The History of the Baldwin Locomotive Works
Excerpts (Chapters 1 and 2) from Fred Westing’s, The Locomotives that Baldwin Built. The material was originally produced in an earlier history largely written by Paul T. Warner and is widely available in the many catalogs of Baldwin engines. These excerpts cover the period through 1835 when Hopkin Thomas was at Baldwin. [J. McV., Dec., 2007]
THE FIRST BALDWIN LOCOMOTIVE
THE Baldwin Locomotive Works dates its origin from the inception of steam railroads in America. Called into existence by the early requirements of the railroad interests of the country, it has grown With their growth and kept pace with their progress. It has reflected in its career the successive stages of American railroad practice, and has itself contributed largely to the development of the locomotive as it exists today. A history of The Baldwin Locomotive Works, therefore, is in a great measure, a record of the progress of locomotive engineering in this country, and as such cannot fail to be of interest to those who are concerned in this important element of our material progress.
At the present date (1923?), the Works occupy 19.6 acres in the heart of Philadelphia and 616 acres at Eddystone, on the Delaware River, twelve miles below the city. The offices and principal machine shops are situated in the rectangle bounded on the north by Spring Garden Street, on the east by Broad Street, on the south by the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Subway and on the West by Nineteenth Street. There are also shops located oil the line of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway at Twenty-sixth to Twenty-ninth Streets.
MATTHIAS W. BALDWIN, the founder of the establishment, learned the trade of a jeweler, and entered the service of Fletcher & Gardiner, Jewelers and Silversmiths, Philadelphia, in 1817. Two years later he opened a small shop, in the same line of business, on his own account. The demand for articles of this character falling off, however, he formed a partnership in 1825, with David Mason, a machinist, in the manufacture of bookbinders' tools and cylinders for calico printing. Their shop was in "Coffee-House Alley," which ran north from Walnut Street, above Fourth. They afterward removed to Minor Street, below Sixth. The business was so successful that steam power became necessary in carrying on their manufacture, and an engine was bought for the purpose. This proving unsatisfactory, Mr. Baldwin decided to design and construct one which should be specially adapted to the requirements of his shop. One of these requirements was that it should occupy the least possible space, and this was met by the construction of an upright engine on a novel and ingenious plan. On a bed-plate about five feet square an upright cylinder was placed; the piston rod connected to a cross-bar having two legs turned downward, and sliding in grooves on the sides of the cylinder, which thus formed the guides. To the sides of these legs, at their lower ends, was connected by pivots an U-shaped frame, prolonged at the arch into a single rod, which took hold of the crank of a flywheel carried by upright standards on the bed-plate. It will be seen that the length of the ordinary separate guide-bars was thus saved, and the whole engine was brought within the smallest possible compass. The design of the machine was not only unique, but its workmanship was so excellent, and its efficiency so great, as readily to procure for Mr. Baldwin orders for additional stationary engines. His attention was thus turned to steam engineering, and the way was prepared for his grappling with the problem of the locomotive when the time should arrive.
This original stationary engine, constructed prior to 1830, is still in good order and carefully preserved at the Works. It has successively supplied the power in six different departments as they have been opened, from time to time, in the growth of the business.
The manufacture of stationary steam engines thus took a prominent place in the establishment, and Mr. Mason shortly afterward withdrew from the partnership.
In 1829-30 the use of steam as a motive power oil railroads had begun to engage the attention of American engineers. A few locomotives had been imported from England, and one (which, however, was not successful) had been constructed at the West Point Foundry, in New York City. To gratify the public interest in the new motor, Mr. Franklin Peale, then proprietor of the Philadelphia Museum, applied to Mr. Baldwin to construct a miniature locomotive for exhibition in his establishment. With the aid only of the imperfect published descriptions and sketches of the locomotives which had taken part in the Rainhill competition in England, Mr. Baldwin undertook the work, and on the 25th of April, 1831, the miniature locomotive was put in motion oil a circular track made of pine boards covered with hoop iron, in the rooms of the Museum. Two small cars, containing seats for four passengers, were attached to it, and the novel spectacle attracted crowds of admiring spectators. Both anthracite and pine-knot coal were used as fuel, and the exhaust steam was discharged into the chimney, thus utilizing it to increase the draught.
