Tidewater / Virginian 2-8-8-2 "Chesapeake" Locomotives in the USA

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Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class AB (Locobase 3565)

Data from "Mallet Compound Virginian Railway," Locomotive Engineers Monthly Journal, Vol 45, No 1 (January 1911), pp. 63-64. See also DeGolyer, Volume 35, p. 104. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 7 March 2015 email pointing to the Baldwin specs page that had updated information.) Works number was 35094 in August 1910.

The first of the 2-8-8-2s, this engine featured the separable boiler in which the front section served as a feed water heater. Its assembly included 401 2 1/4" (57 mm) tubes, each 7 ft (2,134 mm) long and comprising 1,694 sq ft of feed water heating surface. Between the boiler and the reheater was a 82" (2,083 mm) combustion chamber. Never a successful concept, the novelty soon was replaced by a more conventional boiler in 1922 at Baldwin's shops.

Charles Reid wrote the LEMJ with an account of "my regular engine", as he identified the 600. All four valves were balanced 15" (381 mm) piston valves and had "5 lubricators, 2 on inside of cab, 3 on the outside; 25 grease cups; 237 different place to oil." Reid added "It keeps the hog-heads busy all the time."

It was used as a pusher between Elmore and Clark's Gap in West Virginia to help trains up a 2 1/2%, 13-mile grade along which there were ten 12-degree curves, five tunnels, and nine bridges. "In some cases," boasted Reid, "I run this engine over wooden bridges of which one has a 10 degree curve."

Commenting that the engine gave him "..very little trouble", Reid noted the work of the two firemen that accompanied him: "In some cases it is necessary for one fireman to fire his side of the fire-box while the other is hooking his side, but most of the time one fire-man fires part way up the hills and the other one the rest of the way." Sounds like truly back-breaking work ... Reid attempted to allay the chief concern of his fellow enginemen by noting that at least on the Virginian, the Mallets had cost no jobs as far as he could tell.

After its 1922 modification, the 600 operated for another 15 years until scrapped in August 1937.


Class AD (Locobase 3567)

See "Mammoth Mallets for the Virginia Railway[sic]", Railway and Locomotive Engineering, Volume 27, No. 7 (July 1912), pp. 258-259.

Firebox heating surface includes 67 sq ft of arch tubes.

When these came on the line in 1913, they were among the biggest articulateds in the world. Certainly their LP cylinders were huge. R & LE explained the duty for which they were intended. Given the constantly increasing train loads, "...the crucial point on the railway is a portion between Elmore and Clark's Gap, on the Deepwater division, a distance of about 14 miles, nearly all of which is on a 2.07 per cent grade with maximum compensated curves of 12 degs."

Before the ADs, "...the trains have been operated over this grade with one Mallet of the lightest class at the head, and two of the heavier locomotives as helpers." So powered, the VGN could muster 3,340 tons over the line. With two of the ADs and a lighter engine, the train load would increase by 890 tons to 4,320.

Even for coal traffic, the ADs must have been a little slow and the railroad scrapped them in the 1930s while retaining the USRA Mallet Consolidation designs and the 2-10-10-2s.


Class US-A, US-B (Locobase 14005)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia and VGN 8 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. Works numbers were 61113, 61115 in June 1919, 61114, 61116-61126 in July, 61127-61131 in August, and 61132 in September, 64550 in June 1923, 64551 in July, 64552-64567 in August.

Classic USRA Heavy Mallets (see original at 330) supplied by the United States Railroad Administration. The design was based on N&W Y-2 Mallet compound locomotive. Although the Virginian resisted taking its allotment of USRA locomotives at first, the railroad signed for 20 in 1919. They were delivered with 14" piston valves supplying all four cylinders and a Gaines wall for the firebox arch. Three stoker brands--Berkley, Duplex, and Standard--supplied the firebox.

Sufficiently pleased with the engines, the Virginian ordered 15 more in in 1923. Beginning in April 1935 with 733, six of the US-Bs were converted to US-C. The makeover featured the installation of arch tubes in the firebox. that added 49 sq ft to the firebox heating surface.. 723 followed in October 1935, 726 in May 1936 and 728 in November, and 733 in April 1937 and 721 in October 1937.


