Cotton Belt 4-8-4 "Northern" Locomotives in the USA

The St. Louis Southwestern Railroad acquired Northerns at three different times. It bought 10 Class L-1 Northerns in 1930 from the Baldwin Locomotive Works and assigned them road numbers 800 through 809. These 4-8-4s were oil burners with 70" drivers, 26 x 30 cylinders, a boiler pressure of 250 psi, a weight of 419,800 lbs and a tractive effort of 61,564 pounds.

In 1937, StL-SW's Pine Bluff, AR shops built five (road numbers 810 through 814) additional Class L-1s which were identical to the 10 from Baldwin. Then, in 1943, another five (road numbers 815 through 819) came out of the Pine Bluff shops which were very similar to the other Class L-1s except they weighed about 6,000 pounds more.

There is one surviving Class L-1, number 819, at the Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff, AR.

Roster by Richard Duley

ClassRoad NumberYear BuiltBuilder

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class L1 - 800 (Locobase 254)

Data from tables in the 1945 Locomotive Cyclopedia, supplemented by StL&SW 1 - 1932 Folio 725 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange and DeGolyer, Volume 82, pp. 492-538. (Thanks to Robert Longhofer for his 26 June 2016 email noting the inaccurate assignment of the Pine Bluff shops to the Frisco.) Baldwin works numbers were 61421-61422, 61439-61442 in July 1930 and 61486-61489

The firebox heating surface includes 107 sq ft (9.9 sq m) of thermic syphons (two in the firebox, one in the combustion chamber) and 104 sq ft (9.65 sq m) in the combustion chamber. Piston valves measured 14"(356 mm) in diameter. A Worthington Type S, No. 5, feed water heater had a rated maximum capacity of 75,000 lb (34,019 kg) or about 9,000 US gallons (34,065 litres) per hour.

The StL-SW diagram shows that of the driving wheelbase, only 12 feet 2 inches (3.7 m) was considered "rigid", meaning the lead driving axle had considerable lateral play. The frame and cylinders were combined in a integral steel casting. 800-804 truck bearings were Timken rollers while 805-809 ran SKFs. Later, all 10 were refitted with Boxpok drivers and Timken roller bearings on all driving journals.

The first 10 were built by Baldwin in 1930 and increased freight power by 30% while moving it faster. The specification noted that the maximum grade of 1.2% ran for 7,000 feet (2,134 m) and that the locomotive was "to handle maximum tonnage based on cylinder capacity and adhesive ratio with continuous pull of four miles [6.4 km] over continuous 1% grade at fifteen miles per hour minimum speed in addition to handling same load over above specified ruling grade [i.e. 1.2%] at same speed."

Pine Bluff, the Cotton Belt's main shop location, built its own variant; see Locobase 8479.

Class L1 - 810 (Locobase 8479)

Data from tables in the 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia, supplemented by StL&SW 1 - 1945 Folio 725 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. (Thanks to Robert Longhofer for his 26 June 2016 email noting the inaccurate assignment of the Pine Bluff shops to the Frisco.)

The first ten Northerns on the StL-SW came from Baldwin in 1930 and they're described in Locobase 245. In this entry, we show the second ten, which were produced by Pine Bluff, the Cotton Belt's main shop location, beginning in 1937. These had roller bearings on all axles and Boxpok drivers. Also, the superheater lost 98 sq ft (9.1 sq m) of heating surface, probably by eliminating elements from a few 3 1/2" flues, as the tube and flue counts remained the same at 52 and 200, respectively.

The Baldwin engines were modified to a similar standard and Pine Bluff supplied another five engines to support wartime traffic in 1942.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
ClassL1 - 800L1 - 810
Locobase ID254 8479
RailroadCotton Belt (StLSW)Cotton Belt (StLSW)
Number in Class1010
Road Numbers800-809810-819
Number Built1010
BuilderBaldwinPine Bluff
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)18.75 / 5.7118.75 / 5.71
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)45 / 13.7245 / 13.72
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.42 0.42
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)87.58 / 26.69
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)61,500 / 27,89662,000 / 28,123
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)242,500 / 109,996248,000 / 112,491
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)422,500 / 191,643425,500 / 193,004
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)307,000 / 139,253312,000 / 141,521
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)729,500 / 330,896737,500 / 334,525
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)15,000 / 56.8215,000 / 56.82
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)5000 / 18.905000 / 18.90
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)101 / 50.50103 / 51.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)70 / 177870 / 1778
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)250 / 17.20250 / 17.20
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)26" x 30" / 660x76226" x 30" / 660x762
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)61,564 / 27924.9961,564 / 27924.99
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.94 4.03
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)469 / 43.57469 / 43.59
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)88.30 / 8.2088.30 / 8.21
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4728 / 439.244728 / 439.41
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)2060 / 191.381962 / 182.34
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)6788 / 630.626690 / 621.75
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume256.47256.47
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22,07522,075
Same as above plus superheater percentage28,69828,477
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area152,425151,253
Power L140,52339,128
Power MT1473.611391.33