Van Sweringen Berkshires,The BY Eugene Huddleston Classic Power 7 Soft Cover

Van Sweringen Berkshires,The BY Eugene Huddleston Classic Power 7 Soft Cover

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Van Sweringen Berkshires,The BY Eugene Huddleston Classic Power 7 Soft Cover
The Van Sweringen Berkshires BY Eugene Huddleston Classic Power 7 Soft Cover 1986 147 pages
During the first decade of the twentieth century, the Consolidation (2-8-0) evolved into the biggest, most powerful, and most produced non-articulated American freight locomotive. As a development beyond the Consolidation, the Decapod (2-10-0) proved impractical in terms of counterbalancing and rigidity of wheel base. However, the fact that practically the entire weight of the engine was on the drivers gave it firm adhesion and enormous drawbar pull relative to size and total weight. These must have been the factors that encouraged the Pennsylvania to build 598 of the squat hogs! Obviously, ten-coupled locomotives were heavier duty than most railroads needed, unless they had mountains to contend with, like the Pennsy.
Thus the kings of the road were Consolidations. Most 2-8-0's at the turn of the century had 57-inch driving wheels, but by 1910 had reached a maximum of 64 inches. Without a larger firebox this type could evolve no further; a large firebox was possible only by getting it below the level of the last driver. In 1897 the Japanese Government had ordered twenty 42-inch gauge 2-8-2's from Baldwin, essentially low-slung Consolidations with wide, low fireboxes, scrapped in 1922. So the 2-8-2's built by Alco for the Northern Pacific in 1905 actually originated the type in America. The name "Mikado," however, permanently identified the type. By 1911, when Chesapeake and Ohio obtained its first Mikes, the heaviest at the time, Mikados were slowly replacing Consolidations as principal freight power on American railroads. And they kept getting bigger, as a result of the invention of practical mechanical stokers, which put no limitation on grate area, other than what the trailing axle would bear. During World War I the United States Railroad Administration light and heavy Mikado established the standard dimensions (both with 63-inch drivers) and most efficient design for the 2-8-2 wheel arrangement. The type could go no further in development if the standard were the ability to drag longer and longer trains over fairly level terrain at a speed seldom exceeding thirty miles per hour.
But enter Lima Locomotive Works and designer Will Woodard's attempt to increase the speed and power of the U.S.R.A. "light" Mike. To build horsepower-that is, power at speed-he kept the cylinder and firebox dimensions but added a larger boiler, front-end throttle, a new valve gear (Baker), the latest in superheaters (type E), and a feedwater heater. To improve starting power, he added a booster engine to the trailing truck. These refinements enabled this Mike to develop 173/4 more indicated horsepower than comparable Mikados. This "super Mike," built for the New York Central, was a step in the right direction, for it outperformed the Mike it was built to replace, without exceeding it in weight and even surpassing it in fuel efficiency. The only problem areas were wheel slippage and inability to keep producing steam at speed over long periods. But the 8000 was so superior to the Mikes that preceded it that NYC bought 150 duplicates. Nevertheless, still needed was bigger furnace capacity, and to supply this capacity, Woodard had to "invent" a new type of locomotive-the 2-8-4. This experimental locomotive (called, what else, the A-1) came forth from Lima Locomotive Works in February, 1925, with an enormous firebox and greatly increased boiler pressure. Fuel economy was guaranteed by a maximum valve cut-off at 60%-so call Limited Compensated Cutoff. The Mike-sized drivers, 63 inches, were retained, however. The A-1, while marking a turning point in locomotive design, was not big, only 14 feet, 10 inches high.
