Why they didn’t use the condensing gear on the N2 tanks !!


Ben Brooksbank / A Gresley 0-6-2T as Station Pilot at Spital Junction, Peterborough North CC BY-SA 2.0

Recalled by Mike Hogg :- - reflections of an anonymous GN Lines BR fireman

Talking about using condensers on the Widened Lines, I never saw a driver using them and, if I asked why, they would simply reply that no one they ever knew had used them either.

One day I had a young driver and was speaking to him about this conundrum only to find that he had had the same experience as me, so as we were on an evening commuter train out of Moorgate, we decided to give it a try. We didn’t bother with the bit up to Kings Cross Met, but we thought we’d try it going up Hotel Curve, which seemed to make sense to us as it was the worst part of the journey.

So, we got all greens at Kings Cross Met, opened the regulator and as soon as we hit the tunnel he pulled over the condenser handle. Well, the strong bark from the chimney became a muffled roar, followed by a huge bang and then by tons of sooty water coming through the roof ventilator hatch! The driver struggled to push the condenser lever back and we made it out of the tunnel. When we looked round it was carnage! The loud bang that we heard was both the tank lids breaking the locks which then blew both lids open. The tank which we had filled at Moorgate (bad move that, the laws of physics tell you that you can’t compress water) then shot tons of water up in two columns, washing down a hundred years of accumulated soot. The first two coaches were full of soot, the cab was full of soot and the only thing I could see of my mate’s face was his eyes. The rest was black.

I had to admire his stoicism when he turned to me and simply said “now we know why nobody uses N2 condensers ”.


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