Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-2 "Mountain" Locomotives of the USA

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad was the first to take delivery of a locomotive with a 4-8-2 wheel arrangement with the arrival of number 316 (later number 540) in 1911.

The C&O bought two 4-8-2s from the American Locomotive Company and designated them Class J-1. They were assigned road numbers 316 and 317 and were put to test in June, 1911. Another one, road number 318, was ordered and delivered from ALCO in 1912. All three worked well in passenger service.

In 1918, three "Mountains" (road numbers 133 through 135) with 69" drivers were received from ALCO and two (road numbers 136 and 137) came from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. These five locomotives were built according to USRA specifications and were of the Heavy Mountain design and were designated Class J-2 by the C&O.

In June of 1923, a final two of the Class J-2 locomotives (road numbers 138 and 139) were delivered by ALCO. By 1924, all ten of the C&O "Mountains" were renumbered 540 through 549.

The C&O had a locomotive modernization program in the 1930s and the seven Class J-2 "Mountains received new cabs, new feedwater heaters, the flying-pump front ends, a general overhaul and Vanderbilt tenders.

All ten of the "Mountains" were retired and scrapped by 1952.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class J-1 (Locobase 198)

Data from C&O 9-1936 and C&O 12-1946 locomotive diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. 49840-49841 in May 1911 and 50848 in March 1912.

The firebox heating surface included 28 sq ft (2.6 sq m) of arch tubes.

These are considered to be the first of the Mountain type, originally built for the C&O to handle 700 tons over the Clifton Forge Division in the Allegheny Mountains.

Eugene L Huddleston, writing in the November 2000 issue of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Magazine ("C&O's J-1 & K-1"), notes that the J-1s could hit the desired speeds with a heavy train (10 cars). Yet, the design had "ridiculously low drivers" and "extremely long main rods." In addition to the effects accompanying the high rpm of such small drivers at high speeds, driving the set on the third axle increased the dynamic augment and hence the stress on the tracks. (Most Mountains, says Huddleston, were driven on the second axle.) A late-1920s solution involved lengthening the piston rod and supporting the longer Alligator crosshead guide with a second yoke.

That the design had power was undeniable -- combustion chamber, superheater, huge boiler, automatic smoker. The trio enjoyed a long career on the two mountain divisions on which they ran because the large boiler meant plenty of steam and the low drivers were less of a liability.

Class J-2 (Locobase 1420)

Firebox heating surface included 99 sq ft of thermic syphons. Boiler had feedwater heater.

USRA heavy Mountain. Only 15 "Heavy" mountains entered service under the USRA, of which five (Alco-Brooks works numbers were 59810-59812 in December 1918 and Baldwin works numbers 51869-51881 in June 1919 ) went to the Chesapeake and Ohio. Richmond delivered two more sisters in 1923 (works numbers were 64216-64217 in July 1923.).

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID198 1420
RailroadChesapeake & Ohio (C&O)Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O)
Number in Class37
Road Numbers316-318/130-132/540-542133-139/543-549
Number Built37
Valve GearWalschaertBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase16.50'18.25'
Engine Wheelbase37.42'40'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.44 0.46
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)76.11'75.70'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)
Weight on Drivers238000 lbs246850 lbs
Engine Weight330000 lbs363550 lbs
Tender Light Weight219100 lbs300000 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight549100 lbs663550 lbs
Tender Water Capacity12000 gals16000 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal)15 tons2016 gals
Minimum weight of rail (calculated)99 lb/yard103 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter62"69"
Boiler Pressure180 psi200 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke)29" x 28"28" x 30"
Tractive Effort58110 lbs57948 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.10 4.26
Heating Ability
Firebox Area338 sq. ft438 sq. ft
Grate Area66.50 sq. ft76.20 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface4108 sq. ft4727 sq. ft
Superheating Surface850 sq. ft1085 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface4958 sq. ft5812 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume191.91221.09
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation1197015240
Same as above plus superheater percentage1400518136
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area71183104244
Power L11168517946
Power MT432.96641.10


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