Great Northern 2-6-2 "Prairie" Locomotives in the USA


Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class J-1 / J-2 (Locobase 5388)

Data from table in the June 1907 AERJ. Works numbers were:

1906

27792-27793, 27808-27809, 27816-27818, 27829 in March;

27867-27872, 27878-27879, 27919-27921, 27945-27947, 27955-27956, 27973-27975 in April;

28418-28419, 28428-28430, 28452. 28496 in June;

28522, 28527-28528, 28548, 28637-28638, 28648, 28654, 28671 in July;

28687, 28704, 28756-28757, 28782-28783. 28851 in August.

1907

30080, 30093-30095, 30126, 30134-30138, 30171-30175, 30201-30202, 30236-30239, 30287, 30293, 30312 in February;

30332-30335, 30393-30397, 30440, 30467-30468, 30489, 30502, 30513, 30527-30528 in March; 30560-30561, 30568-30569, 30580, 30600-30601, 30654-30658, 30672, 30717-30718, 30733, 30735-30738 in April;

30756-30759, 30778-30780, 30796, 30812-30813, 30838-30840, 30849, 30861-30862, 30879-30882, 30898-30900, 30937, 30957, 30967-30968 in May;

30999-31000, 31005-31007, 31035, 31082, 31100, 31117-31120 in June

These were Prairie freighters to move fast freights across relatively flat profiles. They featured a long Belpaire firebox, low drivers, and a long wheelbase. In addition to the 50 in the 1906 order (manufactured from March to August), the GN bought another 100 J-2s a year later. Baldwin produced that latter batch in February-June 1907.

1549 was completed by Baldwin with a Schmidt superheater; see Locobase 12959.

Unlike Santa Fe's experience, however, the Great Northern wasn't really satisfied with the arrangement. Fifteen were converted to H-6 class 4-6-2s in 1923, the others entered retirement in the late 1930s and early 1940s.


Class J-1-S/ J-2 -S (Locobase 7492)

Data from GN 1 - 1929 Loco Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange.

Beginning in the 1920s, the GN took these J-2s in hand and upgraded them. They were unusually successful in substituting heating surface in the flues and in the 30 superheater elements for the lost heating surface in the 122 small tubes they deleted - the total heating surface nearly matches that of the saturated boiler. Also, the railroad increased the size of the cylinders while cutting the boiler pressure, thus losing little calculated tractive effort while stressing the boiler less.

Fifteen of these engines later made their way to the Spokane, Portland & Seattle.


Class J-3-S (Locobase 8853)

Data from GN 1916 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See also Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Volume 29, p 46. and "Superheating," Railroad Age Gazette, Volume XLV, No 2d (24 June 1908), p.321. Works number was 28851 in August 1906.

Locobase 5388 describes the large class of J-1/J-2 Prairies with saturated-steam boilers supplied to the Great Northern over a short period. By the time this class entered service, German and Canadian reports about the benefits of superheating led several American railroads to explore the devices. Of particular interest was the smoke-tube superheater developed by Wilhelm Schmidt, although the Canadian Pacific used a variation called the Vaughan-Horsey.

The GN ordered a single J-1 (and a single freight engine) that retained the Belpaire firebox, but featured a Schmidt superheater. 1549 was fitted with 12" piston valves and adopted a Baldwin variation of the Walschaert valve gear. The Baldwin specs from 1906 suggested the 1549 developed tons more tractive effort than did the original J-1s, yet the TP figure supplied on the same page is 26,600 lb. The boiler pressure is given as 210 psi, but the 1916 figure probably reflected practice very soon after delivery. Also, Baldwin's calculation of superheater area in 1906 came up with 566 sq ft.

