#273 Westinghouse Automatic Air Brake

1869, 1872

Westinghouse Automatic Air Brake

ASME President-nominee Bryan Erler addresses audience during landmark ceremony.
George Westinghouse’s revolutionary development of the automatic air brake had a built-in safeguard that allowed the entire train to come to a halt if air pressure escaped or if train cars would become separated. His triple-valve system, or control-valve proved to be a significant improvement over the direct-air brake system, which used an air compressor to feed air through a brake pipe into air tanks for each car – engaging the braking mechanism.

A: Andrew Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center, Rafael Santana, CEO of Wabtec, ASME President-nominee Bryan Erler, and Tom Fehring, immediate past chair of the History & Heritage Committee pose with air brake display.
His creation of the triple-valve system (which incorporated individual compressed air reservoirs on each rail car) and its refinements led to dramatic improvements in safety for brakemen and expanded the popularity of rail travel in North America while helping to expand economies. Today, the triple-valve mechanism has almost universally been adopted for use in the United States and around the world.

Landmark Location

30 Isabella Street  
Pittsburgh, PA  15212

Visiting Info

By Appointment Only
(412) 825-1000

Ceremony Date:

Oct. 15, 2019. Plaque presented by ASME President-nominee Bryan Erler


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