Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 "Northern" Locomotives of the USA

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad took delivery of five Class J-3, 4-8-4s from the Lima Locomotive Works in 1935. These very heavy (477,000 pound) locomotives were ordered for use on the C&O's first class passenger trains such as the "George Washington" or the "Sportsman".

The C&O preferred to call its 4-8-4s "Greenbriers" and gave each of the first five an additional name of a Virginian statesman. Road numbers 600 through 604 bore the names of: Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison and Edmund Randolph. In 1942 two more Class J-3s were acquired and given road numbers 605 and 606 along with the names of Thomas Nelson, Jr and James Monroe.

In all, the C&O would have twelve Greenbriers, with the final five (Class J-3a) coming in 1948 and given road numbers 610 through 614. Number 613 was modified with UP style smoke deflecters in 1948.

Only number 614 survives today. It is owned and operated by "Iron Horse Enterprises, Inc.", Lebanon, NJ. In the fall of 1956, just before retirement, it was renumbered 611. The C&O had a power shortage and as a result, leased a number of 4-8-4s from the RF&P, including their 614. To alleviate confusion, a paint brush and chisel were taken to the 614, since the original C&O 611 had already been retired. Thus 614 was retired as 611 and kept that number at the B&O Museum until Ross Rowland got the engine in 1989. Mr. Rowland renumbered it back to 614 and added a 'T' for test. In preparation for his ACE 3000 project, Ross Rowland had all sorts of monitoring instruments connected to 614T then ran many tests. The test runs took place in 1985 between Hinton and Huntington, WV. These runs included running lite, pulling coal trains, and pulling passenger trains.

614T has also been used on many special excursions including the Chessie Safety Special. Ross Rowland has plans to use this locomotive for the 21st Century Limited late in this decade.

In 1995 614T was moved from the B&O Museum to the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad in New Hope, PA. During 1996 614 completed a very successful set of excursions out of Hoboken, NJ, on rails belonging to NJ Transit. It is reported that waiting lists for tickets exceeded 1000 per trip. Ross Rowland himself took the throttle and showed them what 70 MPH behind big-time steam was all about.

Roster by Richard Duley

ClassRoad NumbersYear BuiltBuilder

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class J-3 (Locobase 246)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and C&O 12 - 1946 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in August 2013 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 30 May 2016 email pointing out an inconsistency in the dates for this class and for spotting the Walschaert valve gear on the original class.) Works numbers were 7627-7631 in December 1935.

The twelve J-3s really belong in three slightly different sub-classes: J-3 (600-604), J-3a (605-606) in Locobase 15625 and the five J-3a delivered in 1948 with BoxPok drivers (Locobase 15626).

Known as Greenbriers on the C&O, these were among the largest 4-8-4s built. According to Drury (1993), the design was based on the earlier 2-10-4. All of the engines had the same power dimensions (cylinder volume, boiler pressure setting, and driver diameter) and 14" (356 mm) piston valves. All twelve had trailing-truck boosters to raise starting tractive effort. This first quintet was delivered with Walschaert gear, which was later replaced with the Baker gear that actuated the valves in the rest.

The first two orders used Worthington Type 5-S feed water heaters. In addition to combustion chambers, the 1936 engines had two thermic syphons contributing 108 sq ft (10.03 sq m) to the direct heating surface, and 21 sq ft (1.95 sq m) in arch tubes.

The first five were named Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison, and Edmund Randolph.

In their January 1981 Railfan and Railroad article "The Last Greenbrier", Jim Boyd & Tom Dixon say the J-3's ran between Charlottesville, VA over the mountains to Hinton West Virginia, 175 miles with a ruling grade of 1.52% pullling up to 13 heavy passenger cars.

The authors note that the first five had the steam dome mounted well forward to be closer to the front-end throttle and thus be more efficient. They comment, however, "[t]he theory worked fine on flat-land engines like the T-1s and the Berks], but when its long boiler tipped downhill from the top of a mountain, the C&O J3s had a nasty habit of drowning their dry pipes if the crew was carrying the water a little too high."

Class J-3a (Locobase 15625)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and C&O 12 - 1946 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in August 2013 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. Works numbers were 7842-7843 in January 1942.

The J-3 class is described in more detail in Locobase 246, but the compiler found just enough differences among the sub-classes to give each year's batch its own entry. Like the others, the two J-3as shown here had 14" (356 mm) piston valves, but substituted Baker-Pilliod gear. for the Walschaert gear of the first five. The J-3as added three superheater flues. Both front and rear trucks had Timken roller bearings.

Their names were Thomas Nelson, Jr and James Monroe.

