Under-appreciated / overshadowed North American steam locomotives

1385 views
32 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2020
  • 11 posts
Under-appreciated / overshadowed North American steam locomotives
Posted by Aurora SL 1 on Sunday, June 7, 2020 9:11 PM

I have just finished re-reading Jim Scribbins' fantastic book, The 400 Story and this thought has come to mind: 

The initial four E-2 Pacifics that were modified to run the steam-hauled '400'  - they became class E-2-a (oil burners, larger drivers, amongst other modifications - are very impressive machines. The diagram for the '400' must have been one of the most punishing in the U.S. in terms of demand for rapid acceleration and sustained high speed running. Yet, if it wasn't for Scribbins' book, I don't think I would ever have known how remarkable those locomotives were. Not only were they overshadowed by the Milwaukee Road's A class Atlantics and F-7 Baltics, I think they were also somewhat in the shadow of their owner's 'H' class Northerns and E-4 Hudsons. 

Anyone else have nominations for otherwise impressive and capable steam locomotives that were overshadowed by more 'glamorous' (for want of a better term) or simply better known rivals? 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, June 8, 2020 10:59 AM

Welcome  aboard!

I don't remember your posting here before, but just in case this is your first post, or topic for that matter, don't be surprised if there's a time lag from when you hit "Submit" and when it shows up on the Forum.  That's typical for new posters, the moderators are going to look at your posts and determine you're one of the "good guys" before you get "free rein" on the various Forums.  So don't re-submit if you don't see your post right away.

To get to your topic, two locomotive types that spring to mind are the Delaware & Hudsons Northerns and Challengers.  Powerful and good-looking as well they just don't seem to get the attention that they deserve.  Probably because the D&H was off the beaten path a bit for most railfans in the old days?  Or maybe because none were preserved and no effort was made to do so?  Who knows?

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,573 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 8, 2020 1:07 PM

I'm tempted to say a better D&H example might be the poppet-valve Pacifics -- the Northerns and Challengers were by far the most famous and iconic D&H power right up to Sterzing's rolling museum of first-generation dieselry.

I'd be tempted to bring up the PRR E6 vs. K4, or the NYC K5b against the Hudsons.  A very significant one is the Milwaukee F6; most people see only a gangly and somewhat homely wallflower with a weird feedwater heater, not the first locomotive to hold 100mph with a real train.

And yeah, the A-2-A vs. the Niagara.  Did you know the guy who researched the book about them couldn't find one person who ran them that didn't like them ... stifling cabs, maintenance problems and all?  

  • Member since
    June 2012
  • 225 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Monday, June 8, 2020 5:11 PM

I consider the D&H 4-6-6-4 's as the finest example of that wheel arrangement, if not Mallets in general. I believe I omitted them when I listed my five favorite steam locomotives in the past.

  • Member since
    May 2012
  • 4,092 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Monday, June 8, 2020 5:38 PM

VGN's AG-class 2-6-6-6 Blue Ridge types.  enough of an improvement on C&O's original Alleghenies that C&O copied VGN's for the second order.

  • Member since
    April 2020
  • 11 posts
Posted by Aurora SL 1 on Monday, June 8, 2020 5:47 PM

Hi Flintlock, thanks for the heads up, much appreciated. I think it was a combination of my unfamilarity but also a slighty dodgy internet connection at my end that made me doubt the original post got through. 

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 1,450 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Monday, June 8, 2020 9:06 PM

B&M P4 4-6-2 and Class R 4-8-2.

 

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 16,387 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, June 8, 2020 9:45 PM

How about the last USA Pacifics built, ther post-WWII  Reading's?

Anybody got pictures?

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, June 8, 2020 10:29 PM

daveklepper
Anybody got pictures?

How about movies?

Here's some Reading G3 Pacifics and a whole buncha other power!

So, "Take a ride on the Reading!"  And it's OK to "Pass 'Go' and collect $200!"  Wink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g6MQlwytt8  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbMWACwRsV4  

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 11,929 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 10:21 AM

Any switcher is almost by definition underappreciated.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    February 2005
  • 1,872 posts
Posted by timz on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 11:36 AM

rcdrye
VGN's AG-class 2-6-6-6 Blue Ridge types.  enough of an improvement on C&O's original Alleghenies that C&O copied VGN's for the second order.

What was different?

  • Member since
    May 2012
  • 4,092 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 1:09 PM

VGN's Blue Ridge class were quite a bit lighter than the original C&O Alleghenies, with about 9 tons saved by better rods and some other improvements.  Even at that they were very heavy, enough so that VGN had to make special arrangements with NYC (Toledo & Ohio Central) to get them from Lima to Deepwater, where they were handed over to the VGN.  The AG class replaced an equal number of older articulateds allowing faster train movements from the coalfields to Roanoke.  Only five BA class Berkshires puchased in 1946 were newer steam road power than the AGs.  Both classes lasted into the mid-1950s.  The BAs, nearly identical to C&O Berkshires, had a reputation as smooth runners, with one reputed to have hit 87MPH with a 3500 ton train on a detour move over the N&W.

