Louisville & Nashville 2-8-2 "Mikado" Locomotives in the USA

The Louisville & Nashville Railroad's shops in South Louisville, KY built the railroads first "Mikado" type locomotives in 1914. These first 2-8-2s were designated as Class J-1 and were given road numbers 2400-2415. These locomotives were built to pull coal trains in eastern Kentucky and did very well in that roll. Satisfied with the Class J-1 design the railroad built another 34 between 1915 and 1917 and numbered them 1416-1449. In 1918, twelve more similar locomotives were built and numbered 1450-1461. They had 27 1/2" x 30" cylinders and a 190 psi boiler pressure, which resulted in an increase of 3,700 pounds in tractive effort. This group was designated as Class J-1a.

Twelve more L&N built 2-8-2s came in 1918 and 1919. These locomotives were assigned road numbers 1462-1479 and designated as Class J-2. They looked very similar to the J-1s. A few years later in 1921, the shops in Louisville, built more of the J-2s and designated them as Class J-2a and numbered them 1480-1479. At 328,000 pounds, they were the heaviest ever built by the L&N in its own shops.

The First World War brought more 2-8-2 locomotives. The USRA allocated 93 "Mikado-Light" and 20 "Mikado-Heavy" locomotives to the L&N. The 93 Lights were designated as Class J-3. The 18 Lima built were numbered 1500-1517 and the 75 ALCO built were numbered 1518-1592. The heavy type were designated as Class J-4. The 20 that arrived in 1918 were built by ALCO and were assigned road numbers 1750-1769. The L&N was very satisfied with these locomotives. Between 1923 and 1927 they bought 121 more of the Class J-4s from ALCO. These were numbered 1770-1890. In 1929, the Baldwin Locomotives Works built 24 more J-4s. These locomotives were of the same basic design as the rest of the J-4s except they were equipped with a Franklin Trailer Booster, which exerted an additional 12,075 pounds of tractive effort. The L&N designated this last 24 "Mikados" as Class J-4a.

There was one more L&N 2-8-2, built in 1924 by the Brooks Works of ALCO. This locomotive was designated as Class J-5 and was assigned road number 1999. It was experimental three-cylinder design and was not very successful in main line operation. It was assigned to hump yard duties where it served for many years.

There are no surviving L&N 2-8-2 "Mikado" type locomotives.


Roster by Richard Duley

ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
J-1162400-24151914L&N 
J-1341416-14491915-1917L&N 
J-1a121450-14611918L&N 
J-2181462-14791918-1919L&N 
J-2a161480-14791921L&N 
J-3181500-15171919LimaUSRA Mikado-Light locomotives
J-3751518-15921920-1923ALCOUSRA Mikado-Light locomotives
J-4201750-17691918ALCOThese locomotives were numbered 1550-1569 when built in 1918 and renumbered 1750-1769 in 1923 (at that time some of the Class J-3 locomotives were assigned the 1550-1569 numbers. Equipped with a booster that exerted an additional 12,075 pounds of tractive effort. USRA Mikado-Heavy locomotives.
J-41211770-18901923-1927ALCO 
J-4a241891-19141929Baldwin 
J-5119991924ALCONumber 1999 was a three cylinder locomotive

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class J-1 (Locobase 5445)

Data from table in May 1916 issue of Railway Mechanical Engineer, as amended and supplemented by L&N 8 1927 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange.

According to Drury (1993), these engines pulled long trains from the coal fields of eastern Kentucky to Louisville & Cincinnati. The tube/flue balance was very similar to that adopted for light Mikes by the USRA, but the J1s had the smaller diameter found in many Type A superheater installations of the day and a smaller grate. Arch tubes contributed 29 sq ft to the firebox heating surface.

Twelve J1-As were built new in 1918 (see Locobase 8124) and at least 4 J1s were upgraded to that standard. The chief difference appears to have been slightly larger cylinders.


Class J-1A (Locobase 8124)

Data from L&N 8 1927 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 26 November 2015 email describing the Bethlehem Auxiliary Engine.)

