Rock Island 2-2-4 Locomotives in the USA


Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 2552 (Locobase 9249)

Data from Raymond S Zeitler, Self-Contained Railway Motor Cars and Locomotives (Chicago: American School, 1921), pp 7-9. See also "Steam Motor Car for the Rock Island", Railway Age Gazette, Volume XLV, No 16 (18 September 1908), pp 961-964; and "Compound, Superheated Steam, Motor Car", American Engineer and Railroad Journal (August 1908), pp. 293-295. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 18 August 2017 email pointing Locobase for the AERJ article, which yielded quite a few key details.) Works number was 44444 in September 1908.

This rail motor-car was similar to several such vehicles in service in Great Britain, but it was all American in appearance. Indeed, it resembled in size and general layout a typical passenger coach. The body was built by American Car & Foundry in Wilmington, Del.

The boiler was rigidly mounted on the truck frame and generated steam through an oil-fueled firebox mounted at the front and had the smoke box mounted above it. Exhaust gases traveled back through 45"-(1,143 mm) long tubes to a combustion chamber (which contributed 59 sq ft/5.48 sq m to the firebox heating surface area), passed through a superheater, and then through return tubes measuring 47.5" (1,207 mm) to the smoke box.

Alco used the Mellin cross-compounding system, which included an intercepting valve in the high-pressure cylinder casting that diverted live steam to the larger cylinder when the car was starting. The system was credited with 250 horsepower.

But, according to Zeitler (who directed his own motor car company), there were many significant disadvantages. The weight of the engine, boiler, fuel, and water; scale and corrosion in the boiler and pipes; time taken to water and refuel, "the annoyance of exhaust steam", and the danger of boiler or pipes bursting. (All of which perils doubtlessly figured prominently in his sales material.)

He concluded: "The steam motor car, therefore, offered none of the advantages of increased travel, comfort, and efficiency demanded by the public and could hardly have been expected to compete with the trolley car. It has, in the United States at least, been entirely replaced by the internal-combustion engine."

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Class2552
Locobase ID9249
RailroadRock Island (CRI&P)
CountryUSA
Whyte2-2+4
Number in Class1
Road Numbers2552
GaugeStd
Number Built1
BuilderAlco-Schenectady
Year1908
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m) 8.33 / 2.54
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)45.83 / 13.97
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)32,400 / 14,696
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)104,000 / 47,174
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)1000 / 3.79
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)100 / 0.40
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)38 / 965
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)250 / 17.20
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)9.25" x 12" / 235x305 (1)
Low Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)14.5" x 12" / 368x305 (1)
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)4081 / 1851.11
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 7.94
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)96.60 / 8.97
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)624 / 57.97
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)624 / 57.97
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume1337.13
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 area24,150
Power L115,285
Power MT

Reference