Crampton, Thomas Russell

Crampton, Thomas Russell
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b. 6 August 1816 Broadstairs, Kent, England
d. 19 April 1888 London, England
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English engineer, pioneer of submarine electric telegraphy and inventor of the Crampton locomotive.
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After private education and an engineering apprenticeship, Crampton worked under Marc Brunel, Daniel Gooch and the Rennie brothers before setting up as a civil engineer in 1848. His developing ideas on locomotive design were expressed through a series of five patents taken out between 1842 and 1849, each making a multiplicity of claims. The most typical feature of the Crampton locomotive, however, was a single pair of driving wheels set to the rear of the firebox. This meant they could be of large diameter, while the centre of gravity of the locomotive remained low, for the boiler barrel, though large, had only small carrying-wheels beneath it. The cylinders were approximately midway along the boiler and were outside the frames, as was the valve gear. The result was a steady-riding locomotive which neither pitched about a central driving axle nor hunted from side to side, as did other contemporary locomotives, and its working parts were unusually accessible for maintenance. However, adhesive weight was limited and the long wheelbase tended to damage track. Locomotives of this type were soon superseded on British railways, although they lasted much longer in Germany and France. Locomotives built to the later patents incorporated a long, coupled wheelbase with drive through an intermediate crankshaft, but they mostly had only short lives. In 1851 Crampton, with associates, laid the first successful submarine electric telegraph cable. The previous year the brothers Jacob and John Brett had laid a cable, comprising a copper wire insulated with gutta-percha, beneath the English Channel from Dover to Cap Gris Nez: signals were passed but within a few hours the cable failed. Crampton joined the Bretts' company, put up half the capital needed for another attempt, and designed a much stronger cable. Four gutta-percha-insulated copper wires were twisted together, surrounded by tarred hemp and armoured by galvanized iron wires; this cable was successful.
Crampton was also active in railway civil engineering and in water and gas engineering, and c. 1882 he invented a hydraulic tunnel-boring machine intended for a Channel tunnel.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Vice-President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Officier de la Légion d'Honneur (France).
Bibliography
1842, British patent no. 9,261.
1845. British patent no. 10,854.
1846. British patent no. 11,349.
1847. British patent no. 11,760.
1849, British patent no. 12,627.
1885, British patent no. 14,021.
Further Reading
M.Sharman, 1933, The Crampton Locomotive, Swindon: M.Sharman; P.C.Dewhurst, 1956–7, "The Crampton locomotive", Parts I and II, Transactions of the Newcomen Society 30:99 (the most important recent publications on Crampton's locomotives).
C.Hamilton Ellis, 1958, Twenty Locomotive Men, Shepperton: Ian Allen. J.Kieve, 1973, The Electric Telegraph, Newton Abbot: David \& Charles, 102–4.
R.B.Matkin, 1979, "Thomas Crampton: Man of Kent", Industrial Past 6 (2).
PJGR

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

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