Steam train 136mph!?

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by YmeBP, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I was watching Modern Marvels about bullet trains on the History Channel today and got a neat fact that in 1930 a steam train hit 136mph!! I never knew steam could get moving so fast! especially back then. Anyone know what the trian was called or details surrounding it? They didn't provide much in the way of detail.

    As an aside they are showing another show on trains this saturday at 3pm easter on history channel.

    And the last thing has anyone else noticed the number of CSX ads that have been running on tv recently?
  2. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    wasnt that the mallard? im not sure which road it was from but i knew it was british.i had never heard of an american prototype going over 110.
    As for alot of CSX ads, i have seen ALOT more over the past few months,it kinda weirded me out as i havent seen one in forever,i even saw a UP ad on the history channel last week.maybe CSX is trying to revive C&O's big time P R ads :twisted::eek::thumb:.--josh
  3. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    There used to be an old saying, "you could make a steam engine go as fast as your nerve allowed."
  4. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    I read a story about Pennsy T-1 engineers pushing their locomotives to 140 in the back country of Pennsylvania late at night when they were running late headed to Philly.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    The officially recognized record is 126-127 mph by Mallard of the London and North Eastern Railway in Britain.
    The occasion was called "braking trials" and a lot of press was brought along for the ride. The train included the dynamometer car, so the record was recorded. Some other country complained because it was done on their best maintained straight track, down a slight grade. The run was halted prematurely because the bearings on the inside rods overheated.
    There is a creaky old 4-4-0 in the RR museum of Pennsylvania that is claimed to have done the same thing.
  6. Denyons

    Denyons Member

    Being a Brit. I know all about this one. I see you put 60103 but Mallard's number was 60022 and you are correct that the speed record for a steamer is just over 126mph. That record still stands today. You can see the class A4 Mallard in the fantastic National Railway Museum in York, England.
    I used to go to there regularly as a kid, train spotting on the LNER main line at York station. The museum is in the former York depot roundhouses.
    I also have an N Scale model of Mallard.
  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I believe (I think this was also in the Hist. Channel) that the last of the Berkshires made for NKP, had all of the available "upgrades" for the time in both steam generation and running gear, and were capable of sustaining 100+ mph for prolonged periods of time. Whether or not they made have set speed records of any sort I don't recall...
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

  9. puddlejumper

    puddlejumper Member

    It's an E6s Atlantic 4-4-2, PRR #460, it pulled the Lindbergh special from Washington, D.C. to NYC at a reported maximum of 115 MPH. Known as the locomotvie that beat an airplane.

    For a little comparison, the speeds at which we are talking about these STEAM locomotives running are right there with the current Acela Express (125 MPH)

  10. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Somewhat off topic, 999 was a one-off locomotive (a variant of an existing class) that was built specifically to run a record speed, with the intention to put a finger in the eye of the Pennsylvania railroad. The 86" drivers didn't last long - she was rebuilt 6 years later with 70" drivers.

    I like this quote, which summarizes the reason for the rebuild well: "She was a real runner, but not much on starting". (from the book "New York Central - Early Power" by Alvin Stauffer)
  11. Nick8564

    Nick8564 Member

    Norfolk and Westerns Class J 4-8-4 would sustain speeds of 110 mph and there was a story that an engineer opened one up on a stright shot and got +120 I believe, until he got scared and backed it down. They claim it could have done more than that at full throttle.
  12. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    There are lots of claims of 120+, and "...coulda done more...", but there's no documented proof - except for the Mallard run.

    I believe 100mph was common for passenger trains on stretches of NYC's water-level route, and the Canada Southern through Ontario... of course that was from the days before bean-counters decided that dividends were more important than the little things like maintenance... :rolleyes:
  13. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Seriously guys/gals I'm amazed!!! I knew steam was capable, but not THAT capable, heck even 90+mph sustained is a feat. I mean think about it in the 20's cars were having trouble going 60 to 70!!

    Makes me look twice at the steam era, maybe there is room in the house for a small steam layout sign1
  14. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Some of these may not have documented proof, but they have more than one eye witness. Also, there are instances where a train traveled between two places with such speed that it MUST have been going over 126mph. The Mallard was just the only steam loco to do it in an official capacity.
  15. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    I found an interesting discussion with a pretty good signal to noise ratio on late high performance steam (part of which touches on speed) here:
    Duplex Steam Locomotive / Steam discussion - Forums

    Thought I'd pass it on, I learned something (though it still makes me feel for a stretch of track that has to endure the hammering (literally) of a passing high speed steam locomotive...).
  16. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I'd certainly question that. A J has only 70" drivers, unlike the 80" or so of most record contenders.
  17. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Triplex, that was my thought as well. The thread I linked (if you read through it, and assuming it is scholarly work) stated that at one point on the Pennsy tests, they had the J up to 115... which is when the piston valve seized in the valve cage. 110 for drivers that size is very impressive, 115 is astounding. Maybe 120 wasn't impossible, but I'd think the machine would be taking an astounding beating at that speed. At 110, the drivers would be turning 528 rpm (assuming no wear on the tires) - 8.8 times per second with reciprocating gear going from dead stop, reversing, to dead stop again at twice that rate. I'd like to figure out what the piston speed is mid stroke, but I don't have the math for that. Wow. It's amazing they didn't throw parts everywhere.

    I don't have the citation, but I've read that N&W took a different tack on their counterbalancing scheme to allow high speeds without sacrificing acceleration / hill climbing advantage that small (for passenger engines) drivers allowed. One of a counterweight's tasks is to offset piston thrusts to keep thrust-induced yaw under control. The downside to correct thrust counter weighting is a wheel that is more out of balance vertically, leading to severe rail hammering as speeds increase. N&W chose to increase stiffness of the lead trucks lateral motion to control yaw, allowing the overall counterweighting to be reduced. I have have no idea whether this decision was to allow higher speeds or to reduce track hammering, but I'd suspect the former. I imagine that the extra stiffness had it's own disadvantages, but those must have been manageable.

  18. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Steam's "power curve" is a lot different than a diesels, so steam tends to take much longer to get up to speed. Couple that with the fact that most people now who've ridden behind steam have only done so on slow speed fan trips, and it makes sense people would incorrectly think of steam as being slow and not very powerful.

    The Milwaukee used to have a sign at the diamond at Rondout IL saying "SLOW TO 90 MPH"!! The MILW Atlantics and Hudsons could really move.

    Keep in mind in 1935 you could get from Minneapolis/St.Paul to Chicago a couple of hours faster than you can now via Amtrak...and do it with steam powered trains.
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Someplace on YouTube must be a video of the locomotive Blue Peter destroying itself. Blue Peter is a Pacific designed by one of Gresley's successors (Peppercorn).
    On a fan trip it started to slip and the driver didn't manage to control it. The drivers spun at some unimaginable speed with no load and twisted the valve gear into knots.
    (I haven't been able to ring myself to watch it).
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    PRR's T1s could and would hit 100 mph between Crestline and Ft.Wayne..This was done on a routine bases.
    Squidbait said:There are lots of claims of 120+, and "...coulda done more...", but there's no documented proof - except for the Mallard run.
    Why would a engineer or dispatcher risk their jobs by documenting illegal speeds? Recall all the front office was interested in was the passenger trains arriving on the advertised even if it was running late.They never question how it arrived on time unless something went wrong such as a derailment or collision where excessive speed was a factor and then woe to the engineer and conductor for exceeding the track speed!

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