St Louis-San Francisco 2-10-0 "Decapod" Locomotives of the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 1613 (Locobase 8536)

Data from NC&StL 6 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection, as modified by Frisco updates. See the later and quite detailed overview published by designer Alphonse I Lipetz, "Russian 'Decapod' Locomotives", The Railway Engineer, Volume 43, No 2 (February 1922), pp. 51-54; April 1922, pp. 136-137; July 1922, pp. 249-251; and November 1922, pp. 415-417.

When the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) shared the 200 5-ft-gauge Decapods orphaned by the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Frisco came in for a share of the largesse.

SteamInfo (, last accessed 4 July 2007) supplies the following works #:

1615 Alco-Richmond 1917 58829

1621 Baldwin April 1918 48420

1625 Alco-Schenectady March 1918 58903

1630 Baldwin March 1918 47953

1632 Baldwin May 1918 48522

The All-Time Diagram book notes that the original 1621suffered a "mysterious explosion" at the Waterville, Miss coal field that completely destroyed it. Anxious to replace the engine, the Frisco traded 4-6-0 #614 for the Ft Smith, Subiaco & Rock Island RR's sole Decapod #101.

In most cases, the "Russians" had 25" x 28" cylinders and steamed at 180 psi. A post on the Frisco History board -- -- by "Karl" on 7 May 2007 entitled "Random Bolshevik Musings" explains that the higher pressure and bigger cylinders of the original locomotive led to a very slippery engine. To avoid polishing the rails, several of the class had their cylinder diameters reduced (probably through bushings) to 24". The resulting tractive effort of 47,500 lb was still sufficient for most of the light-rail freight hauling usually performed by this class.

Karl adds: "Regardless, the Frisco viewed them as good locomotives, and tweaked them a bit to improve performance. The [cylinder] reduction decreased tractive effort to 47,500lbs, but improved adhesion to 3.89 and it improved fuel economy. The coal burners received stokers. Again no date is available. The Frisco also gave each locomotive a single thermic syphon, which improved boiler circulation, and added to the heating surface. The class survived intact until the end of steam on the Frisco."

Karl comments that the Decapods probably rendered more than the branch-line service they're usually credited with: "I have several photographs of the 1630 handling the High Line passenger train. There are also two references in the Frisco Man of the 2-10-0Æs handling extra passenger trains, which carried veteransÆ specials. One article stated that the train contained a healthy 14 cars. Given the stubby, 52ö drivers, one wonders why these engines were selected for this service."

In museum operations, boiler pressure is set to 160 psi, which reduces strain on old steel and improves traction that much more.

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID8536
RailroadSt Louis-San Francisco (Frisco/(SLSF)
Number in Class20
Road Numbers1613-1632
Number Built20
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft)18.67
Engine Wheelbase (ft)27.83
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.67
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft)60.46
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs)
Weight on Drivers (lbs)184,500
Engine Weight (lbs)210,000
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs)142,400
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs)352,400
Tender Water Capacity (gals)7400
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons)14
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd)62
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in)52
Boiler Pressure (psi)180
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in)25" x 28"
Tractive Effort (lbs)51,490
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.58
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft)227
Grate Area (sq ft)64.60
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft)2610
Superheating Surface (sq ft)579
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft)3189
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume164.07
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation11,628
Same as above plus superheater percentage13,721
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area48,215
Power L18783
Power MT524.75



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