Notes on the text

These notes, by Alastair Wilson, are partly new, and partly based on the notes on this tale in the ORG. We have also drawn extensively on John W. Reading’s comments on the story. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of The Day’s Work, as published and frequently reprinted between 1898 and 1950.



[Title]. In the USA after about 1890, it was relatively rare for a locomotive to bear an individual name, and each one had two numbers, its ‘builder’s number’ and its ‘running number’. The former was for internal use by the company which built the locomotive, and was usually sequential from 1 onwards (in the case of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, America’s prime locomotive builder, the final locomotive built had a builder’s number of 70,541) It appeared on a ‘builder’s plate’, riveted to the locomotive structure in some comparatively inconspicuous place.

The ‘running number’, in both British and American practice carried in large numerals either on the tender or the cab side, was the number by which the locomotive was known in everyday talk: in the USA, this was usually prefaced by the definite article – a famous flyer of the New York Central, a 4-4-0 with the identifying number 999, was known as “the 999”. British practice saw many passenger locomotives given names (though very few locomotives for freight duties bore them).

It would be interesting to see a locomotive stock list of any Class 1 US railroad dating from about 1880 to see how many named locomotives there were. In the UK, it is of interest (to us railway enthusiasts, anyway), that although, back in the 1830s and 40s, naming of locomotives was commonplace, with some railways (the Great Western in particular) providing their locomotives with names only – no running numbers. By the late 1800s, only the London and North-Western Railway regularly gave virtually all its passenger engines names. The Great Western named all its passenger engines again from about 1893 onwards, but wholesale engine naming really only started with the post-World War 1 grouping, and the rise of the Publicity Department: thus, all four mainline railway companies in the period 1923-28 (GWR, LNER, LMS, and SR) named their passenger engines.

The ORG commented that “to avoid confusion with any actual locomotive, [Kipling] took the unusual course of starting with two cyphers and not content with this prefixed them with the decimal point”. The ORG continues:

“Since the author was an educated Englishman writing in English, there is no need for controversy as to the pronunciation of the title, which he would naturally have given as “point (or decimal) nought nought seven”. Readers in countries where the nought is called “zero” (e.g. France and the USA) will no doubt pronounce it in that wise, but nowhere, it is hoped, except in the world of telephone operators, will “owe owe (or double-owe) seven” be employed.”

The ORG was written before Ian Fleming’s James Bond, special agent 007, had made an impact, and it is feared that many, if not most, readers today would use “owe owe seven” – even (whisper it) the author of these notes.

[Page 228, lines 3 & 4] The red paint was hardly dry on his spotless bumper bar American locomotives of an earlier period sported a red pilot (‘cowcatcher’) as British locomotives had a red buffer-beam, as a visible warning of an approaching danger. Later on, American locomotives tended to be black overall, or with a silver smokebox. We may assume that .007’s paint style was a hangover from an earlier period. For the last 35 years this has been replaced on modern trains in Britain by the use of the colour yellow as a high-visibility warning.
John Reading comments: ‘Perhaps not so. In the US, the pilot beam (Br.: buffer-beam) supported the “cowcatcher” or “pilot” and would be nearly invisible on mainline freight and passenger locomotives’.

[Page 228, line 5] his headlight shone like a fireman’s helmet Firemen, both in the USA and Britain in this period, wore brass helmets, usually kept brightly polished. American locomotives carried large headlights immediately in front of their (smoke-stack (in England funnel, or chimney), lit by oil or acetylene gas. Most American railroads were unfenced, and so the headlight served a very real purpose, to reveal any obstruction to the engineer (anglice, driver). In Britain, the railway was strictly fenced, and the tiny lamps mounted, in various combinations and positions on the front of a locomotive, day and night (but only lit at night), merely served to indicate the nature of the train and the route it was to take. Back in Civil War times, American locomotive headlights were frequently ornately decorated with transfer pictures. .007’s lamp is merely highly polished.

[Page 228, line 6] his cab might have been a hardwood-finish parlour At this time, the cabs on American locomotives were still mainly made of wood, and while the exterior might have been plainly finished, the interior was often kept polished like the furniture in the front parlor (the spelling is deliberate) of the engineer’s home. Steel cabs appeared in the US about 1900.

[Page 228, line 7] the round-house (in England ‘engine-shed’). One of the very earliest engine-sheds in this form was “Camden loco.”, the shed built in 1840 at the head of the incline out of Euston station to house the London-based locomotives of the London & Birmingham Railway. It is now a theatre.

In a round-house (which might, illogically, sometimes be built in square form) the tracks radiate from a central turntable which connected to the exit track (hence the reference, in line 11, to the semicircle of bold, unwinking headlights). Thus, by using the turntable, any locomotive in the shed can be taken without moving others. In the USA, an early round-house remains as a railroad museum in Baltimore.

[Page 228, line 15] a month’s oil Lubricating oil rather than fuel oil.

[Page 228, line 17] the brick ash-pit Most tracks inside an engine-shed would have an inspection pit. Kipling has confused this with the ashpit, usually outside the shed, adjacent to the coaling stage, into which the ashes from the locomotive’s fire-box would be raked when disposing of the locomotive after a turn of duty.