The success of the model was such that, in the same year, Mr. Baldwin received an order for a locomotive from the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad Company, whose line of six miles to Germantown was operated by horse power. The Camden and Amboy Railroad Company had shortly before imported a locomotive from England, which was stored in a shed at Bordentown. It had not yet been put together; but Mr. Baldwin, in company with his friend Mr. Peale, visited the spot, inspected the detached parts, and made a few memoranda of some of its principal dimensions. Guided by these figures and his experience with the Peale model, Mr. Baldwin commenced the task. The difficulties to be overcome in filling the order can hardly be appreciated at this day. There were few mechanics competent to do any part of the work on a locomotive. Suitable tools were with difficulty obtainable. Cylinders were bored by a chisel fixed in a block of wood and turned by hand. Blacksmiths able to weld a bar of iron exceeding one and one-quarter inches in thickness were few, or not to be had. It was necessary for Mr. Baldwin to do much of the work with his own hands, to educate the workmen who assisted him, and to improvise tools for the various processes.
The work was prosecuted, nevertheless, under all these difficulties, and the locomotive was fully completed, christened "Old Ironsides," and tried on the road, November 23, 1832. The circumstances of the trial are fully preserved, and are given, farther on, in the extracts from the journals of the day. Despite some imperfections, naturally occurring in a first effort, and afterward to a great extent remedied, the engine was, for that early day, a marked and gratifying success. It was put at once into service, as appears from the Company's advertisement three days after the trial, and did duty on the Germantown road and others for over a score of years.
The Old Ironsides, 1832
The "Ironsides" was a four-wheeled engine, modeled essentially on the English practice of that day, as shown in the "Planet" class, and weighed, in running order, something over five tons. The rear or driving wheels were 54 inches in diameter on a crank axle placed in front of the firebox. The cranks were 39 inches from center to center. The front wheels, which were simply carrying wheels, were 45 inches in diameter, on an axle placed just back of the cylinders. The cylinders were 9-1/2 inches in diameter by 18 inches stroke, and were attached horizontally to the outside of the smokebox, which was D-shaped, with the sides receding inwardly, so as to bring the center line of each cylinder in line with the center of the crank. The wheels were made with heavy cast-iron hubs, wooden spokes and rims, and wrought-iron tires. The frame was of wood, placed outside the wheels. The boiler was 30 inches in diameter, and contained 72 copper tubes, 1-1/2 inches in diameter and seven feet long. The tender was a four-wheeled platform, with wooden sides and back, carrying an iron box for a water tank, enclosed in a wooden casing, and with a space for fuel in front. The engine had no cab. The valve motion was at first given by a single loose eccentric for each cylinder, placed on the axle between the crank and the hub of the wheel. On the inside of the eccentric was a half-circular slot, running half way around. A stop was fastened to the axle at the arm of the crank, terminating in a pin which projected into the slot. The engine was reversed by changing the position of the eccentric on the axle by a lever operated from the footboard. This form of valve motion was, however, shortly afterward changed, and a single fixed eccentric for each cylinder substituted. The rock shafts, which were under the footboard, had arms above and below, and the eccentric straps had each a forked rod,with a hook, or an upper and lower latch or pin, at their extremities, to engage with the upper or lower arm of the rock shaft. The eccentric rods were raised or lowered by a double treadle, so as to connect with the upper or lower arm of the rock shaft, according as forward or backward gear was desired. A peculiarity in the exhaust of the "Ironsides " was that there was only a single straight pipe running across from one cylinder to the other, with an opening in the upper side of the pipe, midway between the cylinders, to which was attached at right angles the perpendicular pipe into the chimney. The cylinders, therefore, exhausted against each other; and it was found, after the engine had been put in use, that this was a serious objection. This defect was afterward remedied by turning each exhaust pipe upward into the chimney substantially as it is now done. The steam joints were made with canvas and red lead, as was the practice in English locomotives, and in consequence much trouble was caused, from time to time, by leaking.
The price of the engine was to have been $4000, but some difficulty was found in procuring a settlement. The Company claimed that the engine did not perform according to contract; and objection was also made to some of the defects alluded to. After these had been corrected as far as possible, however, Mr. Baldwin finally succeeded in effecting a compromise settlement, and received from the Company $3500 for the machine.
