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Yury Vladimirovich Lomonosov is considered to be the creator of the first diesel locomotive.

Ломоносов Юрій Володимирович

From the beginning of human living on Earth there is a need to transfer loads and people by land, water and later air. Nowadays we have a lot of vehicles. They are cars, diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, ships, helicopters, planes, space rockets and many others.

History tells us that the first movable vehicle was a boat. Archeologists found the boats that were made 10-6 millennia BC. The brilliant invention is the wheel (4 millennia BC) that gave people the ability to travel by land. All these inventions were the first steps for providing with a systematic approach to the more large-scale decisions for creating the system of transferring loads. One of the most powerful elements for creating such a system was James Watt’s steam engine. It was founded in 1774-1778. Till the end of ХІХ century it was the common universal engine that played the exclusive role in progress of industrial engineering and transport. The first diesel locomotives were created in Great Britain in 1803 by Richard Trevithick and in 1814 by George Stephenson.

In Russia the first diesel locomotive was created in 1833 by a father and a son Cherepanov. From this time the building of railways begins. Rail transport was developing very quickly. The transfer stream of loads and people was increasing continually because of the industrial development. But there were essential disadvantages of diesel locomotives. For example, the complexity of their operation, the high energy content, the low ability of repair and the continuous need of fuel that people had to have at these diesel locomotives ( firewoods,coals) and also water that was purified from salt. A lot of development engineers and railway operations worked to remove these problems.

People needed new ideas. One of such ideas was the idea of using the internal combustion engine in diesel locomotives instead of the stream engine. This idea appeared in Kiev in 1905 on the initiative of the professor Lomonosov and his colleagues who discussed the problems of the diesel locomotive operation and how to improve the diesel locomotive.

Who is this Yury Vladimirovich Lomonosov?

He was born in Moscow in 1875. His parents were noblemen who possessed a small landed property. His father, Vladimir Grigorievich, was a former cavalry officer who worked in Moscow as a city executive since 1870. His mother, Maria Fedorovna, was known for establishing a public library. In 1887, following the family tradition, Lomonosov entered the Moscow 1st Cadet Corps. However, soon he decided to abandon his military career in favor of technical education. In 1893 Lomonosov passed the entrance exams successfully and started his studies at the St. Petersburg Institute of Communications. After graduation, he worked at Kharkiv Locomotive Plant and then as the assistant director of the depot of the Kharkiv-Nikolayev railways.

In 1899, he was offered a teaching position at the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute where he taught a course on the theory and management of locomotives. In the meantime, the Russian Ministry of Communications approved him for the position of Inspector of the Russian State and Private Railways. At the end of summer in 1900 Lomonosov took part in the International Locomotive Exposition in Paris.

“ I have arrived at an idea of diesel locomotive…”

In 1901 by the invitation of the director Viktor Kyrpychov Lomonosov began to teach a course of the steam locomotive at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. There at once he became a professor. Soon he was appointed on position of Head of a chair ( the youngest at the Institute). In 1904 his book “The most profitable structure of freight train” was published and it was dedicated to one of key problems of railways.

By that time the railway infrastructure was rather developed in Russia but the work of the whole system was not sufficiently profitable.

In 1902 the professor of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute Lomonosov was assigned as a group leader of 100 students. This group was sent to inspect the Chinese Eastern Railways (CER) for the purpose of their reconstruction. During the trip, he visited numerous cites of the Far East including Irkutsk, Harbin, Port Arthur, Vladivostok, as well as some cities in Japan and China.

As the Inspector of the Russian State and Private Railways, Lomonosov often travelled abroad to get acquainted with the experience of the organization of transport in other countries.

In November 1902, he attended the International Congress of Railway Transport Engineers, held in Vienna, where he became acquainted with the work of Austrian and Hungarian engineers. In the spring of 1903, he also visited Italy, Switzerland, France and Spain. The same year in summer he made a tour of the East Europe railways.

In April 1905, Lomonosov defended his habilitation on the dynamics of locomotives.

