The great era of steam engines has long passed. On this page I'd like to summarize some of the records set up in this time.
Which was the fastest one?
In 1835 the locomotive factory Borsig (Berlin) made two locomotives for the German State Railroad Company, the road numbers were 05001 und 05002. The driving wheels of the locomotives with the wheel arrangement 2 C 2 had a diameter of 2300 mm. In 1936 the 05002 reached a speed of 200.4 kilometers per hour (124.5 miles per hour). Measurements showed that each cylinder developped 3745 b.h.p. At the draw-hook only 1825 b.h.p. were left, the rest was lost by air resistance and friction.
In England a streamline engine of the A-series (London North Eastern Railway, engine MALLARD) developped a speed of 202.8 km/h (126.0 mph) on July 3rd.
In the U.S.A. these records were broken by the duplex engines of the Pennsylvania Railroad with the wheel arrangement 3 B B 3. This engine reached up to 240km/h (149 mph).
But the US-government forbade it to be put on in regular services as it was considered to be too dangerous. Burdened with 18 heavy Pullman cars which weighed 1200 tons, this locomotive reached an average speed of 160km/h (100 mph) for the journey.
Which was the strongest one?
The world´s strongest steam engines produced in series were the Big Boys of the Union Pacific Railroad. These mallets with the wheel arrangement 2 D D 2 had a lenght of 40.5 m, weighed 545 tons, provided 6000kW, and had a tractive effort of 609 kN. This was sufficient to tow loads of 4000 tons across the climbing slope of the Sherman pass that had a climb of 4.6 %. A Big Boy was even able to keep going a freight train of 650 freight cars that had a weight of 27000 tons and a length of nearly 10 km (32800 feet), after it had been pushed into motion.
Big Boys were not only big and heavy, they also reached a maximum speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) which was extremely extraordinary for a Mallet of this size. On the plain they led freight trains up to 6000 t, but they also pulled 3200-ton-trains across the 8%-slope between Carter and Green River at an average speed of 78 km/h (48 mph). Among these conditions the heavy giants spent approximately 10 tons of coal so that the 28.5 tons of coal (and 90 t of water) in the seven-axle-tender were spent within hardly three hours. Seven of 25 specimens/pieces built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) are preserved in museums.
The locomotive 4018 that stood in a museum in Dallas, Texas, is actually being restored.
Some prototypes with the wheel arrangement 1 C C C or 1 D D D had even more power. Unfortunately it's very difficult to get any information about these engines. Two of these engines survived. Presently one of them is kept in the Henry Ford museum in the U.S. A. It weighs 600 t.