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 1,450 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 2:49 PM

VGN's Lima power, class BA and AG:

https://www.nwhs.org/archivesdb/detail.php?ID=162803

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 2,455 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 3:14 PM

For under-appreciated locomotives, how about an entire wheel arrangement:  the 2-8-2. 

The backbone of heavy freight service for so many years on so many large railroads, approximately 10,000 were built over the years for North American railroads. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 5:16 PM

SD70Dude
For under-appreciated locomotives, how about an entire wheel arrangement:  the 2-8-2. 

If what you mean is there's a point where ubiquity becomes anonymity I can see your point.

On the other hand, the last time I checked the numbers, which admittedly has been a while, there's more 2-8-2's preserved and in operation today than any other type of steam engine.

Stands to reason, the 2-8-2's were so useful most lasted right up until the end of steam and went right into the waiting hands of preservationists. 

Under-appreciated?  No, I really don't think so.

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 2,455 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 10:23 PM

You're right about the 2-8-2 being well represented in preservation.

What I meant is that when most people think of steam, either light branchline operations or the 'Super Power' era and big articulateds/mallets/duplexes of all types come to mind, not the far more common Mikado.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    May 2012
  • 4,092 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 6:53 AM

And then there are B&M's Moguls, still active into the 1950s, wherever light track and light traffic went together.

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,000 posts
Posted by M636C on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 7:19 AM

SD70Dude

For under-appreciated locomotives, how about an entire wheel arrangement:  the 2-8-2. 

The backbone of heavy freight service for so many years on so many large railroads, approximately 10,000 were built over the years for North American railroads. 

 
A particular 2-8-2 comes to mind...
 
The British War Department 2-8-2 built for use in the Middle East initially.
While 200 of these were built in the USA initially, a further 809 were built to 5'6" gauge, mainly in Canada, for use in India (and later Pakistan).
 
After the war, 20 more were built for Australia and (maybe) 15 for Portugal.
 
Those in India and Pakistan would be among the last US and Canadian built locomotives in regular use anywhere. Twenty of the original 200 ended up in China 
 
Peter

 

  • Member since
    June 2012
  • 225 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 7:39 AM

Did Baldwin build any of those Mikes? I read that their last steam locomotive was built for India, either in '54 or '55.

    As a New England exile living in Western Pennsylvania, I'm a big fan of the B&M. I lived too late to see the steam. And I lived on the wrong side of Vermont to see the last of CV steam.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,573 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 8:54 AM

I think those might indeed be USATC S200s, and given the ship's routing via the Philippines, which were only retaken in 1944, I think it would then be part of the 30 locomotives UNRRA sent to China.

I have not yet found a source lining up the exact builder with this order. Baldwin and Lima each built 70 and Alco built 60, but again I don't know the year or months of production to narrow down provision of the UNRRA order.  I'm sure there are people who read this who will know or can find out with better sources or research.

However, these look to me as if they are narrow-gauge engines, a pretty good fit with the S118 (which I believe is derived from an Australian design).  That jibes with the cab numbering... at least in principle.

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • 3,206 posts
Posted by NorthWest on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 11:41 AM

I'll put in a vote for the USRA heavy 2-8-2. The backbone of freight service for several class ones for more than a decade, but largely ignored in favor of the 4-8-2s and 4-8-4s of those roads.

More than a thousand produced with copies included, and not a single example preserved.

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 16,387 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:15 AM

Of course you are right, but is ngt at least one of the preserved 2-8-2s a very close cousin?

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • 3,206 posts
Posted by NorthWest on Thursday, June 11, 2020 12:23 PM

There are several USRA Light Mikados preserved, including copies (two engines are from the Frisco, which also had the Heavy model and copies, so presumably one could've been preserved).

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,000 posts
Posted by M636C on Saturday, June 13, 2020 7:51 AM

Fr.Al

Did Baldwin build any of those Mikes? I read that their last steam locomotive was built for India, either in '54 or '55.

    As a New England exile living in Western Pennsylvania, I'm a big fan of the B&M. I lived too late to see the steam. And I lived on the wrong side of Vermont to see the last of CV steam.

 

 

The last Baldwin steam locomotives for India were Indian standard Class WG Broad Gauge 2-8-2 bn 76039 - 76088.

The first of the WG were built by North British in 1951.

These had the WP boiler on a chassis slighly larger than the British WD locomotives.

Baldwin also built a number of metre gauge Pacifics (class YP) and Mikados (class YG) in 1949-50.

