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Alexander Borodine

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Alexander Borodine (1848-1898)

1898 Obituary [1]

ALEXANDER BORODINE was born on 28th September 1848 in St. Petersburg, where he received his education at the Technological Institute and the Institute of Ways and Communications, and began his engineering career under his friend Professor Alexis Wyschnegradsky, who afterwards became minister of finance.

Ardently admiring the genius of Watt and Stephenson, he made his first professional journey to England and America in 1873; and on his return published an interesting and instructive pamphlet on the mechanical equipment of railways.

In 1874, young as he was, he received the appointment of locomotive and carriage superintendent of the Riajsk and Viazma Railway; and a few years later of the South Western Railways, the most important net work in Russia, comprising a length of 2,250 miles. Here he introduced sound practical organisation, securing the concurrence of all the officials by a clever plan of granting them premiums; and also established large works at Kieft and Odessa, like the best of those in England and France, together with the first mechanical and chemical railway laboratories in Russia for testing materials.

In 1880 he urged the necessity of erecting a special locomotive testing shop, and succeeded in carrying out this object, which some years afterwards was realised at the Purdue University at Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A. Guided by the admirable works of Hirn, with whom he was on friendly terms, he turned his attention to compounding and steam-jacketing locomotives and even working them condensing, before the publication of M. Mallet's work on this subject; and it was on the South Western Railways that he applied H. Mallet's plan of compounding to a large number of engines of standard gauge, the first of which, No. A 7, was so altered in 1881. He was thus the first to apply this plan on any extensive scale in Europe. A number of tests were then made in 1882-3 of the engine A 7, for determining the economy resulting from the compounding and steam jacketing, of which he gave a full account to this Institution in 1886 (Proceedings, page 297), and also to the Societe des Ingenieurs Civils in Paris, by whom he was awarded the Nozo gold medal.

Having by these experiments satisfied himself of the advantages of compounding, he designed a compound express engine with four cylinders arranged tandem, which was built in 1890 at Mulhouse, and described in the Revue generale des Chemins de Fer in 1892; from this pattern several compound express locomotives are now being constructed in Russia. A goods wagon of his design is now adopted as the standard for all the Russian railways.

In 1889 he was appointed director general of the South Western Railways, and occupied this position until 1896, when he was invited to become chairman of the new Moscow, Windau, and Rybinsk Railway.

In 1893 he contributed another paper to this Institution upon the working of steam pumps on the Russian South Western Railways (Proceedings, page 433), giving the results of practical trials which he had been carrying out for some years previously with a view to reduce the cost of working and maintenance.

From 1885 he occupied his spare time in editing "The Engineer," a Russian technical journal published in Kieff, which in his hands acquired a high reputation for ability and impartiality. In this appeared a large number of articles from his own pen, chiefly concerning railways, among which were the following:—object of railway workshops, 1882; working of railways by the state and by private companies, 1882; causes of breakage in couplings of railway carriages and wagons, 1883; observations on American railroads, 1884; breakages of axles and tires on Russian railways, 1884; premiums in the locomotive department of the South Western Railways, 1886; results of the premium system, 1887; speed of railway trains, 1890; ten years' review 1880-9 of the locomotive department of the South Western Railways, 1894.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1880, and was also an honorary member of the Russian Imperial Technical Society, and a corresponding member of the French Society of Civil Engineers.

His death took place at Meran in Tyrol on 7th April 1898 in the fiftieth year of his age.

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