London, South Kensington
29 November 1996
ROBERT STEPHENSON (1803-59)
Autograph letter signed ("Rob Stephenson," post-script signed "R.S.") to I. K. Brunel at Parliament Hill, 3 pages with integral address leaf, 4to, Haverstock Hill, Wednesday morning [no month or year given].
AN IMPORTANT LETTER CONCERNING THE PROBLEMS POSED BY PLANES IN RAILWAY ENGINEERING, including a diagram on the first page. "The first plane out of the town of Canterbury is either a few yards over two miles or a few yards under -- I believe the former -- The same engine works two planes -- one on each side of the engine - thus: [diagram]. The Liverpool tunnel planes, both the old and the new are nearly of the same length -- that which runs down to the Docks is 2200 yards but the slope is endless and therefore is equal to a slope on a single plane 4400 yds. The friction & other objections applicable to long slopes are the same as if it were 2½ Miles."
Having also cited the case of an "endless" rope on the Tyne railway "working a plane about 2 Miles in length," Stephenson undertakes to forward the details, and makes reference to the "precise dimensions of other planes in the North," in particular "one of Mr. Ben Thompson's ... worked by Stationary Engines placed 2 Miles or 2½ Miles apart." Dionysisus's rules on planes are questioned in the post-script. "Perhaps Dionysius will explain why the lengths of planes are to be limited to 1½ miles -- the limit evidently depends on the friction of the slope -- The limit is when the friction equals the length of slope -- Does he know the friction of slopes, if he does not, he cannot pretend to fix a limit to planes ...."
Last page with hole caused by removal of wax seal, resulting in partial loss to one word.
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