The results of the trial and the impression produced by it on the public mind may be gathered from the following extracts from the newspapers of the day:
The United States Gazette, of November 24, 1832, remarked:
"A most gratifying experiment was made yesterday afternoon on the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad. The beautiful locomotive engine and tender, built by Mr. Baldwin, of this city, whose reputation as an ingenious machinist is well known, were for the first time placed on the road. The engine traveled about six miles, working with perfect accuracy and case in all its parts, and with great velocity."
The Chronicle of the same date noticed the trial more at length, as follows:
" It gives us pleasure to state that the locomotive engine built by our townsman, M. W. Baldwin, has proved highly successful. In the presence of several gentlemen of science and information on such subjects, the engine was yesterday placed upon the road for the first time, All her parts had been previously highly finished and fitted together in Mr. Baldwin’s factory. She was taken apart on Tuesday, and removed to the Company's depot and yesterday morning she was completely together, ready for travel. After the regular passenger cars had arrived front Germantown in the afternoon, the tracks being clear, preparation was made for her starting. The placing fire in the furnace and raising steam occupied 20 minutes. The engine (with her tender) moved front the depot in beautiful style, working with great ease and uniformity. She proceeded about half a mile beyond the Union Tavern at the township line, and returned immediately, a distance of six miles, at a speed of about 28 miles to the hour, her speed having been slackened at all the road crossings, and it being after dark, but a portion of her power was used. It is needless to say that the spectators were delighted. From this experiment there is every reason to believe this engine will draw 30 tons gross, at all average speed of 40 miles an hour, on a level road. The principal superiority of the engine over any of the English ones known consists in the light weight which is but between four and five tons - her small bulk, and the simplicity of her working machinery. We rejoice at the result of this experiment, as it conclusively shows that Philadelphia, always famous for the skill of her mechanics, is enabled to produce steam engines for railroads combining so many superior qualities as to warrant, the belief that her mechanics will hereafter supply nearly all the public works of this description in the country.”
On subsequent trials, the " Ironsides" attained it speed of 30 miles per hour, with its usual train attached. So great were the wonder and curiosity which attached to such a prodigy, that people flocked to see the marvel, and eagerly bought the privilege of riding after the strange monster. The officers of the road were not slow to avail themselves of the public interest to increase their passenger receipts, and the advertisement on page 14, from Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, of November 26, 1832, will show that as, yet they regarded the new machine rather as it curiosity and a bait to allure travel than as a practical every-day servant.
This announcement did not mean that in wet weather horses would be attached to the locomotive to aid it in drawing the train, but that the usual horse cars would be employed in making the trips upon the road without the engine.
Upon making the first trip to Germantown with a passenger train with the " Ironsides," one of the drivers slipped upon tile axle, causing the wheels to track less than the gauge of the road and drop in between the rails. It was also discovered that the valve arrangement of the pumps was defective, and they failed to supply the boiler with water. The shifting of the driving wheel upon the axle fastened the eccentric, so that it would not operate in backward motion. These mishaps caused delay, and prevented the engine from reaching its destination, to the great disappointment of all concerned. They were corrected in a few days, and the machine was used in experimenting upon its efficiency, making occasional trips with trains to Germantown. The road had an ascending grade, nearly uniform, of 32 feet per mile, and for the last half mile of 45 feet per mile, and it was found that the engine was too light for the business of the road upon these grades.
Such was Mr. Baldwin's first locomotive; and it is related of him that his discouragement at the difficulties which he had undergone in building it, and in finally procuring a settlement for it, was such that he remarked to one of his friends, with much decision, "That is our last locomotive."
It was some time before lie received an order for another, but meanwhile the subject had become singularly fascinating to him, and occupied his mind so fully that he was eager to work out his new ideas in a tangible form.
EARLY IMPROVEMENTS IN THE LOCOMOTIVE
Shortly after the "Ironsides" had been placed on the Germantown road, Mr. E. L. Miller, of Charleston, S. C., came to Philadelphia and made a careful examination of the machine. Mr. Miller had, in 1830, contracted to furnish a locomotive to the Charleston and Hamburg Railroad Company, and accordingly the engine "Best Friend" had been built under his direction at the West Point Foundry, New York.
