The Stephenson valve gear or Stephenson link or shifting link is a simple design of valve gear that was widely used throughout the world for all kinds of steam engine. It is named after Robert Stephenson but was actually invented by his employees.
During the 1830s the most popular valve drive for locomotives was known as gab motion in the U.K. and V-hook motion in the U.S.A. The gab motion incorporated two sets of eccentrics and rods for each cylinder; one eccentric was set to give forward and the other backwards motion to the engine and one or the other could accordingly engage with a pin driving the distribution valve by means of the gabs: - vee-shaped ends to the eccentric rods supposed to catch the rocker driving the valve rod whatever its position. It was a clumsy mechanism difficult to operate that moreover only gave fixed valve events. In 1841 two employees in Stephenson’s locomotive works, draughtsman William Howe and pattern-maker William Williams, suggested the simple expedient of replacing the gabs with a vertical slotted link, pivoted at both ends to the tips of... Read More