Friday, August 12, 2011


Where did the name for this blog come from? Test Plant refers to a research and development tool used in the mechanical engineering for a locomotive. The Test Plant tool was a stationary stand to operate prototype steam locomotive designs built by the Pennsylvanian Railroad in 1904 and first applied at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. In 1905 the Test Plant was moved to Altoona, PA.

The drawing above is page 24 of "The Pennsylvania Railroad System at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition - Locomotive Tests and Exhibits," published in 1905.

Here is a sketch of the Test Plant from page 61 of "Apex of the Atlantics," by Frederick Westing, 1963, Kalmbach Publishing Co., Milwaukee, WI, 1963. The book described how the PRR designed a passenger locomotive, class E6, using the Test Plant. Atlantic was the name used to refer to a steam locomotive that had 4 leading wheels supporting the smoke box, 4 driving wheels attached by driving rods to the steam cylinders at the front of the engine and 2 wheels at the rear of the locomotive supporting the fire box of the boiler assembly.

Pictured is a steam locomotive positioned for stationary testing. It is an atlantice with a 4-4-2 wheel arrangement.  "The purpose of the locomotive test plant was to support and hold the subject locomotive stationary but with driving wheels revolving and a full head of stem in the boiler. Through its use Pennsy test plant engineers could make a firsthand examination of an engine, feeling its pulse, checking its respiratory rate, and determining its blood pressure with the accuracy of a clinical diagnosis. Results of such a checkup could quickly reveal whether or not the locomotive came up to the standards set for it."

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