The “Best Friend” of Charleston
After inspecting the "Ironsides," he suggested to Mr. Baldwin to visit the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, and examine in English locomotive which had been placed on that road in July, 1831, by Messrs. Robert Stephenson & Co., of Newcastle, England.
It was originally a four-wheeled engine of the "Planet" type, with horizontal cylinders and crank axle. The front wheels of this engine were removed about a year after the machine was put at work, and a four-wheeled swiveling or "bogie" truck substituted. The result of Mr. Baldwin's investigations was the adoption of this design, but with some important improvements. Among these was the "half-crank," which he devised on his return from this trip, and which he patented September 10, 1834. In this form of crank, the outer arm is omitted, and the wrist is fixed in a spoke of the wheel. In other words, the wheel itself formed one arm of tile crank. The result sought and gained was that the cranks were strengthened, and, being at the extremities of the axle, the boiler could be made larger in diameter and placed lower. The driving axle could also be placed back of the firebox; the connecting rods passing by the sides of the firebox and taking hold inside of the wheels. ']'his arrangement of the crank also involved the placing of the cylinders outside the smokebox, as was done on the “Ironsides”
By the time the order for the second locomotive was received, Mr. Baldwin had matured this device and was prepared to embody it in practical form. The order came from Mr. E. L. Miller, in behalf of the Charleston and Hamburg Railroad Company, and the engine bore his name, and was completed February 18, 1834. It was on six wheels; one pair being drivers, 54 inches in diameter, with half-crank axle placed back of the firebox as above described, and the four front wheels combined in a swiveling truck. The driving wheels, it should be observed, were cast in solid bell metal. The combined wood and iron wheels used on the "Ironsides" had proved objectionable, and Mr. Baldwin, in his endeavors to find a satisfactory substitute, had recourse to brass. June 29, 1833, he took out a patent for a cast brass wheel, his idea being that by varying the hardness of the metal the adhesion of the drivers on the rails could be increased or diminished at will. The brass wheels on the "Miller," however, soon wore out, and the experiment with this metal was not repeated. The "E. L. Miller" had cylinders ten inches in diameter; stroke of piston, sixteen inches; and weighed, with water in the boiler, seven tons eight hundred-weight. The boiler had a high dome over the firebox; and this form of construction, it may be noted, was followed, with a few exceptions, for many years.
The valve motion was given by a single fixed eccentric for each cylinder. Each eccentric strap had two arms attached to it, one above and the other below, and, as the driving axle was back of the firebox, these arms were prolonged backward under the footboard, with a hook on the inner side of the end of each. The rock shaft had arms above and below its axis, and the hooks of the two rods of each eccentric were moved by hand levers so as to engage with either arm, thus producing backward or forward gear. This form of single eccentric, peculiar to Mr. Baldwin, was in the interest of simplicity in the working parts, and was adhered to for some years. It gave rise to an animated controversy among mechanics as to whether, with its use, it was possible to get a lead on the valve in both directions. Many maintained that this was impracticable; but Mr. Baldwin demonstrated by actual experience that the reverse was the case.
Meanwhile the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had given Mr. Baldwin an order for a locomotive for the State Road, as it was then called, from Philadelphia to Columbia, which, up to that time, had been worked by horses. This engine, called the "Lancaster," was completed in June, 1834. It was similar to the "Miller," and weighed 17,000 pounds. After it was placed in service, the records show that it hauled at one time nineteen loaded burden cars over the highest grades between Philadelphia and Columbia. This was characterized at that time by the officers of the road as an "unprecedented performance." The success of the machine on its trial trips was such that the Legislature decided to adopt steam power for working the road, and Mr. Baldwin received orders for several additional locomotives. Two others were accordingly delivered to the State in September and November respectively of that year, and one was also built and delivered to the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad Company during the same season. This latter engine, which was put in service October 21, 1834, averaged 21,000 miles per year to September 15, 1840.
Five locomotives were thus completed in 1834, and the new business was fairly under way. The building in Lodge Alley, to which Mr. Baldwin had removed from Minor Street, and where these engines were constructed, began to be found too contracted, and another removal was decided upon. A location on Broad and Hamilton Streets (the site, in part, of the present works) was selected, and a three-story L-shaped brick building, fronting on both streets, erected. This was completed and the business removed to it during the following year (1835). Mr. Baldwin's stationary engine, described on page 8, was placed in service in the new shop by Mr. Andrew C. Vauclain, father of Mr. Samuel M. Vauclain, who is now President of the Company. The original building was partially destroyed by fire in 1884, and was replaced by a four-story brick structure.