Like the J-3s, the 1942 locomotives used Worthington Type 5-S feed water heaters. Also like the J-3s, this pair had fireboxes with combustion chambers, two thermic syphons contributing 103 sq ft (12.1 sq m) to the direct heating surface, and 21 sq ft (1.95 sq m) in arch tubes.

Weight increased considerably, however, probably because some types of high-strength steel increasingly used in large American locomotives was reserved for military purposes after the United States entered World War Two in December 1941. Axle loading rose by two tons, adhesion weight increased by 7 tons, and overall engine weight grew almost 15 tons. Tender weight grew by 6,500 lb (2,948 kg). All told, the motive power unit that was the 1942 version of the J-3 weighed just over 447 tons (405.67 tonnes).

Different strengths in the boiler may account for the switch in positions for the small steam dome and the large sand dome. The steam dome's opening now appeared over the gap between the second and third driving axles and the sand dome was located over the gap bwteen the first and second driver sets.

Class J-3a (Locobase 15626)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and C&O 12 - 1946 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in August 2013 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. See also Eugene L Huddleston, "The Outstanding Features and Many Lives of C&O 614," reproduced at [originally published by the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society, Inc. in their Jan/Feb 2002 issue], last accessed 21 November 2013. Works numbers were 9302-9306 in June 1948.

The J-3 class is described in more detail in Locobase 246, but the compiler found just enough differences among the sub-classes to give each year's batch its own entry. Like the others, the five J-3as shown here had 14" (356 mm) piston valves.

This set saw several changes, however, reflecting both the last few incremental improvements in steam locomotive construction that went into American engines in the late 1940s and the end of material restrictions imposed by war requirements. In response to the latter, weight dropped back to near the 1936 locomotives.

Reflecting the final improvements of the American steam locomotive, nickel steel appeared in every component that seemed to merit it including the integrally cast bed (General Steel Castings). Timken roller bearings reduced friction in every imaginable turning component including all driver and truck axle journals, main and side rods, crank pins, pistons, piston rods, and crossheads. The throttle was an American multiple front end type.

The Worthington feed water heater installed in the first two batches was replaced by a Hancock Type TA-1 exhaust steam injector. Huddleston observes that Alfred Bruce of Alco described such devices as the "poor man's feed water heater" and observes that the C&O was hardly poor in 1948. Yet, he adds, "Steam locomotive historian Phil Shuster warns not to jump to conclusions about the Hancock's performance on 610-614. There is nothing in the "files" to indicate they were ever troublesome or that employees did not

know how to use them effectively."

Gone from the firebox were both the syphons and arch tubes used in the 1936 and 1942 engines. Instead, four security circulators contributed 65 sq ft (6.05 sq m) added to the heating surface area provided by the firebox itself and the longer combustion chamber. Tube and flue counts changed as the Type E superheater tubes now occupied larger-diameter flues. The sand dome casing, which now engulfed the small steam dome, moved its centerline back along the boiler a bit.

Another change: none of the five 1948s had names.

Eugene Huddleston noted the skepticism concerning this order: "Simply amazing is the expenditure of so much money to produce a "state of the art" locomotive in the waning days of steam. It seems nothing was sacrificed to equip the new Greenbriers with the latest features and best appliances. Enthusiasm was still the word in 1947, as this writer well recalls from being told about the order for five more Greenbriers from Lima Locomotive Works by locomotive engineer Vince Hiltz."

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID246 15,625 15,626
RailroadChesapeake & Ohio (C&O)Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O)Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O)
Number in Class525
Road Numbers600-604605-606610-614
Number Built525
Valve GearWalschaertBakerBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft)19.2519.2519.25
Engine Wheelbase (ft)46.8746.8747.08
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.41 0.41 0.41
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft)98.4498.4498.64
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs)69,70073,20071,700
Weight on Drivers (lbs)278,300292,800285,200
Engine Weight (lbs)477,000506,300482,200
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs)381,700388,200386,130
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs)858,700894,500868,330
Tender Water Capacity (gals)22,00022,00021,500
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons)252525
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd)116122119
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in)747474
Boiler Pressure (psi)255255255
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in)27.5" x 30"27.5" x 30"27.5" x 30"
Tractive Effort (lbs)66,45366,45366,453
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.19 4.41 4.29
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft)520520482
Grate Area (sq ft)100100100
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft)545254344821
Superheating Surface (sq ft)234223152058
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft)779477496879
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume264.36263.49233.76
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation25,50025,50025,500
Same as above plus superheater percentage33,15033,15033,150
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area172,380172,380159,783
Power L144,42244,02439,272
Power MT1407.601325.901214.30



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