Robert Harvey Burnett
First Locomotive Superintendent of the Metropolitan Railwy. Alan A. Jackson (London's Metropolitan Railway) notes that Burnett "was enticed from Beyer Peacock by an offer of £300 a year" to become the Metropolitan Railway's resident engineer and locomotive superintendent from 1 May 1864. In the address reproduced below he claimed to be a Scot. He had trained at Beyer Peacock. Responsible for the classic 4-4-0T. Succeeded by Tomlinson in 1885 following his probably unjust dismissal (Jackson page 61) due to a financial crisis on the railway in May 1872.
Very good reproduction of illustration of him with William Gladstone on inspection train on Metropolitan Railway: p. 95: Christopher Awdrry's Brunels' broad gauge railway.
Ellis, C.H. Some classic locomotives. 1949.
Extracts from Paper No. 41 (Institution Locomotive Engineers)
ADDRESS BY ROBERT H. BURNETT, M.Inst.C.E., Vice-President, January 29th, 1916.
I feel that you nave taken me very much "on trust," thinking, because "I started locomotive engineering in the 50's of the last century, that I ought to know a lot which might be interesting, if not very useful, to the rising generation of locomotive superintendents. I beg your pardon. I ought to say the rising generation of "chief mechanical engineers," which is, I understand, the correct term nowadays, although in my time "locomotive superintendent" was regarded as ,sufficient and certainly was more specific.
I have not had very much time for the preparation of my remarks and have not had opportunity therefore to refresh my memory as to facts by reference to documentary evidence. If, therefore, I have omitted details of interest or am wrong in my chronology of events, you will kindly pardon it. But just let me remark, that I don't expect you to agree with all I say. Some of the ideas I express will no doubt seem to you as being old fashioned. The extent of the difference between us on various points will serve to emphasise the change in the course of 50 years in the mental attitude in looking at things.
Now, having made these remarks, may I take you back to the year 1857, i.e., 60 years ago, save one, when I first saw the "inside" of a locomotiveI mean a locomotive in, the course of erection in the works of Beyer, Peacock and Co., whose "pupil" I became in that year, 1857, when I discovered to my astonishment that the plates and belts I had observed on locomotive boilers when passing railway stations were not the boiler barrel plates, withstanding the steam pressure, but only the covering plates of the "clothing." What an ignoramus you must think I was now that you, Gentlemen, with your "technical schools " and "engineering colleges" in all directions, are almost fully developed locomotive engineers before you enter a locomotive workshop to complete your training.
And what was the position or condition of locomotives, as mechanical structures, in those days, and what impression, as such, did they create in my mind as compared with the locomotives of the present day? The impression I got at that time, was that the locomotive was a thing with a long, long past history, long since fully developed from its embryo condition, and perfect, past all improvement! There was the plate-frame; the wrought iron wheels (the forging of which, spoke by spoke and built up bit by bit, was a piece of forge work and smith work not surpassed by anything to be seen in a forge or smithy in the present day); there was the boiler barrel with its tubes; the firebox with its inside box and stays, very much as we see them to-day.
But one knows now that the locomotive had only a few years before reached that advanced condition. Bury's bar-framed engines (the bar-frame which American locomotive men plume themselves on having "invented" and' adhere to like "grim death ") were still in use; those bar-framed engines with their funny dome-topped fireboxes to give steam room (the steam dome on the boiler barrel not having been "invented" when the Bury engine was designed). Only recently at that date the practice of attaching the firebox sides rigidly to the frame plateswith no provision for the expansion of the boilerhad been abandoned, and case-hardening of the wearing parts of the motion had only just been introduced (often merely treating them with potash which hardened the surface only), while lining the axle-boxes and other "brasses" with white metal was also quite a new thing. The" Stephenson" link had only then been recently introduced in lieu of the old "Gab" motion, to be followed by "Allen's" straight link, and, later on, by the "Walchaert" [sic] gear, now well known to you al1.
