Wolseley's first encounter with building railway locomotives came in 1902 when the company built a number( probably three) of special narrow gauge locomotives for use in South African gold mines.
The locos were based on a wheelbase of 4ft 6ins, with the length over the buffers being 11 feet, were 3ft 4ins wide and 3ft 6ins high. Running on an 18ins gauge track they had four 18ins diameter wheels on two bevel drive axles and were powered by a 2 cylinder horizontal petrol engine mounted transversely across the main frame.
The exhaust silencer can be seen in the drawing above mounted transversely across the front of the frame.
The engine had a bore of 6ins diameter, stroke of 7ins, a capacity of 6.4 litres and developed 18 hp at 600 rpm. The radiator was mounted across the front of the frame with forced cooling by an engine driven fan and the driver sat at the rear of the loco. The driving controls consisted of two foot pedals and two hand wheels, one of which controlled the contracting brakes acting against each of the four wheel rims. There was also a water cooled band brake fitted to the gearbox countershaft. The driver sat at the rear of the loco with his back to the right hand side and his legs straddling the brake hand-wheel pedestal also clearly visible in the drawing.
A cone clutch transmitted power from the engine via a Renolds silent chain to a 3 speed gearbox, which must have had some form of reversing mechanism built into it, and with 30 gallons of petrol and 40 gallons of water on board it could operate for over 10 hours.
The gearbox gave speeds of about 4 mph, 8 mph and 15 mph and the loco could haul ten trucks with a gross load of 10 tons up moderate inclines at 8 to 10 mph. Regulations were tightened in South African mines about 1910 and petrol powered locomotives were banned from use because of fire risks and pollution caused by carbon monoxide exhaust emissions.
In 1903 a design was drawn up for a standard gauge locomotive powered by a 4 cylinder horizontally opposed engine as shown in the drawing to the right. The engine was mounted with the crankshaft lined up to the centre line of the locomotive and with a Renolds silent chain taking the drive to the gearbox mounted directly beneath the engine. Two short open propeller shafts then transmitted the power to overhead worm drive axles.
Based on a wheelbase of 7ft 0in, the loco had an overall length of 17ft 0in over the buffers, was 7ft 0in wide and had an overall height of 9ft 6ins. The braking system was a combination of air operated and mechanically operated components with the air reservoir mounted transversely across the front of the frame.
Front view of the standard gauge locomotive, and below an impression of the finished loco with a driver giving some scale to the picture. These locomotives were suitable for light passenger or industrial use and the front view shows the family resemblance to the company's motor cars.
Also in 1903 the company built two 80 hp 4 cylinder horizontally opposed engines to power petrol electric railcars for the North Eastern Railway Company. With a bore of 8½ins diameter and stroke of 10ins they had a capacity of 37 litres and consumed petrol at the rate of 10 gallons per hour. The engines were 6ft 6ins wide over the cylinder heads, 5ft 2ins long, 4ft 0in high, weighed 1ton 15 cwts and had four valves per cylinder all mechanically operated. The railcars had seating for 52 passengers and were operated principally between Filey and Scarborough, apparently giving excellent results.
The engine had a governed operating speed from 420 rpm to 480 rpm. driving a large 55 Kw dynamo to provide current for the traction motors driving the bogie wheels. Engine cooling was provided by Clarkson radiators mounted in the roof of the carriage immediately above the engine compartment with a Blackman fan driven electrically from an exciter dynamo which also provided power for the internal lighting. The first test of the 35 ton railcar was conducted on 28th January 1904 when it achieved a speed of 40 mph and climbed a bank of 1 in 95. An unusual feature of the railcars was that it was fitted with electro-magnetic brakes which acted directly upon the rails.
The picture of the NER railcar above has the engine compartment to the far right. The picture to the right shows a close up view of the engine compartment with one of the cylinder heads to the right and flywheel just left of centre. The centrifugal governor to control the engine speed can be seen mounted vertically in the centre of the picture. The specific fuel consumption of the engine was 1 pint/bhp-hr.
Partly sectioned side view of the NER petrol electric railcar with the engine compartment to the left; note that it is fitted with dual controls like a tramcar enabling it to be driven from either end and thus making it unnecessary to be turned around when reaching its terminus. The railcar had an overall length of 52ft, the internal width was 7ft 11ins and the engine compartment was 13ft 3ins long. The two railcars numbered 3170 and 3171 had previously been powered by Napier engines.
The drawing to the right shows an enlarged view of the engine compartment with the 4 cylinder engine driving rearwards by direct drive to the large dynamo. One of the radiators can be seen part sectioned mounted in the roof space. Surprisingly, there appears to be no partition between the driver's area and the engine compartment which must have made driving from this end of the railcar very noisy and somewhat hot!
Picture Below.The Delaware & Hudson railcar Number 1000 with the engine compartment to the left. It is not known if any Wolseley personnel are amongst the large gathering of men in front of the railcar.
In 1905 the company built a number of much larger engines to power petrol electric railcars in the United States. These 6 cylinder horizontally opposed engines had a bore of 9ins diameter and stroke of 10ins and were rated at 140 hp.
Originally built for the Delaware & Hudson Railway Company, more are thought to have been built and supplied to companies such as Missouri Pacific, Southern, and the Minneapolis Railway Company. The D&H railcar had its initial 44 mile trial run on February 3rd 1906 between Schenectady and Saratoga maintaining the scheduled running speed of 45 mph with ease and was thought capable of up to 75 mph maximum speed.
