Chicago Tribune May 27, 1934
The streamlined railroad train, the Zephyr, slid into Chicago last night after a nonstop run from Denver, completing the fastest long run of railway records.The 1,015 miles from the Rocky mountain city over the Burlington lines was covered in 13 hours and 5 minutes, an average of 77.5 miles an hour.
The top speed on the trip was reached between Yuma, Colo., and Schramm, Colo., where an instrument dial indicated 112.5 miles an hour.
Climax of a Pageant.
The time test was completed at Halsted street in Chicago, but the shiny stainless steel train continued, at abated speed, to the World’s Fair grounds on the lake front, and rolled out on the stage of Wings of A Century in a colorful climax of a pageant depicting the development of transportation in the last century.
“It was a sweet ride,” said Ralph Budd, president of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroad, as he swung out of the train. “At a hundred miles an hour it was as comfortable as sitting in your favorite fire side chair.”
In a formal statement prepared en route Mr. Budd told of the significance of this new rail vehicle offering high speed at low operating cost due to its light weight, its streamlining and its recently perfected two-cycle Diesel engine.
A Vision of the Future.
“The ideas which are embodied in the materials and methods of construction of the Zephyr,” said Mr. Budd, “represent years of scientific study and research while business was relatively quiet. They point to new ways and means for industrial recovery.”
The arrangements for the run itself were almost as thorough and detailed as the scientific research in metallurgy, aerodynamics, and engineering that went into the construction of the train. All grade crossings in the four states traversed were guarded by railroad employés or American Legion volunteers, Boy Scouts, or civic club members. Maintenance crews combed the tracks and all passenger and freight trains were cleared from the main rails.
Zephyr Brochure 1934
Crowd Present at Start.
The dispatching of the train from Denver at 6:04 a.m. was attended by official timers, railroad men, and a crowd of spectators. On the high plateau of eastern Colorado and western Nebraska the rounded nose and tapered tail rushed over the dusty plaines with the speedometer wavering between 90 and 100 miles an hour.
Between the two prairie settlements of Yuma and Schramm a flivver on a highway paralleling the tracks challenged the speed of the new iron horse. It fell behind when the Zephyr reached 112.5 miles an hour.
The total time of 13 hours and 5 minutes may be compared with the 23 hours and 45 minutes regular passenger service between Denver and Chicago. The top speed of 112.5 miles an hour were slightly less than the record of 115.2 miles an hour established by the Philadelphia and Reading in 1904 in a run of 4.8 miles between Egg Harbor and Brigantine Junction.
Fastest Long Rail Run.
The average speed of 77.5 miles an hour is faster than any recorded trip of more than 200 miles. The Great Western of England got its name into history two years ago by pushing a train 81.6 miles an hour between London-Edinburgh run of 392.5 miles at an average of 49.1 miles awn hour. The Canadian National covered the 2,937 miles from Montreal to Vancouver in 1925 at an average of 53.3 miles an hour.
As impressive to railroad men and as significant to the public as the speed was the Zephyr’s economy of operation demonstrated on the trip. It left Denver with 500 gallons of fuel oil, costing 4 cents a gallon. The cost of the fuel used in the trip was $16.72. The 53 passengers were carried the 1,015 miles with an expenditure of 418 gallons of fuel.
Century of Progress World’s Fair
Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 27, 1934
ONE HUNDRED SEVEN miles an hour! The delicate needle of the speed gauge in the pilot’s compartment stands motionless for seconds, for minutes, then it slowly drops back to 100, to 80, to 60 as the newest of trains slows down after its first trial spin on a stretch of track in Pennsylvania. That run, scarcely more than a month ago, of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy’s Zephyr was the most recent answer of the railroads’ challenge of bus, automobile, and aerial transportation.
Yesteryear it was a different story. When our grandfathers—or, maybe, our great-grandfathers—were boys the railroads were triumphing over puffing steamboats, snail-lijke canal boats, and the romantic stagecoach. Today, the railroads, beset on every hand by competition, are fighting valiantly and cleverly to hold their place in the world of transportation. And what a fight! The outcome is likely to be not a victory for any competitor involved, but rather a four or five way tie in which all concerned, including the public, may be benefited through vast improvement in modes of travel and transportation, great increase in both, reduced costs to travelers and shippers, and increased profits to carriers of all types.
