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The Foden Traction Engine

The Foden Traction Engine

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Summary

In 1856 Edwin Foden (1841–1911) became apprenticed to the agricultural equipment manufacturing company of Plant & Hancock. He left the company for an apprenticeship at Crewe Railway Works but returned to Plant & Hancock at the age of 19. Shortly afterwards he became a partner in the company. On the retirement of George Hancock in 1887 the company was renamed Edwin Foden Sons & Co. Ltd. The company produced massive industrial engines, as well as small stationary steam engines and, from 1880, agricultural traction engines...Experimental steam lorries were first produced shortly after the turn of the 20th century. In 1878, the legislation affecting agricultural use was eased and as a result, Foden produced a successful range of agricultural traction engines. The perfecting of the compound traction engine in 1887 gave a significant marketing advantage and later proved invaluable to the development of the steam lorry.

A traction engine is a Victorian-time self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plow ground or to provide power at a chosen location. They became popular in industrialized countries from around 1850, when the first self-propelled portable steam engines for agricultural use were developed. Production continued well into the early part of the 20th century when competition from internal combustion engine-powered tractors saw them fall out of favor, although some continued in commercial use in the United Kingdom well into the 1950s and later. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it. They are sometimes called road locomotives to distinguish them from railway locomotives – that is, steam engines that run on rails. Traction engines tend to be large, robust and powerful, but heavy, slow, and difficult to maneuver. Nevertheless, they revolutionized agriculture and road haulage at a time when the only alternative prime mover was the draught horse. Several thousand examples have been preserved worldwide, many in working order. Steam fairs are held throughout the year in the United Kingdom, and in other countries, where visitors can experience working traction engines at close hand.

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Date

17/04/2010
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Source

Bernard Spragg
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