Locobase 5445 describes the original home-built Mikados turned out by the L & N in 1914-1915. Apparently deciding that 27" cylinders were just slightly undersized, the shops produced 12 more to exactly the same design in 1918, but gave them 27 1/2" cylinders. Arch tubes contributed 29 sq ft to the firebox heating surface.

For some reason, a 2-ton weight growth accompanied the upgrade. Of that gain, 3,000 lbs rested on the third coupled axle, which took the power from the main rod. Was the original assembly perhaps a bit too lightly built?

Chris Hohl reported that the 1461 had a Bethlehem Auxiliary Engine built into the front tender truck; it added 13,260 lb (6,015 kg) to the engine's starting tractive effort.


Class J-2/J-2A (Locobase 18)

Data from L&N 8 1927 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange.

When the L & N shops examined the J1-A design rolling out in 1918 (Locobase 8124), they found ways to tweak it for even more power at the cost of more engine weight. The grate area grew as did the firebox heating surface. The latter included 31 sq ft of arch tubes. The designers also changed the balance between tubes and flues, replacing 4 tubes with 3 flues. Boiler pressure increased by 10 psi and the cylinders gained another 1/2". The piston valves measured a healthy 14" in diameter.

Weight on the drivers climbed 7 tons, but was more evenly spread across the 4 axles so that the maximum axle loading actually fell by 2,000 lb. Apparently concluding that the 60" driver was better suited to the mountainous train of the eastern Kentucky coal fields, the shops retained that diameter in lieu of adopting the nearly universal 63" drivers found on most US 2-8-2s of the time.

Continuing in the same vein, the shops supplied 16 more J2-A in 1921 to the same specifications. Like all of the L & N's Mikados, the J-2s worked up to the end of steam on the road in the 1950s.


Class J-3 (Locobase 8125)

Data from L&N 8 1927 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange.

Lima delivered the 18 USRA Light Mikados that started this class. As it is usually conceded that the USRA 2-8-2s were excellent designs, it comes as no surprise that these engines pleased their new owners enough to prompt orders for an additional 75 locomotives from Alco in 1920-1923.

The J3s were lighter and a bit smaller than the home-built J1 and J2 classes that preceded. Their taller drivers and somewhat lower tractive effort meant they took freight trains on the more supine routes in the L & N system.

Charles B. Castner in Drury (1993) offers a handy summary of their value to the L & N:"The crews liked them, and they gave less mechanical trouble than any other class of freight power."


Class J-4 (Locobase 19)

Data from L&N 8 1927 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See also Charles B. Castner in Drury (1993). (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 26 November 2015 email commenting on the J-4 class batches and road numbers.)

USRA Heavy Mikados built by Alco-Brooks and Alco-Richmond.

Year Builder Road numbers

1918 Brooks 1550-1569, later renumbered 1750-1769

1923 Richmond 1770-1781 (works 63831-68842)

1923 Brooks 1782-1791

1924 Brooks 1792-1808

1925 Richmond 1809-1824

1925 Brooks 1825-1836

1926 Brooks 1837-1866

All were delivered with mechanical stokers. The firebox heating surface included 27 sq ft of arch tubes. Although Chris Hohl is correct in noting that the L&N included 24 more Brooks engines in the J-4 class, the last batch of Brooks engines were delivered with thermic syphons, which groups this set of 24 with the 24 delivered by Baldwin in 1929 as J-4A.

Many later received the usual upgrades of Worthington Type S feedwater heaters and larger tenders. Some also trailed auxiliary water tenders for the "Silver Bullet" fast-freight service from

They worked the L&N's Cincinnati-Montgomery (Ala) and Cincinnati-Corbin (Ky) arteries, but were seen all over the system. All of these engines remained in service into the 1950s and most were retired only in 1954-1955. The last steam run on the L&N was a J-4 in 1957.


