Railway Turntable and Roundhouse - History, Uses
As we well know, steamers were not designed to operate in reverse, something had to be done, so the railway companies found a brilliant way to turn the locomotives around with the help of a railway turntable or also called a wheelhouse.
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The turntable solved an important problem, by easily spinning locomotives in the desired direction.
Newly constructed railway turntable was adjacent to a roundhouse, a building constructed in a semi-circular form, these new inventions were perfectly incorporable, with a huge benefit over the regular turnaround wye, which necessitated a bigger space and often would've been more costly.[source]
The John Street Roundhouse, built for Canadian Pacific Railway, in Downtown Toronto, is a good example of such a building. The roundhouse building facade has 32 doors and it could store and maintain 32 locomotives. It has been used for this purpose over 50 years, being transformed into a museum back in 2010. [source]
Which material was used for the construction of the first turntables?
The first turntables were made out of wood and very small, around 6 feet, compared to the ones build later into the century which could span up to 120 feet.
Three important pieces combined made out the newly railway turntable, a circular pit in which a bridge rotates, usually build out of steel which was balanced by a central pivot.
Early railway turntables were handled manually by brute force, slowly moving towards a mechanic operation.
By late 1934, diesel-electric propulsion locomotive started to be introduced in the U.S, featuring a new design and being operable in both direction, often called "front ends" and "rear ends".
Newly introduced diesel-electric locomotives made these railway turntables and roundhouses become less usable throughout the world.
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