As for lubrication, many of the joints had nothing more than an oil hole, syphons supplying a continuous oil feed being few and far between. There were no "Roscoe" or <other oil feeders for the cylindersmerely a cup on the front cylinder cover into which the driver or fireman poured melted tallow from time to time when opportunity offered. No grand system of "forced oil feed" ta all important parts of the machinery as we see it in the present day. There were no mechanical brakes, and the fireman had to use a hand brake to assist in stopping the train, with wooden blocks, liable to get on fire when descending a long incline. Drivers and firemen were expected in those days to do something more for their living than merely sitting on comfortable seats, turning a handle occasionally (though I admit there are more handles to turn nowadays), and were required to do their work under much less favourable conditions than exist to-day, seeing that cabs and shelters from the weather were not even dreamt of in those days, the only protection from the weather being what was then known as a "spectacle plate"that is, a vertical plateacross the top of the firebox with a large circular glazed hole at each side of the engine for the driver and fireman to peer through.
Then, as regards details, although the changes since "then have been in the main towards complexity in the matter of the number of "firebox fittings," there have been several changes in the direction of simplicity since the 50's of last century, notably in the matter of piston rings. It would amuse you to see the designs for piston rings which the fertile minds of "inventors" of those days thought requisite, with their complicated' arrangements of expanding blocks and springs, but which gradually gave way in favour of the "Ramsbottom" three wrought iron slender rings and the subsequent two cast iron rings which now form the standard for locomotive pistons.
The slide valves in those days were of the old D form, suitable for comparatively low steam pressures, but as these pressures gradually increased balanced valves of various forms were introduced, Mr. Beattie, Locomotive Superintendent of the L. and S. Western Railway, being one who took a hand at that, and introduced a semi-circular backed valve with rings (or half rings) making joints to prevent the steam getting to the back of the valves. These flat faced valves are, however, now superseded, as you know, by piston valves, suitable for all pressures, however great they may be.
Again, the boiler pressure was controlled by a Salter's balance hung at the end of each of the two safety valve levers (pinned at their lower ends to attachments on the firebox casing plate) on to which levers the driver frequently hung his own and his mate's cap, and not infrequently their coats also, when they wanted some increase in the boiler pressure to surmount a "stiff bank" when the train load was exceptionally heavy. This somewhat dangerous practice was defeated, however, by the ingenuity of Mr. Ramsbottom (then Locomotive Superintendent of the L. and N.W. Railway) in devising the "Ramsbottom " safety valves that "came to stay," and are now in universal use.
One very marked change since those early days has come about in regard to the construction and staying of the roofs of locomotive fireboxes. In the "50's" and "60's" of the last century fireboxes were comparatively short and the crown plate of the inner box was stiffened by " roof bars," whose ends rested on the top of the tubeplate at one end and on the top of the back plate of the' inner box at the other end. But as boilers grew in size and the fire grates lengthened and led to a lengthening of the fire-bar crown plates and roof bars, coupled with a gradual rise in the boiler pressure, the pressure on the tube-plates became excessive and caused a crushing in of the tube holes of the upper row of tubes. Some better device for sustaining the crown plates of the inner firebox had therefore to be devised. The first step to this end was to make the roof at the inner firebox semi-circularor more or less soand suppart it by radiating stay bolts to the outer crown plate, which also was made semi-circular. But as these stay bolts were not truly radial to either the inner or the outer roof plates the threads in the tapped holes were not satisfactory. But, what was even worse, there was no provision in this arrangement for the difference in the expansion, upwards, of the inner and outer fireboxes. In this position of affairs a Belgian locomotive engineermuch to his credit and ingenuitycame to the rescue and invented the "Belpaire" firebox, which met every difficulty, whatever the length of the firebox might be, and, like all perfect devices, "came to stay," like the "Ramsbottom " safety' valve. While on the matter of fireboxes I may refer to one other interesting pointthe improvement in the placing of the stays of the side and end plates of the firebox. In the early days of bailer construction it was not realised that, in the desire to make a boiler strong to stand the higher boiler pressures, it was possible to make it at the same time too rigid, and that harm could arise from placing the stays too near the corners of the inner firebox, thereby preventing the "give and take" between the plates, rendered necessary by the unequal expansion of the inner and outer firebox plates, whereby grooving of the firebox corners was rapidly set up. Experience proved that, while ultimate strength was a sine qua non to meet the high boiler pressures then coming into use, rigidity of parts had to be avoided by care in the placing of the stays well away from the corners.