Baldwin Locomotive, 1834
These early locomotives, built in 1834, were the types of Mr. Baldwin's practice for some years. All, or nearly all of them, embraced several important devices, which were the results of his study and experiments up to that time. The devices referred to were patented September 10, 1834, and the same patent covered the following four inventions, viz.:
1. The half-crank, and method of attaching it to the driving wheel. (This has already been described.)
2. A new mode of constructing the wheels of locomotive engines and cars. In this the hub and spokes were of cast iron, cast together. The spokes were cast without a rim, and terminated in segment flanges, each spoke having a separate flange disconnected from its neighbors. By this means, it was claimed, the injurious effect of the unequal expansion of tile materials composing the wheels was lessened or altogether prevented. The flanges bore against wooden felloes, made in two thicknesses, and put together so as to break joints. Tenons or pins projected from the flanges into openings made in the wooden felloes, to keep them in place. Around the whole the tire was passed and secured by bolts.
Baldwin Compound Wood and Iron Wheels, 1834
3. A new mode of forming the joints of steam and other tubes. This was Mr. Baldwin's invention of ground joints for steam pipes, which was a very valuable improvement over previous methods of making joints with red-lead packing, and which rendered it possible to carry a much higher pressure of steam.
4. A new mode of forming the joints and other parts of the supply pump, and of locating the pump itself. This invention consisted in making the single guide bar hollow and using it for the pump barrel. The pump plunger was attached to the piston rod at a socket or sleeve formed for the purpose, and the hollow guide bar terminated in the vertical pump chamber. This chamber was made in two pieces, joined about midway between the induction and eduction pipes. This joint was ground steam-tight, as were also the joints of the induction pipe with the bottom of the lower chamber, and the flange of the eduction pipe with the top of the upper chamber. All these parts were held together by a stirrup with a set-screw in its arched top, and the arrangement was such that by simply unscrewing this set-screw the different sections of the chamber, with all the valves, could be taken apart for cleaning or adjusting.
Pump and Stirrup
It is probable that the five engines built during 1834 embodied all, or nearly all, these devices. They all had the half-crank, the ground joints for steam pipes (which were first made by Mr. Baldwin in 1833), and the pump formed in the guide bar, and all had the four-wheeled truck in front, and a single pair of drivers back of the firebox. On this position of the driving wheels Mr. Baldwin laid great stress, as it made a more even distribution of the weight, throwing about one-half on the drivers and one-half on the four-wheeled truck. It also extended the wheel base, making the engine much steadier and less damaging to the track. Mr. William Norris, who had established a locomotive works in Philadelphia in 1832, was at this time building a six-wheeled engine with a truck in front and the driving wheels placed in front of the firebox. Considerable rivalry naturally existed between the two manufacturers as to the comparative merits of their respective plans. In Mr. Norris's engine, the position of the driving axle in front of the firebox threw on it more of the weight of the engine, and thus increased the adhesion and the tractive power. Mr. Baldwin, however, maintained the superiority of his plan, as giving a better distribution of the weight and a longer wheel base, and consequently rendering the machine less destructive to the track. As the iron rails then in use were generally light, and much of the track was of wood, this feature was of some importance.
To the use of the ground joint for steam pipes, however, much of the success of his early engines was due. The English builders were making locomotives with canvas and red-lead joints. permitting a steam pressure of only 60 pounds per square inch to be carried, while Mr. Baldwin's machines were worked at 120 pounds with ease. Several locomotives imported from England at about this period by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the State Road, which were built by Robert Stephenson & Co., had canvas and red-lead joints, and their efficiency was so much less than that of the Baldwin engines, on account of this and other features of construction, that they were soon laid aside or sold.
In June, 1834, a patent was issued to Mr. E. L. Miller, by whom Mr. Baldwin's second engine was ordered, for a method of increasing the adhesion of a locomotive by throwing a part of the weight of the tender on the rear of the engine, thus increasing the weight on the drivers. Mr. Baldwin adopted this device on an engine built for the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad Company, May, 1835, and thereafter used it largely, paying $100 royalty for each engine. Eventually (May 6, 1839) he bought the patent for $9,000, evidently considering that the device was especially valuable, if not indispensable, in order to render his engine as powerful, when required, as other patterns having the driving wheels in front of the firebox, and therefore utilizing more of the weight of the engine for adhesion.
