Report on the Performance of the Gowan & Marx Locomotive.

Source: American Railroad Journal and Mechanics' Magazine, date uncertain



To the editors of the American Railroad Journal and Mechanics' Magazine.


GENTLEMEN: - In looking, over your valuable Journal of Sept. 1st 1840, page 154, this morning, we noticed for the first time the following, "we find it recorded that one of Mr. Norris' engines drew over the Philadelphia and Reading road, 54 miles, at the rate of ten miles per hour, 101 cars, containing a net load of 323 tons 'exclusive of cars and tender." As but in one instance has there been a train of 101 cars drawn over the road above mentioned, we think your, statement meant to refer to an engine made by us, for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Co., which in February last, drew over the road, just mentioned a train of 101 loaded cars; the gross weight being 423 tons, of 2240 lbs. not including engine or tender;  the net weight of freight being 268-1/2 tons, of 2240 lbs. This is much the largest load that has ever been conveyed over the Philadelphia and Reading road by a single engine, and when the weight of the engine is taken into consideration, being but 24,660 lbs. whole weight in running order, with fall complement of fuel (anthracite) and water; on driving wheels 18,260 lbs. The performance may be looked upon as extraordinary.


Enclosed we send you the statement of Mr. G. N. Nicolls, furnished for publication in the Jour. Frank. Inst., at the time the above load was drawn, which gives a detailed account of the performance, which we respectfully ask you to insert, in connection with what we have written above.


Very respectfully,



Philadelphia, Nov. 2d, 1840.




Gross weight of train, including cars and freight, but not engine or tender, 423 tons at 2240 lbs.


Net weight of freight, 268-1/2 tons of 2240 lbs.


The freight consisted of-2002 barrels of flour, 82 do. whiskey, 459 kegs of nails, 19 tons bar iron, 22 hhds. meal, 5 do. whiskey, 4 do oil, and sundry other articles, making a total of 268-1/2 tons.


Distance from Reading to the foot of the inclined plane on the Columbia railroad, 54-1/2 miles. Running time of the engine with train, five hours thirty-three minutes; rate 9.82 miles per hour. Coal consumed, red ash anthracite, from Schuylkill county, 5600 lbs. Water evaporated, 2774 gallons.


Grades of road - The total fall from Reading to the point where the train was stopped near the Columbia railroad, is 214.5 feet, being an average fall of 3.94 feet per mile. There is no ascending grade from Reading to the Columbia railroad, with the exception of about 21 00 feet at its lower termination, graded at 26.4 fee per mile, upon which grade the train was stopped; the other grades vary from 19 to 15 feet per mile; there are only three miles graded at 18 feet and one at 19 feet per mile.


The total length of dead level line from Reading to the Columbia railroad is 27 miles and 4200 feet; of this the longest level is 9 miles and 500 feet long, between Norristown and the inclined, plane; the others vary from 1550 to 4 miles  and 1600 feet in length.


State of the track. - Owing to the frost coming out of the ground at this season, the track was in worse order than at any other time of the year, this, however, did not materially affect the performance of the engine, as the embankments were all in nearly as good order as at other times, and at comparatively few points in the deep cut, was the track sufficiently out of line or level to offer increased resistance tothe train.


The superstructure of-the road consists of a T rail, 45 lbs. to the yard, laid upon sills 7 feet long and 7 by 8 inches square, 3 feet 11 inches apart from centre to centre, and laid on broken stone.


State of the rails. - For the, first twenty miles the rails were in very bad order, the morning. was cloudy, and a fog of the previous night had left sufficient moisture on the surface of the rails to diminish considerably the adhesion of the engine; for the remainder of the distance the weather was clear, and the rails in good order.


Working of the engine.- On three different occasions the engine started the whole train on dead level, and when on a dry rail, without the wheels slipping.


The steam ranged from 80 lbs. to 130 lbs. per square inch, to which latter pressure the safety valve, was screwed down.


The draught of the engine was created by the escape steam passing into, and from, a tubed exhaust box -no other draught was used while running; at the water stations, "Reilly's patent fan" was used when fresh coal was thrown on the fire, but at no other time.


The speed of the train was noted when passing through some curves of 819 feet radius on the 9 mile level, and found to be 9.8 miles per hour; on a straight line on the same level, the engine attained a speed of 10.5 miles per hour.


So little was the engine affected by her performance on the 20th, that on the 23d she drew, on her return trip, 88 burden cars, 9 of which were loaded, and a locomotive engine, making a gross weight of 163 tons of 2240 lbs., not including, engine or tender, up a grade of 18.4 feet per mile. The train had a strong head wind against it during the whole trip, which owing to its length, 1206 feet, was sensibly felt at some exposed points of the road, and must have proportionably affected the power of the engine.


Weight and dimensions of the engine, - "Gowan and Marx"- Weight when empty 21,640 lbs. In running' order, with fuel and water, -24,660 lbs., on four driving wheels in running(order, or with water, fuel and two men, 18,260 lbs. Cylinders 12-2/3 by 16 inch stroke; 8 wheels, 4 of which are driving wheels, coupled, 3 feet 4 inches diameter ; truck wheels 2 feet 6 inches diameter.


The weight of the burden cars averaged from 1.5 to 1.65 tons, of 2240 lbs. each; they were all 4 wheeled - wheels 3 feet diameter, and 4 feet 6 inches apart from centre to centre.


The above performance of an 11 ton engine is believed to exceed any on record in this or any other country.



          Superintendent transportation, Philad. and Reading, R. R.

Reading, Feb. 24, 1840.



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