2-8-4 Berkshires

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2-8-4 Berkshires
Posted by Al Baum on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:54 AM

NKP 765 series are impressive engines.  Were the Erie's 3300s comparable in size and power?  Also, didn't the B & M have similar engines?

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 7:07 PM

Well, yes and no.  Trying to keep it simple and in doing so sticking to tractive effort as a yard stick, the Erie's 3300's had a tractive effort of 70,000 pounds while the NKP's 700 series had a TE of 64,100 pounds.  I can't find anything about the B&M, but the Boston and Albany's first Berk had a TE of 69,400 pounds.

They were all good, but I'd have to say the Berks built by Lima for the NKP may have been the best of the bunch, if for no other reason than they came along 20 years after the first ones and had the benefit of all those improvements that came along in that time span. 

RME
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Posted by RME on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 7:30 PM

The Erie (AMC) S-class engines were considerably larger than NKP.  Erie you may remember had clearances sized for the original 6' gauge so the engines could be bigger.

There is little comparison between the first generation of 'Super-Power' Berks and the Erie locomotives and subsequent engines derived from them (for example, if I recall correctly, the C&O T-1 2-10-4, which bears the same relationship to an S-class that the PRR Q1 was supposed to have to an M1: a "5/4" scaling up for that much more capacity). 

The Erie engines were the first that were explicitly built for high road speed, and that design philosophy carried over into the Nickel Plate versions.  Of course, if you used all the additional sophisticated improvements between the late '20s and the late '40s and applied it to a locomotive that was Erie-sized, you'd have a locomotive bigger and more powerful in proportion...

B&M didn't bother with evolving sophisticated 2-8-4s; they went instead to the most beautiful of all 4-8-2s (so good, in fact, that they got names like the 3713's class of beautiful Pacifics had).  The B&M T class, even correcting for the Grim Reaper feedwater heater, ran not like a greyhound, but a more plebeian kind of dog - here's a picture that makes one look about as good as humanly possible

Compare them with this:

 

Some of the Ts were foisted on Southern Pacific for wartime service, and I seem to remember they weren't particularly liked there, either, but they apparently lasted long enough to be converted to oil firing in 1950 -- past the time the conversion could be excused as a response to the threatened coal strike.  ATSF had at least one (of the seven they got) that was noted as lasting to 1955.

steamlocomotive.com has both the T1a and T1b at the same TE: 76160# (with boiler pressure 240# nominal, 63" drivers, 28x30 cylinders, and an almost frightening 3.44 FA)  Reading between the lines, I smell booster.  I also don't see any hard evidence that advanced balancing a la T&P 610 was done on any of the Ts, although that would have made them far more capable in general service for a fairly small investment...

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:01 PM

RME- "Grim Reaper feedwater heater"...good one!  Grateful my last name isn't Coffin. They certainly were ominous looking. Cannot think of a case where they enhanced the look but to each his own. 

It always comes back to the T1's...everything...probably the Cubs and Trump to!...ok that's it ...I'm going to cash in all my prospecting skills, find a 104 Billion Dollar Gold Mine and build 2 of them for you...standby, should take 3 years...( get the environmental kooks out of my way). 

Oh..and do not worry, not pulling a Bre-X on anyone...it will be the real deal!

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:13 PM

Erie, NKP, C&O, and Pere Marquette were all part of the Van Sweringen rail network.  PM 1225 (the Polar Express prototype) is a close twin to NKP 765.

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Posted by ACY Tom on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:25 PM

The early Lima Berkshires built for B&A, B&M, and IC all had drivers in the 63-64" range. The Eries were the first of the more modern Lima high-speed Berkshires with drivers in the 69-70" range. Without going into too much detail, the cylinder proportions of the Erie engines were not optimal. C&O based the T-1 2-10-4 design on an enlarged Erie Berkshire, but altered the cylinder dimensions. Then a couple years later NKP took the T-1 design and reduced it back to 2-8-4 size, adopting C&O's cylinder proportions (adjusted). This was the magic combination, copied by Pere Marquette, W&LE, RF&P, C&O, and L&N. Over the years, Erie improved many of their 105 Berkshires with Boxpok drivers, multiple bearing crossheads in place of the original Alligators, and other improvements. They even put very small brakeman's extensions on the rear of the fireman's side of the cab (very small ones, somewhat similar to B&O's extensions). But as far as I know, the Erie never changed the cylinder diameter and stroke of a Berkshire, and that might have made a bigger difference. Of course, that's all speculative. 

I've always preferred the brutish, yet classic, look of the Eries. But that's just me.

By the way, the B&O bought 13 of B&M's lovely early R-1 4-8-2's in the late 1940's and used them in fast freight service with great success as late as 1957 (maybe 1958). When B&O old timers on the Akron Division were asked about their favorite steam engines, they never failed to mention "them B&M engines" in glowing terms, along with the EM-1's. 

Tom 

RME
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Posted by RME on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 10:14 PM

ACY
When B&O old timers on the Akron Division were asked about their favorite steam engines, they never failed to mention "them B&M engines" in glowing terms, along with the EM-1's.

But, good as they were (and they were very, very good) they were not as good as the 2-6-6-4s...

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Posted by ACY Tom on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 11:47 PM

What 2-6-6-4's? Those second hand SAL engines acquired in 1947? They were B&O class KB-1 and KB-1a, numbers 7700-7709.  With 69" drivers, they were probably pretty fast runners, and their 82,300# t.e. was pretty good. I don't know about them. They didn't last past 1955, most being retired in 1953. Some old EL-3a and EL-5a 2-8-8-0's did about as well, lasting into 1954. I never talked to anybody who worked them. They mostly ran east of Cumberland.

