Pittsburgh, Bessemer, & Lake Erie 2-8-0 "Consolidation" Locomotives of the USA


Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 82/C1D (Locobase 12318)

Data from DeGolyer, Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University, Volume 22, p.27. Works numbers were 16669-16670 in April 1899 , 17764 in May 1900, 18763 in March 1901 and 18891 in April.

At the same time that Brooks delivered 2 of its Consolidations to the PB & E (Locobase 2629), Baldwin produced this trio, to which it later added 2 more examples. A comparison of the two shows that Baldwin used a few more boiler tubes with a consequent increase in total heating surface. Also, the Baldwin engines had shorter wheelbases.

Other than those details, the designs were essentially identical. All of the Baldwins were scrapped in 1926.


Class Bessemer/C-3A (Locobase 3947)

Data from "Great Consolidation Locomotives for the Pittsburgh, Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad", Railroad Gazette, Volume 32, No 26 (29 June 1900), p.. 447. See also Roy C Beaver, ,"Off with the Old on [sic] with the New", p. 20., published for all B&LE employees on 15 July 1954. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 4 April 2015 questioning and documenting some differences between the Pittsburgh engines shown in Locobase 3947 and the Baldwins that appear here; both entries were substantially revised as a result.) Builder information from B Rumary list supplied by Allen Stanley in March 2004. Works numbers were 2100-2101 in June 1900, 2252 in 1901, and 26280 (as part of Alco) in 1902. Rumary's list shows that 151 was scrapped first in 1936 while 150 lasted until 1943.

These Consolidations look more like gimmick than a genuine leap forward in power. The RG saluted their delivery: "The world's pennant for heavy locomotive building has again changed hands." The first pair--150-151--were "the largest and heaviest locomotives in the world." As usual, the editors couldn't resist adding "Inspection of the illustration and the figures showing weights and dimensions gives the impression that they may hold this prestige for a long time."

Indeed, only a couple of 2-8-0s would match the combination of such high weights, boiler heating surface area, and tube counts. Within a year or two, however, other Consolidations would have more tubes (of 2" diameter) and several would offer more heating surface area; the Bessmer's weights would remain unchallenged for quite some time.

According to Roy Beaver, the PB&LE needed "a special type of Consolidation road freight locomotive. Known as the "drag", the C3 operated on the heavy grade on the Conneaut Branch from Conneaut to Albion."

Although the high cylinder volume, high boiler pressure, and small drivers yielded an impressive tractive effort figure, other dimensions show an unbalanced design. The grate is very small for all of the heating surface and the adhesive weight insufficient to gain full value from the steam admitted to the cylinders. In fact, so small is the grate that the engine was very likely short -winded once the relatively capacious boiler's initial supply of steam had been exhausted. So the railroad's goal of pulling "great train loads at moderate but regular speeds" was almost certainly frustrated.

The Pittsburghs retired more than 30 years later in 1936-1943. They and the Baldwin pair bought in 1909 (Locobase 9031) had seen revisions to their boilers (tube count reduced to 388 tubes) that lowered their evaporative heating surface area to 3,665 sq ft (340.5 sq m).

Weight on the drivers rose to 232,375 lb (105,404 kg).


Class C1C (Locobase 2629)

Data from Catalogue Descriptive of Simple and Compound Locomotives built by Brooks Locomotive Works, Dunkirk, NY (Buffalo, NY: Matthew-Northrup Company, 1899). Works numbers were 3189-90 in March 1899 and 3818-3819 in April 1901.

It's interesting to compare this engine with the 2-6-0 built for the same railroad two years earlier and shown in the same catalogue. They resemble each other strongly with the obvious difference of the Consolidation riding on one more driving axle. Boiler diameter is identical at an even 6' (72"). The drivers are more closely spaced on the 2-8-0 and are 2" smaller.

Dimensionallly, going from 2-6-0 to a 2-8-0 meant:

increasing cylinder bore and stroke by 2" each,

realizing a very small 3.2% increase in firebox heating surface even as it grew longer and wider,

using 58 fewer flues that were 1/4" greater in diameter and 2' 9" longer for an overall 11% gain in heating surface, and, most important,

putting an additional 7 3/4 tons on the drivers to take advantage of the additional tractive effort.

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Class82/C1DBessemer/C-3AC1C
Locobase ID12318 3947 2629
RailroadPittsburgh, Bessemer, & Lake EriePittsburgh, Bessemer, & Lake EriePittsburgh, Bessemer, & Lake Erie
CountryUSAUSAUSA
Whyte2-8-02-8-02-8-0
Number in Class544
Road Numbers82-84, 91-92150-15380-81, 93-94
GaugeStdStdStd
Number Built544
BuilderBurnham, Williams & CoPittsburghBrooks
Year189919001899
Valve GearStephensonStephensonStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase15'15.59'15.33'
Engine Wheelbase23.17'24.33'23.75'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.65 0.64 0.65
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)57.98'54'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)
Weight on Drivers152000 lbs225200 lbs159000 lbs
Engine Weight167000 lbs250300 lbs179000 lbs
Tender Light Weight100000 lbs141100 lbs107000 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight267000 lbs391400 lbs286000 lbs
Tender Water Capacity5000 gals7500 gals5000 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal)12.5 tons14 tons12.5 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated)63 lb/yard94 lb/yard66 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter54"54"54"
Boiler Pressure180 psi220 psi180 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke)22" x 28"24" x 32"22" x 28"
Tractive Effort38397 lbs63829 lbs38397 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.96 3.53 4.14
Heating Ability
Firebox Area192.50 sq. ft241 sq. ft192 sq. ft
Grate Area32.92 sq. ft36.80 sq. ft32.40 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface2445 sq. ft3805 sq. ft2283 sq. ft
Superheating Surface
Combined Heating Surface2445 sq. ft3805 sq. ft2283 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume198.47227.09185.32
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation592680965832
Same as above plus superheater percentage592680965832
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area346505302034560
Power L1448159204265
Power MT259.97231.82236.55


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