Author Topic: World's fastest steam loco  (Read 996 times)

SciGraphics

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World's fastest steam loco
« on: March 29, 2013, 06:10:58 PM »
Paul:  I'm interested in the fastest locomotive. Like how fast did it go, for how long did it go that fast, what diameter were the drivers and any other interesting stuff. 90 miles north of where I live is a locomotive that held some speed record (can't remember what it was) which I think is a Pacific Class. All I remember was how huge the drivers were. The only locomotives I've been around are a Shay and a Heisler, both geared and narrow guage. The only record they might have held is the number of chuff's per mile!
Jim A., Tucson, AZ

paul craig

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 02:26:22 AM »
hi Jim,
On July 3rd this year is the 75th anniversary of the world steam record by a BRITISH, built at Doncaster in Yorkshire, class A4 pacific MALLARD. speed 126 MPH slowing down for a speed restriction near a place called Stoke Bank. The loco was towing a train carrying 240 tons, with a Dynamometer car to check the speed.

The British had a very long history of checking carefully speed of their locos, although in those days, they were using old sweep hand stop watches, so checking the time against mile posts was kind of ??????

This particular class of Pacifics, 4-6-2 was an evolution of an earlier type that some Yanks might know, the one that was
"Flying Scotsman" which travelled through the states in the 70's. They have 6ft 8in driving wheels, and the A4's have a streamlined front, based on a design by Ettore Bugatti. They were designed this way to reflect the Arte Neauveau movement in the 1930's. If you watch PBS there you might see the Poirot TV series. In the front titles there is a nice view of this kind of locomotive. From July until February 2014, the 6 preserved A4's have been moved to England and will be on display at a number of locations in England. One of those is Dwight D. Eisenhower, which sadly has not been well looked after when on display in America.

in the 30's the Germans had claimed that their diesel Flying Hamburger was the fastest train in operation, so to disprove it, the LNER created two streamlined trains which went both faster and further than the German train.

Let me know what else you might find of interest.
Paul

SciGraphics

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 01:21:51 PM »
Paul:
  I saw a photo of the Mallard. What a beautiful piece of work! 126 mph. That's faster than my vintage motorcycle. We've had two major steam locomotives come through Tucson on tour, both of which I inspected very closely, you can bet.

  Thank you for the information and if I think of any other questions I'll be sure to ask you!

Jim Abbott
jim@scigraphics.net
Tucson, AZ

paul craig

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 04:52:42 PM »
jim, a bit more you might find interesting
The streamline or Streaks, as the A4's were and are called, were designed to haul a very special train in 1935. This was called the Silver Jubilee, and was a 7 coach train travelling the 268 miles from London to Newcastle in North Eastern England. It was timed at 4 hours, so just over a mile a minute, which considering how busy the line was was pretty spectacular.

British tracks on average were built better and more expensively than US tracks, and generally our trains travelled and travel more quickly than yours. When you investigate Jay Gould, Cornelius Vandebilt and others, you understand how cheaply American railroads were built, and might wonder how so much has survived to this day.

For the first fortnight of the Silver Jubilee one single locomotive travelled 536 miles a day on 10 days, with two crews, one each way. think about that for a brand new piece of engineering equipment, although much of the design was proven, in one lump not yet. On the test, it had been the first proven steam locomotive in the world to travel at 107 mph for 25 miles
then 41 miles 15 chains at 100.6, finally 43 miles at an average speed of 100mph. all this with 230 tons gross, 220 tare. far old lumps of metal.

Couple of days ago on TV here, there was a programme about the new French ATV train, and interestingly it too has articulated carriages just like Silver Link, 80 years before. So nothing new there then ;D

Paul

Dr PR

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 09:01:04 PM »
Paul,

American railroads ran for far greater distances than British railroads - some for thousands of miles. And some of that rail was through uninhabited territory. It just wasn't practical to spend as much money per mile as for the shorter lines through more  densely populated England. In addition, many of the early engines burned wood for fuel (coal was scarce throughout much of the US) and had to stop frequently to refuel.

Nevertheless, by the late 1800s and early 1900s quite a few of the eastern railroads were running 100+ mph passenger trains for distances as long as from New York to Chicago (700+ miles - twice the distance from London to Glasgow). A New York Central Atlantic (4-4-2) set the US speed record for a scheduled passenger train at better than 112 mph in 1893.

A jet powered Budd car reached 183 mph in 1966 in Ohio (it was reported to have reached 196 mph at a point between speed traps). However, this was an experimental engine and not a regularly scheduled train.

Phil
DesignCAD user since 1987

paul craig

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2013, 04:16:41 AM »
Well, Phil, not wishing to upset one of my biggest helpers with DCAD, I can find little or no written evidence to support your mentions.