[Page 228, line 18] an eight-wheeled ‘American’ locomotive In this case the word ‘American’ is used to describe a particular type of locomotive – see our introductory note. An ‘American’ locomotive meant a 4-4-0, in the Whyte notation, and was, until about 1895, almost the universal type for passenger service in the USA. In Britain, the description was NOT used, and until the coming of the Whyte notation, .007 would have been described as a four-coupled, outside cylinder, bogie engine. In fact, the words “eight-wheeled” would be a piece of tautology for American readers, and may have been inserted for the benefit of British readers. (British railways were extremely loath to adopt American practices and terms, though from 1900 onwards, British railways did study and adopt many American management practices.)
[It must be said that the ORG comment on this phrase is incorrect. Ed.]

[Page 228, line 20] ten thousand dollars At that time, worth about £2,000. It is not sensibly possible to put a 21st century sterling value to this sum.

[Page 229, line 3] Mogul freight A locomotive having the wheel arrangement 2-6-0, designed for freight duties (and so having smaller diameter driving wheels, whereby greater power would be developed at a lower speed). In the roundest of terms, all over the world, a locomotive for express passenger duties had coupled driving wheels of from 6 feet to 6 feet 9 inches (1.82 m. to 2.05 m.) in diameter, while freight locomotives’ driving wheels were usually 4 feet 3 inches to 5 feet (1.29 m. to 1.52 m.)

[Page 229, line 3] cow-catcher In the USA this was more usually referred to as a ‘pilot’ (see page 233, line 7), and it is interesting to see Kipling using an English word here (though it was found in America, but usually not used by railroaders). It formed a v-shape immediately above the rail in front of the locomotive, and was fitted with the aim of pushing to one side any obstruction, animal or other.

The name almost certainly derives from the occasion when George Stephenson was being examined before the Parliamentary Committee examining the Bill for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, in 1825/6. He was asked: “Would the consequences not be unfortunate if a cow were to stray on to the line of railway in front of an engine?” “Aye”, replied Stephenson, “very unfortunate, for the coo!”) In Britain, a cow-catcher was rarely fitted – two specific instances were on unfenced light railways in Scotland, the lines from Wick to Lybster, and from Fraserburgh to St. Combs, now both long gone.

[Page 229, line 4] a fire-box that came down to within three inches of the rail There was an inner and an outer fire-box: in American practice, both were made of steel: in Britain the inner one would have been of copper which had a better conductivity of heat (but was more expensive).

The bottom of the inner firebox consisted of firebars on which the coal was burned: the inner fire-box’s flanks and top were surrounded by the boiler-water, while from the front of the fire-box extended the fire-tubes leading to the smokebox, under the smokestack/chimney. The hot gases passing through the fire-tubes, which were surrounded by the boiler-water, generated the steam to drive the locomotive.

When Kipling says “to within three inches of the rail”, he means “of the rail level” – the fire-box sat between the rear driving wheels of the Mogul, and so no part of it was over the rail. And in strict technical fact, Kipling means that the ash-pan below the fire-box came down to within three inches of the rail, rather than the fire-bars at the bottom of the fire-box proper. As the ORG remarked “Three inches gives a very limited clearance: some might say not enough”.

[Page 229, line 6] Pittsbugh Consolidation, who was visiting Another type of freight locomotive, of the 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, in this case based in Pittsburgh (or possibly built by the Pittsburgh Locomotive Works). For some 40 years, 1890-1930, this type was the mainstay of American freight services. In America, as in Britain, railway ownership could be complex, and the trains of one company might enjoy running-powers (American, trackage, or track, rights) over another company’s lines. So the Consolidation belonged to another railroad.

[Page 229, line 9] Peter Cooper Peter Cooper (1791-1883) was an inventor and mechanic who built the first home-built locomotive to run in America. It was tried out on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (of which Cooper was a shareholder) on 28 August 1830. It was tiny, weighing barely a ton (the ‘Rocket’ weighed four-and-a-half tons), but its success persuaded his directors of the practicality of steam propulsion.

[Page 229, line 12] hand-car A hand-propelled, pump-action, trolley for inspecting the track, much beloved by early film-makers for chases and such like, with the hero in pursuit of the villains with the girl.

[Page 229, line 17] far-away Thirties the 1830s.

[Page 229, line 20] switching-engine After the 1830s anglice shunting-engine.

[Page 229, line 21] with a little step in front of his bumper-timber, and his wheels so close together that he looked like a bronco getting ready to buck.
As ever, Kipling closely observed and described what he had seen. A switching-engine had the step for the shunter to ride on as they ‘cut-out’ ‘consists’ (see page 237), and his six driving wheels were grouped closely together to make a short wheel-base, in order to negotiate the tight curves in many sidings.