It took a painfully discouraging and deeply indigo stretch of hard times and something more than a threat from buses and airplanes to stir the railroads out of the toils of lethargy. But now they are thoroughly awake. The creation of the Burlington line’s streamlined train is only one of many manifestations that the railroads realize that they are at the dawn of a new day in transportation. From virtually every important railroad come reports of experimentation aimed at the improvement of travel. The Union Pacific has a streamlined train, too, similar in many respects to the Burlington’s Zephyr and the Pullman Car and Manufacturing corporation is working on the construction of three more super trains to grace the Union Pacific rails. The Texas and Pacific has had in operation for some months an all-steel streamlined train, mounted on runner-tired wheels, that has attained a speed of almost 80 miles an hour. A variety of single self-powered coaches have been completed and tried out on a number of lines. These include the Railplane, constructed by the Pullman works, the famous Autotrain, built by Clark Equipment company, and a number of others built in this country and abroad.
Economy of operation is the outstanding virtue of the single-unit of rail conveyance made by the Pullman works…Self-powered coaches of the type…attain speeds of from 70 to 90 miles or more an hour.
Railroad systems with the problem of short runs on side lines have resorted in a number of instances to a type of vehicle commonly known as the rail bus, used either alone or with a trailer, depending upon the volume of travel. These rail buses are not greatly unlike buses of the highways, are powered with gasoline, oil, or in some cases, electric motors, and to make for less expensive operation than trains or the larger single units, such as the self-powered coaches. Rail buses in a majority of cases are mounted on rubber-tired wheels that stick to the rails throughout the employment of specially designed flanges attached to the wheels. A metal guard inside the tire prevents serious results from flats. A hybrid type of rail bus, capable of traveling either upon tracks or upon ordinary highways, has been operated with considerable success. In these, small flanged metal wheels, acting as guides, keep the larger rubber-tired wheels upon the tracks. When the small flanged wheels are elevated the bus can operate upon a highway in the manner of a standard bus.
Freight transportation has nit been overlooked in the modernization of the railroads. Light all-metal cars of every description have been turned out by the various car works, and remarkable progress has been made in designing and constructing refrigerator cars, the new small-capacity car of the North American Car corporation being one of latest departures along that line.
In bidding for the public’s dollars the railroads have assaulted the problem not on one but on many fronts. Not only have they bought and attained amazingly increased speeds with their newest type of trains, but they ave sought and obtained greater degrees of safety and comfort for their patrons, have reduced noise to a minimum, have abolished soot and cinders, have produced a finer mode of travel at a reduced cost, and have, above all, revived public confidence in the railroads.
As a first goal the railroads realized that they must provide a safe speed as or faster than that of the fastest motor bus and comparable with that of an airplane. To do that they had to employ the most modern of engineering practices—reduce the weight of their trains; provide for smoothness of travel by improved bearings, noiseless motors, cushioned trucks, and soundproofing devices; resort to lighter motor plants with increased power; and adopt that feature long experimented with in automobile and airplane designing—streamlining. So today there have been evolved the Burlington’s famous Zephyr, the Union Pacific’s equally celebrated M-10000, and other streamlined vehicles to run on railroad tracks.
The Zephyr is an articulated train of three units, made throughout—framework, exterior, and inside trim—of stainless steel, a modern non-corrosive alloy containing 18 per cent chromium, and 8 per cent nickel, cold-rolled and characterized by its great ruggedness, ductility, and a tensile strength three or four times greater than that of ordinary steel. Made in the Philadelphia plant of the Budd Manufacturing company, the train is without a rivet, the whole of it having been put together by the so-called “shot-weld method” of electric welding, a process in which each “shot” of electricity is precisely timed, resulting in absolute uniformity in welds, which occur as close together as stitches in a sewn seam. It is the quality of the stainless steel, permitting the use of thin sheets, plates, struts, beams, and other parts, combined with the improved method of welding, that makes the Zephyr so light in comparison with a standard train—though 197 feet in length over all, it weighs approximately only 100 tons, little more than the weight of a single sleeping car of the conventional type.
Electric power drives this latest of super trains. Transmitted to gears on the front trck, it is produced by a new type of 660-horsepower, two cycle, eight-cylinder, oil-burning Diesel engine developed by the Winton division of General Motors. Having no spark plugs and no ignition system, the engine depends upon compression for combustion. The train’s three cars ride upon articulated trucks, the rear of one car and the front of the succeeding one sharing the same set of four wheels. Thus there are only 16 wheels under the train, whereas in the conventional train of three coaches there are 36 wheels. The trucks are rubber cushioned at points of impact. Wheels are of solid alloy with integral tread, rin-toughened to provide long service without reshaping or replacement.
