Virginian 2-8-2 "Mikado" Locomotives in the USA

The Virginian Railway was formed when the Deepwater Railway combined with the Tidewater Railway in 1909. At that time, the new railroad had locomotives with a 2-8-2 wheel arrangement including a pair built for the Deepwater Railway by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1905. These two locomotives were numbers 30 & 31 on the Deepwater and became Virginian numbers 400 & 401. They had 51" diameter drivers, 22" x 28" cylinders, a 200 psi boiler pressure and with 174,400 pounds on the drivers exerted 45,200 pounds of tractive effort. The Tidewater Railway had four 2-8-2 locomotives similar to those on the Deepwater, which were delivered from Baldwin in 1907. These became Virginia numbers 402-405. Shortly after forming the new railroad the mechanical engineering department devised a classification system for its locomotives. The classification system used the first letter of the name given to wheel arrangement followed by letter for the group or series of the locomotive. These first "Mikado" type locomotives were thus designated as Class MA.

In 1909, the Virginian began to receive new 2-8-2 locomotives from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. These locomotives were, what many believe to be, the first true examples of the 2-8-2-wheel arrangement. They had a deep firebox, supported by the trailing truck and a large superheated boiler. There were forty-two in this group that was designated as Class MB and assigned numbers 420 through 461. They had 56" drivers, 24" x 32" cylinders, a 180 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 50,359 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 269,000 pounds. The firebox was 228.6 square feet and the evaporative heating surface was 4,529 square feet and there was no superheater.

The last new "Mikados" bought by the Virginian were delivered by Baldwin in 1912. This group was designated as Class MC and carried road numbers 462 through 479. These eighteen locomotives had 56" drivers, 26" x 32" cylinders, a 185 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 60,744 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 297,000 pounds. The firebox was 260 square feet, the evaporative heating surface was 4,356 square feet and with the superheater the combined heating surface was 5,266 square feet. .

In 1938, the Princeton Shops undertook a major overhaul of one of the Class MC locomotives. Number 472 received new Baldwin supplied 57" diameter disk drivers and light weight side rods. Between 1938 and 1941 a total of five Class MCs received the same new parts. These locomotives were rebuilt to pull "time freight" trains number 71, 72, 73 and 74, with the fifth locomotive reserved as a spare. This group was designated as Class MCA and numbers 480 through 484 were assigned. These rebuilt locomotives were 1,300 pounds lighter than those of Class MC, the boiler pressure was 200 psi and with the new 57" drivers they exerted 64,516 pounds of tractive effort.

One more 2-8-2 came to the Virginian when an experimental 2-8-8-8-4, number 700, was retuned to Baldwin in 1921. The locomotive was broken apart and Baldwin retuned a new 2-8-8-0, which became number 610, and a 2-8-2, which became number 410 and was the only locomotive in Class MD. This locomotive had 56" drivers, 26" x 32" cylinders, a 200 psi boiler pressure and exerted 65,700 pounds of tractive effort.

There are no surviving Virginian 2-8-2 "Mikado" type locomotives.

Roster by Richard Duley

ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
  1. Numbers 400-405 scrapped in 1933.
  2. Number 455 sold to the Algoma Central Railway in 1942 and was number 71on the ACR, which was scrapped by 1953. The others were scrapped between 1930 and 1959.
  3. Number 462 sold to the Algoma Central Railway in 1942 and was number 70 on the ACR, which was scrapped by 1953. The others were scrapped between 1953 and 1960.
  4. The Princeton Shops of the Virginian rebuilt five Class MC, numbers 472, 466, 470, 475 & 463 in that order and then renumbered them 480-484. The new Class MCA locomotives were equipped with Baldwin supplied disk drivers and light weight side rods. These locomotives scrapped in the mid 1950s.
  5. The Virginian returned an experimental 2-8-8-8-4 to Baldwin in 1921. The locomotive was broken apart and Baldwin retuned a new 2-8-8-0, and a 2-8-2, which became number 410 and was the only locomotive in Class MD. It was scrapped in the 1953.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class MA (Locobase 12857)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Vol 30, p. 248. Works numbers were 30966 in May 1907, 30991 in June, 31420 in July, and 31600 in August.

Although originally ordered by the Tidewater, that railroad and the Deepwater had been combined into the Virginian by the time the builder needed to letter the tender. So Virginian it was.

Class MB (Locobase 4213)

Data from "Mikado Locomotive for the Virginian Railway," Railroad Age Gazette, Volume XLV, No 5 (3 July 1908), pp. 420-426. See also Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University, Volume 35, pp. 123-139. Works numbers were 33395-33399, 33414-33415, 33429-33433 in May 1909; 34162-34164, 34213-34214 in January 1910; 34277 in February; 34426 in March; 34923-34926, 34983-34986 in July; 35024-35027, 35066-35068, 35114-35015, 35150-35151 in August 1910; 35214-35216, 35285 in September

Described in RAG almost a year before deliveries began, this Mikado class was destined to be the maid-of-all-work on the VGN's Deepwater Railroad section. Baldwin's specs were prepared in December 1908 and so form the principal source for the fielded data.

Clearly, the emphasis was on plentiful steam generation and distribution as the boiler dimensions and 13 1/2" (343 mm) piston valves show. On the other hand, the grate was relatively small compared to 2-8-2s that would follow very shortly; Locobase added the 25 sq ft (2.32 sq m) area of four arch tubes shown in the specs to the 164 sq ft (15.24 sq m) given as basic firebox heating surface area.