Class J-4/J-4A (Locobase 8126)

Data from L&N 8 1927 and 5 -1941 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See also DeGolyer, Volume 81, pp. 212+. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 26 November 2015 comments on the L&N's 2-8-2s, including those concerning the boosters on these J-4As.) Alco's Brooks works delivered 1867-1890 to the L&N in 1926 (6) and 1927 (18); works numbers were 67077-67083 and 67191-67208). Baldwin works numbers were 60737-60740 in March 1929; 60760--60763, 60773-60780 in April; 60840-60843 in May; and 60854-60857 in June.

Locobase 19 discusses the USRA Heavy Mikados built by Alco-Brooks and Alco-Richmond for the L&N in the years after World War One. L&N records show that the first engines to be delivered with thermic syphons were the last 24 of the Brooks J-4 orders. Baldwin added 24 in 1929. The modified design had Nicholson thermic syphons, Worthington feedwater heaters, and larger tenders; like the earlier engines, their piston valves measured 14" (356 mm) in diameter.

Installing the 79 sq ft (7.3 sq m) in two syphons meant deleting two of the four arch tubes, which left 14 sq ft (1.3 sq m) of arch tubes to contribute to the firebox heating surface along with the 58 sq ft (5.4 sq m) of combustion chamber area. The Worthington Type S feedwater heaters had an 8,000 US gallon (30,280 litre) per hour capacity.

Weight increased, of course, and raised the maximum axle loading to 67,000 lb. Chris Hohl was correct in pointing out that neither the Baldwins nor the Brooks at least were not delivered with boosters. The specifications did call for Baldwin to arrange the trailing truck such that a Franklin C-2 booster could be installed later. In fact, by 1941, the Baldwins had boosters of three different tractive-effort ratings.

Ten had Franklin C2L boosters rated at 11,500 lb (5,216 kg): 1892, 1894, 1896-1897, 1899, 1905, 1910-1912.

Thirteen used the Franklin C2L booster rated at 12,075 lb (5,477 kg): 1891, 1893, 1895, 1898, 1900-1902, 1904, 1907-1909, 1913-1914.

And 1903's Franklin C2S booster was rated at 8,694 lb (3,9445 kg).

The latter fourteen had their working boiler pressure increased to 210 psi.

All of these engines remained in service into the 1950s and most were retired only in 1954-1955.


Class J-5 (Locobase 21)

Data from 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia and the L&N 8 1927 and L&N 5 1941 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See also Alfred W Bruce, The Steam Locomotive in America (New York: Bonanza Books, 1952), pp. 201-201, 210. Thanks to Chris Hohl for pointing out in his 10 May 2013 email Alco's licensing of Nigel Gresley's conjugating gear in its three-cylinder locomotives. Works number was 65739 in October 1924.

Alco's venture into threE-cylinder locomotives proved short-lived because of the mechanical complications. This single Mike soured the L & N on any more such freaks. According to Charles B. Castner in Drury (1993): "In road service only a few years, it sat out the Depression, then worked the hump at DeCoursey Yard near Cincinnati."

The two outside cylinders had a stroke of 32 inches, the center cylinder had a 28-inch stroke; all cylinders used 12" (305 mm) piston valves. Arch tubes contributed 27 sq ft (2.5 sq m) to firebox heating surface area.

See also Locobase 22 & Locobase 23 for the Missouri Pacific and Wabash versions.