[Page 229, line 25] Pennsylvania gravel-pusher this is a reference to the “Pittsburgh Consolidation”; not so much because it came from Pittsburgh, in the State of Pennsylvania, but because it came from the Pennsylvania Railroad, one of the two major railroads in Eastern America, with a main line which stretched from New York City to Chicago. And ‘gravel-pusher’ was a deadly insult—only small, cheaply-built, lines ballasted their track with gravel—the Pennsylvania was a first class railroad, and its main lines were ballasted with crushed rock.

[Page 229, line 26] Eustis The ORG says: “probably Henry Lawrence Eustis (1819-85), soldier and professor of engineering at Harvard.” Insofar as he was Professor of Engineering at Harvard, this is a possibility rather than a probability, although an initial search on the Web has failed to produce any other Eustis. But .007 is new, and the year is 1890-94, and H.F. Eustis died in 1885. Furthermore, most American railroads bought their locomotives from outside builders, rather than building them in their own works (as was the case in Britain). (The Pennsylvania Railroad was an exception: the town of Altoona, in Pennsylvania, was the American equivalent of Crewe.)

So .007 was probably designed by the Chief Design Engineer of a company like the Baldwin Locomotive Company (see Foreword), or, more likely, given the New England setting, the Brooks Locomotive Company, of Dunkirk, NY, or two smaller companies in Providence RI and Manchester, NH. Kipling would have been aware of these details, and further research is necessary to determine if there was a younger Eustis, practicing as a locomotive designer, in the early 1890s.

[Page 230, line 1] peanut-stand an American term of contempt, the equivalent of the English “baked-potato stall”

[Page 230, line 6] the yard the goods yard, or marshalling yard, where the freight cars (anglice goods-trucks) were loaded and unloaded, and then marshalled into trains for their various destinations.

[Page 230, line 6] Poney an allusion to ‘pony’ – a small ‘iron horse’.

[Page 230, line 7] long-haulers locomotives making long journeys, as opposed to those used only for short-distance runs – suburban trains, transfer goods trains from one marshalling yard to another.

[Page 230, line 11] Track 17 One of the sidings in the goods-yard – presumably the one on which departing trains are marshalled. It is full, and will require the services of all the locomotives in the round-house to clear the traffic.

[Page 230, line 14] with very shiny brake-shoes indicating that they had been frequently used, on the many station stops of a suburban train.

[Page 230, line 15] my commuters the ORG thought it necessary to explain the word as follows:

“season ticket holders. The word is now creeping into English use in this sense. If this word had originated, it would probably have been “commutator” – one who commutes, i.e., pays a lump sum rather than a daily fare for his journey to business.”

The word is now current usage, and has taken on the meaning of anyone who makes a regular journey to their place of work, by any means of transport.

[Page 230, line 16] parlour car at the time of the story, this meant a more luxurious carriage, usually run as a ‘club’, for regular commuters, paying a premium fare. Similar club-cars appeared in England at this time, mostly in the north of England, running from Southport to Manchester, so that wealthy cotton-brokers and manufacturers could ‘commute’ in luxury from their homes by the sea to their place of work. The last such train to run in England, in 1972, was the final electric “Brighton Belle”, whose first-class cars were much used, effectively as a club, by, e.g. well-to-do actors such as Sir Laurence Olivier (as he then was).

In the USA, most parlor cars (the spelling is deliberate) were run by the Pullman Company. American-built parlour cars were introduced to Britain on the Midland Railway in 1874, along with sleeping carriages. They were not initially a success, and it was not until the 1880s, when they were introduced on the London-Brighton route, that they began to make an impact on the travelling habits of the British moneyed classes.

In the USA, whole trains consisting of parlor cars were introduced, particularly in the north-east corridor where there was a market for such luxury travel (see comment on “The White Moth” at p. 251 below).

[Page 230, line 17] she hauls worse’n a snow-plough actually you always push a snow plough, but the other locomotives would have recognised this as a figure of speech!

[Page 230, line 18] snap her off break the couplings.

[Page 230, line 20] a vestibuled After 1830 anglice, a corridor train. American railways never used the British and continental compartment coach, with no means of leaving the compartment between stops. From the very beginning, American railways used the saloon coach, an open body shell, with a central corridor, and seats arranged in pairs on each side. Until the date of this story, entrance was usually from an open end-platform, and if you were agile you could move from one car to another, though the practice was officially discouraged. When the end platforms became enclosed, round about 1900, the platform became the vestibule, and that word was used on both sides of the Atlantic. But a series of vestibuled cars, with the bellows-type connections between each, became “a vestibuled train”, or “a vestibuled”.

[Page 230, line 21] They made you in New JerseyThere were two locomotive-building firms in Paterson, NJ, Cooke’s and Rogers. Cooke’s was the larger, and it is most likely that the “Jersey Commuter” was a Cooke product

[Page 230, line 23] truck-wagons a truck-garden in the USA is a market garden. Truck-wagons are goods vehicles for market-garden produce.

[Page 230, line 24] cuttin’ out sorting out in a marshalling yard.

[Page 230, line 27] to bunt to propel, slowly: as opposed to “kick”—to give the wagon a forcible shove, and then stop, so that the wagon rolls under its own momentum.