Tests of the A-1 began on the Boston and Albany (NYC) between Selkirk Yard near Albany and West Springfield, Massachusetts. It was discovered that the A-1 could take 2,500 tons unassisted over the 1.51/4 grade east across the Taconic Range of western Massachusetts, regionally known as the Berkshire Hills. These tests were so successful that B&A soon bought fifty-five of the newly christened Berkshires. Illinois Central immediately ordered fifty-one, including the original A-1 demonstrator. Other roads buying the new type (with hardly any modification except in increased weight) were the Chicago and North Western (12), Boston and Main (25), Missouri Pacific (30), and Toronto, Hamilton, and Buffalo (2). The Santa Fe was the only Far Western road ever to buy Berkshires, which-even though built by Baldwin (1927)-were direct descendents of the A-1 design, what with identical 63-inch drivers, grate area of 99 square feet (100 for the A-1), maximum boiler diameter at 92 inches (94 for the A-1), and weight on drivers of 268,200 pounds (249,500 for the A-1 and 253,500 for the CNW J-4).
For the A-1 and its B&M, B&A, and IC copies, the original four-wheel trailing truck was an "Articulated Back End," marketed by American Arch Company. Lima, affiliated with American Arch, was convinced this truck would (1) provide superior ash-pan capacity, (2) reduce truck stresses, (3) improve riding quality, and (4) keep the drawbar centered. This truck was supplied not only to the original orders of the 2-8-4's (and to the T&P 2-10-4's) but also to three out of four classes of the Erie Berkshires built between 1927 and 1930. The main problem with this design, was that the truck, being an extension of the frame, bore too much of the locomotive weight. Thus slipperiness was a very real problem for these otherwise remarkably performing locomotives. By 1930, when the C&O T-1 2-10-4's were designed, the effectiveness of the Delta-type trailing truck was unquestioned, and the Articulated Back End had been discredited.
The main result of the A-1 was to move steam locomotive development forward as it had not been brought forward since the development of the superheater. There are many definitions of Super-Power, which the A-1 introduced, but a good one is best stated negatively: it is any locomotive that can overcome the handicap of "Drag Era" power of running out of steam once it gets its train to thirty of thirty-five miles per hour and of burning fuel excessively in keeping steam up.
There were two main "families" of Super-Power Berkshires: those that derived from the design of the original Lima A-1 demonstrator and those that derived from a design originating in some complex developments (as we shall see in the next chapter) on the four main railroads controlled by the Cleveland financiers Otis P. and Mantis J. Van Sweringen in the late 1920's and early 1930's. The only other Berkshires of note, that cannot be placed in these families, are those of the Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton (1935 and 1939), the Pittsburg and Lake Erie (1948), and the Norfolk Southern (1940). In many dimensions, the DT&I 2-8-4 showed a kinship with the Van Sweringen (e.g., firebox of same width but three inches shorter), but its 63-inch drivers definitely gave it closer kinship with the A-1 and its successors. The P&LE 2-8-4 had a boiler equal in maximum outside diameter to the Erie class S Berkshire-at one hundred inches the biggest ever applied to the 2-8-4 type-and a firebox the same size as the Van Sweringen 2-8-4. But the P&LE had, as well, 63-inch drivers, and 69-inch drivers were probably the most important single feature making the Van Sweringen Berkshires the successes they were. The Berkshires built for the Norfolk Southern were anomalies. By all logic, they should have been Mikados; their four-wheel Delta trailing truck looks out of place under a firebox with an area of only 80.3 square feet. Weight restrictions dictated that the 600's be 2-8-4's, although at 335,400 pounds they were lighter than some Mikados (e.g., the C&O K-3 at 358,000 pounds). Small boilered (B.M.O.D., 86 inches) as they were, their boosters helped make them "condensed giants" in H. Reid's words.
The decade of the 1940's was the period of splendor for the 2-8-4 type. The general-utility, conventional steam freight locomotive could go no further in development. From the A-1 in 1925 to the last one, for the NKP, in 1949, American, Baldwin, and Lima-the main American locomotive builders-constructed about 750 of these magnificent machines. Of this total, about 299 can be labeled Van Sweringen Berkshires.

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