Chicago & North Western 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives of the USA

Number 2804 Bud Laws Photo.

The Chicago & North Western Railroad bought twelve "Berkshire" type locomotives from the American Locomotive Company in 1927. These locomotives carried road numbers 2801 through 2812 and were very similar to the Boston & Albany's "sports models" Class A-1c.

The C&NW designated them as Class J-4. These locomotives had 63" diameter drivers, 28" x 30" cylinders, a weight of 397,000 pounds and exerted a tractive effort of 67,200 pounds under 240 psi of boiler pressure.

The J-4s were assigned to freight service and regularly pulled coal trains until they were retired in the early 1950s.

There are no surviving C&NW 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives

Roster by Richard Duley

ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
J-4122801-28121927ALCONumbers 2801-2812 scrapped between 1950 and 1953.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class J-4 (Locobase 56)

Data from table in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia, supplemented by C & NW 10 - 1952 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 18 March 2016 email and attachment containing the Alco builder's card for the J-4.)

Firebox heating surface included 103 sq ft (9.57 sq m) of thermic syphons and 21 sq ft of arch tubes, valve motion had limited cutoff in actuating 14" piston valves. The trailing truck wheels had two different diameters. The front axle turned 33" wheels, the rear 44" wheels.

Supplied in a batch built in Dunkirk (Brooks) in August 1927 (works #67372-67383), the class was assigned to coal trains on the Nelson-Peoria line.

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID56
RailroadChicago & North Western (C&NW)
Number in Class12
Road Numbers2801-2812
Number Built12
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft)16.80
Engine Wheelbase (ft)39.70
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.42
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft)82.25
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs)
Weight on Drivers (lbs)253,500
Engine Weight (lbs)397,000
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs)287,000
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs)684,000
Tender Water Capacity (gals)15,000
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons)20
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd)106
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in)63
Boiler Pressure (psi)240
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in)28" x 30"
Tractive Effort (lbs)76,160
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.33
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft)411
Grate Area (sq ft)100.30
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft)4777
Superheating Surface (sq ft)2243
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft)7020
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume223.43
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation24,072
Same as above plus superheater percentage31,775
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area130,205
Power L131,846
Power MT1107.82



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