I agree that many American railroads were built in horrible terrain, but that was little to do with the low standard of construction, that was purely down to the way various promoters stole the money from the investors. Many of the slumps from 1840 onwards have been railroad/railway related. More importantly until the Civil War, many American railroads were majorly supported by English Bankers, and many of those caught a cold, both figuratively and literally. The second or third railway in the world to open to passenger traffic was definitely the Baltimore and Ohio, representatives of which were at the famous Rainhill trials when Stephenson's Rocket won the race as it were. But in reality the rapid expansion of American railways was dependent on the Civil War, and then the opening of the Indian Territories.

However, this does not change the fact that the record for 999 was dubious to say the least, and careful modern study of the data suggests she went no faster than 82.5 mph. Interesting though that one of Henry Ford's first record breaking cars was 999 too. However, engines in the UK were certainly influenced by the American Builders, the Atlantic and the Pacific, in particular the K4 from the Pennsylvanian Railroad was particularly influential on the evolution of the A1, 3 and 4 Pacifics of the English East Coast route.

Knowing how proud America is of its speed records, (I am old enough to remember Craig Breedlove and his first attempts on Donald Campbell's land speed record) I would have thought there would be much more publicity around a 100mph 700 mile regular journey, but since even Chicago Museum does not mention it, I am not sure. There is great play made of the 700 mile in 70 hours, but not much more. Indeed if I look on wikipedia, it seems that until about the 1930's there was very little attempt to push the idea of high speed in the States. Certainly no mention of earlier high speed stuff. I am happy to be shown that I am wrong, but so far not found the data.

Paul

Dr PR

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 08:51:43 PM »
Paul,

Somewhere I have a book that goes into detail about American passenger rail service. If I find it again I'll pass on what it says.

You are right - I don't think any of the long distance lines maintained anything like 100 mph over the full length. They still don't do this today. I'm not sure there are any long distance high speed trains anywhere that don't have slower sections of track, especially in densely populated areas.

The major problem with American railroads is the enormous number of road crossings. Back in the early 1900s many railroads posted a guard at each crossing (or at least the major street and highway crossings). When a train approached the guard would stop vehicle and pedestrian traffic until the train passed. But with the increasing number of crossings this became prohibitively expensive. Later automatic signals were used but these don't always stop traffic. There are several car-train or pedestrian-train accidents each year in our local area. Today high speed rail is almost impossible in the US because of the number of road crossings. The cost of rerouting the roads and rails to eliminate the crossings would be enormous.

The railroads are always trying to close road crossings, and the public always fights the closures. In my local area I have seen many of these fights over the years, and only a few in-town street crossings have been blocked. We can't even get permission from the railroads to put pedestrian crossings for local trails across the tracks, and these are definitely not high speed trains!

I lived in Japan in the 1970s and the Bullet Trains were amazing (still are). The entire Japanese railway system is excellent. You can go from anywhere to anywhere by train in Japan, and inexpensive taxis will take you to/from the stations to your destinations. No one needs a car - it is wonderful!

Phil
DesignCAD user since 1987

paul craig

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 03:19:57 PM »
HI Phil,
this all gets more and more interesting. I remember when I worked in Boca Raton, in the 80's and how our schedule would get interrupted by the loooooooooooong freight trains running along side the I 95. Did they ever build the suburban line there?

In the part of England that I come from, there too are many flat level crossings, and the number of people thinking they could outrun electric trains, which are silent, and are there when you least expect, let alone steam trains.

As for records, after recent tv viewing, it seems the French are trying to beat the Chinese when it comes to fast trains. Evolving from the TGV, they are producing the AGV
Still for me, steam engines are much more fun.

Paul

metrognome

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Re: World's fastest steam loco
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2013, 01:13:02 AM »
Oh Wow. Flashback city.
Y'all talking steam locomotives and I googled "southern pacific steam locomotives 1955" and got this:

http://www.yesteryeardepot.com/sp37.htm      (scroll down to the '50's, click the blue highlights for the pictures)

I was born in Los Angeles. 1940. Mom and Dad bought a house in the San Fernando Valley (Burbank) that was about a mile from the main north/south rail line that hauled the freight back and forth from Seattle and San Francisco into LA.
I remember me and my neighbor hood buds ranging in age from 10 to about 15 daring each other to get as close to one of those freight haulers as our fears would allow. Standing within 10 feet of one of those monsters under full power with a load heading uphill out of LA...WHEW
But wait..two 4-8-8-2's in tandem at the head of the train and another as a pusher in the center of the line of cars doubled our fun.
And then, as it was a main line, there was a north bound and a south bound set of tracks. Sometimes there would be one going out and another in. No way would any of us kids risk standing between.
That was a LONG wait at the car crossings.
You could almost have a tail gate party while it passed.

The passenger trains came through there (populated area) at 60mph. Dad drove beside one on the parallel highway clocking it once.
Up and over Tehachapi Pass and down into Bakersfield and on up the San Joaquin valley they were much faster.

Then there's this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Pacific_4449 that is based here in Portland,OR (my home now) and annually makes a run around the country.
A youtube of it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qZAlMC06i4
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