Daft, Leo

Daft, Leo
b. 13 November 1843 Birmingham, England
d. 28 March 1922
English electrical engineer, pioneer of electric-power generation and electric railways in the USA.
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.
Further Reading
Dictionary of American Biography.
F.J.G.Haut, 1969, The History of the Electric Locomotive, London: George Allen \& Unwin.

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

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