The first unit of the train is occupied by the engine room and a spacious compartment for mail. The second unit contains space for baggage and express, a buffet grill, and a smoking compartment. The front half of the third unit is dedicated to reclining chairs, and the rear half is a lounge room, conforming to the bullet-shaped tail of the train.
The Zephyr runs on roller bearings. It is equipped for radio reception. All three of its units are air conditioned. Windows are of shatterproof glass. Temperature is controlled thermostatically. Electro-pneumatic brakes are capable of bringing the to a stop from maximum speed in a remarkably brief space of time. Meals from the electric buffet grill are served to passengers upon special tables set up in front of their chairs—there is no long hike through the train to a dining car to satisfy appetites.
The shape of the train with respect to air impact takes advantage of countless experiments and the most modern application of scientific streamlining, in which the bullet-shaped contour of the front and rear ends, the design of the wheel guards, the concave fluted sheathing of the sides, top, and under surfaces, absence of rivets, and flush window frames are factors of obvious importance.
This description of the Burlington train comes close to fitting that of the Union Pacific train, though there are points of difference. The M10000 which has been exhibited widely since it first was shown in Chicago last February, is 204 feet 5 inches long, consists of three units, and is made of duralumin, a copper-aluminum alloy much lighter than ordinary steel and amazingly strong. In appearance it has the same general streamlined outlines as the Zephyr, though instead of presenting a natural metal finish, it is enameled in canary yellow with a brown trim. The combined weight of its three coaches is approximately 80 tons, or little more than half that of a standard steam locomotive.
Power for operating the Union Pacific train comes from a 12-cylinder, 600-horsepower motor, which depends for its energy on distillate, a low volatile fuel. The motor transmits its power to a dynamo, which in turn creates electricity to drive motors mounted directly over the forward axles. The train carries 116 passengers comfortably and has in addition compartments for mail and baggage. In the rear end of the third coach is a buffet kitchen, from which meals are served to passengers in their seats. Across the front of the buffet is a counter from which drinks are served. The train is completely air conditioned, its windows being sealed against noise and dirt.
High speed is possible because of the lightness of the train as compared to its power and because of its streamlining, which provides it with a rounded, bulletlike nose and a tapered tail that eliminates back drag as the train speeds along the rails. Clearance between the coaches and rails is only nine and a half inches. The train moves without jar, quiver, or rumble, and is equipped with effective brakes that, through a device called a decelorometer, permit the M-10000 to come to a silent quick stop from high speed. The Union Pacific expects to reduce it 56-hour schedule between Chicago and the west coast by 20 to 24 hours through employment of trains of the type of the M-10000, a product of the Pullman company, Aluminum company, General Motors, and the Stout Aeronautical company.
Among the thousands of exhibits at A Century of Progress Exposition in Chciago, which reopened yesterday for its 1934 season, are the two trains afore described. To the M10000 already familiar to residents of a number of cities, has been added a fourth unit especially for the World’s Fair, a Pullman sleeping coach, in construction and design in complete harmony with the original three units of the train. This most modern of railway sleepers thus is made a part of the train, much in the same manner that a chain is lengthened by the insertion of a new link.
The Union Pacific M-10000 at the Century of Progress, Chicago, 1934 In the background at right, is the “Whiting-Nash Tower” in which Nash Motors displayed both Nash and LaFayette automobile models.
The streamlined train of the Texas and Pacific railway is a Budd-Westinghouse product. It consists of two coaches, the forward unit containing power plant, mail, and baggage comportments, since on its Fort Worth-Texarkana run, as it is the practice in Dixie, passengers are divided into two groups. Metal employed in the construction of this train is the same as used in the Burlington zephyr, its two cars weighing together 52 tons.
Two 12-cylinder gasoline engines of the automobile type supply the motive power, which is transmitted ti two generators, which in turn operate electric motors connected with axles. This hookup of gasoline engines permits them to function at their rate of maximum efficiency, while the drive is applied by the electric motors with a minimum of gears. The train rides the rails on pneumatic tires. Grooved rubber treads contact with the rails, bearing the whole weight of the train, the tires being inflated with air at 100 pounds of pressure. On the inside of each wheel is a steel flange that keeps the wheel on the track. Inside of the tire is an aluminum safety rim, on which the wheel would roll in case of a blow-out. Deflation of the tire in that case would drop the wheel only five-eighths of an inch. Other features of this train include air conditioning, rubber-cushioned trucks, and sealed windows which keep out noise and dust.
The Autotram…constructed of aluminum alloy, weighs approximately 15 tons.
