Philadelphia & Reading 4-2-2 "Bicycle" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 378 (Locobase 12184)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Volume 20, p. 90. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 18 January 2015 email correcting the driver diameter and for his 6 June 2017 email pointing out discrepancies that led to a revision of the 385 as well.) Works number was 14675 in January 1896.

At the same time Baldwin built the four well-known camelback Vauclain compound Atlantic Fliers for the Atlantic City Railroad (Locobase 2562), it added this single engine for the Reading itself to accompany the Bicycle (aka Columbia) purchased a year earlier (Locobase 2563)

Firebox heating surface area included the 45.5 sq ft (4.2 sq m) in the combustion chamber. Each side's casting of 1 HP and 1 LP cylinder was served by a single 11 1/2" (292 mm) piston valve. The boiler contained 49 more tubes than that of the earlier 385.

As with the 385, the Wootten boiler had more tubes than the Atlantics (or the 385, for that matter_, but they were of a smaller diameter and the result was less heating surface area. Adhesion weight came to a considerably lower figure and the F/A shows this high-drivered racer to be prone to slipping. Ever-increasing train weights led to the 317's being rebuilt as a 4-4-0 in March 1904 and placed in the D-10a class. In August 1916, the again-renumbered 252 was rebuilt as a D-10b; see Locobase 10826.

Class 385/D-10a (Locobase 2563)

Data from DeGolyer, Volume 19, p. 260. See also "Single-Driver Express Locomotive: Philadelphia & Reading RR", Engineering News, Volume XXXIV [34], No. 9 (29 August 1895), pp. 134-135. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 6 June 2017 email flagging several ambiguities and errors in this entry.) Works number was 14336 in June 1895.

Strongly resembling the Camelback 4-4-2s of the Atlantic City Railroad, this "Bicycle" was different only in having but one driving axle. Its design was credited jointly to the Reading's superintendent of motive power L B Paxson and Baldwin partnerWilliam P Henszey. Like the Atlantic, this engine was a Vauclain compound and had the camelback layout with the wide Wootten firebox. This accounts for the deceptively low A/S ratio. Its firebox heating surface included 45.5 sq ft (4.2 sq m) in the combustion chamber. Each side's casting of 1 HP and 1 LP cylinder was served by a single 11 1/2" (292 mm) piston valve.

According to Baldwin's own history, the engine ran the 90 miles (145 km) from Jersey City to Philadelphia in 105 minutes, including stops, yielding a 51.4 mph (83.kph) average. EN reported a run with a 380-ton trailing load of eight vestibule cars between Bound Brook (near Jersey City, NJ) and Wayne Junction 85 miles (137 km) away that averaged 40 mph (64 kph) including eight stops.

Despite the claims for lower friction and freer running, however, the locomotive's low factor of adhesion meant it would be overmatched very soon by heavier rolling stock.

Class Lovatt Eames (Locobase 2561)

Data from DeGolyer, Volume 10, p. 34. See also the detailed account of the Eames Vacuum Brake story (which culminated in Eames's shooting death) at the MidContinent Museum's website ([], last accessed 30 November 2014.

Although very few "Bicycles" were built for operation by US railroads, this particular engine enjoyed the distinction of being Baldwin's 5,000th (i.e., works number 5000) in March 1880.

It had a very wide anthracite-burning firebox over the trailing axle and the one tall driving axle. Equalizing beams between the single driven axle and the trailing axle operated through a fulcrum that was adustable through a steam cylinder mounted under the boiler. Front truck wheel diameter measured 36" (914 mm) and trailing wheels had 45"(1,143 mm) diameters.

When the Reading proved unable to pay for the engine, the Eames Vacuum Brake Company bought it and took it to England to demonstrate their system. According to the Watertown (NY) Times, the locomotive was to be "named after the late Lovett Eames, father of F. W. Eames, and will be ornamented with a fine portrait of its namesake, and also a landscape view of Black River falls, the Suspension Bridge, and the lower end of Beebeªs island. showing the works of the Eames Vacuum Brake Company." {reproduced in 14 August 1880 Railway World, p. 773).

While vacuum brakes set the standard for assisted braking in British railroads for many years, Eames's demonstrations attracted little interest, according to MidContinent: "[O]nly two of the English lines made purchases, apparently because there was already a British-made vacuum brake available. And it was an 'automatic' brake: if the train parted or the ejector failed, the brakes were applied automatically."

The engine was soon scrapped, but parts lived on. In the 15 April 1908 issue of The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carriage & Wagon Review, we learned: "The bell of the Baldwin experimental single- wheeler 'Lovett Eames,' which has been used to ring the men in at King's Cross locomotive sheds since the engine was scrapped, has been replaced by a " buzzer." The old bell has been cleaned up and fitted at Hornsey locomotive sheds."

NB: The direct heating surface (including the firebox heating surface) is an estimate calculated by subtracting the calculated tube heating surface from the reported total evaporative heating surface.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Class378385/D-10aLovatt Eames
Locobase ID12,184 2563 2561
RailroadPhiladelphia & ReadingPhiladelphia & ReadingPhiladelphia & Reading
Number in Class111
Road Numbers378 /317385/316507
Number Built111
BuilderBurnham, Williams & CoBurnham, Williams & CoBurnham, Parry, Williams & Co
Valve GearStephensonStephensonStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)22.75 / 6.9322.75 / 6.9321.08 / 6.43
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)49.42 / 15.0649.43 / 15.0755.17 / 16.82
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)48,000 / 21,77248,000 / 21,77245,000 / 20,412
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)48,000 / 21,77248,000 / 21,77245,000 / 20,412
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)121,000 / 54,885115,000 / 52,16385,000 / 38,555
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)80,000 / 36,28784,000 / 38,102
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)201,000 / 91,172199,000 / 90,265
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)4000 / 15.154000 / 15.154000 / 15.15
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)7 / 6.407 / 6.40
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)80 / 4080 / 4075 / 37.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)84.25 / 214684.25 / 214078 / 1981
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)200 / 13.80200 / 13.80180 / 12.40
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)13" x 26" / 330x66013" x 26" / 330x66018" x 24" / 457x610
Low Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)22" x 26" / 559x66022" x 26" / 559x660
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)13,143 / 5961.5713,143 / 5961.5715,253 / 6918.65
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.65 3.65 2.95
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)184.50 / 17.09173 / 16.07138 / 12.83
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)76 / 7.0676 / 7.0656 / 5.20
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1674 / 155.521466 / 136.191400 / 130.11
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1674 / 155.521466 / 136.191400 / 130.11
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume419.10367.03198.06
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation15,20015,20010,080
Same as above plus superheater percentage15,20015,20010,080
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area36,90034,60024,840
Power L1637457236919
Power MT292.76262.86338.97

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