A Car-Builder's Dictionary

Creamer's Emergency Brake


Earlier he had created the Creamer Safety Brake: a device for stopping run-away passenger cars in an emergency. This device placed a heavy spring inside a drum between the brake wheel and the brake shaft. The brakemen wound the wheel sort of like winding a clock. A pawl held the tension within the drum. A length of rope ran the length of the train connected to each pawl in such a way that a strong tug on the rope would release all the pawls and the spring tension would then set the brakes on all the cars just like a gang of brakemen.

Creamer patented the device in 1853, and in 1855 established the U.S. Railroad Car Brake Company to manufacture it. It was used on a number of rail cars, including the Central Pacific Sliver Palace cars. As early as 1861, the American Railway Review reported 1,000 in operation. But as trains got heavier and went faster, the power of the spring became less and less effective. The advent of power breaks rendered it unnecessary and by the mid-1870s it was gone.

11 April 2006

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