Berkshires

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Berkshires
Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, December 17, 2020 11:50 PM

Is it just me or were the Berkshires (2-8-4's) just awesome, handsome and balanced looking engines compared to most other types? There's just something about them that really grabs me.

I'm especially fond of the Norfolk Southern F-1, L&N M-1 and RF&P engines.

oldline1

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, December 18, 2020 9:50 AM

It's not just you.  The Berkshires were  "...awesome, handsome, and balanced looking engines..."!  Some were better-looking than others of course, but on the whole they were a very successful type and did the job splendidly.  It's no wonder that as far as Big Steam locomotives went they were among the last to go. 

The RF&P was a bit late to the Berkshire show, only purchasing them during WW2 when they needed more steam freight engines that had to move.  At the height of the war you could stand trackside by the RF&P and see trains moving north and south every fifteen minutes!  They were that busy! Imagine, freight and passenger trains running on commuter train schedules. They were well satisfied with their Berks!

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, December 18, 2020 10:24 AM

I would agree that the Van Sweringen 2-8-4's (and most other designs out of the Advisory Mechanical Committee) were especially handsome locomotives.  On the other hand, B&M's 2-8-4's with their Coffin feedwater heaters were not so great looking.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, December 18, 2020 10:42 AM

Readers of this thread might enjoy Ed Weinstein's discussion of Berkshire design (as posted on steamlocomotive.com).

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, December 18, 2020 10:57 AM

Berkshires have always been my favorite, just like stretched Berkshires (Yellowstones) are my favorite articulateds. I liked the concept and I liked the railroads that used them.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, December 18, 2020 2:58 PM

It does have to be said, though, that I still generally prefer 4-8-4s to Berks.  For example, imho the RF&P "AMC clones" didn't hold a candle to any of the RF&P's classes (Generals, Governors, and Statesmen).  It is well understood that the L&N Emmas would have been 4-8-4s had available turntables been a smidge longer ... they are honorary 4-8-4s in proportion and style even so.  I'm a great fan of the A-2-A Berk (most of its problems were circumstantial or related to outright neglect) but it is just not a Niagara (or C1a which is a sort of honorary 4-8-4)

Doesn't mean I don't like Berks, by any means -- or the Berk-and-a-half that is a good 2-6-6-4 or 2-6-6-6; those would not benefit materially from having a four-wheel leading truck ... and no, I don't rate Challengers of any stripe in the same august category.  The first true high-speed Super-Power freight locomotives in the world were the Erie S-class Berks, from which came the C&O T1, from which came the AMC family, all of which are awe-inspiring and seminal, and of course from there came the PRR J1 and J1a which did essentially everything a peacetime PRR could expect out of a ten-coupled locomotive of any sophistication.  But to me there's more thrill in a proper two-axle lead truck on a high-speed eight-coupled, and the proportions are better.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, December 18, 2020 4:19 PM

Virginian crews loved their BA 2-8-4s and AG 2-6-6-6's.  Lima built locomotives for the mid-20th Century that were beautifully proportioned, like the SP GS classes. 

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Posted by pennytrains on Friday, December 18, 2020 6:03 PM

oldline1
Is it just me or were the Berkshires (2-8-4's) just awesome, handsome and balanced looking engines compared to most other types?

You'll get no argument from me!  Wink

 

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, December 18, 2020 9:47 PM

Awesome machine!

Does Ohio have an official state steam engine?  If not, I nominate NKP 765!  Ohio born and bred!

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, December 18, 2020 11:23 PM

Incidently, 2-8-4's for the P&LE were the last steam engines that ALCO build for a US railroad.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 19, 2020 12:50 AM

Flintlock76
Does Ohio have an official state steam engine?  If not, I nominate NKP 759! 

At this point I think 765 deserves the title more...

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 19, 2020 3:28 AM

MidlandMike
... 2-8-4's for the P&LE were the last steam engines that ALCO built for a US railroad ...

and a 2-8-4 for NKP, 779, was the last steam engine Lima built.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, December 19, 2020 7:56 AM

And Baldwin's last domestic steam locomotive was a compound 2-6-6-2 (C&O 1309) while Roanoke's last steam was an 0-8-0.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, December 19, 2020 8:34 AM

Overmod

 

 
Flintlock76
Does Ohio have an official state steam engine?  If not, I nominate NKP 759! 

 

At this point I think 765 deserves the title more...

 

 

Mamma mia!  You right!  'Scusa me!  I fix!  

That bogus number on the smokebox threw me off!

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 19, 2020 12:01 PM

Flintlock76
Mamma mia!  You right!  'Scusa me!  I fix!

S'arright, kiddo.  My briefcase and luggage are still set to "284" on the right and "759" on the left, just as I put them starting in the early '70s when I saw Karl Zimmermann using that famous engine number on his briefcase...

To a kid in that era, 759 was a magic number, one of the most famous locomotives in the world.  I hope the day comes when it is once again to a new generation.

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Posted by pennytrains on Saturday, December 19, 2020 6:57 PM

Flintlock76

Awesome machine!

Does Ohio have an official state steam engine?  If not, I nominate NKP 765!  Ohio born and bred!

 

That's a tough one.  There's the only survivng N&W pacific down near Columbus.  Of course there's GTW 4070 undergoing restoration here:

It's moved along quite a bit since I took that pic: https://www.midwestrailway.org/article/4070-news

This little Vulcan is also near me:

And this little one is in Dover behind Mooney Warther's house:

Plus everything at Age of Steam and Mad River.

But how do we classify 2100 now?

She'll likely pull excursions here, but does she really belong to Ohio?

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 19, 2020 9:21 PM

pennytrains
 
Flintlock76

Does Ohio have an official state steam engine? 

