- Anthony Reckenzaun
Anthony Reckenzaun (1850-1893) was an electrical engineer who worked in the
UKand the USA.
Reckenzaun worked on electric tramcars and
electric boats. He is probably best known for applying worm geardrive to tramcars. This was not a great success on full-size vehicles but was later very widely used on electrically-powered model railway locomotives.
Early life and education
Graz, Austriain 1850 and died of consumptionat his home in Stockwell, Londonat 2 a.m. on 11 November 1893. He was 43 years old. [There are numerous obituaries in contemporary electrical industry and kindred journals, see: Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol.42, 17 November 1893, p.20.]
At an early age he had first-hand opportunities of practical engineering, seeing the operations in the
ironworksof his father who carried out large contracts for breweryplants, tanneries, buildings and railwaymaterials - especially for the Hungarian railways [ The Electrician, Vol.XXXII, 17 November 1893, p.66 (London: The Electrician)] . After receiving a practical education at the Technical Schoolin Graz, and with a view to widening his engineeringknowledge, he moved to England in 1872.
Life and work in England
He was first employed by
Messrs Ravenhill, Miller & Co, the noted steam enginemanufacturers and marine engineersof London. When John Richard Ravenhillleft the partnershipin 1875, the business transferred to the works of his former co-partners, Messrs Easton and Andersonof Erith, Kent - engineers, millwrights, and lead pipemanufacturers, and Reckenzaun followed the firm.
In connection with the
Erith ironworks, Reckenzaun established evening classesfor the workmen, lecturing in machine construction and drawing, and steam. First, however, he had to qualify himself under the rules of the South Kensington Science and Art Departmentin these subjects, which he took with first class honours. Afterwards he attended the course of lectures given to qualified science teachersat the Royal School of Minesin 1877 and 1879. Again he obtained first class passes in steam and mechanics.
Electrical engineering work
After visiting the Paris Exposition of 1878, he determined to pursue a career in
electrical engineeringand attended Professor William Edward Ayrton's lectures at Finsbury Technical Collegewhich later became the City and Guilds. At the time of his death he was vice-president of the Old Students' Associationof that body.
He returned to Paris for the 1881 exhibition, studying the electrical exhibits at the
Palais d'Industrieover three months. When he returned to England, he briefly joined the Faure Electric Accumulator Companybefore accepting the post of engineerto the Electrical Power Storage Company.
In connection with the
E.P.S.company he undertook much original and pioneering work on various forms of electric traction. In 1882 he designed the first significant electric launchdriven by storage batteries, named ' Electricity' [Illustrated with wood engravingsin the Electrical Review, Vol.XI, No.255, 14 October 1882, pp.296 and 297] Soon afterwards he was building an electric tramcarwhich was exhibited in March 1883 on the West Metropolitan Tramways Company's line in London.
From 1884 onwards Reckenzaun continued his electrical work independently, to build boats, cars and
electric motors for various purposes. He conducted numerous investigations into electric tractionand patented improvements in secondary batteries, electric motors, electric metersand related devices [Search Reckenzaun US patents via Google Patents] . He was an early electric motordesigner and, paid particular attention to bogie carsand worm-gearin this connection. This was not a great success on full-size vehicles but was later very widely used on electrically-powered model railway locomotives.
His storage battery tramcars were tried out on a number of tramlines, in the
U.K.but mainly in the U.S., where his inventions were assignedto the Electric Car Company of Americaand his brother Frederick Reckenzaun, based in New Yorkdeveloped associated electrical businesses and was his representative there.
His traction motors were applied to the first large scale
telpherage system for the Sussex Portland Cement Companyat Glyndein 1885. The telpherage system, had originally been tested on the estate of Mr M.R. Pryor at Weston, Somersetand also a line in Peruby Professor Fleeming Jenkinin association with Professors William Edward Ayrtonand John Perryand the Telpherage Company, Limited.
Perhaps one of his most noteworthy developments came in
electric launches. On 13 September 1886the boat ' Volta' made the double voyage from Doverto Calaisand back. He also built perhaps the first significant electric boat in the United States, named ' Magnet'. [For a very useful summary of his work over this period, with illustrations of machinery, see [http://www.archive.org/details/electricmotorits00martrich Martin, Thomas Commerford(1892) The electric motor : and its applications (available via the Internet Archive).] .
Professional and scientific societies
He was a member of, and contributor of papers to, various professional and scientific bodies, both English and International. In 1882 he was elected a member of the Society of Arts. On
16 January 1884he read a paper before that society on ' Electric Launches'. [Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol.32, No.1626, 18 January 1884, pp.135-147] On 20 April 1887he gave a paper on 'Electric Locomotion'. [Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol.35, 22 April 1887, pp.556-568] For this latter paper he received the society's silver medal. [ Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol.35, No.1803, 10 June 1887, p.733]
1 November 1887he was elected an Associate Member, and on 6 Decemberthe same year, a full member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers[ See Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Vol.X, 1893, pp.667-668]
In 1889 he was elected to the I.E.E.|Society of Telegraph-Engineers and Electricians now the
Institution of Engineering and Technology. In December 1892 the I.E.E.awarded him the Paris Electrical ExhibitionPremium for his paper on 'Load diagrams and the cost of electric traction'.
He also gave papers at the
British Association, the American National Electric Light Associationand the Vienna Electro-Technical Society.
In later years he associated himself with the
General Electric Companyand Greenwood and Batleyand was a regular contributor to the electrical journals of the day. He published a collection of much of his work on electric tractionwas published in 1892 by Biggs & Co, London, entitled 'Electric traction on railways and tramways'.
He was a friend of the noted British inventors
Magnus Volkand Moritz Immisch
References and sources
* [http://www.victorianlondon.org/publications5/londoners-29.htm chapter 29 of Alfred Rosling Bennett's 1924 work 'London and Londoners in the Eighteen-Fifties and Sixties' - The Victorian Dictionary - compiled by Lee Jackson]
* [http://www.iee.org/TheIEE/Research/Archives/FindingAids/Biographies/bluebook_qt.cfm Institution of Engineering and Technology website]
* [http://books.google.com Google Book Search - search references in Victorian electrical journals]
* [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk The London Gazette - see probate notice, Issue no.26477, p.398 (19 Jan 1894)]
* [http://www.yeoldesussexpages.com/history/brighton/volks/jackson1.htm Photo of Reckenzaun worm gear drive]
* [http://www.marygordon.org.uk/batteries.htm Mary Gordon Electric Boat]
* [http://www.rsa.org.uk website of the 'Society of Arts', or rather - Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce]
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