Wheeling & Lake Erie 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives of the USA

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad bought thirty-two "Berkshire" type locomotives from the American Locomotive Company. They were designated as Class K-1 and assigned road numbers 6401 through 6432.

These locomotives were essentially copies of the Nickel Plate Road's Class S "Berkshires". They had 69" diameter drivers, 25" x 34" cylinders, and they exerted 64,135 pounds of tractive effort under 245 psi of boiler pressure and weighed between 413,170 pounds and 415,000 pounds.

There are no surviving W&LE 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives

Roster by Richard Duley

ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
K-1 26411-64121938ALCO2
K-1 36413-64151939ALCO3
K-1 76416-64221941ALCO4
  1. Numbers 6401-6410 renumbered NKP 6401-6410 in 1949. NKP 6401-6410 renumbered 801-810 in 1952. Numbers 802 and 810 scrapped in 1959. All the others scrapped between 1961 and 1963.
  2. Numbers 6411 and 6412 renumbered NKP 6411 and NKP 6412 in 1949. NKP 6411 and 6412 renumbered 811 and 812 in 1952. Number 812 scrapped in 1961. Number 811 scrapped in 1963.
  3. Numbers 6413-6415 renumbered NKP 6413-6415 in 1952. NKP 6413-6415 renumbered 813-815 in 1952. Number 813 scrapped in 1962. Numbers 814 and 815 scrapped in 1963.
  4. Numbers 6416-6422 renumbered NKP 6416-6422 in 1952. Numbers 6416-6422 renumbered 816-822 in 1952. Numbers 816-822 scrapped between 1961 and 1964.
  5. Numbers 6423-6432 renumbered NKP 6423-6432 in 1949. NKP 6423-6432 renumbered 823-832 in 1952. Numbers 823-832 scrapped between 1961 and 1964.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class K-1 (Locobase 64)

Data from tables and diagrams in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia, supplemented and clarified by W&LE 10 - 1948 Locomotive Diagram book supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. (Thanks to Chris Hohl, whose query about the valve gear led to a rewrite of the entry.) Works numbers were as follows: Alco supplied the first 10 in a batch in 1937 (builder's numbers 68829-68838). Five more -- 6411-6415 -- arrived in 1939 (69121-69125) and 7 more in 1941 (69429-69435); these were road numbers 6411-6422. This sizable order of Berks was completed in 1942 with 10 more (70021-70030) finishing off the class.

Firebox had 119 sq (11.05 sq m) of thermic syphons and arch tubes.

Locobase found a data conflict in the 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia entry. The illustration gave the superheater area as 2,450 sq ft; table records smaller superheater of 1,924 sq ft. Locobase had suspected that the area represented a superheater refit, but the later acquisition of the -- prompted another thought. The Locomotive Cyclopedia illustration may have listed "equivalent superheater area" or some other enhanced superheater measurement designed to indicate the effect of superheating on the boiler's basic steaming ability.

In any event, Locobase decided to adopt the information shown on the diagram. This includes weights that reflect a rebuilding of the first fifteen to the later standard. 6416-6432, delivered later, were only slightly heavier.

The 2-8-4s also finished off the I-2 2-6-6-2 compound Mallets (see Locobase 7897).

These represented Superpower design at its peak - big boilers and grates, long-stroke cylinders, lots of superheat, and relatively tall drivers to deliver the freight at speeds only dreamt of 25 years earlier.

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID64
RailroadWheeling & Lake Erie
Number in Class32
Road Numbers6401-6432
Number Built32
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft)18.20
Engine Wheelbase (ft)42
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.43
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft)88
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs)65,892
Weight on Drivers (lbs)263,045
Engine Weight (lbs)413,170
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs)364,500
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs)777,670
Tender Water Capacity (gals)22,000
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons)22
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd)110
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in)69
Boiler Pressure (psi)245
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in)25" x 34"
Tractive Effort (lbs)64,135
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.10
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft)462
Grate Area (sq ft)90.30
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft)4708
Superheating Surface (sq ft)1924
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft)6632
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume243.73
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22,124
Same as above plus superheater percentage28,539
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area146,015
Power L135,493
Power MT1189.89



If you have any railroad data such as diagram books, rail station plans or anything else that you would be willing to share, please contact us.