Dynamometer car

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North Eastern Railway Dynamometer Car used to record No 4468 Mallard's speed record now at the National Railway Museum in York
Victorian and South Australian Railways joint stock Dynamometer Car (coupled between the locomotive tender and the train) being used to record the performance of a VR X class locomotive running on pulverised brown coal.

A dynamometer car is a railroad maintenance of way car used for measuring various aspects of a locomotive's performance. Measurements include tractive effort (pulling force), power, top speed, etc.


The first dynamometer car was probably one built in about 1838 by the "Father of Computing" Charles Babbage.[1][2][3] Working for the Great Western Railway of Great Britain, he equipped a passenger carriage to be placed between an engine and train and record data on a continuously moving roll of paper. The recorded data included the pulling force of the engine, a plot of the path of the carriage and the vertical shake of the carriage. The work was undertaken to help support the position of the Great Western Railway in the controversy over standardizing the British rail gauge.


  1. ^ "XXV. Railways". Passages from the life of a philosopher. Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green. 1864. pp. 328–334. 
  2. ^ M. V. Wilkes (2002). "Charles Babbage and his world". Notes and Records of the Royal Society 56 (3): 353–365. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2002.0188. 
  3. ^ *K. K. Schwarz (2002). "Faraday and Babbage". Notes and Records of the Royal Society 56 (3): 367–381. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2002.0189. 

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