A difference of opinion has of late years existed amongst Railway engineers as to the relative merits of four and six-wheeled engines. Amongst the advocates of each there are men of talent and experience; and amongst the locomotives made on each plan there are many of a highly efficient character; and all seem to be constructed with so much solid beauty of workmanship, as to render them very imposing examples of mechanical skill. The frabrication of these splendid machines can only be conducted with due economy in large works, where the self-acting machinery is elaborate, powerful, and of the highest quality. Hence the manufacture of railway locomotive engines is confined to comparatively few establishments, amongst whom there is a rivalry for producing the best engines. And when any accident occurs to an engine, it is too often attributed by a rival to a defect in its construction, which may not have contributed to it in the slightest degree.
To arrive at a correct knowledge of the comparative economy and mechanical advantages between the engines of rival companies, any ordinary inquirer would meet with insuperable difficulties; because, the advocates and parties he must consult on either side are generally interested in the result. The only means of attaining certain information, would be by the appointment of a parliamentary commission of able and independent men, similar to that which recently so admirably investigated, and decided the question of the rival gauges; which commission would have the power of calling for all the evidence that could be obtained, and of proving experimentally the facts elicited. If we are to believe the statements of the rival parties who have figured in this paper controversy, it is not merely a question of science, or of public convenience that has to be determined, but one wherein life is placed in serious jeopardy; one party going so far as to charge the other with the sacrifice of "more than a hundred lives," by persisting in their supposed erroneous system of construction!
The chief manufacturers as well as champions of the four-wheeled locomotive engine, are Messrs. Bury, Curtis, and Kennedy, of the Clarence Foundry, Liverpool, who make them for the London and Birmingham railway, where they have been continually and exclusively used, we believe ever since its first opening. "To show the process of reasoning by which, aided by experience and the closest observation, they have arrived at the conclusion of preferring the four-wheeled to the six-wheeled engines," they sent forth a Circular in vindication, accompanied with engravings of the "Albeit." To this measure they were induced, they state, because "there have not been wanting those whose anxiety to feed the public prejudice, and to profit by the effect of it, has led them to allege many things against four-wheeled engines, which are both untenable in principle, and untrue in fact," and because "in all the discussions which have taken place on the subject, none, or scarcely any stress, has been laid on that which is substantially the main feature of the whole case; namely, the different effects of inside and outside bearings." This Circular has been answered in the pages of the Mechanics' Magazine by a rival party, under the anomynous signature of " A Practical Engineer," who, we are assured by the Editor of that excellent Periodical, is a gentleman of as high authority on railway matters, as Messrs. Bury, Curtis, and Kennedy.
We shall now proceed to give the Circular of Messrs. Bury & Co., and place in juxta-position the answer to it by a "Practical Engineer," to save needless repetition and space, and for the convenience of our readers.
To render the arguments of Messrs. Bury, Curtis, and Kennedy in favour of their four-wheeled locomotives more readily intelligible, we shall first lay before the reader the drawings and description of the "Albert" four-wheeled locomotive, combining their recent improvements.
Messrs. Bury, Curtis, and Kennedy's Circular.
1. The Manchester and Liverpool railway was the first that ventured upon the use of steam locomotive power, for the conveyance of passengers at a rapid rate, and the first engine made for that great and spirited undertaking, in 1828, had six wheels. This engine, however, failed to give satisfaction, and a premium of £500 was, in the same year, offered by the Directors for the best engine.
After many trials the premium was awarded to a four-wheeled engine.
On the foregoing paragraph 1, the "Practical Engineer" states, that the engine supposed to be alluded to (The Twin sisters) was not accepted by the Company, " because it would not generate steam enough for the speed required, and not because it had six wheels, or outside framing, as the framing was not of that kind."
2. The four-wheeled engines of that day had all of them outside frames, and were used on the Liverpool and Manchester railroad for four or five years, without other objections than the loss from the breakage of axles, arising from the defective plan of the frame, viz., in its being placed outside the wheels.
In reply to paragraph 2, the " Practical Engineer" says, "The following engines were the first employed on the Liverpool and Manchester railway after its opening: and all of them had inside framings; crank pins in the leading wheels: with four wheels each; namely, the Rock et, Meteor, Arrow, Comet, Dart, North Star, Northumbrian, and Majestic."
Side Elevation Of Messrs
Bury, Curtis And Kennedy's Four-Wheeled Locomotive Engine.
Plan Of Messrs
Bury, Curtis, And Kennedy's Four-Wheeled Locomotive Engine.