The American Steam Locomotive in the Twentieth Century

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About the Book

Between 1900 and 1950, Americans built the most powerful steam locomotives of all time—enormous engines that powered a colossal industry. They were deceptively simple machines, yet, the more their technology was studied, the more obscure it became. Despite immense and sustained engineering efforts, steam locomotives remained grossly inefficient in their use of increasingly costly fuel and labor. In the end, they baffled their masters and, as soon as diesel-electric technology provided an alternative, steam locomotives disappeared from American railroads. Drawing on the work of eminent engineers and railroad managers of the day, this lavishly illustrated history chronicles the challenges, triumphs and failures of American steam locomotive development and operation.

About the Author(s)

Mining engineer Tom Morrison has written technical histories on mining and aviation. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Morrison
Format: hardcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 636
Bibliographic Info: 582 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6582-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2793-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface • 1
Introduction • 3
Part One: Background to Locomotive Development
Chapter 1. The American Railroad Industry • 12
1.1 Political and Economic Environment • 12
1.1.1 Early Years of the Industry • 12
1.1.2 Depression and New Expansion • 13
1.1.3 The New Political Climate • 16
1.1.4 War and Government Administration • 21
1.1.5 The 1920s • 22
1.1.6 The Depression Years • 24
1.1.7 War and Aftermath • 27
1.2 Size and Extent of the Railroad and Locomotive Building Industries • 28
1.2.1 The Railroad Industry • 28
1.2.2 Locomotive Building • 31
1.3 Railroad Engineering • 35
1.3.1 Management Science and the ­Ton-Mile Statistic • 35
1.3.2 Locomotive and Train Operating Costs • 35
1.3.3 The Trend to Bigger Equipment • 37
1.3.4 The Trend to Higher Speeds • 39
1.3.5 Track and Substructures • 41
1.3.6 Signaling Systems • 42
1.3.7 Integrated Improvement Programs • 43
1.3.8 Maintenance and Availability • 48
1.3.9 Working Conditions • 52
1.3.10 Safety • 55
1.3.11 The Motive Power Dilemma and the End of Steam • 58
Part Two: Compounds and Mastodons, 1895–1905
Chapter 2. General Steam Locomotive Development, 1895–1905 • 64
Chapter 3. Locomotive Engineering, 1895–1905 • 76
3.1 Fuels, Firing and Fuel Economy • 76
3.1.1 Coal • 76
3.1.2 Oil • 76
3.1.3 Coal Firing • 77
3.1.4 Mechanical Stokers • 79
3.1.5 Firing Rates • 80
3.1.6 Fuel Economy • 80
3.2 Fireboxes and Combustion • 82
3.2.1 Fireboxes • 82
3.2.2 The Vanderbilt Boiler • 86
3.2.3 ­Water-Tube Boilers • 87
3.2.4 Grates • 87
3.2.5 Brick Arches • 88
3.2.6 Crownsheet Failures and Boiler Explosions • 90
3.3. Boilers and Steam Generation • 92
3.3.1 Boilers • 92
3.3.2 Water Quality • 93
3.3.3 Steam Generation • 93
3.3.4 Water Gauge Glasses • 95
3.3.5 Injectors • 96
3.3.6 Feed Water Heaters • 96
3.3.7 Superheating • 97
3.4 Smokeboxes and Drafting • 99
3.5 Cylinder Arrangements and Compounding • 103
3.5.1 Cylinder Arrangements • 103
3.5.2 Compounding • 104
3.5.2.1 Early Compound Locomotives • 105
3.5.2.2 Compounds in America • 106
3.5.2.3 Road Tests, Performance and Service Results • 109
3.5.2.4 Reappearance of the Tandem Compound • 111
3.5.2.5 The ­Four-Cylinder Balanced Compound • 111
3.5.2.6 The Mallet ­Four-Cylinder Articulated Compound • 113
3.6 Valves and Valve Gear • 113
3.6.1 Valves • 113
3.6.1.1 Slide Valves • 113
3.6.1.2 Piston Valves • 116
