in a cab at each end. At last the drawing looked like the actual locomotive that was built, although it showed a corridor connection at each end of the engine. There were enormous problems to be overcome which the drawing office tackled with great enthusiasm.
36001 The first "Leader", 36001, under course of construction at Brighton works.

This photograph of the "Leader" was posted to the newsgroup and is believed to be in the public domain. If anyone knows otherwise then please contact us.

One concept was to have an interchangeable power bogie, although it would require a fleet of 30 engines to justify holding spare bogies to keep the engines in service when their bogies needed an overhaul. With the Southern Railway being at the forefront of welding technology on Britain's railways it was natural that this technique was to be used to the maximum. The all-welded boiler contained 36 large and 283 small tubes and the firebox contained four syphons welded to the bottom of the barrel and the underside of the firebox drum. The blast pipe had five jets and TIA water treatment was included. The fitting of flexible steam pipes gave the power bogies the ability to negotiate curves down to 5½ chains. The boiler gave no problems, and steamed very well, but the firebox firebrick linings were very troublesome. To assist with cleaning out the smokebox a permanently open duct was fitted, with a cover worked from the cab, which got rid of most of the ash. In practice, though, this impaired steaming and it was abandoned to the detriment of the Poodlers! Sleeve valves were incorporated as, by eliminating the piston valve, they made it much easier to fit the engine into the tight space of the bogie and they allowed for shorter steam passages leading to improved thermal efficiency. A rotary movement of the sleeves was incorporated to reduce wear through improved lubrication. As a test bed, 2039 Hartland Point was so fitted and proved a great success with runs of up to 80mph.
H1 Atlantic Nº2039 photographed whilst she was being used as the test bed for Bulleid's sleeve valve design for the Leader project. She is also fitted with an experimental large diameter chimney and multiple jet blast pipe.

When first tested no piston rings were fitted - and Bulleid had rashly invited H G Ivatt to the test! Although the engine ran alright, it was enveloped in clouds of escaping steam much to Ivatt's amusement and Bulleid's chagrin. The big headache with the sleeve valves was getting the correct rotary and reciprocating motion; to assist with this a quarter-size model was made.

photograph courtesy of Geoff Taylor

Looking back at this project with the benefit of hindsight, it would probably have been a better idea if Bulleid had spent more time in the drawing office, as he had for the Merchant Navy and the Q1 designs. As it was, Bulleid was a rare visitor there.

Materials were ordered in December 1946 and construction began in July 1947 - then in November of that year a further 31 "Leaders" were sanctioned, though this was in the final run-up to nationalisation and they were never actually ordered. Although there was still a large amount of design work still to be done, the first frames were set up in Brighton works during May 1948. The folly of starting work before the drawings were completed soon became obvious as later, brighter, ideas were incorporated or errors and mistakes corrected by burning off or adding on to the welding, which all contributed considerably to the final engine coming out of the works overweight. Problems arose at virtually every stage except the boiler, some exacerbated by the hurry in which the loco was being constructed. The triple cylinder blocks were both warped after their finishing machining, due either to insufficient relieving of welding stresses, to being strained whilst welding to the frames, or some of both, leading to serious trouble in driving the sleeves. The second "Leader" would, no doubt, have been a lot more trouble free through being constructed in far less of a hurry. The first bogie was test run with steam from a nearby shunter and started at only 8psi. It ran really sweetly and relief was felt all round - until someone reversed the engine whilst it was running and buckled several of the motion rods and links. Despite all these setbacks, however, the first "Leader", Nº36001, steamed away to its trials in June 1949. Bulleid, however, was starting to lose interest in the engine as he suspected that British Railways would not tolerate such a novel engine, that he would undoubtedly be retired within a year or two and because he had been approached to go to Ireland to work as Consulting Mechanical Engineer to CIE. He did, however, believe that the "Leader" project would be continued by British Railways after his departure, so he planned to retire and leave for Ireland on 30th September 1949. Riddles, however, realised that the project needed Bulleid in order to succeed and persuaded Bulleid to stay until the end of the year, by which time he fully expected "Leader" to be in revenue service.

36002 Part-built "Leader" Nº2, 36002 being moved around outside Brighton.

This photograph of the "Leader" was posted to the newsgroup and is believed to be in the public domain. If anyone knows otherwise then please contact us.

Ready for a some lining out, 36001 stands in the sun outside Brighton works.

This photograph of the "Leader" was posted to the newsgroup and is believed to be in the public domain. If anyone knows otherwise then please contact us.


Apart from the H1 Atlantic, which is copyright, the photographs on this page are understood to be in the public domain

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This page was created 7 December 2005

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