Another matter in the construction of boilers I may mention, and that is the improvement that has taken place in the construction of boiler barrels of locomotives. In the "50's" and "60's " of last century the horizontal joints, as well as the transverse joints, were made by lapping the plates, and were single rivetted. It was not then realised that, in the endeavour of the steam pressure to correct what I may call the "want of truth" from a true circle at the lapped joints the flexure at' the barrel plates would bring a strain on them which would cause horizontal grooving. But so it proved, and the bursting now and again of boilers from this cause led to the abandonment of that mode of construction in favour of butt joints and outside and inside lap plates, and subsequently, as boiler pressures increased, to double rivetted joints.
It may interest you to know that I had on one occasion, in the year 1864, the unique experience at seeing a boiler burst, due to this very cause, when standing in the doorway of a carriage in which I had just arrived at Bishop's Road Station, the carriage having stopped immediately opposite, and only 20 feet away from the boiler that burst.
The driver had just put his hand on the handle at the regulator and opened the valve to start the train which I was watching. The opening of the regulator upset the balance at forces in the boiler and caused the explosion. On investigation it was found that the grooving of the plate that caused the bursting was more or less deep along its whole length of about 3ft. 6in., and at several places, each 3 or 4 inches long, the thickness of the remaining plate was not more that 1/16th of an inch. It would not be kind to recall to which railway company the boiler belonged; but just let me say it was not one under my jurisdiction.
Fortunately no one (according to my observation) was hurt by it, although my good friend Mr. A. R. Bennett maintains, on the evidence at newspaper paragraphs at the day, that several people were injured by it. The driver and fireman were blown on to the coals in the tender, but were unhurt. But one experienced a feeling of suspense for some minutes during the crashing af fragments of boiler plates through the glass roof of the station, fearing that in their descent they might fall on one's head. The dome was found comfortably resting in a garden a couple of hundred yards away. I don't think any of you are likely to meet with a like experiencehowever much you may wish toas boiler barrels are subjected nowadays to more regular inspection than was thought necessary 50 years ago.
I have referred to the old method of building up, piece by piece, the wrought iron wheels of those days. Now all intricate parts of locomotives are made by the method of steel castingsof tough steel unknown in those early days, by which. a great deal of forge work has been abolished. Flanging of boiler plates by hydraulic presses has superseded the flanging by hand in the early days when the plates had to be re-heated a number of times in large reverberatory furnaces to enable the flanging to be done, piece by piece, by six or eight "strikers" with heavy wooden mallets, these being used to avoid damage to the plates by any ill-directed blow from steel sledge hammers.
As a further example of the supersession of hand labour by modern machinery, I may refer to the labourious process of rivetting over the heads of firebox stay bolts by hand, which is now superseded by such appliances as the "Halstead and Rogerson" pneumatic rivetting tools, lately modified for beading-over the ends of boiler tubes also, by which both of these operations are not only done in far less time and at a marked saving in cost, but in a much more efficient manner. Welded iron tyres have given place to much harder weldless steel tyres, which have enabled much greater axle loadings than was permissible 50 years ago, and with greater safety even at higher speeds. Wood "clothing," which more or less well withstood the comparatively low temperature of the steam pressures 50 years ago, but which was quickly charred by the heat of the higher pressures coming more and more into use, has been superseded by "asbestos" and other heat-resisting coverings.
