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George Vladimir Lomonssoff

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Dr. George Vladimir Lomonssoff (1876-1952)

1952 Obituary [1]

As recorded briefly in our last issue, the death of Dr. G. V. Lomonossoff occurred in Montreal, Canada, on November 19th. Dr. Lomonossoff, who was a railway engineer, lived in this country for nearly twenty years until 1948, when he left England to take up residence in the home of his son in Canada. He was in his seventy-seventh year.

George Vladimir Lomonossoff was born in Russia on April 24, 1876, and received the early part of his education at the First Cadets School in Moscow.

He graduated at the Institute of Transport, St. Petersburg, in 1898, and then spent two years in the locomotive testing department of the Kharkoff-Nicolauf Railway.

In 1901 Dr. Lomonossoff was appointed lecturer in railway engineering and subsequently Professor of Railway Engineering and Economics, at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. He remained there for six years, during which time the Institute conferred upon him his D. Eng. degree.

Lomonossoff's next appointment, which he held from 1908 to 1910, was as chief mechanical engineer of the Tashkent Railway, and then, for ten years from 1911 to 1921, he was Professor of Railway Engineering and Economics at the St. Petersburg Institute of Transport. During that period he held many other offices, including those of president of the Locomotive Research Bureau, chief mechanical engineer of the Nicolas Railway, assistant director-general of Russian Railways, member of Russia's supreme engineering council, Under-Secretary of Transport, and president of the Russian War Railway Mission to the U.S.A. In this last appointment, in the latter part of the first world war, Dr. Lomonossoff was responsible for the design and ordering of somewhere in the region of 2000 locomotives.

In 1921 Lomonossoff was appointed High Commissioner for Railway Orders, and about that time be put forward a proposal to the Russian Government for the building of a number of diesel locomotives. At first the proposal was rejected, but subsequently - as High Commissioner for Diesel Locomotives - Dr. Lomonossoff was authorised to arrange for the building of three diesel locomotives.

In the latter part of 1925 Dr. Lomonossoff came to this country with an introduction to Sir. W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co., Ltd., and subsequently there was placed with the firm an order for the building of a 1200 b.h.p. diesel locomotive, designed by an engineer named Schelest. By the end of 1926, considerable progress had been made with the locomotive, but the costs had risen and it has been said that Russian Government officials were expressing some doubts as to the possible usefulness of the engine. Ultimately, Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co., Ltd., was instructed to cease work and ship the locomotive to Russia in its unfinished state.

A few years later, when Dr. Lomonossoff had taken up his residence in this country, he contributed a paper to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the subject of "Diesel Traction," in which there was included a good deal of information about the Schelest locomotive.

Prior to settling in England, Dr. Lomonossoff undertook some research work in Germany where he received the Dr. Ing. degree at the Technische Hochschule, Berlin, - in connection with locomotive testing. He also spent a year in the U.S.A. lecturing at the California Institute of Technology. His lectures there subsequently formed the basis of his book entitled Introduction to Railway Mechanics, which was published by the Oxford University Press in 1933. For some years during his stay in this country Dr. Lomonossoff was associated with consulting work undertaken by Messrs. Hitchins, Jervis and Partners, of Westminster.

He was elected a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1931 and made his first contribution to its Proceedings in the same year. This was a paper entitled "Problems of Railway Mechanics," in which he suggested that ignorance of railway mechanics was responsible for "the failures of many of the attempts made in the last five years to change radically the form of the locomotive as given by George and Robert Stephenson."

Dr. Lomonossoff's next paper to the "Mechanicals " was that on "Diesel Traction," to which reference has already been made.

Some years later, in collaboration with his son, Lieut.-Colonel G. Lomonossoff, R.E.M.E., he presented a paper to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on "Condensing Locomotives." Just prior to its publication in the Proceedings, Dr. Lomonossoff contributed a series of articles on the same subject to THE ENGINEER. Those articles appeared between July 7 and September 22, 1944, their preparation affording us several months of constant association with their author. His extensive technical knowledge and careful attention to detail together with his genial personality, are some of the characteristics of Dr. Lomonossoff which will long be remembered by the numerous engineers in this country and abroad who were acquainted with him.

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