The Autotram of the Clark Equipment company, a concern which has been producing axles, transmissions, clutches, and other parts for the automotive industry for more than twenty years, was designed in step with the idea that rail transportation of the future might depend to a large extent on single-unit vehicles, though its principles also are applied to multi-unit trains as well. The first Autotram, a bright red, fishlike coach of a length of sixty feet, was put through its first test runs on a branch line of the Michigan Central near Battle Creek, Mich., more than a year ago. It operated with ease and a minimum of noise at a rate of 85 miles per hour. It is constructed of aluminum alloy, weighs approximately 15 tons, and is driven by a 16-cylinder automotive type engine supplying power to all four wheels of the front truck. Brakes, air compression on hydraulic, operate upon all eight wheels of the vehicle. The Autotram is mounted on resilient steel-flnged wheels, insulated with rubber. The motor, gear box, and trucks are rubber mounted.
Economy of operation is the outstanding virtue of the single-unit type of ril convenience made by the Pullman works and designated as the Pailplane, Streamlined similarly to the Union Pacific train, the Railplane gets its power from two gasoline engines that consume a minimum of fuel for speed attained and distance sovered. Self-powered coaches of the type of the Railplane—and there are a number of them in actual use throughout this country and in Europe—attain speeds of from 70 to 90 miles an hour.
Left to Right: Streamlined train of the Texas and Pacific; motorized coach of a British line; train of C. B. & Q.
All newest of trains, powered coaches, and rail buses mentioned here are merely typical of strides made by the railroads to modernize travel and transport and exhaust by no means the myriad developments of the engineering departments of the various systems, looking to faster, better, and cheaper transportation. Not of least importance in that lie is the improvement made in recent months in steam locomotives. When it comes to lugging long-distance passengers in mass and bulky freight in 100-car trains, the steam locomotive still remains an economical and trustworthy commercial servant. But the old “iron horse” has gone modern, too. It is being streamlined. The pilot, or cowcatcher, is retained, though in rounded form. The headlight is streamlined. The smokestack is concealed. Cowlings hide air pumps and auxiliary machinery, and sand box, steam dome, whistle, and safety valve are sunk into the jacket of the boiler, to give the engine a hint of beauty and leave it no longer the angular monstrosity of the rails, But beauty is not what the designers are seeking mainly. Streamlining even a locomotive reduces wind resistance to a train and permits it to operate at greater speeds and at reduced fuel consumption.
In 1934, the J1E Hudson 5344 (Commodore Vanderbilt) was the world’s first streamlined locomotive.
When all is said and done, streamlining is the main peg upon which engineers are hanging hopes for the future of transportation. While those employed by the railroads are working out their campaigns along the lines of least (wind) resistance, engineers and designers of other brands of transportation—automotive, including autobus and automobile, and aeronautical—are keeping ever busy and perhaps in some cases just a step ahead of their competitors. Though the automobile came into existence ahead of the airplane, it was the airplane designer who first turned seriously to streamlining to improve his product. That was natural. The airplane must be streamlined after a fashion to operate at all. Proper placement of wings, ailerons, rudders, and struts and the shaping of the fuselage were from the first the simple ABC’s of streamlining, though the earliest plane builders did not call it by that name. Those pioneers of aviation simply were seeking to make their ships more and more like birds, and thus evolved what has been hit upon by all who would improve modes of travel.
The most modern of airplanes is almost perfectly streamlined. With its rounded nose and tapering tail, its retractile wheels that, when dram in, permit a speed increase as great as 20 miles per hour, it leaves only its spreading wings to carry it on high, not from pressure of atmosphere from below, but, as aerial engineers explain, from the lift of the atmosphere from above. The tiniest pursuit plane of the army, the more bulky bomber, the big passenger and mail ships of the commercial air lines, and the giant air liners that cross oceans with speed and safety—all of these present the application of modern streamlining to the benefit of transport and travel.
Everyone is more or less familiar with the trend toward streamlining in the automobile. What was looked upon as a freak yesterday today is accepted as most improved designing. The first automobiles were only what they were called—horseless carriages. They barged against the eind at twenty to thirty miles an hour, consumed vast amounts of costly fuel, and in general were disappointments, if nit aggravations. Though called pleasure cars, they frequently turned out to be worry cars. As racing automobiles frequently were the vehicles in which engineers tested new ideas, so were they the vehicles in which streamlining first was applied to the automotive field. The quaint old car, called the Golden Egg, in which Barney Oldfield raced on the Indianapolis speedway and upon the great wooden oval at Maywood, Ill., sixteen or seventeen years ago, was one of the first so-called streamlined automobiles. The big multicylindered. record-breaking racers of Daytona Beach straightaway were later developments of the science of streamlining. Modern cars—and that includes virtually every type turned out by American and European factories—are merely descendants of the old Golden Egg, and the big racers that carry flattened tails like the flutes of a whale. Automobile models for 1934 present types from the ultra-conservative to the extreme (to date) in streamlining. In not one is the principle of streamlining ignored. Each year, it is believed, will see automobiles shaped more and more like bullets or drops of water.
