100 Years Of Classic Steam By Colin Garratt Dust Jacket

100 Years Of Classic Steam By Colin Garratt Dust Jacket

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100 Years Of Classic Steam By Colin Garratt Dust Jacket
 
100 Years Of Classic Steam By Colin Garratt Dust Jacket 1997   303 Pages
It is popularly supposed that the world's first steam locomotive was Stephenson's Rocket. In truth, however, the first example appeared exactly a quarter of a century before this in 1804, when Richard Trevithick's engine emerged from a South Wales ironworks. Yet it was with the Rocket that certain basic principles were established: it had a multi-flue tube boiler, used exhaust steam to create a draught on the fire, and had a direct drive from the cylinders. In these fundamentals, the steam locomotive was to change little throughout its entire existence, despite the aspirations of innumerable individuals and design teams over subsequent years.
The advent of steam traction enabled industrial development, then in its infancy, to grow and spread with much greater speed than previously. At last, raw materials could be conveyed quickly and efficiently from source to manufacturer and from manufacturer to customer, while ordinary people found they were no longer confined to the small villages and market towns in which they were raised; in short, the social and industrial revolution thus wrought by the age of steam ensures it a fundamental place in world history.
This is not to propogandise for steam as much as for the transport system it created. The steam locomotive does have inherent weaknesses that, arguably, render it unsuitable for conditions in many countries, especially the developed ones. However, forsaking the railways altogether and basing national economies upon road transportation is untenable. The road system demands limitless financial resources in order to sustain it, while constituting a wanton dissipation of energy supplies. Future generations may well regard an overwhelming dependence upon rood transport as one of the biggest acts of folk/ committed during the twentieth century.
During its development, the steam locomotive diversified into tens of thousands of different types. This incredible variety was due to two prime factors: firstly, railway systems large and small the world over invariably wanted their own designs. and secondly, throughout its entire evolution, locomotive designers were under constant pressure to enlarge and improve their products in the face of an unremitting demand for heavier and taster trains.
Mother factor that ensured variety was the absence of any agreed international design such as occurs with aeroplanes and road vehicles and other major forms of transport. Although heavy  standardisation was achieved in a few countries, cross fertilisations were few and, when they did occur, were invariably due to war operations or reparation packages following a war. Of course the private locomotive builders, particularty those specialising in industrial locomotives, had their own ranges of standard designs, but even these were varied to suit the needs (or fantasies) of the recipient. Also remarkable is the fact that few condemned engines were ever sold to other countries. Although international differences in gauge sometimes inhibited such manoeuvres, there were still many instances where such sales might have taken place, but due to constantly changing operating conditions - the very Ming that fostered diversity in the first place - such actions were usually rendered inappropriate.
North America produced more locomotives than any other part of the world and it is remarkable that so few builders emerged especially as the nation's railroads seldom built their own locomotives - a direct contrast with the situation in Britain. Although a wide variety of foundries did emerge during the nineteenth century, the early years of the twentieth century saw the vast majority of the countrys locomotives - both for home and export - coming from the works of the big three: Baldwin of Philadelphia, the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) of New York and Montreal, and Lima of Ohio. By far the biggest name was Baldwin, founded by Mathias Baldwin, who produced America's first home-built locomotive in 1832. Over the following one-and-a-quarter centuries, this prodigiously successful company produced some 70,000 locomotives. So successful was Baldwin that other builders banded together to form the American Locomotive Company in on endeavour to compete and into ALCO went such famous nineteenth-century names as Rodgers and Cook, both of Paterson, New Jersey. After the big three came the celebrated industrial builders, the most prolific being H. K. Porter of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But it is the big three, along with their subsidiaries, that represent the core of American production, with the incredible total of some 180,000 locomotives among them, embracing literally thousands of different classes tailored to match the requirements and image of the many railroads for which they built, both at home and overseas.


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