On the other hand, the somewhat smaller ex B&M 4-8-2's (purchased 1947 to become B&O class T-4 and T-4a 5650-5662) had 73" drivers and a very respectable tractive effort of 67,900 pounds, which allowed them to step right along hauling the manifests at the authorized track speed on the Akron Division. They were bigger, faster, and more powerful than B&O's own home-built group of forty highly successful T-3, T-3a, T-3b, and T-3c 4-8-2's of 1942-1948, numbers 5555-5594 (70" drivers; 65,100# t.e.). The B&M engines were also better looking.  

Now, how did we get from Berkshires to 2-6-6-4's?

Tom

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Posted by NorthWest on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 11:55 PM

The Erie had a 2-6-6-4 1.5 Berkshire proposal that the Depression killed. Would have been nice to see them built.

The B&M 2-8-4s were near clones of the original Lima demonstrator that ended up on the IC. B&M apparently didn't like the articulated trailing truck much.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, February 23, 2017 4:36 AM

Big difference from the demonstrator and its clones on the Central's Boston and Albany was  the Coffin feedwater heater on the B&M instead of an Elasco.  Big difference in appearance!  Another reason they were sold early-on is that the Troy- Hoosack Tunnel route was the first major B&M line to be dieselized, while the IC continued to use steam.  

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:33 AM

Hard to improve on the right machine for the job...

Here is NKP 2-8-4 771 pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down. You can tell it is really moving by the fact that there is a very long exhaust plume behind the stack that is still intact - living up to the slogan "High Speed Service"...

Image result for nickel plate berkshire

A few more NKP Berks gettin' a roll on...

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Image result for nickel plate berkshire freight train

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, February 23, 2017 5:22 PM

Anyway, no-one called them the "Weary Erie" anymore after those Berks showed up on the property!

And guys like RME and myself, both Jersey boys, lament the fact we came along just a little too late to see them in action. 

We were a little too late for those oh-so-classy Russian Iron boilered Erie K1 Pacifics too, but that's another story. 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:06 PM

Big iron...

Image result for erie 2-8-4 berkshire steam locomotive

Image result for erie 2-8-4 berkshire steam locomotive

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Image result for erie 2-8-4 berkshire steam locomotive

Image result for erie 2-8-4 berkshire steam locomotive

Image result for erie 2-8-4 steam locomotive

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Image result for erie 2-8-4 steam locomotive

 

 

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Posted by LensCapOn on Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:27 PM

kgbw49

Hard to improve on the right machine for the job...

Here is NKP 2-8-4 771 pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down. You can tell it is really moving by the fact that there is a very long exhaust plume behind the stack that is still intact - living up to the slogan "High Speed Service"...

Image result for nickel plate berkshire

A few more NKP Berks gettin' a roll on...

Image result for nickel plate berkshire

Image result for nickel plate berkshire freight train

Related image

Related image

 

 

 

kgbw49

Hard to improve on the right machine for the job...

Here is NKP 2-8-4 771 pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down. You can tell it is really moving by the fact that there is a very long exhaust plume behind the stack that is still intact - living up to the slogan "High Speed Service"...

Image result for nickel plate berkshire

A few more NKP Berks gettin' a roll on...

Image result for nickel plate berkshire

Image result for nickel plate berkshire freight train

Related image

Related image

 

 

 

Here's a video of one still "picking them up and putting them down".

 

Just time the passenger cars at the end if you gon't think it's moving.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs6j_ZEde4o 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:21 PM

Rolling thunder!!!!!

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:33 PM

kgb, thanks for those Erie shots, especially the one with "World Famous" HX Draw over the Hackensack River.

And LensCap, thanks for that video link!  Just unbelieveable!  And THAT was an everyday occurrance for Nickle Plate steam back in the old days! 

My idea of "High Speed Rail!"

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Posted by Al Baum on Friday, February 24, 2017 4:36 PM

An earlier post referenced the Erie's Berks being designed for high speed.  Growing up in Waldwick NJ during the late 40s and early 50s, we saw 3300s every day,but we were never able to see them at high speed.  Coming east there was about a one mile straightaway before entering the Waldwick curve (later known as Collins Curve) and there was a 40 mph limit into it.  And westbound they would be pulling hard due to the grade which started around Glen Rock and continued west to Ramsey; and they were pulling hard.  As kids when we heard one coming west we would try to get on the viaduct at the last curve before the straight away and try to see who could get the most stack exhaust as they came out from under the bridge.  Talk about asking for lung cancer. 

As for the post missing out on the K1s, the Waldwick yard was home for the overnight for a number of K1s; sometimes a K4, usually at least one K4B and once the road diesels came a K5 or two.  Never staying overnight but in and out several times during the day, the 5000 series doodlebugs.  And the only camera I had at that time was an Ansco 120 box with film limited to 8 exposures.

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Posted by ACY Tom on Friday, February 24, 2017 4:57 PM

Yes, grades and curves would slow down the Erie Berks, just as they would affect any steam engine. But they had plenty of steaming capacity, and those 70" drivers could roll a train right along on parts of the Western lines of the Erie. Erie's mainline was laid out in the very early years. Even in places like Ohio, where the ground is usually believed to be relatively level, there were places where all trains were held back by serious grades. I'm thinking of places like the mainline just east of Mansfield, Ohio. I've always believed that Erie's Berkshires could have performed much better on a better engineered railroad. That's opinion, and you're free to disagree.

Tom 

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