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassJ-1J-1AJ-2/J-2AJ-3J-4
Locobase ID5445 8124 18 8125 19
RailroadLouisville & Nashville (L&N)Louisville & Nashville (L&N)Louisville & Nashville (L&N)Louisville & Nashville (L&N)Louisville & Nashville (L&N)
CountryUSAUSAUSAUSAUSA
Whyte2-8-22-8-22-8-22-8-22-8-2
Number in Class50163493117
Road Numbers1416-1449, 2400-24151422, 1435, 1442, 1448, 1450-14611462-1479, 1480-14951500-15921550-1569/1750-1866
GaugeStdStdStdStdStd
Number Built50123493117
BuilderL&NL&NL&Nseveralseveral
Year19141918191819191918
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaertWalschaertWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)16 / 4.8816 / 4.8816 / 4.8816.75 / 5.1116.75 / 5.11
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)34.83 / 10.6234.83 / 10.6234.83 / 10.6236.08 / 1136.08 / 11
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.46 0.46 0.46 0.46 0.46
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)68.62 / 20.9268.62 / 20.9269.84 / 21.2971.35 / 21.7571.79 / 21.88
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)64,000 / 29,03067,000 / 30,39165,500 / 29,71055,200 / 25,03863,700 / 28,894
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)236,000 / 107,048241,700 / 109,633255,000 / 115,666220,000 / 99,790251,000 / 113,852
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)302,000 / 136,985306,700 / 139,117326,000 / 147,871292,000 / 132,449323,000 / 146,511
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)169,500 / 76,884169,500 / 76,884175,200 / 79,469190,000 / 86,183190,000 / 86,183
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)471,500 / 213,869476,200 / 216,001501,200 / 227,340482,000 / 218,632513,000 / 232,694
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)8500 / 32.208500 / 32.209000 / 34.0910,000 / 37.8810,000 / 37.88
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)18 / 16.4018 / 16.4016 / 14.5016 / 14.5019 / 17.30
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)98 / 49101 / 50.50106 / 5392 / 46105 / 52.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)60 / 152460 / 152460 / 152463 / 160063 / 1600
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)185 / 12.80185 / 12.80194.40 / 13.40200 / 13.80200.20 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)27" x 30" / 686x76227.5" x 30" / 699x76228" x 30" / 711x76226" x 30" / 660x76227" x 32" / 686x813
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)57,318 / 25999.0459,460 / 26970.6364,774 / 29381.0354,724 / 24822.4263,012 / 28581.80
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.12 4.06 3.94 4.02 3.98
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)263.26 / 24.47263.26 / 24.47276 / 25.64285 / 26.49319 / 29.64
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)57.50 / 5.3457.50 / 5.3460 / 5.5866.70 / 6.2070.80 / 6.58
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3943 / 366.453943 / 366.454198 / 390.153777 / 351.024297 / 399.35
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)922 / 85.69922 / 85.691040 / 96.65882 / 81.97993 / 92.29
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4865 / 452.144865 / 452.145238 / 486.804659 / 432.995290 / 491.64
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume198.34191.19196.35204.88202.63
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation10,63810,63811,66413,34014,174
Same as above plus superheater percentage12,65912,65913,99715,87516,867
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area57,95757,95764,38567,83075,998
Power L112,61612,16113,58214,96814,700
Power MT471.42443.70469.70599.98516.46

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassJ-4/J-4AJ-5
Locobase ID8126 21
RailroadLouisville & Nashville (L&N)Louisville & Nashville (L&N)
CountryUSAUSA
Whyte2-8-22-8-2
Number in Class481
Road Numbers1867-19141999
GaugeStdStd
Number Built481
BuilderseveralAlco-Brooks
Year19261924
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaert & Gresley
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)16.75 / 5.1117.83 / 5.43
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)36.08 / 1137.42 / 11.41
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.46 0.48
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)72.46 / 22.0973.12 / 22.29
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)67,000 / 30,39166,500 / 30,164
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)260,000 / 117,934259,000 / 117,481
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)340,000 / 154,222336,900 / 152,815
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)195,000 / 88,451190,000 / 86,183
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)535,000 / 242,673526,900 / 238,998
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)10,000 / 37.8810,000 / 37.88
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)19 / 17.3016 / 14.50
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)108 / 54108 / 54
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)63 / 160063 / 1600
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)210 / 14.50200.20 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)27" x 32" / 686x81323" x 32" / 584x813
Low Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)23" x 28" / 584x711 (1)
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)66,096 / 29980.6865,728 / 29813.75
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.93 3.94
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)371 / 34.48345 / 32.05
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)70.80 / 6.5870.80 / 6.58
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4349 / 404.184323 / 401.77
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)993 / 92.29993 / 92.29
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)5342 / 496.475316 / 494.06
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume205.09280.93
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation14,86814,174
Same as above plus superheater percentage17,69316,867
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area92,71382,192
Power L115,74414,240
Power MT533.99484.85

Reference