Edward G. Budd
Edward Gowan Budd was born on December 28, 1870, in Smyrna, Delaware. Following high school, he apprenticed as a machinist at Smyrna’s iron works. In 1890, he moved to Philadelphia to take a job as a machinist at a foundry and later at a tool company. At night, he took classes in drafting and engineering.
In 1898, he joined the American Pulley Company where he gained expertise in stamped steel engineering and industrial-strength welding. He moved to Hale & Kilburn, where in 1905, he designed a self-propelled railcar known as a “Wind Splitter.” Using a ground-breaking stamped and pressed-steel design, the Wind Splitter’s car bodies were entirely swathed in sheet steel with a distinctive, pointed aerodynamic front end and rounded tail-contours that previously had been impossible to achieve.
On July 22, 1912, Budd formed the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company. In 1934, he made history with the nation’s first stainless-steel, diesel-streamliner, CB&Q 9900-the Zephyr. The Zephyr’s stainless-steel fluted skirt structure was made with Budd’s proprietary shot-welding process, a breakthrough that inaugurated the modern age of metal fabrication. The three-car streamliner’s light weight and aerodynamic shape improved fuel economy and enabled it to travel faster than any train had traveled before.
This landmark train was arguably the most significant machine to roll on American rails in a generation, and it changed the way railroads viewed passenger trains and diesel engines. The Zephyr launched a streamliner craze that produced such railroad icons as the Rocket, Silver Meteor, Champion, Mark Twain, Flying Yankee, Super Chief, and El Capitan.
Edward G. Budd passed away in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on November 30, 1946, at age 75. Budd’s pioneering advances in manufacturing techniques transformed the passenger and commuter trains of the world.