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C&O H-8 Allegheny vs. UP Big Boy

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C&O H-8 Allegheny vs. UP Big Boy
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 28, 2005 8:33 AM
I'm sure some of you guys are almost walking railroad encyclopedias. I have wondered for a long time how the C&O's Alleghenys compared to UP's Big Boys. Any information would be appreciated.
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Posted by bowlerp on Monday, March 28, 2005 9:13 AM
I'm sure you can read the specifications as well as anyone, so you don't need that general sheet of paper type information. I have the books on both locomotive types.
Aside from the obvious diferences in wheel configuration, length, etc., in terms of performance the Big Boys are distinguished from the Alleghenies for having been much better used by the UP for their intended design strenght than were the Alleghenies. The Alleghenies would have been well suited for high speed heavy freight pulling, but were instead mostly used for pulling slow coal drags on mountain grades on the C&O.

Both types could run track speed pulling huge heavy freight consists, both were designed for that, but the fact is that the Big Boys were actually used that way most of the time. They are famous for having been used up to their potential. The Alleghenies are famous for their huge weight, and for NOT having been used to their potential before being retired.

Fans of both will argue their respective merits until blue in the face, but it is not a winnable argument in these times.
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Posted by Fergmiester on Monday, March 28, 2005 9:30 AM
This was quite a topic of discussion last year. Each Locomotive had it's strong points and weak ones. Steam Glory was put out about a year ago by Classic Trains and had a comparitive list on Articulated Engines in it. Big Boys were rated at 135,000 lbs tractive force and the Alleghenies were rated at 110,000 lbs. Saying that there are many other factors that have to be calculated into this to provide an overall rating of each engine.

IMO they all have a niche

Fergie

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If one could roll back the hands of time... They would be waiting for the next train into the future. A. H. Francey 1921-2007  

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Posted by twhite on Monday, March 28, 2005 9:43 AM
As far as sheer looks, I'll take the Allegheny--but then I like my Articulateds with cross-compound air pumps on the boiler-front--it just makes them look more businesslike. But both Bowlerp and Fergie are right--you can argue the various merits of these locomotives until the cows come home, and still never come to a conclusion. Had the C&O used their 2-6-6-6's in other than mountain coal drag service, we might have seen an amazing locomotive potential. Oddly enough, UP's Big Boys were originally assigned in Ogden-Green River service through the stiff grades of the Wasatch mountains, and didn't realize their full potential until UP pulled them further east for Green River-Cheyenne service over Sherman Hill. That's when they really blossomed.
Of course, MY favorite Big Loco is the Missabe Yellowstone, a locomotive that was designed specifically to haul 180-car ore loads in Minnesota (though the Rio Grande borrowed them during the winters of WWII and were amazed at their freight -hauling capacity in the Rockies).
Tom [:D][:D]
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 28, 2005 11:11 AM
This was quite the topic last year search the forums and you will find pages and pages on this.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 28, 2005 1:54 PM
Really, they are equal. They never competed in the same type of service, so we'll never know.
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Posted by markpierce on Monday, March 28, 2005 8:54 PM
The big boy had more tractive effort because it had 4 more drivers, 300 vs 260 psi steam pressure, and greater weight on drivers, 540,000 vs. 471,000 pounds. They had almost the same driver diameter: 68 vs 67 inches. The h-8 advantage was a larger fire box because it was so deep: 7,240 vs 5,889 cubic inches. Since the h-8 could create more steam, I presume the h-8 could maintain its speed better than the big boy as long as the load didn't exceed the h-8's limit. Undoubtedly the big boy would pull more if speed was irrelevant. But I'm puzzled why the Chesapeak & Ohio would go for speed when the load was coal. Speed wasn't important in that trade: only reliability.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 28, 2005 10:47 PM
Thanks for the insight. I didn't mean to "dis" either locomotive or suggest one was necessarily superior to the other. I just knew that they were both massive and wondered how they compaired. Of course my favorite is going to be the H-8 because that was what was used on the C&O. I had a friend who worked on the H-8s as well as other engines at the C&O shops in Huntington, WV. Unffortunately that dear friend has passed on.
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Posted by markpierce on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 4:24 PM
About a third of the h-8's had steam connections so they could be used for passenger service. Anyone know how often they were used in passenger service, if at all? The h-8's axle load of 86,350 pounds (versus 67,750 for the big boy) was tremendous. Hope your bridges are strong and your rail and roadbed are heavy and in good shape!
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Posted by 8500HPGASTURBINE on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 4:37 PM
ALLEGHENY

HEIGHT - 16' 7"
LENGTH - 125' 8"
WEIGHT - 778,000LBS
HORSEPOWER - 7500

BIG BOY

HEIGHT - 16' 2 1/2"
LENGTH - 132' 10"
WEIGHT - 772,250LBS

Neither loco was ever put up against each other. The Allegheny had more horsepower the Big Boy. Unlike the Alleghanys that were used in SLOW speed coal service and the Big Boys were used for HIGH SPEED freight service and the Big Boys were used over tough grades which enabled them to use there peek horsepower at 40MPH. It was designed for high speed freight service and that is exactly how it was used. Unlike the Allegheny in which it was never really used for what it was capable of doing. It mostly drug long coal loades at no more then 15MPH up steep hills. They say that if they were put side by side the Big Boy would have the slightest edge.
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Posted by Virginian on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 9:08 PM
Obviously, you never saw an Allegheny or Blue Ridge with a BIG coal train at about 60 on the flatlands near the coast (actually I only remember one Allegheny myself, but plenty of Blue Ridge locos). But, you are correct, the Alleghenys were not really properly employed on the C&O or the Virginian. Virginian should have bought some Y6's from the N&W, but you knew ex-C&O management was never going to go for THAT.
An N&W Class A versus a Big Boy might have been interesting. They'd strap an A on a coal train in Roanoke, give her a push, maybe a push and a pull, up THE hill, and then cut her loose for Crewe or Norfolk. Those babys flew on the Norfolk Division. We clocked plenty at 65 plus.
What could have happened.... did.

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