Weights in the second order dated 3 March 2010 for road numbers 439-461

The cylinders and valves were cast as one piece and heat stress was lessened by providing air spaces in the casting between the cylinder and the frame.

Equalization had a separate specification. Each of the trucks had three fulcrum holes to allow adjustment. And, said the spec, "Equalization to be planned to permit of ready change from two system three wheel equalization to three system two wheel equalization if engine is found to teeter unsteadily."

EW King, Jr., writing in Drury (1993) says, "...they literally did everything on the Virginian: switching, pusher duty, coal drags, work trains, fast freights, mixed runs, and passenger trains." Like most locomotives built in this era, these Mikes were delivered saturated and hand-fired and later superheated and fitted with mechanical stokers (see Locobase 13148).

First retirements began in 1938 -- the last went in 1959.

Class MB - superheated (Locobase 13148)

Data from VGN 8 - 1948 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in August 2013 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange.

When the Virginian superheated the all-purpose freight haulers that made up their largest class (Locobase 4213), the shops undertook the usual tradeoff of small tubes for flues. In this case 185 small tubes were removed in favor of the 34 flues. Little else in the engines changed dramatically, although piston valves now measured 13 5/8" (346 mm) in diameter and the engine's wheelbase lengthened by 15 inches (381 mm).

Almost all of the class was eventually supplied with Berkley or Duplex stokers.

Most MBs remained with the Virginian. A few were scrapped in the 1930s, but most operated into the 1950s. The railway sold four--427, 438, 456, and 461-- to the Montour in May 1937. These were 427, 438, 456, and 461, which were renumbered 42-45. 452 and 455 went in the same year to the Algoma Central & Hudson's Bay Railway as their 70-71.

Class MC/MD (Locobase 7486)

Data from VGN 8 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See also DeGolyer, Vol 42, pp. 322+ and Vol 68, pp.365+. Works numbers were 37651-37660 in April; 38904-38909, 38984-38985 in December.

These big Mikes were considerably larger than the MBs that went into service just two years before (Locobase 4213) . Unlike most later 2-8-2s, these engines had small drivers for heavy mountain work, but sported the 14" (356 mm) piston valves that aided good steaming. All had Ragonnet power reverse gear.

From Princeton to Roanoake, one MC was rated at 80 loaded cars when assisted by an MB up the Merrimac Grade, according to EL King (writing in Drury (1993). King adds that one MC was rated at 100 loaded cars from Roanoake to Norfolk, clearly a good investment in freight-moving locomotives.

The lone MD was rebuilt in December 1921 from the tender unit of #700, the Virginian's famous Triplex to identical specifications except for the substitution of Baker valve gear for the original design's Walschaert gear.

Five were later reclassified as MC-As when they were substantially rebuilt in 1938-1941. 480 (renumbered from 472) was this class's leader and was joined by 481 (466), 482 (470), 483 (475), and 484 (463) in receiving disk drivers measuring 57" and lightweight rods. Their tractive effort measured slightly less.

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassMAMBMB - superheatedMC/MD
Locobase ID12,857 4213 13,148 7486
RailroadVirginian (VGN)Virginian (VGN)Virginian (VGN)Virginian (VGN)
Number in Class4424219
Road Numbers402-405420-461420-461462-479, 410
Number Built44219
BuilderBurnham, Williams & CoBaldwinVGNBaldwin
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaertWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)14 / 4.2715.50 / 4.7215.50 / 4.7215 / 4.57
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)31.08 / 9.4731.75 / 9.6833 / 10.0633.25 / 10.13
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.45 0.49 0.47 0.45
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)64.04 / 19.5265.14 / 19.8571.51 / 21.80
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)57,000 / 25,85564,500 / 29,25765,900 / 29,892
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)180,000 / 81,647219,000 / 99,337228,200 / 103,510252,100 / 114,351
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)224,000 / 101,605269,000 / 122,016267,000 / 121,109313,800 / 142,337
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)120,000 / 54,431168,000 / 76,204171,000 / 77,564202,200 / 91,716
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)344,000 / 156,036437,000 / 198,220438,000 / 198,673516,000 / 234,053
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)7000 / 26.529500 / 35.989000 / 34.099600 / 36.36
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)12 / 10.9016 / 14.5016 / 14.5016 / 14.50
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd)759195105
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)51 / 129556 / 142256 / 142256 / 1422
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)200 / 13.80190 / 13.10200 / 13.80200 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)22" x 28" / 559x71124" x 32" / 610x81324" x 32" / 610x81326" x 32" / 660x813
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)45,173 / 20490.1553,157 / 24111.6455,954 / 25380.3465,669 / 29786.99
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.98 4.12 4.08 3.84
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)160 / 14.87182 / 16.91189 / 17.56263 / 24.16
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)51 / 4.7451 / 4.7451 / 4.7457 / 5.30
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3414 / 317.294441 / 412.583286 / 305.284356 / 404.83
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)755 / 70.14910 / 84.57
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3414 / 317.294441 / 412.584041 / 375.425266 / 489.40
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume277.13265.05196.12221.52
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation10,200969010,20011,400
Same as above plus superheater percentage10,200969012,13813,338
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area32,00034,58044,98261,542
Power L15815566312,28413,158
Power MT284.89228.03474.70460.27