New York, Chicago & St Louis 2-8-2 "Mikado" Locomotives in the USA

By 1916, the 2-8-2 "Mikado" type locomotive was replacing the "Consolidated" type throughout the country and the New York, Chicago & St. Louis was in need of new motive power and it follow the trend. "Gus" Ayers, who was an ex New York Central motive power engineer had come to the Nickel Plate in 1916 as Motive Power Superintendent and he used his prior experience and confidence in the NYC to create the specification for the new 2-8-2 for the NKP.

In 1917, the NKP ordered 35 "Mikados" similar to the NYC Class H-5 2-8-2. Ten were ordered from the Lima Locomotive Works and 25 were ordered from the American Locomotive Company. These 35 locomotives were delivered in 1917 and the Lima-built 10 were designated as class H-5a and given road numbers 500-509 and the ALCO-built 25 were designated as Class H-5b and assigned road numbers 510-534. They had 63" drivers, 25" x 32" cylinders, a 180 psi boiler pressure and exerted 48,570 pounds of tractive effort.

The USRA assigned ten 2-8-2s to the NKP and they were delivered in October 1918. These ALCO-built locomotives were designated as Class H-6a and given road numbers 601-610. They had 63" drivers, 26" x 30" cylinders, a 200 psi boiler pressure and exerted 54,700 pounds of tractive effort.

They were equipped with Walschaerts valve gear, Ragfonnet reverse, a mechanical fire door and a single cross-compound pump. The tender could hold 10,000 gallons of water and it could carry 16 tons of coal.

The performance of these USRA was so outstanding that the NKP ordered 61 more 2-8-2s of the same basic design from Lima with deliveries between 1920 and 1924. They were designated as Class H-6b (road numbers 611-615) delivered in 1920, Class H-6c (only road number 616) delivered in 1921, Class H-6d (road numbers 617-631) delivered in 1922, Class H-6e (road numbers 632-661) delivered between 1923-1924 and Class H-6f (road numbers 662-671) delivered in 1924.

A final group of "Mikados" came to the NKP in 1923, when the Lake Erie & Western was acquired by the Nickel Plate. Fifteen USRA allocated 2-8-2s built by Lima in 1918 were added to the roster as Class H-6o and assigned road numbers 662-671. They had 63" drivers, 26" x 30", a 200 psi boiler pressure and they exerted 54,700 pounds of tractive effort.

There are three surviving NKP 2-8-2 "Mikado" type locomotives. Number 624 is on display at the Civic Center in Hammond, IN, number 639 is on display at Miller Park in Bloomington, IL and number 587, which is operational at the Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville, IN. Nickel Plate No. 587 has been used in excursion service on the old Nickel Plate line from Indianapolis to Castleton, Fishers, Noblesville, and on to Tipton.


ClassQty.Road NumbersFrom Other RRYear AcquiredYear BuiltBuilderNotes
H-6b 5611-6151920Lima4
H-6c 16161921Lima5
H-6o15586-600LE&W 19231918Baldwin9
  1. Numbers 500-509 scrapped between 1955 and 1963.
  2. Numbers 510-534 scrapped between 1953 and 1963.
  3. USRA allocated "Mikado-Light" locomotive. Numbers: 603, 605 and 606 sold to the NdeM in 1945. Number 602 leased to the ACY in December 1944 and returned to the NKP in May 1945. Numbers 601, 604 and 607 sold to the Akron Canton & Youngstown in 1945 and 1946. Number 602 scrapped in 1956. Numbers 608-610 scrapped between 1944 and 1946.
  4. Numbers 611-615 scrapped between 1945 and 1962.
  5. Number 616 sold to the Akron Canton & Youngstown in 1946.
  6. Number 624 preserved and on display in Hammond, IN. All the others scrapped between 1945 and 1962.
  7. Number 639 preserved and on display in Bloomington, IL. Numbers: 632, 634, 638, 649, 658, 660 sold to the NdeM in 1946. All the others scrapped between 1945 and 1962.
  8. Numbers 664, 666, 670 and 671 sold to the NdeM in 1946. All the others scrapped between 1945 and 1962.
  9. USRA allocated "Mikado-Light" locomotive to the LE&W in 1918. Conveyed from the Lake Erie & Western when the NKP acquired the LE&W in 1923. Ex LE&W numbers 5540-5554. Numbers: 586, 588, 589, 591, 592, 594, 595, 596, 597, 598 and 600 sold to the NdeM in 1945-1946. Number 587 preserved and operational and is at the Indiana Transportation Museum. Number 590 scrapped in 1944. Number 593 scrapped in 1957. Number 599 scrapped in 1953.
  10. Class M-1 locomotives were USRA allocated "Mikado-Heavy" locomotives sent to the W&LE in 1918. The Nickel plate leased the W&LE in 1949 and these locomotives were assigned NKP numbers 671-690. Number 671 was the second number 671 as the first was sold to the NdeM in 1946. The former W&LE numbers were 6001-60020 Numbers 679, 683, 684 and 686 scrapped in1954. Numbers 674, 675 and 685 scrapped in 1956. Numbers 678 and 681 scrapped in 1958. Number 690 scrapped in 1959. All of the others scrapped in 1955.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class H-5A/H-5B (Locobase 14142)

Data from NKP 5-1950 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. Lima works numbers were 5428-5437 in March 1917 and Brooks's numbers were 57493-57516 in August 1917.