Another great change in methods of construction since 50 years ago is in the adoption of "stamping" in "suage blocks," to a rough outline of the finished article, instead of forging to the finished shape in the smithy, the reduction to the finished shape of these "stampings " being done by powerful machine tools, the rapid cutting down to shape at low cost having been rendered possible by the improved quality of the tool steels produced nowadays. Another marked change is in respect of the use of steel boiler plates in place of wrought iron plates; 50, or even 40 years ago, no one would have dreamt of using anything butt the best quality of "Yorkshire" iron for the barrel and outside casing plates of a locomotive. Now steel is all the rage and "Yorkshire" iron cannot "hold a candle" to steel. But it was an up hill struggle with the steel plate makers for many years to get these plates adopted, and no wonder, for the steel of those days was very unreliable. 1 recollect a plate, when I was works manager in 1876 (that is only 40 years ago), having been flanged one evening and put up against the wall to cool, being found in the morning to have cracked itself in the cooling. But steel makers persisted in their endeavours, and to-day these plates have the combination of strength and toughness that no "Low Moor" iron plates ever possessed.
And what about the outline of locomotives of 50 years ago and to-day? You may think me old fashioned when I say I do not see any very marked improvement to-day from the best practiceplease note that I say the "best" practiceof 50 years ago. But you must bear in mind that by that time Mr. Beyer, when manager of "Sharp's" (Sharp, Stewart and Co., of Manchester, now of the North British Co.), had taken in hand the design and construction of locomotives. He was a man with an eye to outline and symmetry. He loved a graceful curve, and his object in all structures he took in hand, whether "locomotive" or "machine tool," was to give a graceful outline and to place the various parts symmetrically and so as to present to the eye an appearance of unity of design, for he hated beyond measure the appearance which many engines made in this country at that timebut more especially in Continental countries (so far as they had got in locomotive construction) a fault much in evidence still, of the parts being chucked into their places "anyhow." A British-made engine of the present day presents an appearance of simplicity and harmony of outline in marked contrast with that of locomotive makers on the Continent, and of locomotives made by our good friends the Americans as well. But it may not be known to the present day locomotive engineers that that simplicity and harmony of outline is descended from the influence that Mr. Beyer exercised in that direction. A notable example of a locomotive possessing these characteristics in a marked degree was exhibited by Beyer, Peacock :and Co., at the London International Exhibition of 1862, namely, the "Dom Luiz" enginea single engine, with 6ft. 6in. driving wheelsconstructed for the Portuguese Government Railways, and which was referred to in the "Art Journal" of that date as showing a grace and beauty of outline which only one endowed with an artist's sense of the beautiful could design.
And let me hasten to say, in view of Mr. Maunsell's references to cases where, in his experience, efficiency had been sacrificed in the desire to arrive at a pleasing exterior, that you will learn from what I am about to say that in the instance of the "Dom Luiz " engine the criticism does not applya handsome exterior was not secured at the expense of utilityfor it will interest you to know that that engine was still at work in 1908, or 46 years after it started runningand so far as I know may be at work still. Anyhow, Beyer, Peacock and Co. were communicated with in 1908, by the Portuguese Railway authorities to ask if they could suggest a modification of the leading axle, either by a bogie, or otherwise, to adapt the engine for running at high speed round 300 metre curves of one of their recent extensions, the engine having been designed for 500 metre curves.
The proposal did not eventuate in any alteration to the engine, as it would have necessitated new cylinders and other expensive alterations, but the interesting fact is this, that in the course of the correspondence the Portuguese railway authorities said, "The engine is very old indeed, but in good order; we have yet the same boiler"i.e. after 46 years' use! Copper plate makers and iron plate makers evidently knew how to make "good stuff," even before the advent of rigid " hemical composition" specifications.
Compounding and superheating are so modern that I need not refer to them as being in contrast with the engines of 50 years ago. But what about some of the developments. of to-day. Can you look at the more recent developments of the "Mallet" articulated locomotive, for the Erie Railroad for example, without a shudder (see page 667 of "Engineering," of May 15th, 1914). Ingenious it may be, but what a monstrosity. It is to my mind like designing a vessel of the size of one of the modern Atlantic liners suitably for going through the narrow and shallow locks of some old, prehistoric canal.
It may be said, "But we have to have engines of great power to run on a 4ft. 8½in. gauge railway, and we cannot alter the gauge." Well, it may be so; but what has locomotive designing come to? Surely the time has come for widening the gauge where such locomotive monstrosities have to be used.
