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British Industrial History

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Heilmann Locomotives

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Jean-Jacques Heilmann of France developed a new type of steam-electric railway locomotive, for which he took out a patent in 1890.

First Locomotive

1892-3 The first prototype was built. It had a horizontally-opposed two-cylinder steam engine driving a DC generator. An exciter dynamo with its own small vertical steam engine was mounted just in front of the generator. The electrical equipment was supplied by Brown, Boveri et Cie. The six-pole dynamo was designed for minimum weight. It had a ring-wound armature, whose outboard bearing was housed in a three-armed bracket bolted to the stator casing. Its normal output was 600 HP at 400 rpm, and the maximum was 750.[1]

Steam, unsuperheated, was supplied from a horizontal boiler with a corrugated firebox.[2]

An excellent source of information on Heilmann's first locomotive is here [3]

Second Locomotive

Another locomotive (some sources say two) was built, improving on the initial design.

No. 8001 had a conventional Belpaire boiler supplying a Willans and Robinson high-speed vertical steam engine developing 1350 IHP at 400 rpm. The engine directly drove two DC dynamos. The exciter was driven by a small Willans engine developing 18 kW at 550 rpm. The electrical equipment was once again supplied by Brown Boveri .

The main engine was most unusual for the time, in having six cylinders. It was a compound engine, the 300 mm bore high pressure cylinder and the 480mm low pressure cylinder diameter being arranged in tandem. The piston stroke was 400 mm. A separate crankshaft, gear-driven from the main crankshaft, operated the piston valves. This shaft also drove the governor.

The use of six cylinders was proposed by Mark Robinson of Willans & Robinson and by Natalis Mazen, of the Compagnie de l'Ouest.

More information here.

Zoomable photograph of the Willans engine at the Willans and Robinson works at Rugby here. This shows the unusual construction of the crankcase, which was a riveted fabrication rather than the normal iron casting, presumably to save weight.

The locomotive made its initial test run on 12 November 1897. The entire weight was available for adhesion, and engine produced very little hammer blow. [4]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Dynamo-Electric Machinery' by Silvanus P. Thompson, 5th edition, 1895
  2. [1] Electric Railways: 1880-1990 by Michael C. Duffy
  3. [2] Douglas Self website: The First Heilmann Locomotive
  4. [3] Douglas Self website: The Second Heilmann Locomotives