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The Crampton Locomotive in the US

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The Crampton Locomotive in the US
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 8:20 AM

"The 6-2-0 was a most unusual wheel arrangement, where the bulk of the locomotive's weight was on the unpowered leading wheels rather than the powered driving wheels, therefore giving poor adhesion. The type was only practicable on the Crampton locomotive with a low boiler and large driving wheels placed behind the firebox.

On a trip to England, Robert L. Stevens, president of the Camden and Amboy (C&A) railroad, saw demonstrations of 6-2-0s on the railways there. When he returned in 1848, Stevens asked his master mechanic Isaac Dripps to build him a 6-2-0 for use on the C&A. The specifications for the first 6-2-0 included a 38" diameter boiler that would burn anthracite coal and 96" diameter driving wheels.

Designing the locomotive type to burn coal, which was still fairly expensive and difficult to come by, was unusual for the time. The great majority of locomotives of the 1830s and 1840s were built to burn wood, which was very plentiful, cheap and exceptionally easy to obtain along the railroad rights of way. Besides being more expensive, coal required a larger firebox in which to burn. Dripps rose to the challenge and created an operable design.

The first of three locomotives based on these specifications, named John Stevens, was completed in 1849. Dripps wasn't too sure that the locomotive would prove effective on American railroads, and his reservations turned out to be correct. The locomotive's tractive effort was not sufficient for long term or heavy work. With only one driving axle and three unpowered leading axles, too much of the locomotive's weight was distributed over the unpowered lead three axles. Almost a century passed before a six-wheel leading truck was used again, on the PRR S1 and S2.

The C&A's management, on the other hand, thought it performed admirably enough to order two more of them and place them in passenger service. It was claimed that they could reach 60 m.p.h. at a time when fast trains reached only 40 m.p.h. The 6-2-0s were later rebuilt to 4-4-0s and were in use as late as 1865."

Crampton_Camden_and_Amboy_RR.jpg (655×600) (wikimedia.org)

04439101f6c16fa7ab418abb57440c0a.jpg (775×607) (pinimg.com)

This is thought to be the earliest photograph of an American locomotive

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 9:44 AM

Aeronautical engineers had (still have?) a saying, "If it looks good it'll fly good," and it's usually proved to be the case.  We could probably apply the same saying to locomotives.  The Crampton type looked downright weird, no wonder it didn't work out.

As far as coal for a locomotive fuel the Paterson and Hudson River Railroad tried anthracite coal in the 1840's, however it only worked well in locomotives with a vertical boiler, which were an evolutionary dead end. Bituminous coal's time would come later.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 1:19 PM

When your locomotive looks more like a side-wheeler riverboat, probably it ain't cut out for railroad work.

Still in training.


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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 1:47 PM

You've got this all croggled up.

The story you're telling is about Lightning, which is most certainly not a 6-2-0 regardless of what certain wack British sources may try to tell you.  This is a remarkable design, noted as easily sustaining 60mph in at least one source I've read.  Here she is:

 

The 6-2-0 of course is the infamous Monster, over a decade earlier, complete with enormous drivers with paneling between the spokes to keep from paddling ballast everywhere at colossal speed.  I am still in awe of a man who could progress in half a decade from assembling the John Bull to conceiving of... let alone getting constructed... something like this:

 

  

 Of course most of the caption (from 1911) is ridiculously mistaken.

https://books.google.com/books?id=twZLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA492&lpg=PA492&dq=isaac+dripps+monster+1836&source=bl&ots=iCR79EDn__&sig=ACfU3U1B2HPFZVZli6MKeeiVqXMTOOJy1g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjv0IC_qqLzAhVgRzABHUH4D5QQ6AF6BAgMEAI#v=onepage&q=isaac%20dripps%20monster%201836&f=false

While we're here, some of the early attempts to use anthracite as a fuel are covered in Angus Sinclair's Development of the Locomotive Engine, which is a highly valuable thing to read if early locomotives interest you...

https://books.google.com/books/about/Development_of_the_Locomotive_Engine.html?id=7igkAQAAMAAJ

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 8:31 PM

Looking at that last locomotive, tell me that I am not having a visual hallucination?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 4:05 PM

Paul Milenkovic
tell me that I am not having a visual hallucination?

