Trona 2-8-0 "Consolidation" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 1 (Locobase 14245)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University, Volume 51, p.289. See also David C Lustig, Baldwins on the Trona, Railfan & Railroad Magazine (November 1987), archived at [], last accessed 27 June 2012. Works numbers were 41157-41158 in January 1914.

The TR was formed to close the last gap between the salt lakes that had yielded the borax known around the world as being delivered by a 20-mule team. "It was a well-surveyed, nicely built piece of railroad ... no get-rich-quick scheme with ties and rails thrown loosely onto the desert floor. From the beginning, the line was designed for high speed with gentle curves." says David Lustig. The line ran 31 miles from the junction at Searles with the Mojave-Owenyo branch of the SP to the potash plant at Trona on the western edge of Searles Lake. The only real impediment was the traffic and the grade: empties rode down hill from Searles Junction to the plant while the heavily loaded trains struggled uphill battling 1.3% and 1.9% grades.

These Harriman Common Standard Consolidations (see Locobase 5340 for a discussion of the HCS concept.) were just the right size. The TR's owners were quite familiar with the design, which had been distributed in great numbers throughout the Southwest by the time the Trona Railway was incorporated on 12 March 1913. Piston valves measured 12" in diameter. Neither was ever superheated or refitted with trendy firebox accessories.

Lustig repeats David F Myrick's explanation for the "Three Elephants Route" slogan painted on the engines' Vanderbilt tenders. Many of the TR's employees were English-born for whom the "20-mule team" image had far less resonance than it would for Ronald Reagan 40 years later. They looked over the task and determined that three elephants would have done a better job.

Lustig's excellent account of the Baldwins (both steam and diesel, as it happened) is worth reading in full. The daily mixed train service that ended in 1937 must have been pulled by either the 1 or the 2, given that the only other locomotive was an ex-Los Angeles & Salt Lake 2-8-2 (ex-MK-6 2701) acquired in January 1937.

The 1 was sold for scrap in 1950 and the 2 in 1951.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID14,245
Number in Class2
Road Numbers1-2
Number Built2
Valve GearStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)15.67 / 4.78
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)24.33 / 7.42
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.64
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)61.42 / 18.72
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)48,700 / 22,090
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)185,000 / 83,915
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)208,000 / 94,347
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)170,000 / 77,111
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)378,000 / 171,458
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)9000 / 34.09
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)3500 / 13.30
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)77 / 38.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)57 / 1448
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)200 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)22" x 30" / 559x762
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)43,305 / 19642.84
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.27
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)171.30 / 15.91
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)49.50 / 4.60
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3397 / 315.59
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3397 / 315.59
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume257.37
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation9900
Same as above plus superheater percentage9900
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area34,260
Power L16123
Power MT291.87

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Wes Barris