Featured Locomotive for April 2013

First Time Trial Race

This month we will depart from custom and talk about the First Time Trial race in Railway History - off course the Rainhill Trials of October 1829 over 184 years ago.

Manufacturers were competing for orders for the Liverpool to Manchester Railway and a prize of 500 pounds was offered for the winner, The rules included weighting the loco and tender with fuel and water, suffiecient for 35 miles. The engines started the time cold and fires not made up. The engine and carriages were run by hand to the start line, as soon as 50psi or 355kp was reached the train started on its journey.

Ten round trips on the course of 1.5miles were to be completed at full speed. After these 10 trips the loco was fuelled and watered and did 10 trips more, an equivalent of 70 miles or 112k round trip at full speed. The competition started on 6 October 1829, if the 10 entries only 5 turned up and one of those was the horse powered Cycloped. So it came down to Perseverence by Timothy Burstall, San Pareil by Timothy Hackworth, Rocket by George and Robert Stephenson and Novelty by John Ericsson and John Braithwaite

The first casualty was Cycloped, a horse powering a belt. The horse fell through the floor of the engine. Then came Perseverance, damaged en route repaired on site but failed to achieve 10mph or 16kph. San Pariel was 300pounds or 140kg overweight but completed 8 trips before cracking a cylinder. Its vertically mounted cylinders gave it a rocking gait. She was purchased by Liverpool and Manchester Railway, operating for two years.

Then there was Novelty, she was lighter and faster than any of the others. Achieving an amazing 28mph or 45kmp, a crowd favourite. A boiler pipe fractured which could not be properly fixed. On the next day's running the pipe burst and damaged the engine. It had an unusual boiler, almost based on the shape of a hammer known a a T boiler, the vertical part had many small tubes so steam was raised quickly, its vertical mounted cylinders gave it a rocking gait. Parts of Novelty were built by the Stephenson's, including the grate. This was a major flaw as it caused a built up of clinker because of the small grid.

Finally there was Rocket, the most technically advanced engine of the day, the basic design survived for 150 years. On the day it achieved a modest 30mph or 48kph puling 13 tons.

To return to the 'about' page, click here