Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives in the USA

The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad made a number of locomotive purchases during World War II to help with the increase in freight traffic.

In 1943, the RF&P bought ten "Berkshire" type locomotives from the Lima Locomotives Works at a cost of $159,432 each. These locomotives were assigned road numbers 571 through 580 and were similar to the Nickel Plate and the Pere Marquette design. They had 69" diameter drivers, 25" x 34" cylinders, a 245 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 64,100 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 433,200 pounds.

They did not last long on the RF&P as they were retired in 1952 There are no surviving RF&P 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives.


Qty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
157101/1943LimaNumber 571 scrapped in 1952
8572-57902/1943LimaNumbers 572-579 scrapped in 1952
158003/1943LimaNumber 580 scrapped in 1952

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 571 (Locobase 61)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and RF&P 4 - 1946 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. (My thanks to Chris Hohl for commenting on the valve gear, which led to more research and an expansion of the entry. Also, after Chris's inquiry, I revised the 1st-built date after confirming the later date in a listing of Record of Steam Locomotives Photographed As Built at Lima, Ohio. A 22 September 2017 email reported unlikely boiler pressure values for 177 entries. A Locobase macro caused the error .) Works numbers were 8023-8031 in January 1943.

Firebox heating surface included the area of the combustion chamber, 98 sq ft (9.1sq m) of thermic syphons, and 19 sq ft (1.75 sq m) of arch tubes. The boiler was fitted with a Worthington 5 SA feed water heater.

Procured only because of the drought of diesels during World War II, these worthy steamers duplicated the design of such Berkshires as the Chessie's K-4 (Locobase 55) and Pere Marquette's N-1 (Locobase 54). The 1934 Nickel Plate locomotives usually cited as the template (Locobase 52) had a few more boiler tubes and thus more heating surface area. All were Limas, all had Baker valve gear, and all were exemplars of the Superpower formula.

The RF&P locomotives were taken out of service by 1952 as the RF&P converted to an all-diesel roster.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID61
RailroadRichmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (RF&P)
Number in Class10
Road Numbers571-580
Number Built10
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)18.25 / 5.56
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)42 / 12.80
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.43
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)94.06 / 28.67
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)271,000 / 122,924
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)434,000 / 196,859
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)381,850 / 173,204
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)815,850 / 370,063
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)22,000 / 83.33
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)25 / 22.70
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)113 / 56.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)69 / 1753
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)245 / 16.90
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)25" x 34" / 635x864
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)64,135 / 29091.18
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.23
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)461 / 42.83
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)90.30 / 8.39
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4772 / 443.49
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)1932 / 179.55
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)6704 / 623.04
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume247.04
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22,124
Same as above plus superheater percentage28,539
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area145,699
Power L135,684
Power MT1161.18

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Wes Barris