Class US-C (Locobase 16302)

Data from VGN 8 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. Many thanks to Sam Dickenson for his series of emails beginning 1 September 2017 giving details on both the US-C and US-D conversions. Dickenson cites Harold Davenport's authoritative "Virginian Railway USRA 2-8-8-2 Steam Locomotives, The Arrow, Volume 23, No 3 (July-August-September 2007) as the source of his information.

The US-C modifications were applied to six USB locomotives beginning in the mid-1930s. A key change was the installation of Lewis 2.5" (64 mm) automatic drifting valves to admit steam into the cylinders on downgrades. As built, the traditional valve resisted free-drifting and wracked the frames and cylinders as a result. Boiiler pressure increased and the boilers received Worthington 5-SA feed water heaters. Nathan DV-6 twenty-feed lubricators improved lubrication. The Gaines wall arch gave way to a more conventional five-arch tube layout.

Another big change was the much larger tender, which increased its bunker length from 139.25" (3.537 mm) to 200.5" (5,093 mm) and almost doubled coal capacity at the expense of reducing an already modest water capacity to 8,760 US gallons (33,157 litres) . So the Virginian adopted some spare AD Mallet tenders (designated ADX) as auxiliary water tenders, which carried an extra 14,860 gallons (56,245 litres).

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassABADUS-A, US-BUS-C
Locobase ID3565 3567 14,005 16,302
RailroadTidewater (VGN)Virginian (VGN)Virginian (VGN)Virginian (VGN)
CountryUSAUSAUSAUSA
Whyte2-8-8-22-8-8-22-8-8-22-8-8-2
Number in Class16206
Road Numbers600601-606701-720, 721-735721, 723, 726, 728-729, 733
GaugeStdStdStdStd
Number Built1620
BuilderBaldwinAlco-RichmondAlco-RichmondVGN
Year1910191219191935
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaertBakerBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)15 / 4.5715.50 / 4.7215.50 / 4.7215.75 / 4.72
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)58.17 / 17.7357.33 / 17.4757.33 / 17.4758 / 17.47
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.26 0.27 0.27 0.27
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)89.20 / 27.1999.82 / 30.4393.25 / 28.4294.50 / 28.42
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)60,800
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)405,400 / 183,887475,000 / 215,457478,000 / 216,817478,000 / 216,817
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)448,750 / 203,550540,000 / 244,940531,000 / 240,858531,000 / 240,858
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)176,250 / 79,946212,000 / 96,162209,100 / 94,846211,000 / 94,846
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)625,000 / 283,496752,000 / 341,102740,100 / 335,704742,000 / 335,704
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)9500 / 35.9812,000 / 45.4512,000 / 45.4523,620 / 89.47
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)12 / 10.9016 / 14.5016 / 14.5030 / 27.30
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)84 / 4299 / 49.50100 / 50100 / 50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)56 / 142256 / 142257 / 144857 / 1448
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)210 / 14.50200 / 13.80240 / 16.50250 / 17.20
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)26" x 32" / 660x81328" x 32" / 711x81325" x 32" / 635x81325" x 32" / 635x813
Low Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)40" x 32" / 1016x81344" x 32" / 1118x81339" x 32" / 991x81339" x 32" / 991x813
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)96,945 / 43973.56108,416 / 49176.73101,465 / 46023.80105,692 / 47941.14
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.18 4.38 4.71 4.52
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)258 / 27.70447 / 41.54386 / 35.86435 / 40.41
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)84 / 7.8199.20 / 9.2296 / 8.9296 / 8.92
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)6893 / 643.686909 / 642.106071 / 564.016120 / 568.56
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)1311 / 121.841475 / 137.031475 / 137.03
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)6893 / 643.688220 / 763.947546 / 701.047595 / 705.59
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume350.54302.95333.93336.62
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation17,64019,84023,04024,000
Same as above plus superheater percentage17,64023,01427,64828,560
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area54,180103,704111,168129,413
Power L13446694210,96411,579
Power MT149.92257.76404.54427.24

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