Philadelphia & Reading 0-4-0 "Switcher" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class Spitfire (Locobase 10239)

Data from Herbert T Walker, "An Old Braithwaite Engine," Locomotive Magazine, Vol VII (November 1902), pp. 179-180. Boiler pressure is an estimate.

Walker says that Braithwaite's locomotives were named Rocket, Firefly, Spitfire, Dragon, Comet, Planet, Hecla, and Gem. Walker interviewed engineer J Timothy Jackson, who said that the Spitfire would pull 3-coach passenger trains at 22 mph and 150-ton freight trains at 10 mph. As was often the case with these short-coupled engines, the Braithwaites were unsteady at high speed and their short boilers had a fierce draft over a wood fire that quickly induced the adoption of the tall, flared balloon spark-arresting stacks.

"Even with spark arresters," Walker reports, "these short boiler engines when working hard threw sparks and sometimes flame, causing the smokebox and chimney [sic] to get red hot, and occasionally setting fire to the boiler lagging." Withal, Spitfire operated on the Reading until 1849, when it was sold to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western for $3,067.50. The Lackawanna was then a 6'-gauge railroad and the Spitfire had to mount longer axles.

Spitfire was sold in 1859 to the Spencer Coal Company and worked for that firm until 1870 or so. Its boiler was still in use at the Rolling Mill in 1893.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID10,239
RailroadPhiladelphia & Reading
Number in Class8
Road Numbers
Number Built8
BuilderBraithewaite, Milner & Co
Valve GearD hook
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)5 / 1.52
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)20,160 / 9144
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)20,160 / 9144
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)17 / 8.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)51 / 1295
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)50 / 3.40
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)9.5" x 16" / 241x406
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)1203 / 545.67
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort)16.76
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)440 / 40.89
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)440 / 40.89
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume335.20
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation
Same as above plus superheater percentage
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area
Power L1
Power MT

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Wes Barris