In making the truck and tender wheels of these early locomotives, the hubs were cast in three pieces and afterward banded with wrought iron, the interstices being filled with spelter. This method of construction was adopted on account of the difficulty then found in casting a chilled wheel in one solid piece.
Early in 1835, the new shop on Broad Street was completed and occupied. Mr. Baldwin's attention was thenceforward given to locomotive building exclusively, except that a stationary engine was occasionally constructed.
In May, 1835, his eleventh locomotive, the "Black Hawk," was delivered to the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad Company. This was the first outside connected engine of his build. It was also the first engine on which the Miller device of attaching part of the weight of the tender to the engine was employed. On the eighteenth engine, the " Brandywine," built for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad Company, brass tires were used on the driving wheels, for the purpose of obtaining more adhesion; but they wore out rapidly and were replaced with iron.
April 3, 1835, Mr. Baldwin took out a patent for certain improvements in the wheels and tubes of locomotive engines. That relating to the wheels provided for casting the hub and spokes together, and having the spokes terminate in segments of a rim, as described in his patent of September 10, 1834. Between the ends of the spokes and the tires, wood was interposed, and the tire might be either of wrought iron or of chilled cast iron. The intention was expressed of making the tire usually of cast iron chilled. The main object, however, was declared to be the interposition between the spokes and the rim of a layer of wood or other substance possessing some degree of elasticity. This method of making driving wheels was followed for several years, the tires being made with a shoulder, as illustrated below.
Driving Wheels, Patented September, 1834
The improvement in locomotive tubes consisted in driving a copper ferrule or thimble on the outside of the end of the tube, and soldering it in place, instead of driving a ferrule into the tube as had previously been the practice. The object of the latter method had been to make a tight joint with the tube sheet; but by putting the ferrule on the outside of the tube, not only was the joint made as tight as before, but the tube was strengthened, and left unobstructed throughout to the full extent of its diameter. This method of setting tubes has been generally followed in the Works from that date to the present, the only difference being that, at this time, with iron or steel tubes, the end is wedged down, the copper ferrule brazed on, and the end of the tube turned or riveted over against the copper thimble and the flue sheet to make the joint perfect.
Fourteen engines were constructed in 1835; 40 in 1836; 40 in 1837; 23 in 1838; 26 in 1839, and nine in 1840. During all these years the general design continued the same; but, in coinpliance with the demand for more power, three sizes were furnished, as follows:
First class-- Cylinders, 12-1/2 x 16”; weight loaded, 26,000 pounds.
Second class--Cylinders, 12" x 16"; " 23,000 “
Third class-- Cylinders, 10-1/2 x 16"; " 20,000 “
Mr. Baldwin fuly believed, in 1838, that the first class engine was as heavy as would be called for, and he declared that it was as large as he intended to build. Most of the engines had the half-crank, but occasionally an outside-connected machine was turned out. These latter, however, failed to give as complete satisfaction as the half-crank machine. The drivers were generally 54 inches in diameter.
A patent was issued to Mr. Baldwin, August 17, 1835, for his device of cylindrical pedestals. In this method of construction, the pedestal was of cast iron, and was bored in a lathe so as to form two concave jaws. The boxes were also turned in a lathe so that their vertical ends were cylindrical, and they were thus fitted in the pedestals. This method of fitting up pedestals and boxes was cheap and effective, and was used for some years for the driving and tender wheels.
As showing the estimation in which these early engines were held, it may not be out of place to refer to the opinions of some of the railroad managers of that period.
Mr. L. A. Sykes, engineer of the New Jersey Transportation Company, under date of June 12, 1838, wrote that he could draw with his engines 20 four-wheeled car, with 26 passengers each, at a speed of 20 to 25 mile, per hour, over grades of 26 feet per mi1e. "As to simplicity of construction," he adds, "small liability to get out of order, economy of repairs, and ease to the road, I fully believe Mr. Baldwin's engines stand unrivalled. I consider the simplicity of the engine, the arrangement of the working parts, and the distribution of the weight, far superior to any engine I have ever seen, either of American or English manufacture, and I have not the least hesitation in saying that Mr. Baldwin's engine will do the same amount of work with much less repairs, either to the engine or the track, than any other engine in use."
