Illinois Central Steam Finale by Lloyd E Stagner and Stephen A Lee Soft Cover
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Illinois Central Steam Finale by Lloyd E Stagner and Stephen A Lee Soft Cover
Illinois Central Steam Finale by Lloyd E Stagner and Stephen A Lee
Freight Traffic 13
Passenger Train Service 17
Locomotive Mechanical Facilities 19
Auxiliary Water Tenders21
Index to Locomotive Types25
The Wreck of the 114687
Bibliography and References91
I. C. System Maps106
In Railroad History No. 129, the late David P. Morgan (editor of Trains Magazine, 1953-1987) wrote "Modem Steam In The South-An Informal Study." In recounting the various books and magazine articles concerning Southern Region railroads, Morgan stated: "The one large vacuum remaining in this literature concerns Illinois Central. We are in urgent need of an explanation and assessment of the Paducah rebuilding program. I tend to feel that such a critique will conclude that I.C. received its money's worth."
Nearly two decades have passed since Morgan wrote this opinion. This book will not make a definitive study of the rebuilding program, but will attempt to present to the reader an overview of the quarter century of steam operations on the I.C. when the Paducah-rebuilt locomotives predominated. We have in photo, text and table attempted to document their operation and maintenance, until the last useage of steam in regular service in the spring of 1960.
Although I.C. was the first railroad in the Southern Region to purchase "super power" locomotives, with 50 2-8-4s delivered in October-November 1926, few of their features were incorporated into the Paducah-built power. The original Lima A-1 2-8-4 was also purchased and the "Limas," as I.C. designated the 7000s, were the last new road engines bought from a commercial builder. Subsequently, 30 0-8-0s were acquired in 1927 and 1929 for yard service.
The onset of the Great Depression precluded further new locomotive purchases as I.C. labored under an extraordinary large debt, aggregating over $360 million. The electrification of the Chicago suburban service in 1926 left little money for other improvements. There was a net deficit for each year from 1931 through 1935, except for the munificent net of $158,901 in 1933. From 1929 to 1933, maintenance of way expenditures were reduced from $23.7 to $6.9 million and maintenance of equipment outlays dropped from $41.1 to $16.8 million. On May 28, 1932, the pride of its passenger train fleet, the "Panama Limited," was withdrawn. I.C. escaped bankruptcy but for many months the General Counsel had legal papers ready for filing under the Bankruptcy Act. The leadership of I.C. President L.A. Downs, plus the teamwork of officers and employees, kept the I.C. out of bankruptcy court.
Freight train speed increases of the 1930s found the railroad deficient in the type of locomotives that could maintain faster schedules without an undue increase in maintenance costs. Assignment of many of the 2400 class 4-8-2s to fast freight service was a temporary solution. The October 1936 inauguration of overnight merchandise train MS-1 from Chicago to Memphis, 527 miles on a 12 hours and 50 minutes schedule, exacerbated the situation.
With improving traffic and a net income of $864,603
in 1936, the I.C. embarked on a locomotive rebuilding and improvement program in early 1937. Plans were made to rebuild 2-10-2s into new 2500 class 4-8-2s with 70-inch drivers and sufficient boiler capacity to handle a tonnage train at speed, releasing the 2400s back to passenger service where they were badly needed. The 2-8-4s would be converted to 4-6-4 freight locomotives, and the application of stokers to Mikado and Pacific types were authorized.
By 1942, there were 56 2500s on the road, and the heavy World War II traffic resulted in 20 all-new 4-82s of the 2600 series being built at Paducah. The conversion of 2-8-4s was not carried beyond initial engine No. 1 in 1937, however, the 2-8-4s were improved for higher speeds with the application of disc-center main drivers and other enhancements. Other wheel arrangements were juggled around, as 41 2-8-2s were created with 2-10-2 frames and 2-8-2 boilers. Other Mikados became 0-8-2 switchers and 15 2-10-0s were built for yard service, using 2-10-2 frames and 2-8-2 boilers. Branch line power was not neglected, as 70 high wheel 4-6-2s were converted to 61-inch driver engines. Hundreds of engines were improved with higher boiler pressure, stokers, mechanical lubricators, cast steel cylinders, disc-center main driving wheels, larger tenders and other changes. By 1948, the existing 1,254 locomotives had an aggregate tractive force that had been increased by 19,690,000 pounds. I.C. used 90 percent instead of 85 percent in computing tractive force and this attributed to some of the increase.
The rebuilt steam fleet was adequate for World War II as freight ton-miles increased 77.1 percent and passengers carried increased 69.7 percent between 1940 and 1945. During the war, I.C. did not have one train delayed because of a lack of motive power.
The absence of feedwater heaters and roller bearings (only two 4-8-2s were equipped with rollers) is not easy to explain. First costs were evidently of prime importance, but these two appliances were considered necessities by most railroads by 1937.
With an efficient fleet of steam power and an abundant supply of on-line and low-cost coal, the I.C. was slow to dieselize its freight service. As late as the spring of 1950, President Wayne A. Johnston told a reporter that the I.C. "will not dieselize its freight services for a long time, if ever." Johnston noted the transportation ratio increased only from 36.1 percent in 1948 to 36.7 percent in 1949 despite coal, steel and wage boosts.
No doubt the frequent postwar strikes in the coal fields were a factor that changed Johnston's mind. Freight dieselization started on a limited basis between Peoria, Ill., and Evansville, Ind., in 1952, when only 2.6 percent of freight ton-miles were diesel hauled. However, 73 percent of passenger car-miles and 67.4 percent of yard switching were dieselized. Dieselization of freight operations continued in 1953, when 35 GP-7s for the Iowa Division and the Shreveport-Meridian line arrived. Dieselization was completed during May 1959, however, traffic increases put 10 steam engines to work on the Kentucky Division between October 1959 and April 1960. Two railfan excursions out of Louisville on May 14 and Oct. 2, 1960, with 4-82 No. 2613, ended the steam era.
Most diesel freight power was of the GP-7 and GP-9 road switcher type, and the only "car body" type diesel units were 59 Es for passenger service. (I.C. had
been a pioneer in the use of diesel yard power, acquiring its first units in 1929 for use on the Chicago Lake Front district to comply with anti-smoke ordinances.)
The time span 1936-1960 was an important era in the development of motive power on this railroad system, encompassing the rebuilding of steam power and the conversion to diesel-electric traction. Before 1937, I.C. steam power was quite ordinary. Paducah shops changed all of that. Yes, Mr. Morgan, Illinois Central received its money's worth from the products of the Paducah shopmen.
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