Two years later, the RAG reported on the results of trials: "In passenger service a test on the Kalispell division showed a saving of 13 per cent in water and 14% per cent in coal per car mile, while in freight service on the Wlllmar division the saving was 30% per cent in water and 28% per cent in coal per ton mile, the coal figures being 137% for the simple and 98 pounds for the superheaters per 1,000 ton miles, both very satisfactory figures for prairie type engines in freight service on an undulating road. The company also reports a comparison for nine months between a superheater freight engine and a similar simple engine, showing 137 pounds of coal per 1,000 ton miles for the superheater against 171 for the simple, and a cost for repairs of 4 cents per mile against 3.87 cents, a reduction in the coal consumption of 20 per cent with practically the same cost of repairs.

Originally designated J-3, it was redesignated J-1-S (probably when the railway decided it would be a lone engine). In July 1925, the GN sold 1549 to the Spokane, Portland & Seattle as their F-1 (466). As the F-1, the engine ran until May 1948.


Class Q-1 (Locobase 8859)

Data from GN 1916 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange.

A true curiosity, this locomotive had a leading truck, three driven axles, and a trailing axle under the cab. A Prairie, right? especially with the 69" drivers? But then under the tender was a pair of low-pressure cylinders, another set of 3 drivers and a trailing truck. So it was an articulated Mallet, right? Well, no, because after all it was the rear engine that pivoted, not the front. And it isn't really a tank engine, although it had drivers under the water and coal bunkers.

Beyond that Locobase has no information about this experimental locomotive.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassJ-1 / J-2J-1-S/ J-2 -SJ-3-SQ-1
Locobase ID5388 7492 8853 8859
RailroadGreat Northern (GN)Great Northern (GN)Great Northern (GN)Great Northern (GN)
CountryUSAUSAUSAUSA
Whyte2-6-22-6-22-6-22-6-2-6-2T
Number in Class1501911
Road Numbers1500-16491550-1649154918
GaugeStdStdStdStd
Number Built1501
BuilderBurnham, Williams & CoshopsGNAlco
Year1906191319131915
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaertWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)13 / 3.9613 / 3.9613 / 3.9615 / 4.57
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)30.75 / 9.3721.50 / 6.5530.75 / 9.3767.54 / 20.59
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.42 0.60 0.42 0.22
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)63.67 / 19.4163.62 / 19.3963.62 / 19.3967.54 / 20.59
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)53,600 / 24,31353,600 / 24,31353,000 / 24,04053,000 / 24,040
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)151,000 / 68,493151,000 / 68,493151,000 / 68,493151,000 / 68,493
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)209,000 / 94,801209,000 / 94,801209,000 / 94,801397,000 / 180,076
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)148,200 / 67,222152,200 / 69,037148,200 / 67,222
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)357,200 / 162,023361,200 / 163,838357,200 / 162,023397,000
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)8000 / 30.308000 / 30.308000 / 30.309500 / 35.98
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)13 / 11.8015 / 13.6013 / 11.8010 / 9.10
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)84 / 4284 / 4284 / 42
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)69 / 175369 / 175369 / 175369 / 1753
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)210 / 14.50185 / 12.80170 / 11.70210 / 14.50
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)22" x 30" / 559x76223.5" x 30" / 597x76225.75" x 30" / 654x76226" x 30" / 660x762
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)37,563 / 17038.3137,757 / 17126.3141,658 / 18895.7752,463 / 23796.84
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.02 4.00 3.62 2.88
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)210 / 19.52211 / 19.61210.77 / 19.59210.77 / 19.59
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)53.15 / 4.9454.15 / 5.0354.15 / 5.0354.15 / 5.03
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3487 / 324.072696 / 250.562718 / 252.602727 / 253.44
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)690 / 64.13470 / 43.68780 / 72.49
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3487 / 324.073386 / 314.693188 / 296.283507 / 325.93
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume264.19179.01150.31147.92
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation11,16210,018920611,372
Same as above plus superheater percentage11,16212,02110,58613,873
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area44,10046,84241,20653,999
Power L1830114,071865114,149
Power MT363.59616.32378.92

Reference