Question about The John Bull

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Millhouse
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Question about The John Bull

Postby Millhouse » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:21 am

Known as the oldest 'operable' steam locomotive in the world (though I doubt the one in the Smithsonian would ever be run again), something about this engine has always been a mystery to me over the years.

Where is the piston and crank located? Pictures of the engine or its replica definitely hide either very well.

The second protrusion out of the boiler behind the stack looks like it might be a single vertical piston but due to the way the pilot attaches on to the outer axle of the front driver set, it's just really hard to tell.

A few videos of it are out there when the Smithsonian pulled it out and ran it in 1981, but even in motion I can't make out any moving reciprocating parts. Just the drivers spinning. Any information at all would be appreciated. I've always been curious about this engine, even as a kid.

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Wowak
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Re: Question about The John Bull

Postby Wowak » Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:56 am

I believe the piston or pistons are directly below the smoke box.
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Mark D
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Re: Question about The John Bull

Postby Mark D » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:09 am

By 'operable', does this mean they have actually operated it sometime relatively recently? And by operable, has it actually moved while pulling some sort of load more than a few feet?
That would be cool to see, and better yet to go with it.
Mark D.
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BurlingtonJohn
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Re: Question about The John Bull

Postby BurlingtonJohn » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:56 pm

Pretty sure the real one was operated by the Smithsonian back in the eighties ... branch line in Virginia if I recall correctly. I've seen the real one and the replica at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg ....

Regards,
Burlington John

John Bull (4).jpg
The "real" John Bull at the Smithsonian, May 2016


John Bull.jpg
The replica John Bull at the RRMPA, August 2015

Millhouse
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Re: Question about The John Bull

Postby Millhouse » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:05 am

Mark D wrote:By 'operable', does this mean they have actually operated it sometime relatively recently? And by operable, has it actually moved while pulling some sort of load more than a few feet?
That would be cool to see, and better yet to go with it.
Mark D.


What BurlingtonJohn said. In 1981, for the 150th anniversary of the locomotive itself, the Smithsonian took the John Bull out and ran it. I remember as a kid it being on the news, my Mom yelled at me from across the house to come see it.

Then put right back into storage, I'm assuming. Whether or not it's stored serviceable, I don't know. Things tend to deteriorate far less when they're environmentally stored like this engine, but assuming you could get everyone to agree to take the risk of running it, I'm sure there would be a fair amount of work coming to it if it were ever to be fired up again.

Video of the 1981 run of the Smithsonian original. Looks like they were even stoking it with wood.

John Bohon
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Re: Question about The John Bull

Postby John Bohon » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:58 am

I agree with Wowak, the cylinders and valves are between the frames and under the boiler. In the video you can see some of the motion moving on the left hand side of the locomotive. I would hate to get my pants leg caught up in those levers cranking back and forth if I were firing the John Bull but it is a job I would love to get a shot at. For further description, if you look at the back side of the steam dome you will see what must be the throttle valve connected to a rod to the throttle lever in the cab so to speak. Coming out of the throttle valve on each side are the copper delivery pipes going down into the smokebox and to the cylinders below. That is about as simple an arrangement as it gets.

As for the second protrusion coming out of the boiler behind the stack I believe that must be a pop valve. The long pipe would be to get the steam above the heads of the crew. It appears there may be a second pop on top the steam dome beside the whistle. I have been unable to drawings of the John Bull to confirm my conclusions so I hope somebody can do better than I. It would be interesting to know is this ancient locomotive was built with two safety valves or if one was added at a later date.

John Bohon


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