[Page 231, line 6] grunted on the grade stalled on a rising gradient.

[Page 231, line 11] the Alleghanies mountains in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Railroad’s main line through the Alleghanies was a major freight artery, and raw materials in bulk formed a major part of the traffic.

[Page 231, line 11] ore-cars open wagons carrying iron ore to the Pittsburgh blast-furnaces. At this time, British freight was moved in small four-wheel wagons of no more than 10-12 tons capacity, even bulk commodities like coal or iron ore. In the USA by this time they were using wagons of 40 tons capacity and even more.

[Page 231, line 12] brake-men fightin’ tramps Lest our British readers, brought up on a diet of Hollywood, think that “tramps” should be “hoboes” (the ORG and the present Editor did), we are assured by John Reading that in the 1890s “tramp” was as much used in the USA as was “hoboe”. [See The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W H Davies (1871-1040) , the Welsh-born poet, who spent some six years as a tramp, riding the American railroads, until he lost his leg falling off a train.]

[Page 231, line 13] so’s they can’t attend to my tooter so that they (the brake-men) are unable to pay attention to the whistle signals from the engineer, calling for brakes to be applied or released. At this time, continuous brakes, under the control of the driver/engineer, although generally in use for passenger trains, were rare on freight wagons, and the Consolidation’s train of “37 ore-cars” would have had several brake-men riding on the cars at intervals along the train, and in the caboose (anglice, guard’s van) at the rear. If the brake-men were unable to apply the brakes because they were too busy fighting tramps, then the holding back of the train on a down grade depended solely on the locomotive. An engine-driver would agree with the Consolidation: much of the skill in handling a train was in stopping it when required, rather than making it go!

[Page 231, line 22] Jersey commuter the “lean, light suburban loco” made in New Jersey. Jersey City, in the state of NJ, lies just across the river from New York City.

[Page 231, line 24] Compound – experiment – N.G. a compound locomotive was one in which the steam did its work in two stages, passing from a high-pressure cylinder where it lost half its original boiler-pressure, to a low-pressure cylinder, in which it did the rest of its work, losing the rest of its pressure in the process. In theory, the heat efficiency of such a locomotive was far greater than in a simple engine, in which the steam only went through one expansion. As the Jersey commuter says, [line 27] “…she’s economical (I call it mean) on coal, but she takes it out in repairs.”

This describes the experience of locomotive engineers in both the USA and Britain, in the period 1880-1910. In the USA, only the system designed by Samuel Vauclain, of the mighty Baldwin Locomotive Works, enjoyed any success, while in Britain, the Midland Railway introduced a class in 1902, of which there were ultimately 245 units, which lasted until the 1950s. Only in France did the compound engine find acceptance. The abbreviation N.G. stands for ‘No Good’, and was a bowdlerisation of the more normal form of N.B.G.

[Page 231, line 25] B & A yards Boston and Albany Railroad – one of the main railways heading west out of Boston to reach the Hudson River at Albany.

[Page 232, line 5] – my work lies in Boston a gentle dig at the perceived snootiness of Boston folk:

“I come from the city of Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells speak only to Cabots,
And the Cabots speak only to God.”

[Page 232, line 5] outrecuidance overweening conceit, presumption, audacity, arrogance, bumptiousness, cheek. (French). The Mogul takes this to be a reference to outside cylinders (which he possessed).

[Page 232, line 9] faroucherie a word coined by Kipling from the French farouche, meaning wild, savage.

[Page 232, line 11] papier-mâché compressed paper-pulp. Kipling makes the Mogul misunderstand the Compound’s French. The Mogul was, however, being realistic: papier-mâché was indeed used for the wheel-centres of carriages at this period: it was supposed to deaden the sound, and make for quieter riding. In Britain, it was the ‘Mansell’ wheel, in America, the ‘Allen’ wheel. Both ceased to be used when electric track circuits came into use, since the paper acted as an insulator.

[Page 232, line 17] stick on a dead-centre if a locomotive has only one cylinder, it is possible to stop the engine on a dead-centre, with the piston, connecting rod and crank all in a dead-straight line. There is consequently no leverage to turn the wheel, and the locomotive remains stuck, which is why all railway locomotives have a minimum of two cylinders, with their cranks set at 90º to one another: then, no matter where the engine is stopped, one cylinder or other can exercise a turning moment to set the train in motion.

With a compound engine, if the high-pressure cylinder has stopped on a dead-centre, the engine will again be stuck, because no steam can pass through the high-pressure cylinder to the low-pressure cylinder to provide the turning moment. As soon as the engine has been persuaded to move, perhaps with a pinch-bar to lever it very slightly forward, it will move off the dead-centre, there will be leverage from the high-pressure cylinder, steam will pass to the low-pressure cylinder, and the train will move off. This was one of the disadvantages of a two-cylinder compound engine. Because the lever solution was impracticable as locomotives grew larger, most compounds incorporated a starting-valve which admitted live steam to the low pressure cylinder as well: as soon as the locomotive started to move, the valve closed and the engine worked as a compound.

