Daft, Leo

Daft, Leo
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b. 13 November 1843 Birmingham, England
d. 28 March 1922
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English electrical engineer, pioneer of electric-power generation and electric railways in the USA.
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Leo Daft, son of a British civil engineer, studied electricity and emigrated to the USA in 1866. After various occupations including running a photographic studio, he joined in 1879 the New York Electric Light Company, which was soon merged into the Daft Electric Company. This company developed electrically powered machinery and built electric-power plants. In 1883 Daft built an electric locomotive called Ampere for the Saratoga \& Mount McGregor Railroad. This is said to have been the first electric main-line locomotive for standard gauge. It collected current from a central rail, had an output of 12 hp (9 kW) and hauled 10 tons at speeds up to 9 mph (14.5 km/h). Two years later Daft made a much improved locomotive for the New York Elevated Railway, the Benjamin Franklin, which drew current at 250 volts from a central rail and had two 48 in. (122 cm)-diameter driving wheels and two 33 in. (84 cm)-diameter trailing wheels. Re-equipped in 1888 with four driving wheels and a 125 hp (93 kW) motor, this could haul an eight-car train at 10 mph (16 km/h). Meanwhile, in 1884, Daft's company had manufactured all the electrical apparatus for the Massachusetts Electric Power Company, the first instance of a complete central station to generate and distribute electricity for power on a commercial scale. In 1885 it electrified a branch of the Baltimore Union Passenger Railway, the first electrically operated railway in the USA. Subsequently Daft invented a process for vulcanizing rubber onto metal that came into general use. He never became an American citizen.
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Further Reading
Dictionary of American Biography.
F.J.G.Haut, 1969, The History of the Electric Locomotive, London: George Allen \& Unwin.
PJGR

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

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