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A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine

Trevithick built a railroad in London


and management of large pumping-engines, and subsequently went into the business of constructing steam-engines with another engineer, Edward Bull, who took an active part, with the Hornblowers and others, in opposing the Boulton & Watt patents. The termination of the suits which established the validity of Watt's patent put an end to their business, and Trevithick looked about for other work, and, not long after, entered into partnership with a relative, Andrew Vivian, who was also a skillful mechanic; they together designed and patented the steam-carriage already referred to. Its success was sufficiently satisfactory to awaken strong confidence of a perfect success on the now common tram-roads; and Trevithick, in February, 1804, had completed a "locomotive" engine to work on the Welsh Pen-y-darran road. This engine (Fig. 50) had a cylindrical flue-boiler, _A_, like that designed by Oliver Evans, and a single steam-cylinder, _B_, set vertically into the steam-space of the boiler, and driving the outside cranks, _L_, on the rear axle of the engine by very long connecting-rods, _D_, attached to its cross-head at _E_. The guide-bars, _I_, were stayed by braces leading to the opposite end of the boiler. No attempt was made to condense the exhaust-steam, which was discharged into the smoke-pipe. The pressure of steam adopted was 40 pounds per square inch; but Trevithick had already made a number of non-condensing engines on which he carried from 50 to 145 pounds pressure.

In the year 1808, Trevithick built a railroad in London, on what was known later as Torrington Square, or Euston Square, and set at work a steam-carriage, which he called "Catch-me-who-can." This was a very plain and simple machine. The steam-cylinder was set vertically in the after-end of the boiler, and the cross-head was connected to two rods, one on either side, driving the hind pair of wheels. The exhaust-steam entered the chimney, aiding the draught. This engine, weighing about 10 tons, made from 12 to 15 miles an hour on the circular railway in London, and was said by its builder to be capable of making 20 miles an hour. The engine was finally thrown from the track, after some weeks of work, by the breaking of a rail, and, Trevithick's funds having been expended, it was never replaced. This engine had a steam-cylinder 14-1/2 inches in diameter, and a stroke of piston of 4 feet. Trevithick used no device to aid the friction of the wheels on the rails in giving pulling-power, and seems to have understood that none was needed. This plan of working a locomotive-engine without such complications as had been proposed by other engineers was, however, subsequently patented, in 1813, by Blackett & Hedley. The latter was at one time Trevithick's agent, and was director of Wylam Colliery, of which Mr. Blackett was proprietor.

Trevithick applied his high-pressure non-conducting engine not only to locomotives, but to every purpose that opportunity offered him. He put one into the Tredegar Iron-Works, to drive the puddle-train, in 1801. This engine had a steam-cylinder 28 inches in diameter, and 6 feet stroke of piston; a boiler of cast-iron, 6-3/4 feet in diameter and 20 feet long, with a wrought-iron internal tube, 3 feet in diameter at the furnace-end and 24 inches beyond the furnace. The steam-pressure ranged from 50 to 100 pounds per square inch. The valve was a four-way cock. The exhaust-steam was carried into the chimney, passing through a feed-water heater _en route_. This engine was taken down in 1856.[48]

[48] "Life of Trevithick."

In 1803, Trevithick applied his engine to driving rock-drills, and three years later made a large contract with the Trinity Board for dredging in the Thames, and constructed steam dredging-machines for the work, of the form which is still most generally used in Great Britain, although rarely seen in the United States--the "chain-and-bucket dredger."


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