Builders of Wooden Railway Cars ... and some of other stuff

Taunton Locomotive Works / Car Co.

Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company

The Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company was established at Taunton, Massachusetts in 1846 by Willard W. Fairbanks, with assistance from G.S. Griggs. Fairbanks was an experienced machinist who had built stationary and marine engines since 1828 at Providence, Rhode Island. Griggs was a shareholder in the new enterprise who just happened to be master mechanic of the Boston & Providence Railroad. {352}

With both technical expertise and patterns for making castings supplied by that road, the company’s first locomotive, the Rough and Ready, was outshopped 19 May 1847, looking strangely like the locomotives already in service on that road. {353}

Taunton’s works were constructed on Wales Street, just across from the textile processing plant of William Mason, who five years later would become a competitor. {354}

By the late 1850s, Taunton was supplying locomotives to roads throughout the United States. By 1860, it had produced nearly 300 locomotives. {352}

In 1861, Harrison Tweed succeeded Fairbanks as head of the works when the latter left to become superintendent of the New Jersey Locomotive & Machine Company. {352}

Sometime around 1869, the Taunton Car Company was formed to build railroad cars, and shops were erected half a block away from the Mason Machine Works. William Mason was a Director of the new firm, as was P.I. Perrin of the Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company. {354}

Among the cars

By 1877, Taunton Locomotive had produced over 675 locomotives.

Taunton Locomotive Works (Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company) was built 1846 in Taunton, Massachusetts. Lasted until 1899.

“This machinist's tool chest belonged to Charles Potter, who worked at the Taunton Locomotive Works in Taunton, Massachusetts. He started there as an apprentice in 1863, at the age of eighteen, and stayed as a machinist and later a foreman until the plant closed in 1902. Like other master craftsmen at large metalworking factories, Potter probably contracted with the management to produce subassemblies of a given quality at a specific price. The company provided machinery and materials and paid the wages of the men who worked for Potter, but he took responsibility for profit or loss on the contract.”

"Samuel Whitney Remer, b. at Derby, Conn., 16 Feb. 1822; bap. at Derby, 6 Oct. 1822; married at Albany, N. Y., 17 May 1850, Phebe Baldwin Wing, who was born at Monroe, Conn., 5 Feb. 1822, dau. of Charles Grandison and Catharine (Powell) Wing. They were living at Salem, Mass., in 1874. He has been engaged in the manufacture of railway-cars since 1851; a superintendent since 1855; was the founder of the Taunton Car Works, at Taunton, Mass., and of the Atlantic Car Works, at Salem, of which last he was superintendent in 1874"

Crocker, Samuel Leonard, representative, was born in Taunton, Mass., March 31, 1804; son of William Augustus and Sally (Ingalls) Richmond Creeker; grandson of Josiah, and great-grandson of the Rev. Josiah Crocker, the sixth minister of Taunton. He was graduated at Brown university in 1882, and engaged in business in his native town as a copper manufacturer. He was president of the Taunton Locomotive Works; director Of the Old Colony iron works; of the Old Colony railroad; of the Taunton brick company; of the Bristol County savings bank; of the Machinists' national bank and of the Taunton lunatic asylum. He was a member of the council of Governor Briggs in 1849; a representative in the 33d congress, 1853-55, and defeated in the election for the 34th congress. He was a trustee of the General theological seminary, New York city, and was elected a trustee of Brown university in 1882, but did not enter office.

MIT sometime before 1899 (mentions students class of '99 as officers of the mechanical engineering society)

“An interesting piece of thesis work is being
done in the Engineering Laboratory on the
durability of different forms of brake shoes.
An apparatus will be rigged by which pres-
sure applied to the brakes while the wheels
are revolving can be accurately measured;
the apparatus will be run continuously for a
number of days, and the wear of the wheel
and shoe noted. It is estimated that with one
set running at the speed of about 60 turns
per minute about 75 horse power will be con-
sumed. A new friction brake for measuring
and absorbing power has just been delivered
by the Taunton Locomotive Works, after a
year's work. The brake is capable of taking
up ioo00 horse power, makes 200 revolutions
per minute, and weighs about 5,00o0 pounds.
The brake wheel is about 5 feet in diameter,
I5 inches face, and has a coil of pipe im-
bedded in the rim of the wheel within half an
inch of the upper circumference. The water
used for cooling the brake passes through this
copper tube and out through a hollow shaft.

“1857 [Crocker, William]: HOW TO BURN COAL IN LOCOMOTIVE ENGINES. New York: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck & Thomas. 1857. Disbound, 39pp, lightly foxed. Frontis engraving of a locomotive manufactured by the Taunton Locomotive Manuf. Co., in Massachusetts. Three full-page engravings of parts of locomotive. Good+. Crocker's Preface explains his endorsement of the Dimpfel boiler, which is "adapted to the use of bituminous or anthracite coal or wood." Crocker was evidently president of the Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Co. The text provides much technical information on the functioning of locomotives. FIRST EDITION. Not in Sabin, Eberstadt, Decker, BRE, NUC.”

The Taunton Car Company was forced into bankruptcy by worthless "paper" given it by its railroad customers. Railroads were perpetually cash poor, so typically paid for equipment by short term notes or issuing bonds. This "paper" was often of questionable value, and in any case generally traded at a discount. [White p. 139, citing his own article in RR Hist. 138, Spring 1978, p. 42.]

Milton Sessions, father of Henry H. Sessions who is popularly (but Incorrectly per John White) credited with inventing the vestibule, was at one time Superintendent of the Taunton Car Works.

Taunton produced two parlor cars for Pullman, the Leo and the Mars. They were run as early as 1871 on the Great Western Railway of Canada says White-291. They had 62'-0" bodies divided into five compartments. The central section seated 20, the two staterooms accomodated parties of 6 each, and the two end rooms were used as smokers. They had 27 x 48" windows.

Cast of Characters

Samuel L. Crocker ( - ) was

B.F. Slater ( - ) was

Willard W. Fairbanks ( - ) was

George S. Griggs ( - ) was master mechanic of the Boston & Providence Railroad, best known as a locomotive designer

Griggs claimed credit for developing the first eight-wheeled cars, saying he began work on the idea in March of 1838 and completed his first in September of that year. He then rebuilt some four-wheeled freight cars into eight-wheelers and built some eight-wheeled passenger cars from scratch. [355] He also invented a cushioned wheel for passenger cars that had wooden wedges between a cast iron center and the wheel’s tire. He later obtained a patent for the same type of wheel as applied to locomotives. [356]

Griggs also invented a momentum brake that was used for at least a decade on the B&P, and was tried on several other lines. In a section on momentum brakes, White [357] says Griggs’ brake “was one of the few that enjoyed early and prolonged success, but it was hardly widespread.”

Harrison Tweed ( - ) was

Parley Ide Perrin ( - ) was

For More Information

Cox, Harold, ed. Electric Railway Snow Plows Made by the Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company. [Publisher unknown], 1990.

Field, Alston G. “The Taunton Locomotive Works.” Bulletin of the Business Historical Society, 8 (4), pp. 70-2. (1934) [Now Business History Review, published by Harvard Business School.]

Lozier, John W. “The Taunton Car Company, 1869-1873: Anatomy of a Failure.” Railroad History No. 138, Spring 1978.

Lozier, John W. Taunton and Mason—Cotton Machinery and Locomotive Manufacture in Taunton, Massachusetts 1811-1861. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1986. [This appears to be Mr. Lozier’s doctoral thesis at Ohio State University.]

11 April 2006

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