[Page 232, line 19] Comanche obviously another locomotive, its name derived from a tribe of native Americans from the plains.

[Page 232, line 20] hot-box an overheated axle-box bearing. It was only the introduction of roller bearings from the 1930s onwards which solved the problems of hot-boxes, whether on locomotive, carriage or wagon axles. Lubrication has always been one of the major considerations in the design of any piece of machinery, something which we tend to take for granted today. In the first two or three decades of railways, most lubrication was by tallow, or similar animal fats: vegetable oils were too expensive, and mineral oils barely existed. By the 1890s, mineral oil was generally used for locomotives and rolling stock, but, in the UK, most wagons used grease until the 1950s.

At this time also, locomotive axles were mostly of steel, and the bearing surface, on which the axle rubbed continuously as it rotated, was usually of white metal, a tin compound. Oil was fed from an oil well to the top of the bearing surface, and the rotation of the axle spread the oil all over the surface, thus lubricating it, and helping to dissipate the heat which would otherwise be created by the friction. If the oil supply failed for any reason, the bearing would run dry, heat would build up, the white metal would melt, and a loud grinding noise ensue, with a hot smell.

British and American practice differed: British practice was that described above: American practice was that each axle end turned in a journal box partly filled with oily cotton waste (“packing dope”) that lubricated the axle and the journal brass on top of it from below, not from above. Later British practice also saw lubrication from below, using a felt pad rather than cotton waste.

[Page 232, line 20} the Newtons there are three stations, Newton, Newtonville and West Newton on the Boston & Albany suburban network, just west of Boston.

[Page 232, line 21] the Accommodation stopping passenger train – from the old phrase “the accommodation coach”, or “stage coach”, which would stop anywhere a passenger wanted to be set down or picked up.

[Page 232, line 30] ditched derailed.

[Page 233, line 1] side-tracked put into a siding.

[Page 233, line 7] put both drivers and his pilot the meaning is “put both feet in it”. drivers refers to the driving wheels, and pilot to the “cow-catcher” (see p. 229, line 3], an invented ‘Kiplingism’ for this story.

[Page 233, line 11] a surface-railroad loco with a hardwood skirtin’ board round my wheels A tram-engine – readers of any age who may be acquainted with the Rev. W. Awdry’s railway stories for children will know what is meant if mention is made of ‘Toby, the tram-engine’!
surface-railroadA surface-railroad was an urban steam-powered tram system, running at street level – compared to an “elevated-railroad” (such as were to be found in Chicago and New York). Many ran alongside existing roads, and their locomotives were often disguised as something like a van – to avoid frightening any horses they might meet – and their wheels and motion were hidden by a skirting, to prevent anything getting caught in the rotating rods and cranks. In England, the most well-known example was a branch of the Great Eastern Railway from Wisbech to Upwell, which lasted into the 1950s with steam tram engines.

[Page 233, line 13] five-cent sidewalk-fakirs’ mechanical toys The ORG says: to translate into London phraseology “pavement-kerb hawkers’ toys”. These are something not often seen at the start of the 21st century.

[Page 233, line 14] eight-wheel coupled “American”here we degenerate into arcane railwayana. The ORG says, quite reasonably, given the punctuation, that this means that .007 therefore had all eight wheels coupled, and was, by definition, an 0-8-0. However, as has been stated above, an ‘American’ type of engine had eight wheels, arranged 4-4-0. What has happened is that Kipling has omitted a comma between “eight- wheeled” and “coupled” (in those days, in Great Britain, anyway, “coupled”, unqualified, meant four-coupled). An 0-8-0 was a freight engine.

The author of the notes on this tale in the ORG added a footnote:

“In case the feasibility of .007’s being an 0-8-0 should be doubted, the writer of this note can say from his personal memories that the Great Eastern Railway (now the Eastern Section of British Railways) at the beginning of the century produced a locomotive named “Lord Claud Hamilton”, with ten coupled drivers, or 0-10-0. This magnificent decapod was a brave sight as it stormed through the eastern suburbs at 60 m.p.h., with all its coupling rods moving in unison, and hauling a full load of passenger coaches forming the boat train to Harwich.”

It ill becomes a later writer to disagree with someone who cannot reply, but the plain fact is that the ORG author has got his facts mixed up. The Great Eastern Railway did, indeed, in 1900 produce a locomotive named “Lord Claud Hamilton”, after the company’s then chairman. It was (like .007) a 4-4-0, express passenger locomotive. In 1902, the company also produced a decapod (it was so described in the railway press of the period), which was an extremely powerful 0-10-0 tank engine, a one-off, designed to convince the directors, who were contemplating electrification of their suburban system, that a steam locomotive could produce the acceleration and performance of an electric train.

It did, indeed, do so, but it never entered regular service (it was exceedingly heavy, and much rebuilding of bridges, and upgrading of the track would have been necessary to make it usable in everyday traffic), and after two years was radically rebuilt as an 0-8-0 tender engine, used for freight duties. Most emphatically it was never employed on a Harwich boat express – it would probably have had to stop about five times for water, between London and Harwich. Nor could it have maintained 60 m.p.h. for more than about five miles.
(Sorry about all that, but it may be that readers of these notes may also have read the ORG, and will wonder at any discrepancies.)

