Puffing Billy locomotive 1814 - locomotive.worldmy.info

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Puffing Billy locomotive 1814

History locomotives

Puffing Billy locomotive 1814

This is one of the two oldest railway locomotives still in existence anywhere in the world, the other being its sister, Wylam Dilly. Almost every railway history book ever published states that Dilly is the older of the two, but we can reveal that 21st century research undertaken by Edinburgh Museum expert John Crompton has shown that the opposite is in fact the case.

Puffing Billy locomotive 1814

Puffing Billy locomotive 1814
Driving wheel dia
meter  3ft 3in
Cylinder (2)  
8in  x 4ft 6in
8 tons
Science  Museum

He has conducted an unprecedentedly-thorough physical examination of the two locomotives and found irrefutable evidence that the boiler of Dilly demonstrates a process of learning by experience from the construction methods used on Billy. As a result, the Science Museum and Early Railways Conference have now changed the date of Dillys construction to “circa 1815", meaning it comes after its 1814-built sister, not before.

Piuffing Billy
was built by William Hedley and Timothy Hackworth for the Wylam colliery, Northumberland, where it was used to haul coal on the Wylam waggonway. Like the Penydarren locomotive in the previous decade, it proved too heavy for the weak plateway track and both it and Dilly' each had to be fitted with four extra wheels to spread the load. By 1830, rail manufacturing processes had improved sufficiently for the engines to be converted back to 0-4-0s.

Puffing Billy's two vertical cylinders drove connecting rods via grasshopper beams' running fore-and-aft. The final drive was via gears fixed to the driving axles. Despite their primitive iron boilers, Billy and Dilly enjoyed remarkably long lives and werent retired until the early- 1860s. Fortunately, Edward Blackett, the owner of Wylam colliery at that time, realised their historical value and in 1862 allowed Billy to be lent to what is now the Science Museum in London. The museum later bought the engine and it remains there to this day.

Even though considered the junior for so long, Puffing Billy
is by far the better-known of the two - its higher-profile presence in London and its rather onomatopoeic name having made it a favourite of generations of children in the days before Thomas the Tank Engine. The name is also said to be the origin behind the popular phrase “puffing like billy-o”.

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