That's a tough one.

Not really.  No N&W locomotive has anything to do with Ohio: they're Virginia born and bred.  No little industrial locomotive has the necessary cachet to match Lima as The Source.  And as noted, 2100 is and always will be Pennsylvanian, even if Ohioans perfect her and bring her to life.

I might add that a couple of clear contenders for 'greatest locomotive from Ohio' don't really count, either.  Ross Rowland's 614 is head-and-shoulders superior to any Berkshire, but has very little history in Ohio other than being conceived and birthed there.  Ditto the Alleghenies, the moral equivalent of a Berk-and-a-half but never really used as their designer intended.

So what it comes down to is finding a distinctive locomotive built in Ohio, run successfully during its regular lifetime in Ohio, then providing a world-class experience afterward as seen and loved by millions ... including operations in Ohio.  And for that, we can forgive nominal current ownership slightly west of Ohio proper.  The Fort Wayne people think and act like proper Ohioans.  So there's a very long lead for 765 as a candidate, and no real contenders near...

Grand Trunk Western? Built in Schenectady? Because it's been lying derelict in Ohio an extended time???  Give me some of that stuff you musta been smokin'!  Wink

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, December 19, 2020 9:52 PM

Well the Nickle Plate did run through Ohio, and presumably so did 765, so even if it lives in Indiana now it's no stretch to call it an Ohio engine.

I zoomed in on the photo of that Grand Pacific Junction 0-4-0, it looks like it's in decent shape and appears to be "all there."  I wonder what it would take to get it running again?

Somebody call the Gramlings!

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Posted by Ben Klesc on Sunday, December 20, 2020 1:12 PM

Gorgeous trains!

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 20, 2020 1:25 PM

Flintlock76
Well the Nickle Plate did run through Ohio

No "Nickle Plate" ever ran through Ohio -- have some respect.  In Ohio that was spelled NICKEL, and rightly so.  Big Smile  And there is no doubt that 765 did much of its finest work along the top of Ohio, precisely as it was designed and constructed in Ohio to do.

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Posted by pennytrains on Sunday, December 20, 2020 6:03 PM

Well....if we're talking about something that's 100% original to Ohio (at least as far as being the first company anywhere to build one) you have to go with Ephraim's Shay (he himself was a Michigander).  The prototype was built by Lima in 1880.  It has 45 years on the Berk.

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by rrnut282 on Sunday, December 20, 2020 7:52 PM

Calling Hoosiers buckeyes, is somewhat of an insult, Mr Lock.Smile

What is wrong with NKP779?  Last steam locomotive built by Lima.  It sits literally yards from her birthplace.  It ran in and through Ohio on the NKP.  It checks all the boxes, except it's not operational.  

Mike (2-8-2)
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, December 20, 2020 9:32 PM

rrnut282
Calling Hoosiers buckeyes, is somewhat of an insult, Mr Lock.

Beg pardon, you'll have to forgive my ignorance of the nuances of Midwestern "relationships."

Growing up in New Jersey and having to deal with New York on one side and Pennsylvania on the other was enough of a challenge.  

do  know what people from Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut call people from Massachusetts but don't dare say it, I'd been banned from here for 100 years!  Embarrassed

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, December 20, 2020 9:50 PM

I believe the current 'going rate' is just under 152 years.

I wonder how many demerits that translates into?

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 21, 2020 3:33 AM

Flintlock76
rrnut282
Calling Hoosiers buckeyes, is somewhat of an insult, Mr Lock.
Beg pardon, you'll have to forgive my ignorance of the nuances of Midwestern "relationships."

I have to think that one is pointed at me, not you, and I acknowledge the point.  I do tend to be a bit chauvinistic when it comes to steam engineering and Ohio -- the 'problem' with extension to Indiana is that the neighbor state itself has great steam 'cred', starting with the association words like 'Crestline' and 'Fort Wayne' have on PRR steam fans, and extending to the now-fabulous organization in Fort Wayne that has made 765 first into a powerhouse and then into a brand.  While it was, indeed, more than a bit cheeky to associate the Fort Wayne organization with 'Ohio values' it was intended with the greatest respect for precisely the sorts of concerted effort that have made the whole "experience" with 765 so awesome.

And yes, it's ironic that Indiana effort is what makes 765 head-and-shoulders the leading candidate for canonical Ohio Steam Locomotive.  

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, December 21, 2020 7:41 AM

Crestline is in Ohio.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 21, 2020 10:48 AM

Backshop
Crestline is in Ohio.

Yes.  Yes, of course it is, now that you remind me of it. Dunce

But still, the raceway is to the 'left' of there and much of the magic, too... blah blah blah and stuff.  I just don't want to be left looking like I'm dissing Indiana...

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, December 21, 2020 11:51 AM

I remember in one of John Crosby's stories that Crestline was the dividing line between the "ridgerunners" and the "flatlander" crews.  That was right before longer crew districts were implemented IIRC.

Crestline had a massive roundhouse.  It was sold to a man that owned an auto scrapyard.  I met him once when I was taking pictures of it from what I thought was railroad property.  This was well before 9-11.  He (not very nicely) informed me that it wasn't. I never made that mistake again...

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 21, 2020 1:00 PM

Backshop
I never made that mistake again...

...and now he'll never have to correct anyone about it again, either.

I suppose it's just as well.  As with Lima, or Alco in Schenectady, or Baldwin in Philadelphia ... or Budd on Red Lion Road ... or EMD in LaGrange.  When it's over and all that's left is perpetual embarrassment... perhaps remembering the past only in memories might be better.

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, December 21, 2020 1:13 PM

Another couple of "Ohio Berkshires" that no one has mentioned are C&O #2700 in Dennison and 2776 in Washington Court House.

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