[Page 233, line 17] jack-screws in England, ‘screw-jacks’. These were used for re-railing a locomotive which had had a minor derailment.

[Page 234, line 15] split my tubes another Kiplingism for this story. The reference is to the fire-tubes in the boiler. These could, indeed, split from time to time, with severe consequences – boiling water and steam at high pressure would blow back into the firebox and cab, scalding anyone who was unlucky enough to be in the way.

[Page 234, line 30] Prince Albert A frock-coat, named after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort.

[Page 235, line 9] Arab steed a probable allusion to The Arab’s Farewell to His Steed, by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (1808-77).

[Page 235, line 16] what sort of a fool sort of an injector the injector was a vital piece of engineering equipment, since it fed feed-water into the boiler against the pressure of the steam in it. The inventor was a Frenchman, Henri Giffard, and it was first introduced in 1859. Before that date, the boiler was fed with water by pumps driven by the rotation of an axle: in consequence, the boiler could only be fed when the engine was in motion. If a train, e.g. a goods train, was stopped in a siding for any length of time, while more important passenger trains overtook it, it used to be necessary to uncouple the engine, and run it up and down to pump water into the boiler. The maintenance of an adequate level of water in the boiler was the prime concern of the fireman on any locomotive.

[Page 235, line 18] he put the lever over with an angry snap The lever was the reversing lever, which had three or four intermediate positions between full forward gear. It was known on America as “the Johnson bar”.

[Page 235, line 19] Am I supposed to switch with this thing, hey? A locomotive designed for express train haulage was not best suited to switching (‘shunting’ in Britain).

[Page 235, line 33] stove-pipe ends for wintertime shipment of potatoes and other produce that could not stand extreme cold, some freight cars used in New England carried small coal or charcoal stoves to keep the inside temperature above freezing.

[Page 236, line 2] dripping ice-water until the coming of small refrigerating machinery in the 1920s (roughly), long distance transport of fruit and vegetables, and other perishables was achieved by using copious quantities of ice, packed in straw or in bunkers at each end of the car. Because of the distances involved, this barely happened in England, except for fish traffic.

[Page 236, line 6] sizzling electric lights electric arc lamps sizzle as the carbon electrodes are consumed.

[Page 236, line 8] hemlock plank Hemlock is the name given in North America to trees of the genus Tsuga of the pine family. Various poisonous plants of the parsley family are also called ‘hemlock’.

[Page 236, line 23] switch ‘set of points’ in Britain.

[Page 236, line 25] Red D or Merchant’s Transport The Red D indicated priority through traffic provided in box-cars of the Merchants Despatch Transportation Company.

[Page 236, line 33] his brake-pump panting the action of the compressor for the Westinghouse air brake.

[Page 237, line 5] T’isn’t so easy switching with a straight-backed tender American railroads made comparatively little use of tank engines, i.e. locomotives which carried their coal and water on the frame of the locomotive itself, rather than in a separate tender. With a straight-backed tender, i.e. one which was basically a regular box-shaped cube, the driver’s ability to judge distances from vehicles behind was severely hampered. Many American switchers, as Poney probably did, had their tenders made with a markedly sloping back, so that seen from the side, they were positively trapezoidal in shape. This enabled the driver to see what he was backing up to more easily.

[Page 237, line 8] a flyin’ switch this was a distinctly dangerous manoeuvre, only partially described in the next paragraph. The essence was that, having got the train moving, at the appropriate moment, the driver of the engine would ease up, the wagons behind would run on by their own momentum, and ease up the couplings: the shunter riding on the back of the locomotive would reach over at risk of life and limb, twitch off the coupling, allowing the locomotive to accelerate away from the train of wagons so that the points could be altered between the passing of the shunting-engine and the arrival of the wagons. This manoeuvre used to be performed with incoming trains at Waterloo Station in London until quite late in the 19th century.

[Page 238, line 3] an M.T.K. box-car Though ORG says “the initials refer to the name of a railway system, probably fictional”, it is suggested that Kipling, or a proof-reader got it wrong. It was probably meant to be “M.K.T.”, which stood for “Missouri, Kansas, Texas”, one of the smaller class 1 railroads, which is still in existence as a freight line. Its nickname was the “Katy”, for obvious reasons, and that is why Poney refers to the box-car as “Homeless Kate”.

[Page 238, line 33] the flat a barge. In many places, and particularly in New York City, where there were wide rivers, and bridges or tunnels had not yet been built, passengers were transferred from one railhead to the opposite bank, or to the city centre by ferry.

Freight cars were transferred to flats, or carfloats, barges with three sets of tracks and tapered ends, lashed alongside a tug, one on each side, and so taken from side to side.

[Page 239, line 6] left his bogies within six inches of the black shiny tide should be bogey. .007 had one bogey, with four wheels.