3.6.2 Valve Gear • 117
3.7 Frames and Running Gear • 118
3.7.1 Frames • 118
3.7.2 Accommodation to Curvature • 119
3.7.3 Suspension • 120
3.7.4 Counterbalancing • 122
3.7.5 Internal Friction • 124
3.7.6 Brakes • 124
3.8 Performance Testing and Design • 124
3.8.1 Road Tests • 125
3.8.2 Static Test Plants • 127
3.8.3 Tonnage Rating • 128
3.8.4 Design • 130
Chapter 4. Locomotive Construction, 1895–1905 • 133
4.1 Development of the 4-4-0 • 133
4.2 Fast Passenger Locomotives • 136
4.2.1 The Last 4-2-2s • 136
4.2.2 The Abortive Columbia Wheel Arrangement • 136
4.2.3 Pursuit of High Power at High Speed: The First Atlantics • 137
4.2.4 Heavy Passenger Power: The First Pacifics • 144
4.3 ­Six-Coupled, ­Multi-Purpose Locomotives • 148
4.3.1 ­Multi-Purpose ­Ten-Wheelers • 148
4.3.2 Mogul Freight Locomotives • 152
4.3.3 Further Pursuit of High Power at High Speed: The First Prairies • 154
4.4 Heavy Freight Locomotives • 157
4.4.1 Consolidations • 158
4.4.2 Mastodons • 168
4.4.3 The First Mikados • 170
4.4.4 Decapods and the First Santa Fes • 173
4.5 Switchers, Suburbans, Geared and ­Special-Purpose Locomotives • 174
4.5.1 Switchers • 174
4.5.2 Suburban Locomotives • 176
4.5.3 Geared Locomotives • 177
4.5.4 Other Unconventional Locomotives • 182
Chapter 5. Traction Other Than Steam, 1895–1905 • 186
5.1 Electric Traction • 186
5.2 Internal Combustion Traction • 188
Part Three: Transformation, 1905–1920
Chapter 6. General Steam Locomotive Development, 1905–1920 • 190
Chapter 7. Locomotive Engineering, 1905–1920 • 200
7.1 Fuels, Firing and Fuel Economy • 200
7.1.1 Coal • 200
7.1.2 Oil • 201
7.1.3 Coal Firing • 202
7.1.4 Mechanical Stokers • 203
7.1.5 Fuel Economy • 211
7.2. Fireboxes and Combustion • 212
7.2.1 Combustion • 212
7.2.2 Ash Pans • 214
7.2.3 Brick Arches • 214
7.2.4 Combustion Chambers • 216
7.2.5 Thermic Siphons • 217
7.2.6 Problems of the Staybolted Firebox • 218
7.2.7 The Wood Corrugated Firebox • 219
7.2.8 The ­Jacobs-Shupert Firebox • 219
7.2.9 ­Water-Tube Fireboxes • 220
7.2.10 Boiler Explosions • 221
7.3 Boilers and Steam Generation • 223
7.3.1 Boiler Pressures • 223
7.3.2 Water Circulation • 223
7.3.3 Boiler Washing and Water Treatment • 224
7.3.4 Superheat • 226
7.3.5 Feed Water Heaters • 232
7.4 Cylinder Arrangements, Valves and Valve Gear • 233
7.4.1 Compounding • 233
7.4.2 The End of Compounding in America • 235
7.4.3 Valves and Valve Gears • 237
7.4.4 Power Reversers • 240
7.5 Front Ends • 242
7.6 Frames and Running Gear • 244
7.6.1 Frames • 244
7.6.2 Counterbalancing • 245
7.7 Performance and Performance Testing • 246
7.7.1 Performance Testing • 246
7.7.1.1 Static Test Plants • 246
7.7.1.2 Development Work on the Pennsylvania Test Plant • 246
7.7.2 Performance Calculations • 251
7.7.2.1 Locomotive Performance • 251
7.7.2.2 Train Resistance • 252
Chapter 8. Locomotive Construction, 1905–1920 • 254
8.1 Passenger Locomotives • 255
8.1.1 Obsolescent Types: 4-4-0s, 4-6-0s, 2-6-0s and 2-6-2s • 255
8.1.2 Heyday of the Atlantics • 260
8.1.3 The 4-4-4 • 263
8.1.4 Growth of the Pacifics • 264
8.1.5 The First Mountains • 278
8.2 ­Rigid-Frame Freight Locomotives • 282
8.2.1 The Consolidation Becomes Obsolete • 282
8.2.2 Reign of the Mikados • 287
8.2.3 Decapods • 295
8.2.4 Heyday of the Santa Fe • 296
8.3 Mallets • 303
8.4 Switchers • 335
Chapter 9. Traction Other Than Steam, 1905–1920 • 340
9.1 Electric Traction • 340
9.2 Internal Combustion Traction • 342
Part Four: Superpower, 1920–1930
Chapter 10. General Steam Locomotive Development, 1920–1930 • 346
Chapter 11. Locomotive Engineering, 1920–1930 • 359
11.1 Fuels, Firing and Fuel Economy • 359
11.1.1 Coal • 359
11.1.2 Oil • 359
