Steam vs. Electricity

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Which is faster—the steam or electric locomotive? On the face of the latest returns, the "juice" seems to have it. At Erie, Pa., last week a speed of 105 miles an hour was attained over a short test track by a locomotive built by the General Electric Co. and the American Locomotive Works for the Paris-Orleans Railroad, France. This is the greatest speed ever attained by an electric locomotive, and could just as well have been 125 miles an hour, said officials, if the track had been longer. Steam locomotives have several times attained speeds of from 105 to 120 miles an hour over distances of less than eight miles. But the fastest time made regularly on American steam roads is 75 to 80 miles, on the Philadelphia & Reading between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

Tests of pulling power held between an electric locomotive built for the Mexican Railways Co., Ltd., and a big steam Mikado of the New York Central Lines proved that the electric was superior in pulling after giving the steam engine a start of five miles an hour. The two machines were coupled together and allowed to go to it, the electric in reverse. When the steam engine had a start of more than five miles an hour, the electric could not stop it.

J. S. Coffin, President of the Lima Locomotive Corporation, builders of steam locomotives, said: "It is well known that a very heavy current can be put through an electric motor for a short time and tremendous power secured, but if this current is continued for any length of time, the motor is burned up. Steam locomotives, on the other hand, can exert maximum power indefinitely." If the tug-of-war had been of one day's duration, added President Coffin, "several electric locomo-tives" would have been required to stop the steam locomotive.