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The Straight Air Brake

The first form of the air brake consisted of an air pump, a main reservoir, and an engineer's valve on the locomotive, and of a train pipe and brake cylinder on each car. One problem with this first form of the air brake was that braking was applied to the first cars in a train much sooner than to the rear cars, resulting in shocks and damages when the rear cars bunted against the cars ahead of them. The main objection however was that it was not an automatic brake, i.e. even a minor mishap like a broken coupling left the entire train without any brake power at all.

The Plain Automatic Air Brake

In 1872, George Westinghouse invented the automatic air brake by inventing the triple valve and by equipping each car with its own air cylinder. Air pressure is maintained in the auxiliary reservoirs and in the train pipe at all times when the brakes are not applied. An equilibrium of air pressure is maintained in the train pipe and in the auxiliary air cylinders. To apply the brakes to all of the cars at about the same time, pressure is released from the train pipe, causing the triple valve on each car to apply the brakes. To release the brakes on each car, pressure is increased in the train pipe until an excess pressure above that of the pressure in each auxiliary cylinder is reached, which throws the triple valve so as to close the inlet to the brake cylinder and open the inlet to the auxiliary reservoir from the train pipe, thus allowing the equilibrium of the two pressures to be reached.

The Quick Action Triple Valve

Although the plain automatic air brake was a great improvement over the straight air brake, in an emergency the system still applied the brakes to the last cars in a train later than to the first cars in a train. To remedy that condition, George Westinghouse invented the quick action triple valve in 1887. It automatically vents air from the brake pipe locally on each car, which applies the brakes more quickly.

WABCO

Brief History

The air brake was invented by George Westinghouse of New York State in 1868. He moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he established the Westinghouse Air Brake Company (WABCO). WABCO’s direct successor companies include WABCO automotive (NYSE: WBC), a commercial vehicle…

Knorr Bremse

Brief History

Knorr-Bremse is a manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles that has operated in the field for over 100 years. The company also produces door systems for rail vehicles and torsional dampers. In 2006, the Group’s workforce of…

Haldex

Brief History

Haldex AB, also known as Haldex Group, is a Swedish public company operating in the automotive industry. It is listed on the OMX Stockholm Stock Exchange (Mid Cap), and has an annual turnover of around 8 bn SEK. Concentrating core activities…

Bosch

Brief History

Robert Bosch GmbH is a German diversified technology-based corporation which was started in 1886 by Robert Bosch in Stuttgart, Germany. Robert Bosch GmbH is the world’s largest supplier of automobile components and has business relationships with virtually every automobile company in…

Brake Calipers

Brief History

Disc-style brakes began in England in the 1890s; the first ever automobile disc brakes were patented by Frederick William Lanchester in his Birmingham factory in 1902, though it took another half century for his innovation to be widely adopted. These brakes…