The automotive industry, represented in America on wheels by some twenty-odd million of registered cars and by a manufacturing investment of from one and a half to two billion dollars, is an important factor in transportation, and the manufacturers mean to keep it so.
Closely akin to the automobile, in its method of operation and in that it operates upon the public highways, is the autobus, which in recent years has become a strong competitor of the railroads. Passenger buses and freight and express autotrucks run anywhere and everywhere there are roads. In a majority of cases bus and truck rates are lower than those of the railroads. This has had the effect of bringing business to the bus and truck lines that otherwise would have gone to the railroads. To retain this business it has been necessary for the bus and truck operators to modernize their vehicles from time to time. The bus of today is streamlined not unlike the private automobile. New designing has made it smoother, less noisy, and safer in operation. The bus with sleeping berths is one of the more recent developments for cross-country highway travel.
Though rarely is competition with the railroads except in the largest cities, the street car systems, that take care of a sizable proportion of intraurban traffic, meet considerable competition from subway and elevated lines, autobuses, and taxicabs. To fight this competition the street car has gone modern. An example is the new, comparatively noiseless, streamlined trolley car of the Chicago Surface Lines, built by that company in conjunction with J. G. Brill & Co. of Philadelphia and the General Electric company. Weighing 18¼ tons, eight tons lighter than the old type cart of the same dimensions, the new street cart can accelerate to a speed of 40 miles an hour in the brief time of ten seconds. It is comfortable, airy, and free from rumbles, and sudden jerks, being provided with improved ventilation devices, shock absorbers, and rubber insulation. A triple braking apparatus permits it to come to a quick but smooth stop from extreme speed in a distance of approximately fifty feet. A door at the rear of the vehicle operates automatically in case of need of an emergency exit.
“. . . comparatively noiseless streamlined trolley car of the Chicago Surface Lines. . . can accelerate to a speed of 40 miles an hour in the brief time of ten seconds. . . “
Chicago Tribune, May 4, 1934
THERE is, you will admit, a pleasing contrast in the fact that the newest train in America, a lightweight, streamline train of stainless steel that looks like a streak of silver light as its 660 horse-power two-cycle Winton Diesel engine hurtles it through space, derives its name from a line of Chaucer, medieval English poet. The train is the Burlington “Zephyr,” which made its first run April 9—the first completely streamline steel train in the country. The name was taken from the Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales beginning:
When in April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower,
When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath.
Modernized, the whole verse says that when April with its sweet showers has eded the drought of March and moistened the roots of every vine in sweet liquor, of which fertility is the flower; when Zephyrus also with his sweet breath has started in every wood and meadow the tender growth. . . then people go on long pilgrimages.
More surprising, perhaps, than finding the new train named after the breeze of spring weather, as lyricized by Chaucer, was discovering a railroad president who could quote the early English poet. Finding ourselves seated next to Mr. Ralph Budd, president of the Burlington railroad, at a charming dinner party the other night, we started conversation by inquiring how the new train happened to be named Zephyr. And believe it or not, this hard-headed and successful railroad man, this American engineer with 35 years of experience, not only explained but quoted, unhesitatingly, the beginning of Chaucer’s prologue (which we looked up in the reference library to copy.)
When the name Zephyr was suggested, it struck the railroad heads immediately as an appropriate name for a granger road like the Burlington, whose business depends so largely upon the products of agriculture, Mr. Budd explained. Thus the train was named the God of the West Wind, the light propitious wind that was the harbinger of spring. And like the Zephyrus, the new train glides along without apparent effort, its silvery shape like a ray of sunlight. We again—if you please, are quoting Railroad President Budd.
The two trains launched an era of industrial streamlining. Both trains later went into successful revenue service, the Union Pacific’s as the City of Salina, and the Burlington Zephyr as the first Pioneer Zephyr. The Zephyr, retired from active service in 1960, is now on exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Unlike the Zephyr, the M-10000 was not preserved; since it was made of aluminum, it was scrapped in 1942 to contribute to the World War II arms effort.