11.1.3 Firebox and Grate Design • 360
11.1.4 Power Stokers • 361
11.1.5 Fuel Efficiency • 363
11.2 Boilers and Steam Generation • 364
11.2.1 Steam Generation • 364
11.2.2 Pressures in ­Fire-Tube Boilers • 365
11.2.3 ­Water-Tube Boilers • 366
11.2.4 Feed Water Heaters • 371
11.2.5 Exhaust Steam Injectors • 374
11.2.6 Boiler Washing and Water Quality • 374
11.2.7 Water Gauges • 375
11.2.8 Boiler Explosions • 376
11.3 Cylinders and Valve Gear • 378
11.3.1 ­Three-Cylinder Locomotives • 378
11.3.2 Compounding • 383
11.3.3 Boosters • 384
11.3.4 ­Cut-off Control • 385
11.3.4.1 Limited ­Cut-off • 385
11.3.4.2 ­Cut-off Instrumentation • 385
11.3.4.3 Automatic ­Cut-off Control • 386
11.4 Front Ends • 387
11.4.1 Improved ­Exhaust-Blast Drafting • 387
11.4.2 Fan Drafting • 389
11.5 Frames and Running Gear • 389
11.5.1 Counterbalancing • 389
11.5.2 Frames • 390
11.5.3 Trucks • 391
11.5.4 Tandem Side Rods • 392
Chapter 12. Locomotive Construction, 1920–1930 • 394
12.1 Passenger Locomotives • 394
12.1.1 The Last ­Ten-Wheelers • 394
12.1.2 Twilight of the Pacifics • 395
12.1.3 The Mountains Hold On • 400
12.1.4 The First Hudsons • 405
12.1.5 The 4-8-4: The Ultimate ­Multi-Purpose Locomotive • 406
12.2 Freight Locomotives • 410
12.2.1 Last of the Consolidations and Decapods • 410
12.2.2 End of the Line for the Santa Fes • 411
12.2.3 The Union Pacific Type • 412
12.2.4 Mighty Mikados • 415
12.2.5 Superpower: The Berkshires • 418
12.2.6 Superpower: The Texas Type • 421
12.2.7 Coming of the Simple Mallets • 424
12.3 Switchers • 429
Chapter 13. Traction Other Than Steam, 1920–1930 • 432
13.1 Electric Traction • 432
13.2 ­Internal Combustion Traction • 433
Part Five: Finest and Final, 1930–1950
Chapter 14. General Steam Locomotive Development, 1930–1950 • 438
Chapter 15. Locomotive Engineering, 1930–1950 • 454
15.1 Fuels, Combustion, Firing and Fuel Economy • 454
15.1.1 Fuels • 454
15.1.2 Fireboxes and Combustion • 454
15.1.3 Power Stokers • 456
15.1.4 Fuel Economy • 457
15.2 Boilers and Steam Generation • 457
15.2.1 Boiler Pressures in ­Fire-Tube Boilers • 457
15.2.2 ­Water-Tube Boilers • 459
15.2.3 Boiler Maintenance and Water Quality • 462
15.2.4 Superheat • 463
15.2.5 Injectors and Feed Water Heaters • 464
15.2.6 Welded Boilers • 464
15.2.7 Boiler Explosions • 465
15.3 Steam Application, Valves and Valve Gear • 467
15.3.1 Reversing Gear • 467
15.3.2 Boosters • 467
15.3.3 Poppet Valves • 467
15.3.4 ­Steam-Turbine Locomotives • 469
15.3.5 Duplex Drive • 473
15.3.6 ­High-Pressure Reciprocating Engines • 474
15.4 Front Ends • 474
15.5 Frames and Running Gear • 478
15.5.1 Engine Beds • 478
15.5.2 Roller Bearings • 478
15.5.3 Disc Driving Wheels • 480
15.5.4 Tenders • 481
15.5.5 Counterbalancing and Effects on Track • 481
15.5.6 Streamlining and Decoration • 484
Chapter 16. Locomotive Construction, 1930–1950 • 491
16.1 ­Multi-Purpose 4-8-4s • 493
16.2 Passenger Locomotives • 504
16.2.1 Last of the Pacifics • 504
16.2.2 Triumph of the Hudsons • 506
16.2.3 The Last Mountains • 509
16.2.4 Oddities • 511
16.2.5 Duplex Drive Locomotives • 513
16.3 Freight Locomotives • 515
16.3.1 ­Eight-Coupled Locomotives • 515
16.3.2 ­Ten-Coupled Locomotives • 517
16.3.3 Mallets • 523
16.3.4 Duplex Drive Locomotives • 538
16.4 Switchers • 540
Chapter 17. Traction Other Than Steam, 1930–1950 • 543
17.1 ­Internal Combustion Traction • 543
17.2 ­Gas-Turbine Locomotives • 550
17.3 Electric Traction • 552
Conclusion • 553
Appendix A: Thermodynamics and Dimensions • 555
Appendix B: Railroad Gazette/Railroad Age Gazette/Railway Age Locomotive Type Articles • 558
Appendix C: The Cole Ratios • 571
Chapter Notes • 574
Bibliography • 610
Index • 612