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Canadian Pacific Railway

Canadian Speed Record for Steam

Britain was long noted for fast passenger trains in the steam era in particular the famous Flying Scotsman that ran non-stop between London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland over the London North Eastern Railway. It was however, the CPR that
set a speed record that stood unbeaten throughout the steam era. The interesting thing is that it was not done to claim a record. Rather, it was done to test the stopping ability of new high speed lightweight rolling stock recently acquired.

In the autumn of 1936, the Canadian Westinghouse Company was asked by H.B. Bowen, Chief of Motive Power and Rolling Stock to conduct air brake tests on a train of the new lightweight equipment. A consist was made up, headed by class F2a
4-4-4 No. 3003, pulling a train composed of dynamometer car 62, mail/express car 3603, baggage/buffet car 3053 and coaches 2105 and 2107.

3003 with dynamometer car 62 on one of a number of test runs. Westmount, Quebec August 25, 1936

On September 18, 1936, eastbound from Smiths Falls to Montreal, the train was brought up to high speed. In so doing 3003 established an official speed record of 112.5 mph at St. Telesphore Que. Mile 38 on the CPR’s Winchester Sub. The purpose of the tests was to determine the stopping distances from high speeds, and the riding qualities of the five-car train, when brakes are applied in full emergency. At this speed a signal was received in the cab from the control group in the tail end car, for the engineer to move the brake handle into full emergency. At the same instant, a bag of flour was dropped onto the track as a marker. Measured from where the flour was dropped, it took 1 1/8th miles for the train to come to a full stop. Those in the cab thought it would be a very rough ride to the full stop. However, it was only when the train was down to 15 mph that the locomotive bucked like a kicking steer and really threw those in the cab around. Glasses of water in each car did not spill over until down to that speed.

The test established that the train required 1 mile, 20025 feet to be brought to a complete stop, that the brake shoe temperatures on the cars ranged in excess of 700 deg. F while those of the driving wheel tires was in the order of 600 deg F. However, the report notes that the speed of the train at the moment that the brakes were applied was 112.5 mph. The method of determining the speed was not recorded, but was probably based on the number of seconds elapsed from milepost to milepost.


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