Trying to amuse myself in lockdown, I decided to run two classic trains from the 1930s side by side in my very own 'race to the north'. During the 1930s, LNER and LMS competed to have the best service from London to Scotland. The LNER track followed the east coast to Edinburgh and was largely flat. The LMS track was west coast and had to cross two infamous passes - the Shap and Beattock Summit.
By the late 1930s, both LMS and LNER were building streamlined locomotives with custom coaches. For LMS, the Princess Coronation Class (Stanier) were the pride of the fleet. For LNER it was the streamlined Class A4. Examples of both stand side by side at the National Railway Museum in York.
For my own race to the north, I had the Aster A4 Mallard pitted against the Bowande Duchess of Hamilton. Mallard was pulling a 9 car set of LNER Coronation style coaches built by David Leech. The Duchess was pulling 11 LMS Coronation Scot coaches built for me recently by Pete Comley and modelled on the set sent to the USA for exhibition in 1938..
Sadly, I didn't manage to get any video as managing two live steam locomotives was challenging enough by itself. But here is a photo of the two side by side cooling down after running for about 25 minutes.
So, who won? Mallard was consistently faster - probably because of the slightly lighter load and the notorious Aster throttle which goes from off to fully on in 1/8 of a turn. My track is about 1 scale mile and Mallard was lapping in just over 30 seconds putting her quite close to the real world record of a scale 126MPH. The Duchess needed more attention - possibly because I not very familiar with butane firing - typical lap time was 40 seconds - still a scale 90 MPH
Hardly a scientific comparison but it created much needed light relief. Now back to Zoom.....