But there seems to be a disposition in the present day to bow down and worship mere size and weight in a locomotive. Each railway seems to vie with another in size and weight of engines. Of course, it often means "drawing office" ingenuity in squeezing some big dimension into some cramped space, and one cannot help admiring this ingenuity; and no doubt the locomotive engineers would say, "We don't do it for the love of the thing, but we are driven to it by the constantly growing weight of the trains." And that is true. But for my part I never could feel admiration for mere size in a locomotive. I have always thought the tank engines with the "Bissel " bogie, that Beyer designed for the 3ft. 6in. gauge of the Norwegian railways, for a light rail, in the year 1866, with a maximum axle loading of 6 tons 12 cwt., and a total weight of 17 tons, were as deserving of admiration for their general design and their suitability for the conditions they were required to meet as any locomotive that has ever been designed since then up to the present time. "Last century notions," I fancy I hear you say.
One marked change during the last 50 years has been in the character of the fuel used in locomotives. In the "50's" and "60's" the only fuel used was coke, coal being found too smoky. But the persistency of a man, whose name I forget, in advocating the use of coal as a cheaper, fuel, and at the same time a greater heat-producing fuel, resulted in its ultimate adoption. The smoke-making feature of coal was shown by him to be due to two causes, first, the want of sufficient air above the fuel, and secondly to the escape of the gases into the tubes at too low a temperature for proper combustion. The first named cause was met by making air holes through the water spaces between the back plates of the outer and inner boxes on, or about, the level of the fire door, a plan that has been superseded by the "air shoot" in the fire door; and the second named was met by the use of the firebrick arch which, as you well know, deflects the gases as they rise from the incandescent fuel on the fire-bars backwards so as to mingle with the air coming in at the fire door, while the brick arch at the same time raises the heat of the mingled air and gases to such a temperature as ensures complete combustion before the products enter the tubes.
I asked my friend Mr. A. R. Bennett if he could give me the name of the man who was so instrumental in forcing forward the use of coal in locomotives. I applied to him because I find him an encyc1opaedia of useful locomotive knowledge, and if he is so in locomotive matters, what must he be in his own special branch of the profession—namely, electrical, engineering.
In this particular instance Mr. Bennett did not give me the name of the man I have in mind. He, however, brought to my recollection several very interesting endeavours of several locomotive superintendents to overcome the difficulties attending the use of coal in locomotives. Mr. Bennett's notes are as follows; "Firstly, Mr. Cudworth, Locomotive Superintendent of the South Eastern Railway from 1846 to 1876, used a firebox divided into two by a mid-feather and two fire doors. The grates were long and sloping so that the fuel placed at the top was gradually shaken down by the jolting and got more and more incandescent as it went. A small amount of coal was frequently placed at the top of each grate alternately and, when properly done, practically no smoke was emitted from the chimney. The plan is described and figured by Colburn and Kinnear Clark. This was the most successful plan. .
"Secondly, Mr. Joseph Beattie (a Scotsman)," my native country, [KPJ: Beattie was an Irishman] Locomotive Superintendent to the L. and S.W.R. from 1850 to 1875, experimented long and variously. His best plan was to have a combustion chamber in the boiler in advance of the firebox and fill it with perforated firebricks. These got white hot after a time and burnt up the smoke that was generated in the firebox. He also, in some engines, had jets of air playing on the surface of the fire. His plan was quite effective, but on account of his boiler being more complicated, and more expensive to make and to keep in repair, it did not commend itself." .(I remember Beyer, Peacock and Co. making many engines for Mr. Beattie with these fireboxes in my apprenticeship days. )
"Thirdly, Mr. McConnell, Locomotive Superintendent of the Southern Division of the L. and N.W. Railway (before Mr. Ramsbottom's time), was the third, and least successful. He employed a large combustion chamber in advance of the firebox, but without firebricks, holding a theory that the gases would mix in the combustion chamber and dispose of the smoke. His plan was said to waste fuel, whereas both Cudworth's and Beattie's were remarkably economical. " Mr. Bennett adds, " The advent of the brick arch sent all three plans to limbo."
