The Steam Locomotive


    AT a meeting of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on October 23, Sir H. Nigel Gresley was installed as president and delivered an address in which he took, as his main theme, the recent developments in steam locomotives. Forty years ago, the late Mr. Samuel Johnson, in the same position, gave a comprehensive address on the mechanical equipment of British railways, and Sir Nigel pointed out that at that time there were no British locomotives weighing, with tender, 100 tons, no engine with a higher steam pressure than 175 Ib. per sq. in., none with a grate area exceeding 27 sq. ft. and no express engine with a higher tractive effort than 19,400 Ib. To-day, weights of 165 tons, steam pressures of 250 Ib. per sq. in., grate areas of 50 sq. ft. and tractive efforts of more than 40,000 Ib. have been attained in Great Britain. In these forty years, the power of British locomotives has increased by a hundred per cent, and the remarkable fact is that these increases have been effected within the limits of the standard track and the even more restrictive limits of the British loading gauge. On American and Continental railways having the same 4 ft. 8J in. track, locomotives can be built so much higher and wider that engines of double the weight and power of the most modern English engines are quite common. To show the present relative position of steam, Diesel and electric methods of propulsion, numerous figures were given of locomotives and their performances in service, in particular those relating to the Flying Hamburger. After prolonged trials, this train was put into operation between Hamburg and Berlin in May 1933. It consists of two articulated coaches on three bogies, is driven by two Maybach 410 h.p. Diesel engines directly coupled to electric generators, and does the journey at an average speed of 77.4 m.p.h. Its smooth running over long distances at a speed of 100 m.p.h. suggested an inquiry as to the possibility of experimenting with extra high speed travel on the London and North Eastern Railway in Great Britain.

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    The Steam Locomotive. Nature 138, 793 (1936).

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