[Page 240, line 4] Eleven, seven, ninety-seven, L.Y.S. …. The yard-master is checking freight cars by their numbers and destinations; it is not possible to determine what or where L.Y.S. and M.B. might have been; certainly they were not major railroads

[Page 240, line 12] All things bright and beautiful from Mrs. C.F. Alexander’s children’s hymn (Hymns Ancient & Modern no. 573, verse 1) though the last line is misquoted – it is “The Lord God made them all”.

[Page 241, line 1] ninety-six pound rails rails were classified by their weight in pounds/yard – heavier rail would stand up better to the pounding of heavy locomotives and rolling stock, moving at high speed. In the USA, where the higher and wider loading gauge permitted larger and hence heavier rolling stock, rails, on the class 1 railroads, were, from 1900 onwards, usually about 20lbs/yard heavier than their equivalent in Britain.

[Page 241, line 21] the Purple Emperor The ‘varnish’ meant a passenger train, from the passenger cars which were often varnished on their natural wood finish at this time.

John Reading has suggested that Kipling may have had in mind the crack express of the time “The Empire State Express’ which was introduced in 1891.

[Page 241, line 22] time to amend the Constitution A great rarity; less frequent than ‘a month of Sundays’. By 1890, the American Constitution had been amended 15 times: today, there have been 27 amendments to the Constitution. So overall, a rate of one amendment every eight-and-a-half years can be said to be infrequent.

[Page 241, line 30] With a michnai – ghignai – shtingal ! Yah! Yah! Yah! …. ORG suggests that: “this verse has echoes of the Hans Breitman Ballads, by Charles Godfrey Leland (1825-1903), but cannot be traced as being by that author. It is probably Kipling’s own”.

The writer of these notes is convinced that it is Kipling’s, and regards it as a marvellous piece of onomatopœia – particularly the ‘Yah!s’ of the locomotive’s siren. It is best read aloud!

[Page 241, line 14] ticker a ticker-tape machine, which gave a reading of the current stock-market prices, and other major items of news.

[Page 241, line 25] switch-tower signal box.

[Page 241, line 31] fifty rod the USA has remained faithful to the measurements which the Pilgrim Fathers took with them in the early 17th century, and the rod (5½ yards) which was obsolescent, if not obsolete, in Great Britain by this date, remained in use in America. So 50 rod equals 275 yards (251 metres).

[Page 241, line 33] wreckin’-car and derrick tool-van and breakdown-crane.

[Page 243, line 2] you’ve the track your route is clear and you won’t find any signals against you.

[Page 243, line 8] they push a wrecking crew ‘push’ in the sense of being made to go all-out.

[Page 243, line 13] jounce to bump, bounce, or jolt: a 15th century word.

[Page 244, line 21] Oh the Empire State must learn to wait a reference to the Empire State Express, one of the crack trains of the New York Central Railroad (New York State being ‘the Empire State’). Pennsylvania is the ‘Keystone State’, so the Pennsylvania Railroad had a stylised Keystone as its badge.

The Cannonball was the name of another express, indicative of its speed. There were a number of ‘Cannonballs’ on several lines. Older readers with a taste for jazz(?) will remember a song about the ‘Wabash Cannonball’ – the Wabash being a middle-western railroad. The lines are from verses “The Breakdown Gang”, by Cy Warman (1855-1914), farmer, railroad worker, newspaperman, writer.

[Page 245, line 17] the emergency stop definitely not good railroad practice, and unnecessary. The wreck would be protected by detonators well in advance, and the engineer would have approached cautiously – he knew that the track had been distorted by the derailment, and it would have been pointless to be derailed himself. On top of which, if .007 skidded like that, he would cause ‘flats’ on his driving wheels, so that each rotation of the wheels would be uneven.

[Page 245, line 22] a compound-comminuted car from the medical terms describing fractures. A compound bone fracture is one in which the bone breaks through the skin, or in which the skin is broken from other causes arising from the accident. In a comminuted fracture there is fragmentation of the bone at the site of the injury. In other words, the freight car has been very thoroughly smashed up.

[Page 245, line 27] yards of charred cotton-waste John Reading writes: US practice in the 1890s was to use mineral-oil-lubricated friction bearings [see above:p. 232 l. 20] on freight and passenger car trucks, tender trucks, locomotive leading and trailing trucks, and (until about 1900) some locomotive driving axles.

The axle end turned in a journal box (‘axle-box’ in Britain) that was partly filled (“packed”) with oil-soaked cotton waste (“packing dope”) in a “cellar” below the axle end. The oily waste rubbing against the bottom half of the turning axle supplied a film of oil to continually lubricate the semicircular brass bearing (the “journal brass”) seated on top of the axle, which carried the weight of the car or locomotive. If the oily waste dried out, or the journal box had been improperly packed with waste, the bearing would “run hot” and the waste would catch fire – hence the US railway slang terms, “a hotbox” or “a blazer” (or, because of the foul smell of burning oily waste, “a stinker”).

