Leeds Engine:More Reading: Articulation


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Over the years as locomotives have been developed and made more powerful it has been necessary to aid traction by putting the power to the rail on more driven wheels. In the early years many locos only had a single powered axle with other wheels to add support for the weight of the loco. Initially the favoured layout was to have a six wheeled loco with a pair of axles coupled together and the third as support. When locos get longer, bigger and more powerful they run on more axles many of which are coupled together.

One of the largest locos built were the Russian AA class 4-14-4 with a coupled wheelbase of 33 feet as you can imagine they struggled to keep the loco on the track whilst going round curved tracks. The solution to this problem is to build an articulated loco. Below are some of the methods used by various designers to get powerful locos to travel on curved tracks. The other costly solution to the problem is to provide many smaller locos running together.

Kitson Meyer

Kitson Meyer 4664 in Santiago, Chille (Photo Kris Ward)

Kitson Meyer 4664 in Santiago, Chille (Photo Kris Ward)

Jean Jacques Meyer was a locomotive builder based in Mulhouse in France and built a prototype Meyer articulated loco in 1868. The Meyer form of articulation is a standard loco style of boiler and tanks supported on two power bogies. Later the design was adopted by Kitson as a way to compete with Beyer Peacock and the Garratt design.
Kitsons modified the Meyer design by spacing the power bogies so that a deep wide firebox could be accommodated similar to the Garratt. Many different Kitson Meyer locos were built some incorporating a tank and bunker and others had a separate tender carrying the fuel and water.
A few of these locos survive in South America where they were supplied. Brian Taylor at the Kirklees Railway built a loco in Kitson Meyer style called Hawk which is one of the most powerful 15 inch gauge locos in the UK.
OVS Bulleid designed his Leader articulated loco which could be looked upon as being a development of the Kitson Meyer. It had a few design flaws but with the right development could have been a workable design.

Note that each loco type may be more suitable for different applications and must not look upon the Garratt as the best because of the quantities built or the Mallet as the one of the most powerful. Recently on the Welsh Highland it has been possible to compare Mallet, Garratt and Fairlie locos together.

Donald Binns, Ktson Meyer Articulated Locomotives
AE Durrant, Garratt Locomotives of the World
David Joy, Engines that bend - NG articulated locomotives
André Chapelon, La Locomotiva a Vapeur

This article was produced by Andrew Johnson, feedback or contributions about the Leeds engine making industry would be greatly appreciated.