Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 4-8-4 "Northern" Locomotives of the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class J2-57 (Locobase 8330)

Data from NC&StL 6 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. Works numbers were 68281-68285 in March 1930.

Charles B Castner, writing in Drury (1993), notes that these were the first 4-8-4s in the South (where they were never referred to as "Northerns", but rather as "Dixies") and were derived from the USRA Light Mountains. Alco delivered an impressive machine on a one-piece cast-steel frame that carried brackets for auxiliary piping normally hung on the boiler. Castner also notes the "feedwater heaters, large fireboxes, and free-steaming boilers." The class soon acquired the nickname of "Gliders" for the smoothness with which they negotiated curves, an ease attributable to the lateral-motion axle boxes fitted to the first two driven axles.

J2s first ran on the Chattanooga Division in Eastern Tennessee, moving in 1940 to Atlanta and still later to Memphis. The Dixie Line returned to Alco for more 4-8-4s in 1942-1943; see Locobase 212.

Class J3-57 (Locobase 269)

Data from 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and from NC&StL 6 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Raildata collection. Works numbers were 70829-70838 in September 1943.

Based on the J2s that appeared in 1930 (Locobase 8330) as enlargements of the J1 Mountains, this class had very few changes of note. Firebox heating surface included 116 sq ft of thermic syphons (97 sq ft/9 sq m) & arch tubes (19 sq ft/1.75 sq m). One noticeable difference was the much larger tender that held half again as much coal as that of the J2 and weighed 45 tons more. The engine's weight also increased by 10 tons.

570-579 were known as the "Yellow Jackets" because of a wide yellow stripe on the valence over the running gear. The later ten engines had painted edges but no valence and were known as "Stripes." Charles B Castner, writing in Drury (1993), notes and photos confirm that the Yellow Jackets had a neat appearance with a conical smokebox, retractable couplers in the pilots, and few pipes or pumps mounted on the boiler. Running gear was as might be expected in late-model steam engines: roller bearings throughout and Boxpok drivers.

For all their modern features, these engines were soon out of service, being withdrawn in 1951-1952 when diesels took over..

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID8330 269
RailroadNashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis (NC&StL)Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis (NC&StL)
Number in Class520
Road Numbers565-569570-589
Number Built520
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft)18.2518.25
Engine Wheelbase (ft)44.2545.08
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.41 0.40
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft)82.5886.31
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs)
Weight on Drivers (lbs)220,000228,000
Engine Weight (lbs)381,000400,500
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs)194,000285,000
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs)575,000685,500
Tender Water Capacity (gals)10,00015,000
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons)1616
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd)9295
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in)7070
Boiler Pressure (psi)250250
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in)25" x 30"25" x 30"
Tractive Effort (lbs)56,92056,920
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.87 4.01
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft)444454
Grate Area (sq ft)77.3077.30
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft)41934203
Superheating Surface (sq ft)17821782
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft)59755985
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume246.01246.59
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation19,32519,325
Same as above plus superheater percentage25,12325,123
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area144,300147,550
Power L138,41938,522
Power MT1539.991489.94

If you have any railroad data such as diagram books, rail station plans or anything else that you would be willing to share, please contact us.