Western & Atlantic 4-4-0 "American" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class General (Locobase 2545)

Data from a W&A roster compiled by Allen Stanley strongly suggests that four other locomotives -- Governor, President, Senator, and Chieftain (36, 37, 41, 42, respectively) -- were built to the same design. Governor (works number 557) arrived first in Feb 1855, President (works 616) was delivered in November and General (works 631) in December. Senator (works 691) and Chieftain (works 694) arrived in April 1856. The names are of a type, they all came from the same builder, and they differ from other locomotives delivered at the same time.

General is the famous American used in 1862's Great Locomotive Chase in which a group of Union officers and men highjacked a Confederate locomotive and headed north. After several close calls, the persistence of the pursuing conductor Fuller paid off and the engine, out of fuel and steam, puttered to a halt. All of the Union men were captured and several executed.

Hollingsworth (1982) has an interesting take on this well-known incident, which he says highlights two characteristics of the US American design: "First, in spite of the rough track, high maximum speeds of around 60 mph were reached ...and both [the pursuing Texas was another 4-4-0 with the same basic dimensions but produced by Danforth, Cooke in October 1856] stayed on the rails. ...[Also], the range between fuel stops was very short. A full load of two cords of wood fuel ...would last for a mere 50 miles.

The specifications given come from John White's (1968) Appendix E and differ from those in Hollingsworth. The working pressure given in that data (140 psi) seems high for the period and it's possible this was a test pressure. A more likely setting was 120 psi.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID2545
RailroadWestern & Atlantic
Number in Class5
Road Numbers36-37, 39, 41-42
Number Built5
BuilderRogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor
Valve GearStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)7 / 2.13
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)20.50 / 6.25
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.34
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)32,000 / 14,515
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)50,000 / 22,680
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)2000 / 7.58
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)2 / 1.80
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)27 / 13.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)60 / 1524
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)120 / 8.30
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)15" x 22" / 381x560
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)8415 / 3816.98
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.80
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)71.08 / 6.61
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)12.46 / 1.16
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)819 / 76.12
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)819 / 76.12
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume182.01
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation1495
Same as above plus superheater percentage1495
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area8530
Power L13132
Power MT431.55

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