Lima and Brooks delivered engines in this first, relatively large class of Mikados for the Nickel Plate. As the classification implies, the H-5s of the NKP were essentially duplicates of the New York Central H-5p and -5qs shown in Locobase 1384. All had 14"(356 mm) piston valves. One difference was the Nickel Plate's adoption of one-inch smaller cylinders and their use of Baker valve gear as opposed to the NYC's preference for Walschaert gear.

Like the rest of the railway's motive power, the H-5s served well into the 1950s.

Class H-6B through H-6F (Locobase 14136)

Data from "2-8-2 Locomotives for the Nickel Plate," Railway Mechanical Engineer, Vol 95, No. 12 (December 1921) , pp. 737-738. Lima works numbers were:

Class number month year

H-6B 6182-6186 December 1920

H-6C 6187 January 1921

H-6D 6307-6316, 6432-6436 October 1922

H-6E 6635-6649 December 1923

H-6E 6650-6664 January 1924

H-6F 6853-6862 June 1924

After Alco-Schenectady delivered ten United State Railroad Administration standard Light Mikado design (Locobase 40) in 1918 (works numbers 59578-59587), Lima picked up the class with the H-6B. These were delivered to the Nickel Plate with the standard boiler layout of 216 small tubes and 40 large tubes. Cylinder dimensions and 14" (356 mm) piston valves were the same as on the original USRA engines. The NKP soon removed three of the tubes.

Many of the engines retained the 27 sq ft of arch tubes originally supplied. Engines 611, 624-625, 627-629, 645, 651, and 665 went through firebox modifications that deleted two of the four arch tubes, leaving 14 sq ft (1.3 sq m) and added 71 sq ft (6.6 sq m) of thermic syphons. With this change, firebox heating surface increased to 341 sq ft (31.7 sq m) or 8.97% of the total evaporative heating surface of 3,802 sq ft (353.3 sq m).

According to the RME report, the USRA's choice for a grate had been a point on which they "commonly have been criticized". The USRA's box grate, said RME, "had a straight horn perpendicular to the grate on the longitudinal center line. With this arrangement when the grates are wide open the maximum distance between the top of one grate and the bottom of the next grate is 4 5/16 in."

Such an opening proved insufficient and Lima used a curved horn "which threw the center of the grate connection pin about 3 1/2 in. ahead of the center. When these grates are wide open there is a maximum of 7 3/8 in. from the top of one grate to the bottom of the next. " RME noted that New York Central Mikados already used the curved-horn design.

Moreover, Lima replaced the drop grates with 10 rocking grates on each side of the firebox. "With the large openings it is possible to dump the fire much more quickly and easily than with the old standard arrangement of drop grates and smaller openings in the rocking grates."

It wouldn't be long before Lima launched its superpower Mikado--the Michigan Central's 8000; see Locobase 9696.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassH-5A/H-5BH-6B through H-6F
Locobase ID14,142 14,136
RailroadNew York, Chicago & St Louis (Nickel Plate)New York, Chicago & St Louis (Nickel Plate)
Number in Class3557
Road Numbers500-534611-667
Number Built3557
Valve GearBakerWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)16.50 / 5.0316.75 / 5.11
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)35 / 10.6736.08 / 11
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.47 0.46
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)67.71 / 20.6461.19 / 18.65
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)62,660 / 28,42258,500 / 26,535
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)224,950 / 102,036227,600 / 103,238
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)291,750 / 132,336305,400 / 138,527
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)162,250 / 73,595355,000 / 161,025
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)454,000 / 205,931660,400 / 299,552
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)8067 / 30.5622,000 / 83.33
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)16.60 / 15.1020 / 18.20
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)94 / 4795 / 47.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)63 / 160063 / 1600
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)200 / 13.80200 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)24" x 32" / 610x81326" x 30" / 660x762
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)49,737 / 22560.3554,724 / 24822.42
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.52 4.16
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)230 / 21.37280 / 26.01
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)56.50 / 5.2566.70 / 6.20
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4010 / 372.543744 / 347.83
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)893 / 82.96882 / 81.94
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4903 / 455.504626 / 429.77
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume239.33203.09
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation11,30013,340
Same as above plus superheater percentage13,33415,875
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area54,28066,640
Power L116,54014,902
Power MT648.40577.39

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Wes Barris