Ramsbottom, John

Ramsbottom, John
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b. 11 September 1814 Todmorden, Lancashire, England
d. 20 May 1897 Alderley Edge, Cheshire, England
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English railway engineer, inventor of the reversing rolling mill.
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Ramsbottom's initial experience was gained at the locomotive manufacturers Sharp, Roberts \& Co. At the age of 28 he was Manager of the Longsight works of the Manchester \& Birmingham Railway, which, with other lines, became part of the London \& North Western Railway (L \& NWR) in 1846. Ramsbottom was appointed Locomotive Superintendent of its north-eastern division. Soon after 1850 came his first major invention, that of the split-ring piston, consisting of castiron rings fitted round the piston to ensure a steam-tight fit in the cylinder. This proved to be successful, with a worldwide application. In 1856 he introduced sight-feed lubrication and the form of safety valve that bears his name. In 1857 he became Locomotive Superintendent of the L \& NWR at Crewe, producing two notable classes of locomotives: 2–4–0s for passenger traffic; and 0–6–0s for goods. They were of straightforward design and robust construction, and ran successfully for many years. His most spectacular railway invention was the water trough between the rails which enabled locomotives to replenish their water tanks without stopping.
As part of his policy of making Crewe works as independent as possible, Ramsbottom made several metallurgical innovations. He installed one of the earliest Bessemer converters for steelmaking. More important, in 1866 he coupled the engine part of a railway engine to a two-high rolling mill so that the rolls could be run in either direction, and quickly change direction, by means of the standard railway link reversing gear. This greatly speeded up the rolling of iron or steel into the required sections. He eventually retired in 1871.
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Further Reading
J.N.Weatwood, 1977, Locomotive Designers in the Age of Steam, London: Sidgwick \& Jackson, pp. 43–7.
W.K.V.Gale, 1969, Iron and Steel, London: Longmans, p. 80 (provides brief details of his reversing mill).
F.C.Hammerton, 1937, John Ramsbottom , the Father of the Modern Locomotive,
London.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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