The Indian wartime 2-8-2s based on the British WD 2-8-2s consisted of 225 class AWD all built by Baldwin and 584 class CWD built by MLW and CLC.

Peter

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,000 posts
Posted by M636C on Saturday, June 13, 2020 8:21 AM

Overmod

I think those might indeed be USATC S200s, and given the ship's routing via the Philippines, which were only retaken in 1944, I think it would then be part of the 30 locomotives UNRRA sent to China.

I have not yet found a source lining up the exact builder with this order. Baldwin and Lima each built 70 and Alco built 60, but again I don't know the year or months of production to narrow down provision of the UNRRA order.  I'm sure there are people who read this who will know or can find out with better sources or research.

However, these look to me as if they are narrow-gauge engines, a pretty good fit with the S118 (which I believe is derived from an Australian design).  That jibes with the cab numbering... at least in principle.

 

I'm not sure I understand this post.

The British War Department 2-8-2s in China which became class JF10 were all shipped from stocks in the Middle East from locomotives built in 1942. These were supplied by the British Government to replace a number of Krupp 2-10-2s which had been shipped to Iran from Hong Kong. These had been stored in Hong Kong when they couldn't be delivered due to the Japanese invasion of China. One assumes that the 2-10-2s were in very poor condition after being used without access to supplies of spare parts owing to the war. The 2-8-2s were in better condition and were supplied as replacements.

Photos of Class JF10 show them to have details (such as the cabs) that indicate that they are from the original 1942 batch.

The only UNRRA locomotives provided to China were 160 2-8-0s (class KD7) built to an enlarged design based on the USATC 2-8-0 (although it had a number of features seen in Belgian designs of that type). 300 of the same design were sent to Belgium.

The "classes" "S-200" and "S-118" were invented by Tourret in his books on British and American War Locomotives. There were no "USATC classes". The whole thing was a misreading of shorthand locomotive descriptions used in the Alco Builder's Lists. The British WD 2-8-2s were listed as 282-S-200 meaning a 2-8-2 which was superheated and where the engine only weighed 200 000 lbs.

You could with equal authority call a "Big Boy" a "Class S-800" since they are listed in the Alco lists as 4884-S-800....

I don't believe any of the Indian 5'6" gauge locomotives were ever rebuilt to standard gauge, since it would be much more complicated than from the Russian 5'0" gauge. All of them are accounted for in INdia or Pakistan.

Peter

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,573 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, June 14, 2020 1:51 PM

This shows the problem of using accessible sources in the USA for things outside 'normal American railfan interest'.

This is one of Peter Clark's areas of distinctive competence, so I presume anything he says regarding this subject to be correct until demonstrated otherwise ... a demonstration I think unlikely to be made.

i was hoping he was going to provide the definitive ID for the specific engines described; I don't think he has yet done that but it will be interesting when he has.

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,000 posts
Posted by M636C on Sunday, June 21, 2020 5:12 PM

I should qualify my statement about the British WD 2-8-2s that went to China.

There were only six Krupp 2-10-2s that ended up in Iran after storage in Hong Kong. Only the first six WD 2-8-2s were supplied in direct replacement of these locomotives.

The good news is that we have the road numbers of five of this first six units.

These were 1034, 1058, 1129, 1133, and 1168.

The first two were built by Baldwin, the second two built by Lima and the last by Alco....

Sadly no details were known of the other fourteen. It is possible that details were taken of locomotives seen in service in China towards the end of steam. I never saw one myself and only know of one being sighted.

Peter

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,573 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, June 21, 2020 7:13 PM

But what locomotives match the 'narrative' here?  We were given the putative destination and number of locomotives (with plenty of 'ship' to carry more, I think, so eight in the batch) and we clearly see the cab numbers, especially when the names got painted on.  So what are those things?

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 4,000 posts
Posted by M636C on Sunday, June 21, 2020 11:20 PM

Overmod

But what locomotives match the 'narrative' here?  We were given the putative destination and number of locomotives (with plenty of 'ship' to carry more, I think, so eight in the batch) and we clearly see the cab numbers, especially when the names got painted on.  So what are those things?

 

Can you provide a link to this image or other source?

Peter

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,573 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 22, 2020 2:52 AM

M636C
Can you provide a link to this image or other source?

It's the YouTube movie link earlier in this post...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=78zu7hSXS-k

See at about 6:00 and 20:00 for instance.  This is "early February 1945" and the ship is carrying many 'freight car under frames' as well as the eight locomotives -- perhaps someone can decipher the chalk scrawl on the truck frame at about 4:30 if needed.

Part 2 is now available here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zZdqd8rp8MI

It indicates the engines went to the Philippines.  Unloading starts about 18:00; watch the DUKW acting as a tow truck at 24:00.

 

 

 

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter