A WORLD'S RECORD FOR ENGLAND.
By Frederick A. Talbot.
THE START—HOW THE AMERICAN ENGINE LOOKED AT 7 A.M.
That anomalous principle, friendly rivalry, which exists between the
various railway companies of the world, is responsible for many
One of the most interesting, and certainly one of the most curious, of
these has been the attempt by three different companies—two on this
side of the water, and one on the other—to erect a locomotive in less
than twenty-four hours, and so far the palm has to be awarded to an
By building is simply meant the assembling of the thousand and one
intricacies that constitute the iron steed of to-day, and not the
manufacture of these innumerable parts, as it is perfectly obvious,
even to the most uninitiated, that such a feat is absolutely
impossible, under the present circumstances, in such a brief space of
time. The accomplishment of such brilliant performances, however,
speaks volumes for the skill, efficiency, and pride of the men engaged
in such herculean tasks; the organisations of the railroads; the good
feeling prevalent between the masters and the men; and lastly, but by
no means least, the splendid standard of perfection attained by the
gigantic machinery for the execution of the work with precision and
thorough regard to gauge, thus enabling the parts to fit as accurately,
and move as smoothly, as the cog-wheels of a watch.
The first record-breaking in this direction was attempted so far back
as February 1878, by J. Deans, the well-known engineer of the London
and North-Western Railway, and the engineering works of this company at
Crewe. The class of engine selected for the operations was one of their
standard coupled six-wheeled goods engines.
THE ENGINE AT 12 O'CLOCK, AFTER 5 HOURS' WORK.
The engine was taken out of the erecting shop, complete in every
detail, having been erected in the extremely short time of 25 hours 30
minutes. It may be as well to mention that only the actual working
time devoted to the engines is considered, and although about two and a
half days elapsed before the engine was completed, only 25-1/2 hours
were really occupied in its erection. That same day the engine ran a
trial trip, and was afterwards sent back to the shops for a final coat
RESULT OF 10 HOURS' WORK ON THE ENGINE.
Some ten years elapsed after the establishment of this record before
another effort was made to erect an engine within twenty-four hours. On
this occasion it was the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, one of the
largest railroad companies in the United States, possessing over 8,000
miles of railway track, which is about equal in extent to almost three
of our leading railway systems combined. The engine selected on this
occasion was also a tank of the light passenger type, with cylinders 17
inches in diameter and a 24-inch stroke, driving wheels 62 inches in
diameter, and with a total weight when in complete working order of
96,300 lbs., or about 43 tons. It was erected under the supervision of
Mr. F. L. Sheppard, General Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad
Company, at the company's works at Altoona, Pennsylvania.
FINISHED!—THIS ENGINE WAS BUILT IN 16 HOURS 50 MINUTES.
Although in this instance the engine was a little more complicated than
that erected at Crewe, owing to the bogie-wheel provision in the fore
part of the engine, it cannot be said, on the whole, to have been such
a brilliant performance as that accomplished at Crewe; for whereas in
the London and North-Western sheds, when the commencement was made, the
frame plates were simply lying on the trestles without any attachments
of any description whatever, at the Altoona works, when operations were
commenced at 7 a.m. on Monday, June 18th, 1888, not only were the
frame plates in position, duly riveted or bolted, and complete with
cross bars, but the cylinders were also accurately placed.
GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY ENGINE AFTER 3 HOURS 52 MINUTES' WORK.
Now, considering that in the effort at Crewe these operations alone
occupied over six hours, it is absolutely impossible to place the
Altoona experiment on all fours with the London and North-Western
performance of 1878.
In the case of the American engine the foundations were practically
completed before it entered the erecting shed.
Under these circumstances the first thing that the workmen had to do
was to place the boiler in position upon the prepared frame, which had
the majority of the tubes and fittings in position before it was placed
in the hands of the engine-erectors. At twelve o'clock noon, however,
after five hours' work, it was safely fixed, and the hardest part of
the undertaking was thus successfully accomplished. Up to this stage,
as will be seen from the illustrations, the whole of the engine so far
erected was resting upon those little unpretentious, though
indispensable, mechanical contrivances—jacks. These had now to be
removed to make way for the wheels which were ready waiting to be
inserted. Part of the motion was also installed, as well as the
cow-catcher and cab.
GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY ENGINE BUILT IN 8 HOURS 22
While these operations were in progress, an army of painters had
entered upon the scene with their pots and brushes, and soon were
displaying the arts of their craft upon the barrel of the boiler. The
change of colour between the painted and unpainted portions is easily
distinguishable in our illustration on page 652.
A FOUR HOURS OLD TENDER.
When the men arrived at their work at seven o'clock on the following
morning, they had only to put the finishing touches to the engine, such
as the funnel, dome, the remainder of the motion, and other minor
adjustments, while the painters gave the entire engine a complete coat
of paint. At ten minutes to three in the afternoon of the same day the
engine was completed, with steam up ready for trial, having been
erected in 16 hours 50 minutes, thus beating the London and
North-Western record by some eight and a half hours; and although it
cannot be contrasted with the accomplishment at Crewe, yet it is still
a wonderful performance.
The English locomotive builders, however, were determined to wrest the
laurels away from the American company, and thus retrieve their
paramount position. In December 1891, the Great Eastern Railway
Company, which has been the pioneer in many ramifications pertaining to
railway matters, entered the field of the competition, and succeeded in
establishing a record which completely eclipses the wonderful
performances at Crewe and Altoona. In this last instance an engine was
erected in the phenomenally short time of ten hours. The Great Eastern,
however, besides lowering one record, created another at the same time.
In the previous efforts, the engines erected had been only tanks, but
the latest competitors beat the record with an engine and tender!
THIS TENDER WAS BUILT IN NINE HOURS.
The engine erected was one of the six-wheel coupled goods type, of
which there are between two and three hundred in existence already upon
the Great Eastern Railway system. The cylinders are 17-1/2 inches in
diameter, with a stroke of 24 inches, while the coupled wheels are 57
inches in diameter. When running in complete working order, the engine
itself weighs 37 tons 2 cwt., augmented to 67 tons 12 cwt. with the
tender. The latter has a capacity for 2,640 gallons of water, and three
tons of coal.
The engineering works of the company at Stratford was the scene of the
remarkable engineering feat conducted under the superintendence of Mr.
James Holden, the designer of the style of engine selected, and also
the chief engineer to the Great Eastern Railway.
The commencement was made at eight minutes past nine on the morning of
Thursday, December 10th. The start was similar to that at Crewe, with
the frame plates lying on the ground with nothing more attached to them
than the horn blocks and spring brackets. The number of men employed in
constructing the engine was 85, including 39 fitters, assisted by 3
boys, 2 smiths, and 44 boiler makers, riveters, etc.
At eleven minutes after the word was given to commence, the first rivet
was driven into the frames; nine minutes later, the foot-plate casting
was fixed, and at twenty-six minutes after the start the motion plate
was placed in position. The cylinders came next, and occupied another
fifty minutes for their insertion in the requisite place.
At twelve o'clock, when the men left off work for their dinner, they
had been four hours all but eight minutes upon the task.
It will be seen in our illustration that the fundamental parts of the
base of the engine are completed, while the wheels are standing on the
rails at the foremost end ready for adjustment. These were inserted
soon after the men resumed operations after dinner, the frame of the
engine being raised by means of the jacks to a height sufficient to
allow the wheels being rolled along to the necessary position. The axle
boxes, connecting-rod, and coupling-rod brasses were shortly afterwards
Previous to the installation of the wheels, the boiler was brought into
the shed and mounted upon the frame. It was without the smoke-box, cab,
or copings, which had to be fixed subsequently. At 4.15 p.m. the men
were engaged in setting the valves, which task was still incomplete
when they ceased work for the day, after 8 hours 22 minutes had been
expended upon the engine. The engine at this stage is represented in
our illustration, being, as will be seen, almost complete.
The next morning, when work was recommenced at six o'clock, the valve
setting was continued, not being completed until seven o'clock. The
painters now appeared, the engineers placed the finishing touches, and
at ten minutes past nine, 9 hours 47 minutes from the start, the engine
THE GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY BEAT THE WORLD'S RECORD BY
PUTTING THIS ENGINE AND TENDER TOGETHER IN 9 HOURS 47 MINUTES.
While this hive of workmen were engaged upon the engine, another army
of workers were just as busily engaged upon the erection of the tender.
The men worked away with a will, and in four hours they had the tender
half completed, and succeeded in finishing their entire task
three-quarters of an hour before their fellow workmen engaged on the
engine. Fifty-two men were engaged upon the erection of the tender,
comprising sixteen fitters, the same number of boiler-makers, and
twenty labourers, riveters, etc.
As soon as the engine was finished it was connected with the tender and
taken out of the shops to be photographed. Meanwhile, steam had been
supplied, and later in the same day the trial trip was performed. This
being satisfactory in every particular, the engine was immediately
placed upon the regular goods service running between Peterborough and