Picture to the left shows one of these engines during the course of erection in the Adderley Park West Works. Note how the cylinders are bolted radially to the crankcase unlike the submarine engines which had their cylinders clamped to horizontal flanges.
Picture below shows a close up view of the Wolseley 6 cylinder engine installed in the Delaware & Hudson petrol electric railcar. The front cover of the engine has been removed and shows the two large camshaft drive gears employed, and the large grouped lubricators mounted above the engine to the left. These engines, had four mechanically operated valves per cylinder
The engine, which is believed to have weighed 7 tons, had been supplied through the General Electric Company who was probably the contractor for the main generator and traction motors.
The picture below shows a mechanic at work fitting the con-rod big end bearing blocks to a crankshaft for one of the 6 cylinder horizontally opposed railcar engines just visible in the background. The bearings would be scraped in by hand and the mechanic is inspecting one of the bearings for high spots. Three other bearing blocks can be seen fitted temporarily to the crankshaft and a con-rod can be seen on the work bench behind the crankshaft.
In 1903 "Engineering" magazine disclosed that a "type of railway automobile coach is being manufactured by the Wolseley Company." It then continued to describe a petrol-electric railcar and associated coach which the company, apparently, was already in the process of building. This represented a major diversion by the company from its automotive products into full sized railway engineering, possibly brought on by the company's involvement in building engines for the two NER railcars.
The railcar itself had a total length of 53ft 3ins and overall width of 9ft 6ins, running on two 4 wheeled powered bogies with wheel centres of 8ft, the wheels themselves being 3ft 6ins diameter over the treads. The railcar consisted of an engine room at one end and baggage room at the opposite end with separate seating compartments for 14 first class and 24 second class passengers. Driving controls were provided in the engine room and baggage compartment allowing the railcar to be driven from either end making it easy for the railcar to be used alone, or using a simple loop siding when coupled to its coach which had seating for 48 third class passengers. The power unit was a 4 cylinder horizontally opposed type developing 81 bhp at 420 rpm and 93 bhp at 480 rpm, coupled to an electric generator of 60 kilowatts capacity providing power to 50 hp electric traction motors on each bogie. A 5 kilowatt dynamo was also driven by the engine to provide charging for the 40 cell 90 amperes capacity batteries which provided lighting.
In 1904 this narrow gauge (2ft 9½ins) shunting locomotive was built powered by a 20 hp 2 cylinder horizontal engine, with a bore of 6ins diameter, stroke of 7ins and specific fuel consumption of 0.8pts/bhp-hr.
The engine was mounted on top of the main chassis frame with the starting handle dog just visible to the right hand side of the side ventilation panel and the exhaust was through the conventional 'steam locomotive' chimney. Note also, the construction of the radiator which followed those used on the company's motor cars and so typical of all Wolseley products at this time.
The four coupled wheels were 18ins in diameter and driven by chains from the gearbox which had two forward and two reverse speeds. Weighing 3 tons this little loco could haul up to 30 tons on a level track.
This drawing for a standard gauge (4ft 8½ins) locomotive was dated 7th May 1906. At least one of these locomotives was built as a photograph taken in the Wolseley Works Museum in 1939 clearly shows a picture of a completed machine.
The wheelbase was 4ft 1in and the wheels were 2ft 3ins in diameter. The length over the buffers was 13ft 4ins, overall width over the connecting rods was 6ft and overall height from top of the rails was 7ft 8ins. The main chassis frame was 10ft 2ins long by 4ft 4ins wide and was made from steel channel section 6¼ins by 2¾ins. The 2 cylinder horizontal engine had a bore of 6ins diameter and stroke of 7ins giving a capacity of 6.47 litres and rated at 20 hp. The flywheel was 2ft 4½ins in diameter and 4ins wide. Overall length was 4ft 0½ins, overall width 3ft 7ins and overall height from top of frame to top of magneto 2ft 2¾ins.
The petrol electric system, rather than petrol mechanical transmission, eliminated the use of any mechanical gearing and also provided high torque with rapid acceleration from standing starts. Westinghouse automatic air braking operating on all the bogie wheels was fitted with air provided by an air compressor driven by an independent electric motor. Hand operated screw on type brakes were also fitted with hand-wheels located with each set of driving controls. This was an ambitious project to put into production, but Wolseley could have been buying in wheels, axles, suspension, etc., from the adjacent works of Brown, Marshalls & Co. Ltd, railway carriage and wagon makers, and all the electrical equipment would have been acquired from either Vickers (Sheffield) or the Electric & Ordnance Accessories Co. Ltd.,(Birmingham) the latter being a Vickers owned subsidiary company specialising in the manufacturer of railway lighting equipment and small generators. Sufficient petrol and water were provided to enable the railcar to operate continuously for 5 hours at speeds up to 30 mph. This report raises some interesting questions; did Wolseley actually build any of these railcars and if so, how many, and where were they operated? Wolseley obviously considered that there was going to be a profitable market for petrol powered railcars and had already decided to set up a special department to manufacture the engines.
The photograph above was taken on the Adderley Park East Works site where a length of suitable track had been laid enabling the loco to be tested before being shipped to the customer in the North of England, possibly the Vickers Barrow-in-Furness works.
The photograph on the right shows a different view of the narrow gauge locomotive on page 15 showing the cab with all the driving controls.