One interesting change since 50 years ago is in the influence exercised by the locomotive engineer, as such, on railway working. Fifty years ago the Locomotive Department had to "play second fiddle" to the Permanent Way Department. But the rapidly increasing weight of the trains brought this state of things to a crisis. The directors called the locomotive engineer over the coals because the trains lost time (an hour or two late in arrival on a journey, say, from Crewe to Euston, was 50 years ago of every day, and I may say of almost every train, occurrence). The locomotive engineer replied, "I cannot give you engines of adequate power so long as your permanent way engineer ties, me down to such limited axle loads, because he won't go to the trouble, or, it may be, the expense, of strengthening his bridges and increasing the weight of his rails." So the Permanent Way Department had to give way and the locomotive engineer" came into his kingdom"and, which is more, "came to stay." No one had a greater share in thestruggle to bring about this happy state of affairs than the late Mr. Ramsbottom, of the L. and N.W. Railway, in whom his directors had such confidence as to listen to, and be guided by, his opinion and advice, and I have and shall always look on him as amongst the ablest of the many able, Locomotive Superintendents who have adorned that branch of the profession since railways were first introduced. His ingenious device of the "water scoop" for replenishing tenders with water when travelling is a notable example of what I may term applied science, in taking advantage of the inertia of water, when at rest in a trough, to overcome its own natural disinclination to "run uphill." .
One other great change I will refer to and then will cease from drawing on your patience in listening to me. This is in the matter of brakes. Up to 55 years ago the only brakes available for stopping a train were the tender brake on, say, six. wheels and brakes on two or three "brake vans" in the train (depending on the length of the train) each van having four, or at most six wheels, giving in all fourteen, or at most, say, 20 "braked" wheels in the train, all of these brakes being worked by hand, occupying some appreciable time in the act of applying them. It was therefore no uncommon thing for "an express " going at full speed to run a couple of miles before its speed was sufficiently reduced to stop at a danger signal or at a station. The need for increased brake power was consequently felt, particularly so as the speed of main line trains increased with the gnadual rise in the size and power of the locomotives. The East Lancashire Railway Co. led the way in this direction with the "Newall" brake, of which line Mr. Newall was the Carriage Superintendent, this brake being adopted in a somewhat modified form by Mr. Fay on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, the feature of which brake was that the guard in the rear van was enabled by an arrangement of gearing to compress a powerful spring, which, when released by a foot treadle, turned a shaft, running from vehicle to vehiclejointed so as to make it sufficiently flexiblewhich shaft, through the agency of cog wheels and cranks, applied the brake blocks to those wheels to which blacks were fitted. It will be readily perceived that this was not a very handy form of brake for, general use, especially for trains that had to have vehicles added to them or detached from them in the course of the journey, and although it had the merit of applying itself quickly when wanted, it had the defect of requiring a long time to release it, the mechanism in the guard's van requiring a lot of "elbow work" in the process of recompressing the main spring and releasing the blocks.
