Braking systems

Braking systems are a problematic area in that they tend to be associated with rolling stock, rather than with locomotive history. Wells account is accessible and the Rowatt can be downloaded in pdf format at relatively low cost. Most of the other material is accessible in pdf format by people with Webb's salary! Galton is very important as he was the first to observe that skidding is not an efficient means of retardation. Hodgson and Lake's Locomotive management and hje British Transport Commission's excellent Handbook for steam locomotive enginemen with its clear coloured diagrams.are essential. Most of the many guides to engine driving make it clear that how to stop is rather more important than how to start! Rowatt's paper is very good, but the citations to the copious references are thin.

Galton, Douglas. On the effect of brakes upon railway trains. Proc. Instn Mech. Engrs., 1878, 29, 467-89; 590-632.
Galton, Douglas. On the effect of brakes upon railway trains. Proc. Instn Mech. Engrs., 1879, 30, 170-218.
Knight, S.Y. Railway brakes. London 1904. 51pp.
Cited in bibliography of Rowatt, T. Railway brakes.Trans Newcomen Soc.,1927, 8, 19-32: Ottley 3257.
Rawlings, H.V.  Brake efficiency. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1920, 10, 537-64. (Paper No. 89)
Includes Pennsylvania Railway Brake Tests of 1913, and Captain Douglas Galton's earlier Newark Brake Trials. Considers brake apparatus and how to determine performance.
Reynolds, M. Continuous railway brakes: a practical treatise of the several systems in use in the United Kingdom... London. 1882. 228pp.
Ottley 3232
Sanders, D. On continuous brakes for railway trains. Proc. Instn Mech. Engrs., 1878, 29, 67-105.
Reference to Fay & Newall screw type brakes on LYR, also to experiments with vacuum and air barkes.


Caruthers, C.H. [Newark brake trials]. Rly Gaz., 1908, 3 & 10 July
Cited by Ellis
Ellis, Hamilton.
Nineteenth century railway carriages in the British Isles—from the eighteen-thirties to the nineteen-hundreds. London: Modern Transport, 1949. 176pp.
Regarded as his best book: cites sources within text
Rowatt, T. Railway brakes.Trans Newcomen Soc.,1927, 8, 19-32
Describes those on early horse wagons, self-acting, continuous, automatic, steam, vacuum, Clark's chain brake, and hydraulic brakes. Robert Stephenson patented a steam brake for locomotives (6484/1833) in 1833. Henry Booth invented a form of counter pressure brake for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1836. H.M. Grover invented an electro-magnetic brake in 1840. James Nasmyth and Charles May patented the first vacuum brake in 1844.John Wilson invented a continuous brake to lower his soft coal down a wagonway to the Union Canal. Robert Heath was in 1848 inventor of automatic continuous brake which was activated by a chain: braking force applied by weights and levers:In 1867 A. Chambers invented a modified form of the Fay type of chain brake and this was evaluated on the NLR. The Newark brake trials of June 1875 are descrubed as the most important railway tests since Rainhill. The railways which supplied brakes to be tested were the LNWR with a Clark-Webb chain brake, the Ca1edonian Railway with a Steel & McInnes pressure brake, the LBSCR with the Westinghouse vacuum brake, the GNR with Smith's vacuum, the L&YR with Fay's screw brake, the Midland Railway with three systems: Barker's hydraulic brake, the Westinghouse pressure brake, and Clark's hydraulic brake. Every competitor tried. to obtain conditions as favourable as possible for itself and many were dissatisfied, but on the whole, the trials were fair. Of the competing brakes, the two mechanical brakes, Fay's.and Clark's were out-classed. The two hydraulic brakes were inconvenient, and the Westinghouse vacuum was, more or less, a failure. This left the Smith vacuum, the Westinghouse pressure, and the Steel & McInnes pressure; and of these, the Westinghouse was decidedly the best. So much was this the case that it seems to the author that had Westinghouse acted sensibly he should have swept all other brakes off the field, instead of which the supporters of other brakes struggled, night and day, to brmg them to the level of success of the Westinghouse, with the final that the vacuum held the field on British steam trains to the exclusion of the pressure brake. Other systems mentioned include that of Heberlein. Bibliography (contains a huge list with very thin citations)..
Robbins, Michael. The North London Railway. Oakwood, 1959 (Oakwood Library of Railway History No. 1)
Although it was the first railway to have continuous brakes in everyday use (1855), it was not until after trying Miles' steam, Jackson's hydraulic, Clark's connected, Chambers' connected, Key's connected, Chaplin's electric, and Clark's chain brakes that in 1873 the Clark and Webb chain brake was adopted. In 1881 the chairman "conceived it impossible to have a better brake," but by order of the Board of Trade it was displaced in 1891 by the automatic vacuum, whose working was reported" not quite so certain as the old Clark-Webb brake ". (It was not fitted to goods engines until 1905.). Some of the brakes listed have still to be traced in more technical sources.
Weaver, Rodney. Brakes. Oxford Companion to British Railway history. 39-42.
Contains a diagram: moderately detailed account: failed to cite Rowatt. Adds to chaos by implying that Steel (as in Steel-Mcinnes brake) was Steele.
Wells, Jeffrey. Newark Brake Trials and after. Part 1. Backtrack, 1999, 13, 98-103.
Royal Commission on Railway Accidents of 1875 ordered Trials on 9/10 June 1875 at Thurgarton, on Nottingham to Lincoln line. These are reported in The Engineer for 18 June 1875 and were conducted with the assistance of the Royal Engineers. The following types were submitted: LNWR Clark & Webb chain brake; LBSCR Westinghouse vacuum brake; MR Clark's hydraulic brake; MR Westinghouse automatic air brake; MR Barker's hydraulic brake; CR Steel & McInnes pneumatic reaction brake; GNR Smith's vacuum brake; LYR Fay's hand brake; NER Smith's vacuum brake. On 25 June 1875 The Engineer published a table of resukts which showed a clear superiority for the Westinghouse system. The NBR conducted its own trials between Cowlairs and Edinburgh on 12 and 22 December 1876 and these showed a clear superiority of the Westinghouse air brake over the Smith vacuum brake and this was reported in The Engineer on 29 December 1876. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers conducted further trials in 1878 under Douglas Strutt Galton who worked in association with Stroudley and established that skidding did not assist in arresting movement. These trials were reported in The Engineer of 31 May 1878. Subsequently further trials were conducted on the NER, the primary aim of which was to establish the time lag from the driver applying the brake until the effect was measurable in the rear vehicle: this was 3.25 seconds on the lengthy train tested. The Engineer reported the results on 18 July 1879. Galton published his own results in the Min. Proc. Instn Mech. Engrs in 1878 and 1879. See letter by Harry Jack concerning location of LNWR train (page 221).
Wells, Jeffrey. Newark Brake Trials. Part 2. Backtrack, 1999, 13, 155-60.
Part 1 began on page 98. An Act of Parliament in June 1978, the Railway Returns (Continuous Brakes) Act enabled the Board of Trade to demand data, and penalties had to be imposed for non-returns, but much of the information provided was inaccurate. At the beginning of 1880 only 28% of carriages were brake fitted. At this time Moon, General Manager of the LNWR could claim that the Clark & Webb brake was "the best brake in the world". Watkin was able to write in The Engineer (8 February 1884) that his Company was very satisfied with the non-automatic vacuum brake and there was much invective against Westinghouse. The Penistone Accident of 16 July 1884 was exacerbated by the lack of an automatic brake and this was noted by Col. Marindin. Following a similar, but less serious, accident on the GNR at Nottingham Low Level the Board of Trade condemned simple brake systems. The Engineer is cited for these developments. The Armagh Accident of 12 June 1989 involved a Sunday School excursion and led to 80 deaths including 22 children. It was investigated by Maj. Gen. Hutchinson and rapidly led to The Railway Regulation Act (No. 2) 1889 and gave the railway companies eighteen months to get their house in order. Table: Railway Regulation Bill - companies and continuous brakes as percentage of vehicles fitted and miles run up to December 1888. See letters by Derek Genzel and Lyn Brooks on page 278.

