Friday, April 28, 2017

Occupational Shaving Mug: The John Bull No. 1 Steam Engine with two open coaches

John Bull Steam Engine No. 1

This rare occupational shaving mug shows a clear image of a unique and historical train engine: The Robert L. Stevens or John Bull Steam Engine.

Fig. 7 shows the celebrated John Bull, which is now in the National Museum, Washington, D. C. It was the first engine for the Camden and Amboy Railroad, now a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was designed and built by Stephenson & Company, of Newcastle upon Tyne. This engine represents another step in locomotive construction, for while it somewhat resembles the De Witt Clinton, the cylinders are placed at the smoke box end of the engine, and the smoke box is of the same pattern as used to-day; both these improvements were embodied in the before mentioned Planet engine designed by Stephenson early in the year 1830. 
- From The Evolution of the American Locomotive

Close-up of the John Bull No 1 engine

Close-up of the two open coaches

The John Bull and train as it looked in 1831; drawn by Isaac Dripps in 1887.

Only a year after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&0)  tested Peter Cooper’s American  built engine in 1830, New Jersey’s fledgling Camden and Amboy Railroad ordered a locomotive for its service from Robert Stephenson and Company (C&A) in Newcastle, England, builders of the most modern and sophisticated engines in the world.  Upon completion and testing the engine was disassembled and crated up and dispatched to the States on a Trans-Atlantic Packet. 
The crates were disembarked on September 1.  The parts arrived without plans, drawings, or assembly instructions of any kind.  It was left to C&A engineer Isaac Dripps to figure out how the hell to put the damn thing together and get it to run.  He must have been pretty good because the company was able to run their tests in just two weeks.  The test proved two things—that the engine did move very well, at least over short distances, on rails, and that the boiler did not blow up. 
The company was scrambling to lay track and operating limited passenger and freight operations with horse drawn cars.  As a marketing and public relations ploy it was decided to run an excursion over the test track with the new engine on November 12.  State legislators, local dignitaries, and Napoleon’s nephew Prince Achille Murat and his American born wife, Catherine Willis Gray were among the guest passengers.  Mme. Murat was so eager to be remembered as the first woman to ride a steam-powered train in America that she jostled ahead of other ladies to step into one of the open coaches first.  And it must have worked, because here we are remembering her. 
A few weeks later, the engine finally entered revenue service.  The company designated it as No. 1 and named it Robert L. Stevens after the president of the C&A.  Railroad employees, however, were soon calling the engine Old John Bull in honor of its English origins.  That was soon shortened to John Bull.  Over time the nick name supplanted the official name.

Soon after the engine arrived, the Camden and Amboy mechanics made the following changes and additions: As the railroad curves were very sharp, the coupling rods and cranks were removed and a lateral play of 1-½ in. given to the leading axle, to which a cowcatcher was connected. The wooden wheels were replaced by cast iron wheels. The dome was moved forward to the former man hole and the boiler lagged with wood. A bell was placed on the boiler and a headlight on the smoke box. A new tender was subsequently built, having a small cab on the rear for the accommodation of a brakeman, who, if anything went wrong with the cars, could signal the engine driver to stop. The engine then presented the appearance shown in Fig. 8. From a cut in the Railroad Gazette of March 9, 1877. it appears that a cab and a large wood-burning chimney were subsequently added, but both these were removed some time before the engine was placed in the United States National Museum.

As far as the writer can discover, this was the first engine equipped with a bell, headlight and cowcatcher, although bells were used on English locomotives as far back as 1827.

The John Bull in 1877

On September 15, 1831 it ran for the first time—a test run—on this side of the Atlantic in New Jersey.  Exactly 150 years later it became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution fired it up and ran it out on September 15, 1981.

The John Bull today in the National Museum, Washington, D. C

More information:

John Bull Pulls his Weight
The Evolution of the American Locomotive
The National Museum of American History
Wikipedia: John Bull Locomotive