One way to mispack a journal box was to pile cotton waste too high around the axle, so the strands would catch between the turning axle and the journal brass. This would create additional friction and heat, possibly causing the box to catch fire. If this had happened with .007, running back and forth at slow speeds in the yard might not have led to trouble, but a 40-mile high-speed run could! [J.R.]

[Page 246, line 2] shote small pig. The ORG says “American for small pig. Not used in England”. But the writer of these notes used the word (pronounced ‘shut’) on his father’s farm in East Sussex during the 1950s.

[Page 247, line 2] naphtha launch naphtha is a word originally applied to the more volatile kinds of petroleum from the Baku district of Russia and from Persia. It was also (vide the Oxford Dictionary) an inflammable oil distilled from minerals such as coal or shale.

At the date of the story, the fuel was used, especially in the USA, to power pleasure launches with a form of external combustion engine, in which, in essence, the naphtha was boiled to produce a gas which drove a conventional reciprocating engine. Not surprisingly, since in modern parlance this was akin to boiling petrol/gasoline, these engines were unsafe; a number of explosions occurred, and the system was discarded. However, the fuel, particularly the shale derivative, was also used in internal combustion engines in torpedoes. [We are indebted to a correspondent for a correction to the previous note.]

[Page 247, line 10] coupler-pins in the 1890s, most American freight cars were coupled together by link-and-pin couplings, where a link was inserted into a fixed slot on the drawbar of the next wagon, and held in place by a substantial iron pin, which made an effective truncheon.

[Page 247, line 29] they put ties in front of his wheels ties is the American word for ‘sleepers’, the transverse timbers which support the iron rails.

[Page 248, line 20] ‘fore I felt my bogies lift Again, Kipling is trying to be too clever. He is trying to say that the Mogul felt his leading wheels lifting from the track: but a Mogul, being a 2-6-0, did not have a bogey (singular), which was a two-axled leading truck, but only had a single-axled truck, which was called a pony-truck.

The origin of Kipling’s idea of what caused the wreck of the Mogul can be found in From Sea to Sea, Vol II, No. XXVI, at page 24, line 3. In late 1889, Kipling was travelling by train from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon and got into conversation:

“The old man had been a driver in his youth, and beguiled the way with cheery anecdotes of what might be expected if we fouled a young calf.
‘You see, they get their legs under the cow-catcher, and that’ll put an engine off the line. I remember when a hog wrecked an excursion train and killed sixty people. ’Guess the engineer will look out, though’.”

[Page 248, line 26] ‘Sally, Sally Waters’ John Reading tells us that ‘Little Sally Waters’ is an Alabama folksong: two lines are:

Bow to the East
Bow to the West

This is, perhaps, how the Mogul felt as he turned on his side.

[Page 249, line 19] truck-horse the reference is to market gardens again.

[Page 249, line 21] guy my sand-box off Pull my leg, mock me. The sand-box, in American practice and in Europe (but not Great Britain) was mounted on top of the boiler, frequently looking like a second steam dome. The purpose of the sand was to improve adhesion on slippery rails.

[Page 249, line 33] granger what was known as “the Granger Movement” was founded in 1867 in Washington, D.C., and was officially known as the Patrons of Husbandry (hence a granger came to mean one who cultivated the soil). Its aim was to accomplish agricultural reform through education, legislation and other means. Among its targets were the railroads, which were seen to be overcharging the farmer, who was a captive market, since without the railroad, he couldn’t get his produce to market.

[Page 250, line 27, et seq.] By virtue of the authority vested in me… The ORG commented:

It is hardly surprising that Kipling, himself a fully accredited Master Mason, should introduce a touch of Freemasonry into the close of this story, and invest the protagonist locomotive with the privileges and freedom of the railroad tracks and all that they imply. However, it may be objected that his anthropomorphism has already gone far enough without that.

It is understood that Kipling could scarcely claim to be “a fully accredited Master Mason”, but nonetheless, it is suggested that the “touch of Freemasonry” is not inappropriate under the circumstances. The world of the railroad was a world apart for those who worked in it. They tended to live in small, self-contained, hierarchical communities, whose life was centred on the requirements of ‘The Line’. Anthopomorphically, the same applied to the locomotives.

[Page 251, line 13] the “White Moth” Mr. Reading has identified the original of “The White Moth” luxury train, to which .007 is promoted, as “The White Train” of the New York and New England Railroad, which was introduced in 1891 as a re-vamp of the “New England Limited”.

Competition among the railways was fierce, and the New York and New England had been losing traffic to its rivals: this new train was: “made up of seven of the Pullman Palace Car Company’s finest rolling stock … . All the cars were painted white …” (The quotation is by Francis D. Donovan, from Yankees Under Steam (Yankee Inc., 1971.): note that “The White Moth” and “The White Train” both consist of seven cars.) So when ‘.007’ was written, “The White Train” was the ultimate in New England railroad luxury. But the seven cars of the original “White Train” were not, in fact, “vestibuled” (see note on p. 230, line 20) as .007’s shiny new cars are [p. 251, line 15].


©Alastair Wilson and John W. Reading 2010 All rights reserved