It's the 96 inch drivers. I once read that they had a hard time starting a train but that "nothing could catch them" once they got going. And, look at the bright side, they had outside valve gear (Stephenson, I guess) back in the 184o's

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Thursday, September 30, 2021 9:23 PM

BEAUSABRE

 

 
Paul Milenkovic
tell me that I am not having a visual hallucination?

 

It's the 96 inch drivers. I once read that they had a hard time starting a train but that "nothing could catch them" once they got going. And, look at the bright side, they had outside valve gear (Stephenson, I guess) back in the 184o's

 

   I'm impressed by that stack.  It's almost as big as the boiler.

_____________ 

  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 1, 2021 3:35 AM

Paul of Covington
I'm impressed by that stack.  It's almost as big as the boiler.

You can't see the stack.  That is the spark-arresting system.  As with other contemporary systems there is a sheet-metal funnel around the 'normal' stack, and sparks in the exhaust are knocked down to gather there.  The two 'bolts on Frankenstein's monster's neck' are cleanout ports for accumulated stuff.

Interesting how big it needs to be to catch all the unburned stuff.  Gives you an idea of how much fuel it burns vs. what it doesn't!

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Friday, October 1, 2021 8:52 PM

   OK, the spark-arresting system is almost as big as the boiler.

_____________ 

  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, October 2, 2021 8:57 AM

Overmod
 That is the spark-arresting system.

Well, that was the problem with wood as a fuel.  While wood burns relatively clean (there's no cinders to dispose of like there is with coal) there's a LOT of sparks that can find their way up the stack and into the surrounding countryside, especially with a hard-working locomotive.

Setting farmer's chicken coops on fire was no way to make friends! 

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, October 2, 2021 9:45 AM

According to E. P. Alexander, in his "Iron Horses, American Locomotives 1829-1900":

 

"According to the order entered in the Norris books,...gauge, 4 feet 9 7/8 inches;...boiler...to burn anthracite;..."

I threw in the gauge note as also being interesting.

 

 

 

Ed

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, October 2, 2021 11:15 AM

The gauge is interesting, but of course this was the "Pioneer Age" of American railroading, all sorts of different gauges were tried, usually on the whim of the railroad companies.

And they may have intended to burn anthracite coal, but as I said in an earlier post it just didn't work in the horizontal boilered locomotives of the time.  

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, October 2, 2021 11:49 AM

Flintlock76

 

And they may have intended to burn anthracite coal, but as I said in an earlier post it just didn't work in the horizontal boilered locomotives of the time.  

 

 

I'm sure they DID burn anthracite in this locomotive, as it was in the specifications.  Whether they changed to wood, and when that move was made (and why) would make interesting reading.

Perhaps the photo illustrates the locomotive in its wood burning phase.  Perhaps in its anthracite burning phase.  I do agree that the stack looks "woody".  And a lot like an add-on.

 

Ed

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, October 2, 2021 11:59 AM

7j43k
I'm sure they DID burn anthracite in this locomotive, as it was in the specifications.  

I'm sure they tried as well.  As I said, this was American railroading in its pioneer stage, they tried lots of things that didn't work out.  

But hey, if you don't try,  you don't do.  

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Posted by ShroomZed on Sunday, November 7, 2021 7:08 PM

Flintlock76

Aeronautical engineers had (still have?) a saying, "If it looks good it'll fly good," and it's usually proved to be the case.  We could probably apply the same saying to locomotives.  The Crampton type looked downright weird, no wonder it didn't work out.

Disagree with this in several places. First of all there were very many unsightly locomotives which did their required tasks very well and "weird" or "ugly" is very subjective. There are many Europeans who says American steam locomotives are hideous while everyone except a minority hold disdain for Belgian and Central European aesthetics (I like both mentioned above personally). Locomotives come to look as they do for their needs (most of the time at least). The plumbing "under the kitchen sink" appearance of continental locomotives had a purpose along with square chimneys and outside frames (the engineering qualities of these features are all a discussion on their own). 

Its also very Americacentric (even Anglocentric) to say the Cramptons didn't work out. They were mainstays on the continent to the extent that many were still at work until the 20th century and were as good as it got for mid nineteenth century solutions for fast running with moderately weighted trains apart from using Brunel gauge. The C&A 6-2-0 design was a notably poorly conceived road of the Crampton layout and sadly that's about as far as it's legacy went in the US. The track conditions of Great Britain and the US weren't as suited for it as the continent was. 

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