Featured Locomotive for November 2010

Rainhill Trials of October 1829

This is our final page on the Rainhill Trials. The first railway race in history and the winner was Stephenson's 'Rocket'. It was the most technically advanced engine of its day, establishing a basic design, which survived for 150 years. It was not the fastest on the day achieving 30mph (48kph) but it pulled 13 tons.

Firstly it used a multi tube boiler - not single flue like the others, it had 25 copper tubes running the length of the boiler and secondly the blast from the cylinders was directed up the chimney, pulling air across the fire. The blast pipe had been tried on single flue fires but the vacuum was so strong it ripped the fire of the coal. The cylinders were mounted at 35 degrees above horizontal. Earlier designs had the cylinder vertical, which gave the engines a rocking motion, later versions of 'Rocket' had the cylinders near horizontal.

image of the old train called NOVELTY

'Rocket' in the 20th Century. The original was donated to the Patent Office Museum, in 1862 now at the Science Museum, London. An early replica is at the York National Railway Museum - reduced to a cutaway exhibit while a 1980 working replica is at that Museum (it has visited Australia). In 1923 Buster Keaton featured a copy 'Rocket' in 'Our Hospitality' and in 1923 Fatty Arbuckle used the same 'Rocket' in the 'The Iron Mule'. Both films are available on DVD. 'Our Hospitality' as part of a 2DVD set of 'The General' - a classic. Two replicas exist in USA - Henry Ford Museum and Museum of Science, Chicago.

Our model made by Hornby Railways is 3.5 inch gauge and is a live steamer.

The next viewing day is 28 November

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