Coffee Pot Locomotives, Thornaby

Three photographs of the Head Wrightson Coffeepot locomotives on display at Teesdale Iron Works, Thornaby.

Photographs and details courtesy of Peter H Rigg.

5 thoughts on “Coffee Pot Locomotives, Thornaby

  1. The Vertical boiler on the Coffee pot also had vertical pistons, instead of a direct drive through Piston Rods to the driving wheels of normal Engines, the the pistons drove a geared cog which drove one set of wheels on the loco. They were normally narrow gauge shunting engines for coal tubs and not very powerful. In the picture you can see the geared cog which was fixed to the axle of the engine driving one set of wheels only.
    Many Steam Cranes and other types of machine diggers had a vertical boiler, that was to give a smaller wheel base to the chassis to get into smaller spaces than a horizontal type boiler.
    As a lad I helped retube a crane boiler with copper tubes I of course being on the underside as we had the top of the boiler off lowering the tubes in to the Boiler, we then used tube expanders to make the tube a solid fit in the boiler base.
    When we tested the boiler by firing it up I got to drive it probably because I manage to get blacker than any one else.
    The Saddle Tank Shunter took over on most railways as it could be built with a short wheel base with saddle tanks for the water over the boiler and a boot on the back of the cab for coal instead of a tender.
    The loco shown was built around 1870 I believe.


    • Hello Frank/Phil
      The Sentinel shunters, like the ones that shunted the Clarence Coal depot at the bottom of Railway Street (68142 then later on 68144) were of similar design but they were chain driven from a central cogwheel to both axles.


      • Hello David. Working with Engineering Regiments in the army I did see some weird and wonderful drive systems. The one I describe above had a crude gear system with a fly wheel almost in your ear then a system of cogs to the wheel drive.
        Then Chain driven as you say and also a bit like Rocket a Vertical Rod driving one wheel which was connected to the other wheel by a horizontal push rod.
        Most steam cranes had the Coffee pot Boiler and a crude gear box where you had to be at rest to change gear, a series of levers in the cab, to use the crane you had to be ambidextrous using both hands to move levers and stamping on pedals at the same time.
        The Engineers brought a Drag Crane into the Workshops, it had been at some time changed from Steam to a Diesel engine my lads were interested until it had to go back on the low loader. We are not messing with those archaic levers and pedals, I put it on and was soaked in sweat by the time it was secured.
        None of those things were easy to drive and imagine being the first to try it.


  2. Was this a rack-and-pinion locomotive (see 3rd photo)? If so, where was it deployed? The only UK r & p railway I am aware of is on Snowdon!


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