After four days the machine worked normally and Stephenson, having obtained his prize, continued working during the evenings as tailor and watchmaker to increase his income, and during the night he readed books to enrich his technical knowledge with the purpose of fulfilling his dream: to build a steam engine. Many were the difficulties to overcome; firstly, the workers of the mine, knowing nothing about mechanics, could not be of much help, and on the other hand the tools at his disposal were few and unsuitable. However, at expenses of the very Lord Ravensworth, who evidently was aware of his talent, he managed to build his first steam engine, which he baptized as "Blucher".
Said machine was of relatively small size, weighing six tonnes, and it was able to drag a convoy of 30 wagons at a speed of 6.5 kilometers per hour... It was a true miracle of power and speed, whose trials were made in January 1814. One would expect that Stephenson were acclaimed and applauded for this achievement... Well, not by the way; not even a small tribute was dedicated to him. Envy and jealousy sowed instead the distrust and even the disgust for such "perturbing" innovation. And certainly, the average person of that time would not feel so safe near such disquieting artifact, one which puffed reddish smoke and emitted sinister whistles...
But Stephenson was not discouraged because of this, and shortly after he patented a new type of cast-iron rails, and projecting a second machine the tried to remove, as far as possible, the deficiencies of the first one. Lord Ravensworth visited his workshop one month later, inquiring about the status quo of the development. Stephenson reported that he had been studying the way of tempering the strident noise produced by the steam exhaust. He stated how the steam, passing directly from its chamber to the exterior, in contact with the fresh air, condenses too fast and consequently produces such horrifying whistling. So he would instead force the steam to enter into the room for smoke and hot gases to be dispersed along with them, to mitigate the noise. Also, he stated that the steam, crossing through the smoke, would cause a forced draft of the air, so necessary to keep a regular combustion.
In such case, as Lord Ravensworth commented, the ventilators in the sides of the firefox would be not necessary. Stephenson agreed. He had thought as well to attach to the machine a small wagon with deposits to have a constant reserve of water for the boiler, and the supply should be effectuated by means of a pump actuated by the machine itself. Lord Ravensworth could do not less than praise the inventiveness of Stephenson. Meanwhile, his name was traveling around the world, arriving to the far America as well, from where he was invited to establish a mining railway. But Stephenson rejected, for he wanted to dedicate himself to the perfectioning of the steam engine and remain close to his son Robert, student of engineering.
Departure and arrival of the first train
A certain day George Stephenson received a letter to "The engineer G. Stephenson" and he was not convinced about it being sent concretely to him. The sender was Sir Edmund Pease, who along with his friend Richard, offered to him a position of engineer and director in a school workshop that he intended to open in Newcastle, to build machines and teach to machinists and engineers. Stephenson accepted carrying with him his son Robert. Since long time ago he had been meditating about building a steam engine for passenger service; but for such it was necessary to build an adequate railway network.
Stephenson suggested the construction of a railway between Stockton and Darlington, useful for linking the mining zone with the sea, but also for the transport of persons. But such project would require financing from the State. After a series of endless negotiations, this one finally granted a rather modest subvention, while the rest of the country awaited the realization of the works with a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism.
On 27th September 1825, the multitude, reunited in the small station at Stockton and disseminated along the railways, awaited for the steam machine denominated "Locomotion" (from which the term "locomotive" derived) with its convoy of wagons, in which had took a seat Sir Paese and the main authorities of the region. Along the railway a galloping horse approached and immediately behind the locomotive, towing a convoy of open wagons, built similarly as certain postal carriages of that time.
First experiences in America
The discovery of the steam locomotion and its subsequent applications had raised great interest among the scientists, physicists and mechanics in United States, starting by Oliverio Evans. This one, who had seen how the Senate of Pennsylvania had roughly rejected his project for the construction of a steam engine to replace the horses in the road traffic, had the satisfaction of seeing 14 years later, in 1804, how it circulated around the Center Square in Philadelphia his road automotive. Evans, considered by his countrymen a pioneer of the automobile, had demonstrated the possibility of steam locomotion - which however had no success in the normal roads -, and still 20 years had to pass until someone thought seriously in experimenting it on railroads.
In Quincy City, in Massachussetts, engineer Gridley Bryant was in 1825 presenting his project for a railway. Bryant stated that the railway would be very easy to build and the transportation of the masses would not only be much easier, but also much more substantial. He intended to use wooden rails reinforced with a metallic cover. The steam engine would have to be ordered to the new workshops at Newcastle. After some negotiations his proposal was accepted, and one year later the first American railway connected the Neponset River with Quincy City. However, the material that had to be transported was much and very heavy for a convoy that marched on wooden rails, and the result was somewhat disappointing. Later the rails were replaced by new ones made in foundry and, finally, by rails made in cast iron and steel; and then everything worked better.Continue reading...