L. G. Cannon, President of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Company, writes: "Your engines will, in performance and cost of repairs, bear comparison with any other engine made in this or any other country."
Some of Mr. Baldwin's engines on the State Road, in 1837, cost, for repairs, only from 1.2 to 1.6 cents per mile. It is noted that the engine "West Chester," on the same road, weighing 20,735 pounds (10,475 on drivers), drew 51 cars (four-wheeled), weighing 289 net tons, over the road, some of the track being of wood covered with strap-rail.
The financial difficulties of 1836 and 1837, which brought ruin upon so many, did not leave Mr. Baldwin unscathed. His embarrassments became so great that he was unable to proceed, and was forced to call his creditors together for a settlement. After offering to surrender all his property, his shop, tools, house and everything, if they so desired -- all of which would realize only about 25 per cent of their claims -- he proposed to them that they should permit him to go on with the business, and in three years he would pay the full amount of all claims, principal and interest. This was finally acceded to, and the promise was in effect fulfilled, although not without an extension of two years beyond the time originally proposed.
In May, 1837, the number of hands employed was 300, but this number was reduced weekly, owing to the falling off in the demand for engines.
These financial troubles had their effect on the demand for locomotives, as will be seen in the decrease in the number built in 1838, 1839 and 1840; and this result was furthered by the establishment of several other locomotive works, and the introduction of other patterns of engines.
The changes and improvements in details made during these years may be summed up as follows:
The subject of burning anthracite coal had engaged much attention. In October, 1836, Mr. Baldwin secured a patent for a grate or fireplace which could be detached from the engine at pleasure, and a new one with a fresh coal fire substituted. The intention was to have the grate with freshly ignited coal all ready for the engine on its arrival at a station, and placed between the rails over suitable levers, by which it could be attached quickly to the firebox. It is needless to say that this was never practiced. In January, 1838, however, Mr. Baldwin was experimenting with the consumption of coal on the Germantown road, and in July of the same year the records show that he was making a locomotive to burn coal, part of the arrangement being to blow the fire with a fan.
The first locomotives for export were built during this year. They were shipped to Cuba, to the order of Alfred Cruger, and bore the builder's numbers 104 and 105. These locomotives were completed in the spring and summer, and were followed by a third later in the year.
Up to 1838, Mr. Baldwin had made both driving and truck wheels with wrought tires, but during that year chilled wheels for engine and tender trucks were adopted. His tires were furnished by Messrs. S. Vail & Son, Morristown, N. J., who made the only tires then obtainable in America. They were very thin, being only one inch 1-1/2 inches thick; and Mr. Baldwin, in importing some tires from England at that time, insisted oil their being made double the ordinary thickness. The manufacturers at first objected and ridiculed the idea, the practice being to use two tires when extra thickness was wanted, but finally they consented to meet his requirements.
All his engines thus far had the single eccentric for each valve, but at about this period double eccentrics were adopted, each terminating in a straight hook, and reversed by hand levers.
At this early period, Mr. Baldwin had begun to feel the necessity of making all like parts of locomotives of the same class in such manner as to be absolutely interchangeable. Steps were taken in this direction, but it was not until many years afterward that the system of standard gauges was perfected, which became a distinguishing feature in the establishment.
In March, 1839, Mr. Baldwin's records show that he was building a number of outside-connected engines, and had succeeded in making them strong and durable. He was also making a new chilled wheel, and one which he thought would not break.
On the 136th locomotive, completed October 18, 1839, for the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad, the old pattern of wooden frame was abandoned, and no outside frame whatever was employed-the machinery, as well as the truck and the pedestals of the driving axles, being attached directly to the naked boiler. The wooden frame thenceforward disappeared gradually, and an iron frame took its place. Another innovation was the adoption of eight-wheeled tenders, the first of which was built at about this period.
On April 8,1839, Mr. Baldwin associated with himself Messrs. Vail & Hufty, and the business was conducted under the firm name of Baldwin, Vail & Hufty until 1841, when Mr. Hufty withdrew, and Baldwin & Vail continued the co-partnership until 1842.