Chain brakes

Branston, C.A. F.W. Webb and the brake question. Loco. Rly Carr. Wagon Rev., 1939,
Cited Ellis Nineteenth century railway carriages: reprinted in E. Talbot's The LNWR recalled.

Counter-pressure braking

Invented by Le Chatelier. Used by Ramsbottom on 0-6-0ST used in Abergavenny District in 1870s. According to Dunn described in Instn Mech Engrs paper in 1870 (page 21)

Carling, D.R. A brief history of the counter-pressure brake for steam locomotives. Trans. Newcomen Soc., 1983, 55, 10-32.
Author was involved with fitting system to Beyer-Garratt locomotives supplied to Ecuador and to the Central Railway of Peru, and later was involved in testing the B17 and K3 classes on the LNER (ex-NER 4-6-0) using the test locomotive. P.N.D. Porter noted a Railway Magazine article (incomplete citation: 1933 p. 43) by S.R. Yates: notes on Scottish locomotives and railway working wherein it was noted that Jones used the Chatelier system of counter-pressure water braking on his 4-4-0s. Paper includes biographies of several significant engineers not in Marshall.

Vacuum brake

Gresham, J.N. (Paper No. 162)
The comparative utility of ejectors & pumps for working the vacuum automatic brake. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1924, 14, 387-92.

Gresham, J.N. (Paper No. 184)
Vacuum brake ejectors. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1925, 15, 335-48. Disc.: 349-63; 16, 295-8.

Wickham, R.G. (Paper No. 187)
The vacuum automatic brake. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1925, 15, 466-72. Disc.: 473-6: 26, 220-1.

McDermid, W.F. (Paper No. 337).
Brakes for streamlined railway vehicles. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1935, 25, 309-42. Disc.: 342-68.
See A4 class.

Fawcett, Brian (Paper No. 470)
The Westinghouse automatic empty and load brake with straight air control: its installation, operation and maintenance. J. Instn Loco. Engrs., 1947, 37, 395-432. Disc.: 432-54.
W.O. Skeat (438-9) noted that on the NER the reservoir had been located below the rear buffer bar on the tender without causing any problems. At Stratford on the GER the reservoir in effect formed an extension of the dragbox and was a massive casting. Mud doors were provided for cleaning the main reservoir.

Marsh, G.C.
Recent developments in vacuum brake equipment. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1952, 42, 95-170.

Hunter, I.P. (Paper 641)
Development of the vacuum brake during the years of transition. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1962, 52, 581-655

Roberts, H.P.
The changeover from vacuum to air brakes on British Railways. J. Instn Loco. Engrs, 1966, 56, 8-72.