Featured Locomotive for October 2010

Rainhill Trials of October 1829

This month we will depart from custom and talk about the First Time Trial (race) in Railway History - of course the Rainhill Trials of October 1829 - 181 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 & tender with fuel and water, sufficient for 35 miles. The engines started the time cold and fires not made up. The engine & carriages were run by hand to the start line - as soon as 50psi (335kp) was reached the train started on its journey.

image of the old train called NOVELTY

Ten trips on the course of 1.5 miles (24k) were completed at full speed. After these 10 trips the loco was fuelled & watered and did 10 trips more - an equivalent of 70 miles (112k) round trip at full speed. The competition started on 6 October 1829, of the ten entries only five turned up and one of those was horse powered ('Cycloped'(. So it came down to 'Perseverance' by Timothy Burstall, 'Sans Pareil' by Timothy Hackworth, 'Rocket' by George & 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 (16kph). 'Sans Pariel', it was 300lbs (140k) overweight but completed eight trips before cracking a cylinder. Its vertically mounted cylinders gave it a rocking gait. She was purchased by Liverpool & Manchester Railway - operating for two years.

Then there was 'Novelty' - she was lighter and faster than any of the others. Achieving an amazing 28mph (45kph) - 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, the vertical part had many small tubes so steam was raised quickly, its vertically mounted cylinders gave it a rocking gait. Parts of 'Novelty' were built by the Stephensons including the grate - this was a major flaw as it caused a build up of clinker.

Finally there was -Rocket-, the most technically advanced engine of the day, the basic design survived for 150 years. On the day it achieving a modest 30mph (48kph) pulling 13 tons.

Next month we will discuss the winner in detail.

The next open day is 24 October 2010. The main museum will not be open that day.

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