During the time of his scientific efforts he had launched a new science. It is called the theory of traction locomotives and developed the scientific basis for the exploitation of railways that was summarized in 2 books: "Traction calculation and application of graphic methods to them", and "Scientific problems of railway operation ". Together with his students, in 1908 Lomonosov formed the first research institution devoted to locomotives that was called "The office of the experimentation over the types of engines", which was converted after the October Revolution to the "Experimental Institute of Communications", than to the “Scientific and Technical Committee” of the People's Commissariat of Communications. Several sectoral institutes that were founded on his base were united in one “All- Union research institute of rail transport”.

Political views of Lomonosov became clear during his work at the KPI, when he became a Marxist.

The researchers of Lomonosov’s life point out that during the Kiev period he finally convinced himself of hopelessness of improving locomotives and decided that the future belongs to more economical vehicles with the internal-combustion engine instead of the steam engine. The economical diesel internal-combustion engine, created in 1879 by the German engineer Rúdolf Diésel, had been worked out sufficiently by that time. This engine was established highly in the ships and cars. But those diesel engines that worked successfully in the ships and cars couldn’t work in the diesel locomotives (that should carry thousands of loads) without new engineering ideas. Even Diesel couldn’t find the accepted construction of machinery for transmission torque strength from the engine to the wheels of a locomotive. That’s why Lomonosov began to work out strongly different variants of the diesel usage in locomotives. He explained his decision, “Being a railwayman not a specialist in internal-combustion engine I came to an idea of the diesel locomotive not at once and not from the point of view of the future fuel problems but in search of exit from those miseries that happen in railroad facilities without good water”.

In 1909 Lomonosov started his projection of the oil tank truck that was based on the diesel engine with a frictional transmission of torque strength (from the diesel engine to the moving axis of the locomotive). It provided the decrease in weight of the oil tank truck and his cost.

The testing of novelty was decided to conduct at the Toshkent Railway Station. In July 1914, the Ministry of Railways has approved his design and allocated funds for the production of 2 locomotives, but the project was halted by World War I.

When the February Revolution began in 1917 Lomonosov worked as a member of the Council of Engineering of the Ministry of Railways in Russia. In June the Provisional Government sent Lomonosov to the United States with a diplomatic mission, as a representative of the Ministry of Railways. There he learned about the October Revolution in Russia. In autumn 1919, he returned to Russia because Americans decided to suspend their sales of engines to the Soviet Russia. In November 1920, Lomonosov was appointed to the Council of People's Commissars as responsible for abroad rail orders. In this function, he with his family went to Berlin where in 1920-1923 he had organized the purchase of German and Swedish locomotives for Russia.

The creation of the first diesel locomotive

At the beginning of the twenties when the professor Lomonosov was in Sweden and Germany he tried to realize his next project how to build the diesel locomotive with the use of the electrical transmission of torque strength. Using his rather high official position and his authority as the specialist he proved the suitability of building the native diesel locomotives in position papers and published works. But the catastrophic conditions of the railways of the country forced the leadership to order the production of the locomotives in Sweden. On the 17-th of June the professor Lomonosov received a mandate letter that said, “The representative and the member of the Collegium of the People's Commissar, the comrade Lomonosov is temporarily sent on an official trip to Sweden for the diplomatic settlement of all the questions that are connected with the locomotives. The comrade Lomonosov has the right of the People’s Commissar that means that he has the right to solve any problems once and for all there.”

Lomonosov travelled abroad. He has successfully realized all the authority that was given to him. But he and two other engineers spent all their free time trying to develop the new project of the diesel locomotive. Next year in 1921 when the diesel locomotive draft was done he applied to the People's Commissar of Railways Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky with the letter, “I hope you wouldn’t find it improper to buy two more diesel locomotives to 1700 that we have already owned”. The answer was positive, “Try to order them at the expense of those diesel locomotives”. It was the first government official support for the proposition of Lomonosov. The historical decision of the Work and Defence Council took place on the 4-th of January 1922. It gave the impulse for the practical construction of the diesel locomotives. On the 27-th of January Lenin sent a telephone message to the Lomonosov, “… come to an arrangement with Gosplan, the People’s Commissar of Railways and the Institute of Heat Engineering about the conditions of the diesel locomotive competition…It would be very desirable not to lose time for using sum of money that could be used when there is the implementation orders of the diesel locomotives to receive more reasonable diesel locomotives for us. Ask to inform me instantly after the agreement”. As a result of the that agreement Lomonosov persuaded the leadership to give the competition up in order not to lose the connection. At last he obtained the consent to use 1750000 Swedish krona for the diesel locomotives building.

