In England the T rail still continues to be used. The London and Birmingham Railway, opened in 1838, was laid with Berkenshaw rails; part with the straight and part with the fish-bellied rail, and the remainder with reversible "bull-headed" rail, both types being supported by chairs.4

Sixty years have elapsed since this rail was adopted by the Camden and Amboy Company, and with the exception of slight alterations in the proportions incident to increased weight, no radical change has been made in the "Stevens rail," which is now in use on every railroad in America. Many improvements have been made in the joint fixture, but the "tongue" or fish plate improved into the angle splice bar is in general use, and nothing has yet been found to take the place of the "hook-headed" railroad spike which Robert Stevens then designed.

The track upon which we stand was the first in the world that was laid with the rail and spike now in general use.

Mr. Stevens Examines English Locomotives

Mr. Stevens divided his time while abroad between arranging for the manufacture of track material and examining the English locomotives that were being constructed or had been in service.

A year had elapsed since the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and the English mechanics had not been idle. The "Rocket," although successful in the Rainhill contest, when put to work had shown many defects that Stephenson & Co. were striving to correct in subsequent locomotives.

The "Planet," built by that firm, was tried in public December 4, 1830, shortly after Mr. Stevens arrived in England, and at that time was undoubtedly the best locomotive in the world.

The "John Bull" Ordered

Mr. Stevens was present at a trial when the "Planet" showed most satisfactory properties, and he at once ordered a locomotive of similar construction, from the same manufacturers, for the Camden and Amboy Railroad. This engine, afterward called the "John Bull" and "No. 1," was completed in May and shipped by sailing vessel from Newcastle-on-Tyne in June, 1831, arriving in Philadelphia about the middle of August of that year. It was then transferred to a sloop at Chestnut Street wharf, Philadelphia, whence it was taken to Bordentown.

The "John Bull" Arrives At Bordentown

The following circumstances connected with the arrival of the engine at Bordentown, N.J., are related by Isaac Dripps, Esq., for many years master mechanic of the Camden and Am boy Railroad, and afterward superintendent of motive power of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who is now, after a busy life, enjoying a peaceable retirement at his pleasant home in West Philadelphia.

Mr. Dripps, who is now in the eighty-second year of his age, was employed by Robert and Edwin Stevens in repairing and assisting with their steamboats on the Delaware River and at Hoboken as early as 1829. When the "John Bull" arrived in Philadelphia he was detailed by Robert Stevens to attend to the transportation of the engine to Bordentown, where it was landed safely the last week in August, 1831.

The boiler and cylinders were in place, but the loose parts - rods, pistons, valves, etc. - were packed in boxes. No drawings or directions for putting the engine together had come to hand, and young Dripps, who had never seen a locomotive, found great difficulty in discovering how to put the parts in place, alone and unassisted, as Robert Stevens, who had returned from Europe, was absent at Hoboken at the time attending to other matters.

Dimensions Of Engine And Parts

The bronze bass-relief upon the monument, made from the working drawing furnished by Mr. Dripps, is an exact representation of the locomotive when it arrived in America.

The engine originally weighed about ten tons. The boiler was thirteen feet long and three feet six inches in diameter. The cylinders were nine inches by twenty inches. There were four driving wheels, four feet six inches in diameter, arranged with outside cranks for connecting parallel rods, but owing to the sharp curves on the road these rods were never used. The driving wheels were made with cast iron hubs and wooden (locust) spokes and felloes. The tires were of wrought iron, three quarters of an inch thick, the tread being five inches and the depth of flange one and a half inches. The gauge was originally five feet from center to center of rails. The boiler was composed of sixty-two flues seven feet six inches long, two inches in diameter; the furnace was three feet seven inches long and three feet two inches high, for burning wood. The steam ports were one and one-eighth inches by six and a half inches; the exhaust ports one and one-eighth by six and a half inches; grate surface, ten feet eight inches; fire box surface, thirty-six feet; flue surface, two hundred and thirteen feet; weight, without fuel or water, twenty-two thousand four hundred and twenty-five pounds.

After the valves were in gear and the engine in motion, two levers on the engineman's side moved back and forth continuously. When it was necessary to put the locomotive on the turntable, enginemen who were skilled in the handling of the engines first put the valves out of gear by turning the handle down, and then worked the levers by hand, thus moving the valves to the proper position and stopping the engine at the exact point desired.

The reversing gear was a very complicated affair. The two eccentrics were secured to a sleeve or barrel, which fitted loosely on the crank shaft, between the two cranks, so as to turn freely. A treadle was used to change the position of this loose eccentric sleeve on the shaft of the driving wheel (moving it to the right or left) when it was necessary to reverse. Two carriers were secured firmly to the body of this shaft (one on each side of the eccentrics); one carrier worked the engine ahead, the other back. The small handle on the right side of the boiler was used to lift the eccentric rod (which passed forward to the rock shaft on the forward part of the engine) off the pin, and thus put the valves out of gear before it was possible to shift the sleeve and reverse the engine.