© Railway Wonders of the World 2012-20  |  Contents  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us at info@railwaywondersoftheworld.com

Editorial to Part 12

NEXT week we shall continue the chapter begun in this part on the operation of the Vacuum Brake. The explanation of this most important item of railway equipment will then be completed.

A special feature of Part 13 (on sale next Friday) will be a brilliant chapter on the Railways of India. Throughout India the Government exercises direct or indirect control over all the railways through a Railway Board. Private railways and large companies now more or less form one great unit operating over 42,000 miles of track.

AMONG other chapters I shall include one on the famous LNER express engine, “Cock o’ the North”, recently so much before the public eye after its trials on the locomotive-testing plant at Vitry, in France. This locomotive, designed by Mr. H. N. Gresley, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER, was built to work the East Coast day and night expresses over the heavily graded lines between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Its three cylinders and valve chests are in one casting, which practice, although common in America, is not so frequent in this country, while the steam admission and exhaust are controlled by means of poppet valves. The double chimney is also a most unusual feature. The chapter will be a highly informative one, and the secrets of this giant of the railroad will be explained both in text and diagrams.

THE beginning of the story of the London and North Eastern Railway will also appear in Part 13. The company, which came into operation in 1923, consists of the former Great Eastern, Great Northern, and many other well-known old groups. The Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in 1825, the first public railway in the world, was the nucleus of the present company. The story of the LNER is thus one of the most vital of all railway stories. To-day the LNER has over 16,000 miles of single track in service.

THIS week’s cover (Part 12) is a night-scene on the Southern Railway system, showing a mixed-traffic engine of the 2-6-0 type about to enter a station. It is, as I am sure all readers will agree, a strikingly satisfactory departure from the usual “day-time” cover.

M.V.T. (Wembley Park) raises that oft-repeated and seldom-answered question, “Why does an engine puff?” The answer is, of course, that the puff is caused by the used steam which, on its release from the cylinders, is ejected with force through the chimney. Further to satisfy M.V.T.’s welcome curiosity, a four-cylinder engine does not necessarily “puff” twice as often per wheel revolution as a two-cylinder engine, because the four cranks are usually set at right-angles, producing four exhaust beats for each revolution of the driving wheels. The eight exhausts are thrown from the chimney in pairs, not one by one. The “Lord Nelson” class of locomotive on the Southern Railway is, however, an exception. In engines of this type the two inside cranks are set at right-angles, as are the outside cranks. But the outside left-hand crank is set at only half a right-angle to the inside right-hand crank. Consequently, the exhausts are thrown singly and not in pairs, giving eight beats for each revolution of the driving wheels.

ANOTHER letter, this time from G.N. (Southend), presents this question: “What happens when a rich man telephones to a railway company and says that he wants a special train for himself and his staff to travel on a certain day, say, from London to Cardiff?” Well, I have never been able to do this myself, since it is a privilege of millionaires, and the answer to the question would take too much space in this, my personal page; but G.N. will later find a complete chapter on special trains of this nature. It is, in fact, a fascinating sidelight on one of the many odd problems which the railways are from time to time called upon to face.

K.R.N. (Leeds) has asked when a chapter on the railway in Scandinavia will appear, as he is especially interested in that part of the world. My correspondent will find in Part 13 a long complete chapter about the railway in the land of the midnight sun - Norway. In this contribution there is included a description of the Oslo-Bergen Railway which, from the engineering point of view, is nothing less than one of the railway wonders of the world. All readers who have their own railway preferences will in time discover the real catholicity of this production.

Part 13Readers who have followed me thus far in this fascinating work should, if they have not already done so, place a standing order with their newsagents to ensure regular delivery.




“Cock o’ the North”, mighty “Mikado” type locomotive of the London and North Eastern Railway, cannot be compared with any other express designs. It is unique.

On Friday next we shall place in your hands a description of this great locomotive in detail - the wonderful high pressure boiler, the double chimney, the remarkable Lentz valve gear that admits superheated steam to the cylinders - and this full explanation is accompanied by a splendid double-page picture showing the interior of the boiler and working components.

The “Cock o’ the North” has recently returned from France after undergoing trials on the great locomotive testing machine at Vitry-sur-Seine, near Paris. No testing plant large enough to accommodate the huge locomotive exists in Britain, but much useful data has been collected by our engineers as a result of this visit.

Cock o the North diagram







The following week, in Part 14, we shall be showing a striking coloured plate of yet another giant engine, this time at the head of that famous American express, the “Twentieth Century Limited.”

Part 14 will also contain a second coloured picture showing the “Flying Scotsman” leaving King’s Cross on its journey to the North.