Under difficult conditions the first main line freight diesel locomotive with the electrical transmission was successfully built in Germany from August 1923 to June 1924. Lomonosov built up his diesel locomotive with the use of some construction that had been tested in practice. For example, the diesel engine was used in the German submarines, the Swiss traction electric motor in the Swiss and Japanese electric locomotive. The diesel power was 1200 horsepower. The locomotive was officially listed under number Юэ 001 at the Soviet railways. After the first test series it was mentioned in the order of the railways people's commissar, “One of the greatest achievements of the modern technology is the replacement of the locomotive by the diesel locomotive…All Europe and America is watching closely on the experiments about diesel locomotives that Soviet Union is undertaking. In this question we take the lead over the other countries”.

The first experiments showed numerical superiority the diesel locomotive over the locomotive. In sum the diesel locomotive Юэ 001 was included to the bill of active diesel locomotives of the Soviet Union. He has worked 30 years and he has covered in total almost 1 million km.

Although several other prototype designs were constructed much earlier and in different countries, this locomotive is considered to be the world's first operationally successful mainline diesel locomotive.

Didn’t return from abroad

His popularity was increasing during the journeys of the new diesel locomotive through the country. Here are only some headlines of the published works: “The arrival of the Lomonosov’s diesel locomotive”, “Diesel-electrical-locomotive of the Lomonosov’s system”, “From the Stefenson’s rocket to the modern diesel locomotive of the professor Lomonosov” and many others.

From 1926 Moscow’s attitude to the Lomonosov’s person became considerably worse in spite of his achievements and tremendous construct authority. The first people of leadership were gone. They appreciated Lomonosov very highly as a specialist and supported him. And there always were a lot of ill-wishers… After losing the hope to receive a promising job in USSR Lomonosov decided not to come back to Motherland. Together with his family he moved to Italy and than in 1927 to the Great Britain, to Cambridge where at that time his son studied. There he made an acquaintance with a young physicist. His name was Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa and he also was Russian. Together they tried to patent the friction clutch and the electromechanical automatic brake-gear. But in 1932 this construction was patented in the Soviet Union without even mentioning of Lomonosov’s name. His achievements began to hush up, the press of the 1930-th loomed up the contemptuous tirades to the address of “the traitor”. Lomonosov’s name was excluded from all the Soviet versions of the history of the railways.

Yury Vladimirovich Lomonosov was continuing to work abroad for the problems of the diesel traction. He moved to the USA on January 1929 and he hoped to test his last theoretical development in practice but he couldn’t find work. He continued to write and publish his works, papers on the theory of locomotives and the railways mechanics. But he has never been able to rise to the occasion as in his motherland.

In April 1930 Lomonosov returned to England again and he hoped to receive an academic support from Cambridge. He became the member of the Institute of the Mechanical Engineer, the British Science Association, and the Royal International Affairs Institute. It has broadened his international contacts.

After the publication of his book “The introduction to the mechanics of the railways”, his engineering reputation has increased greatly. On the British Isles his name became popular. One of his few realized projects was the construction of the haymove that was created on the basis of some elements of his diesel locomotive.

Till 1938 Lomonosov was a Soviet citizen. From the beginning of the mass repressions he was naturalized as the British. After the Second World War the British government proposed him to take part in the examination of the projects in nationalization of the railway companies.

Yury Vladimirovich Lomonosov was gone when he was 77 years old. He was buried in Montreal where he was living during his last years.

Lomonosov’s achievements were honoured with a lot of rewards in Russia and abroad. Some of them are Borodine’s gold medal (1911), Salov’s prize (1913). He was awarded the doctor's degree by the Berlin High Technical School and the prize of Bernard Hall in Britain in 1932 and the Stephenson’s medal in 1944. The family records of Lomonosov is keeping safe at the University of Leeds (The Great Britain).

M.Y.Illchenko, vice-rector on the scientific work (From the public speech at the scientific reading on the 27-th of April 2011)
Translated by Yukhymenko Alina, LA-02


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