Egide Walschaerts

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Egide Walschaerts
Born 21 January 1820
(Fr. Malines)
Died 1901
Nationality Belgian
Engineering career
Engineering discipline Mechanical engineering

Egide Walschaerts (21 January 1820 – 1901) was a Belgian mechanical engineer, best known as the inventor of the Walschaerts valve gear for use in steam locomotives. He was born in Mechelen, Belgium. In 1838 he was recognised as an excellent modeller, presenting his work at a local exhibition in Mechelen. Minister Rogier, who opened the exhibition, was so impressed that he arranged a place for Walschaerts at Liège University.


In 1842 he joined the Belgian State Railways as works manager, a position he held for the rest of his life, first at Mechelen and then at Brussels South.

Walschaerts valve gear[edit]

Whilst at Mechelen in 1844 he developed a new type of valve gear (a mechanism that allows for adjustment of the travel of the valves that distribute the steam to the cylinders and enables a steam locomotive to be put into reverse and to economise steam). A locomotive built at the Tubize workshops fitted with the Walschaerts valve gear was awarded a gold medal at the 1873 Universal Exhibition in Vienna. This valve gear came to be used in the majority of steam locomotives, and became almost universal throughout the 20th Century.

Other innovations[edit]

According to Payen,[1] in 1874 Walschaerts developed a particularly successful version of the Corliss stationary engine that won a gold medal at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris.


  1. ^ Payen Jacques (1987?): "Walschaerts, sa coulisse, sa vie" in Les Cahiers Chapelon, no 5, pp 26-31.