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 Wheelbase16.80'
Engine Wheelbase39.70'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.42
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)82.25'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)
Weight on Drivers253500 lbs
Engine Weight397000 lbs
Tender Light Weight287000 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight684000 lbs
Tender Water Capacity15000 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal)20 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated)106 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter63"
Boiler Pressure240 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke)28" x 30"
Tractive Effort76160 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.33
Heating Ability
Firebox Area411 sq. ft
Grate Area100.30 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface4777 sq. ft
Superheating Surface2243 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface7020 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume223.43
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation24072
Same as above plus superheater percentage31775
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area130205
Power L131846
Power MT1107.82



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