The next advance in the matter of brakes was on the North London Railway, about the year 1860, when an inventor of the name of Clark was invited by Mr. William Adams (father of your late lamented first President, Mr. John H. Adams, of the North Staffordshire Railway) to apply his invention to the passenger stock of the North London Railway. The feature of that brake consisted in its having a powerful chain interlaced through sheaves and levers along the train from end to end, the chain being rendered taut, when the brakes were applied, by being coiled on a shaft driven by friction wheels forced by screw power by the guard against a pair of wheels of the brake van. When I took charge of the Locomotive and Carriage and the other Engineering Departments of the Metropolitan Railway in 1864, Mr. Clark approached me with the proposal to apply the North London brake to the carriages af the Metropolitan Railway, the short lengths between stations and the frequent stops rendering some form of powerful brake a sine qua non, as it had already been found to be on the North London Railway, where similar conditians prevailed. I pointed out to him, however, that however effective it might be on the North London Railway, it was not very suitable for the, Metropolitan, where the fluctuation in the number of passengers, as between the busy hours of morning and evening, and the slack hours of mid-day,. rendered it necessary to avoid any fittings that would reduce the facility of diminishing or adding to the number af vehicles in the trains. Moreover, while the "Clark" chain brake possessed the defect af the" Newall" and" Fay" brakes in non-facility of attachment and detachment between the vehicles, it had the further fault that, in. the event af the chain breaking, the brake was for the time being rendered useless throughout the train. Further, I pointed out that the strain on the chain when applying the brake would have the grave defect of compressing the buffers of all the carriages and of causing, when released, a very objectionable recoil of the hinder vehicles. I ought to mention that the system of working on the North London Railway differed from the Metropolitan so much as to render the "Clark" chain brake suitable for the North London line while unsuitable for the Metropolitan. Their greater siding accommodation enabled them to put away the whole train intact when not wanted for use, or when a vehicle in it required repairing, and they adopted close (or short) buffers, so that compression between the vehicles was with them a negligible quantity. On the Metropolitan, however, we had to retain long buffers to facilitate operatians when adding to or reducing the number of vehicles in a train.
In view of the foregoing points I pointed out to Mr. Clark that they could be best attained by such a modificatian of the North London brake as to make each carriage self-contained, so to speak, as regards the brake apparatus, while still adhering to the principle of the "Clark" brake in using the momentum of the trainas given out by the revolutions of the wheels af the vehicles themselvesto supply the required brake power. I pointed out that by the adoption of the above named modifications a light chain or cord through the train, easily joined and disconnected between the vehicles, transmitting only a few pounds tension, and avoiding thereby every tendency, to compress the buffers, would be an efficient medium for operating the brake from one end of the train to the other, and would moreover possess the all important desideratum of enabling the brake to be placed in the hands af the driver as well as in those of the guard. Moreover, I pointed out that the brake would embody the Board of Trade desire far an "automatic" brakethat is, a brake that would apply itself in the event of any severance of the train by derailment or otherwise.
Mr. Clark (who had by this time joined partnership with a Mr. Wilkin, to supply finances) expressed his confidence in being able to work out the details af an arrangement embodying these features, and the necessary carriages were accordingly placed by me at his disposal far the purpose.
After no inconsiderable time spent in perfecting the details, 'a train af five or six carriages was eventuallyin 1869fitted with a complete and satisfactory arrangement, and put into regular work on the Metropolitan Railway under the control of the driver (as well as af the guard) which he (the driver) could apply or take off at will from the footplate by merely slacking ar tightening the cord, and which was automatic in the event of the train becoming severed. I need not trespass on your 'patience by going into details. of the apparatus, as they are to be found, by anyone who may care to know more about them, at page 306 of Zerah Colburn's "Locomotive Engineering and Mechanism of Railways," published in 1871. I am vain enough to say that this was the first practical application to a railway train, either in this country or abroad, of a continuous brake operated by the driver from the footplate. This type of brake was subsequently fitted to the carriage stock of the District Railway when that Company assumed the working of its line (hitherto worked by the Metropolitan Railway) in 1870-71, and it was applied later on, in a modified form, to a large number of carriages on the London and North Western Railway, under the name of the "Clark and' Webb" brake, and I believe that the Midland Railway, as well as the Somerset and Dorset Joint Committee, adopted the brake, but, in the latter instance, in a somewhat modified form, that is, "non-automatic" However, all these brakes, excellent in their day and generation, were ultimately superseded by the more prompt in action and more easily maintained air and vacuum brakes now so universal.
I feel sure you will pardon the shedding of a tear by a fond parent over the early demise of a loved and promising child while yet young and with the promise of a long and prosperous life before it, who departed this life of sorrow. and disappointed hopes from no fault of its own, being simply "done to death" in ran unavailing struggle for life with competitors with robuster constitutions. But such is life in all spheres.
Gentlemen, I thank you for the patience with which you have listened to my, I fear, too "long-winded" incursions into the domain of "ancient history."