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Was there a ton of variation in American steam locomotive heights?

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 20, 2023 6:34 AM

kgbw49
All this occurred in 1975-1976 - many of us remember and had the opportunity to see the American Freedom Train first hand.

While on this subject:

B&O Museum (which has the 'original' AFT 1) is doing a full cosmetic restoration.  Part of the agreement with Ross after the roundhouse fire was that 2101 would be kept in the AFT livery for display, and that is probably what she'll get (although some of us were quietly holding out for one side and end being Chessie Steam Special...)

MEANWHILE the people in Cleveland who are restoring 2100 are going to paint HER in the AFT colors -- I believe with road number 250 "for obvious reasons".

Talks continue, or so we are assured, toward getting an American Freedom Train going for 2025-2026.  I refer anyone interested to RyPN.  My own opinion is that, considering the upcoming B&O bicentennial at the end of the decade, that restoration work on 614 be undertaken, perhaps ready in time to pull some of the AFT moves...

 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, November 20, 2023 1:49 AM

Southern Pacific 4449 was used to pull the American Freedom Train all over the Western US, except for Texas which wanted a Texas locomotive and so Texas and Pacific 610 was used in Texas. (I saw SP 4449 in Green Bay WI.)

SP 4449 also was used in the Southeast.

However, 4449 was too large for the clearances in the Northeast and so Reading 2101 was painted as America Freedom Train 1 and used to pull the American Freedom Train in the Northeast.

All this occurred in 1975-1976 - many of us remember and had the opportunity to see the American Freedom Train first hand.

https://www.freedomtrain.org/american-freedom-train-consist-main.htm

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 11:05 PM

Don't forget it was not uncommon for various classes of locomotives to only operate in restricted territories due to clearance and/or weight per axle issues. These restrictions were often listed in the employees' timetable

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 9:55 AM

B&O did pretty well with the EM-1, big power for tight clearances.

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 wjstix on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 8:49 AM

The recent Classic Trains special issue on New York Central talks about they had to limit the height and width of their engines due to clearances. That was pretty common, the first railroads in the US were built in the east, and so things like tunnels built in the 1800s were built to a smaller size than later bridges in the midwest and west. Western railroads could just build bigger and bigger, eastern railroads had to be a bit more creative in getting the most power out of a smaller outline.

Stix
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Posted by timz on Monday, October 23, 2023 11:10 AM

Like he said, the RME article says 14 ft 4 in for the MILW 4-4-2, with an 80-inch boiler, looks like.

#278 - Railway locomotives and cars. v.109 1935. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library

The big 4-8-4s had 102-inch boilers.

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Posted by Pneudyne on Friday, October 20, 2023 5:33 PM

Shrike Arghast

 

 
 

I do wish I could find a height for the Class A - I haven't been able to locate any specific number on the web. 

 

 

14'4" to the top of the stack according to the above-mentioned RA and RME articles.  The boiler centre was 119.5 inches above the rail.  In comparison the Milwaukee F-7 4-6-4 was 15'6" to the top of the stack, with the boiler centre 129 inches above the rail.

A couple of 4-8-4 comparisons:  The UP FEF2 was 16'2" to the top of the stack. with the boiler centre 129 inches above the rail.  The NYC S-1a, with an incrementally larger boiler, 79 inch driver variant, was 15'1.75" to the top of the stack (tighter clearances) with the boiler centre 128.5 inches above the rail.

So one could say that the Milwaukee A was evidently designed for a lower overall height, with a somewhat lower mounted boiler than customary at the time, this 'vertical compactness' likely being more than the loading gauge required and so done for other reasons - as previously suggested, matching the train and to reduce frontal area.

 

Cheers,  

 

 

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Posted by Pneudyne on Friday, October 20, 2023 5:23 PM

Erik_Mag

 and the height of the Class A may have been kept low to be a better match for the height of the trailing cars.

 

Indeed so.  From both the RA 19350511 and RME 193506 articles:  'The top of the tank is shrouded to conform to the contours of the roofs of the new cars with which these locomotives will be operated'.

 

Cheers,

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 20, 2023 4:25 PM

Shrike Arghast
If you took these two locomotives and set them next to each other on adjacent tracks, would there be the obvious difference in height that these photos would seem to indicate? Or am I just seeing this wrong somehow?

You're forgetting the most important piece of design, which also applies to the British A4 Pacifics and accounts for their record speed.  That being not just functional streamlining but absolute reduction of frontal area.

See how the cab and tender are pushed down on the A and the engine is very low but with a radically long wheelbase?  The various 'large' ATSF 4-8-4s (particularly the 3765 and 3776 classes, but of course also the 2900s and, to a lesser extent, the rebuilt 3751 class) and even more pronouncedly the ATSF 3460 class were built out very large in a less restricted loading gage, with angle-balanced 80" and 84" drivers respectively, and with careful track upgrading made to permit something that size to be run as fast as they were (substantially faster than the GS-4s, by the way).  In fact many of the large ATSF 4-8-4s were over 10mph faster than the 3460 Hudsons... they made better steam, and used it more effectively.

Look in particular at the PRR S1, which started as a sort of double-Atlantic but quickly became a piece of experimentation for the builders' benefit but on PRR's dollar.  The intriguing thing is what the follow-on from this 'development effort' consisted of -- the T1 was not a large engine, certainly as 80"-drivered 4-8-4s would go, not a particularly tall engine (my drawing from 1947 shows 186") but had the promise to run remarkably faster than almost any 4-8-4 especially if given zero-overbalance (which the long wheelbase and relatively small bore and stroke would have facilitated).  One can look at this and translate across to the NYC C1a, using almost the same boiler and the same clearance diagram as the Niagaras, to see the potential of the T1 with more stable valve gear and a sensible grate area for its anticipated power.

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Posted by Shrike Arghast on Friday, October 20, 2023 1:56 PM

Erik_Mag

The GS-4's were some of the tallest American steam locomotives at 16+ feet (this doesn't include locomotives with extendable stacks) and the height of the Class A may have been kept low to be a better match for the height of the trailing cars.

 

 

The white roof lining/top of the tender are the same height as the tops of the cars (which are not very big themselves).

I do wish I could find a height for the Class A - I haven't been able to locate any specific number on the web. 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, October 20, 2023 10:13 AM

The GS-4's were some of the tallest American steam locomotives at 16+ feet (this doesn't include locomotives with extendable stacks) and the height of the Class A may have been kept low to be a better match for the height of the trailing cars.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, October 20, 2023 10:01 AM

Height is related to the size of the clearance diagram.  Note how small the cabs are on many Eastern railroads and compare them with a Western road such as Santa Fe.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Was there a ton of variation in American steam locomotive heights?
Posted by Shrike Arghast on Thursday, October 19, 2023 5:43 PM

So, this comes with 2 caveats:

1) Obviously I'm comparing a builder's photo to a model. Having said that, it's a brass locomotive from a very reputable company, and I think I trust the proportions within a scale inch or so.

2) The wheels on the GS-4 were 80"; the drivers on the Class-A were 84".

... having said that, the proportions here just measuring by stacking driver height (yellow lines) are kind of... startling.

I was always under the impression that modern American steam was all pretty much within an inch or two of each other in terms of height and width. But, at least as far as height is concerned, this would appear to be a very wrong conclusion?

If you took these two locomotives and set them next to each other on adjacent tracks, would there be the obvious difference in height that these photos would seem to indicate? Or am I just seeing this wrong somehow?

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