Erie 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Type Locomotives

Introduction

The Erie Railroad bought more "Berkshire" type locomotives than any other railroad and was the only one to have purchased them from each of the big three locomotive builders.

In 1927, the Erie purchased twenty-five "Berkshires" from the American Locomotive Company, designated them as class S-1 and numbered them 3300 through 3324. In the same year the Erie placed an order with the Lima Locomotive Works for twenty-five more, this group was designated Class S-2 and were numbered 3325 through 3349.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works received an order for thirty-five "Berkshires" from the Erie in 1928. They were designated as Class S-3 and assigned road numbers 3350 through 3384. A final twenty "Berks" were ordered in 1928 and came from Lima in 1929. This group was designated as Class S-4 and carried road numbers 3385 through 3404.

All four classes were built to the same specifications, which included: 70" diameter drivers, 28.5" x 32" cylinders, a 225 psi boiler pressure and a tractive effort of 71,000 pounds. The Class S-1 locomotives weighed 443,000 pounds, the Class S-2 weighed 457,500 pounds, the Class S-3 weighed 461,000 pounds and the Class S-4 weighed 468,800 pounds.

This fleet of 105 "Berkshires" changed the Erie from a classic drag freight operation to a fast freight railroad in just two years.

There are no surviving Erie 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives

Roster by Richard Duley

ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
S-1253300-33241927ALCONumbers 3300-3324 scrapped between 1950 and 1952
S-2253325-33491927LimaNumbers 3325-3349 scrapped between 1950 and 1952
S-3353350-33841928BaldwinNumbers 3350-3384 scrapped between 1950 and 1952
S-4203385-34041929LimaNumbers 3385-3404 scrapped between 1950 and 1952

Class Details by Steve Llanso

Class S-1 (Locobase 58)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia and from Erie 7-1949-1 Loco Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. Works numbers were 67491-67515. (Thanks to Jack Davis for his March 2013 comments that led to an update of the Erie series.)

Fireboxes had 107 sq ft of thermic syphons and 22 sq ft of arch tubes, boilers had feedwater heaters, valve motion operated 14" piston valves with 9" travel and had limited cutoff. The Erie S class had the greatest amount of heating surface of any Berkshires. They were also relatively high-drivered at 70 inches. By the end of steam, they had absolutely enormous tenders that weighed more than most locomotives.

Alfred W Bruce, Director of Steam Engineering at Alco, loved his Alco engines and these Berks proved no exception. Tossing a bone to Lima's ground-breaking 2-8-4s for the Boston & Albany, Bruce salutes the Eries by claiming it "showed almost unprecedented operational savings in service and firmly established the 284 [sic - Bruce never hyphenated a wheel arrangement] with conventional frame construction, long cutoffs and 69-70-in drivers with good counterbalancing. in fast freight service on many roads. This Erie was as outstanding an example of good engineering as was its predecessor the first 284 of the Boston & Albany." The Steam Locomotive in America - Its development in the twentieth century (New York: W W Norton, 1952) pp 306-307).

Bruce does not mention William Black, designer of these Eries and several other great superpower locomotives, who began on the Nickel Plate, but worked for a time for the Erie and drafted these superb engines.

Class S-2 (Locobase 59)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia and from Erie 7-1949-1 Loco Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. Lima's works numbers were 7252-7276 in 1927. (Thanks to Jack Davis for his March 2013 comments that led to an update of the Erie series.)

Fireboxes had 107 sq ft (9.95 sq m) of thermic syphons and 22 sq ft (2.05 sq m) in two arch tubes, boilers had Worthington BL feedwater heaters, valve motion had limited cutoff. Ordered from Lima in the same year as the S-1s came from Alco. S-2s had a 2-ft (610 mm) longer engine wheelbase, a slightly greater tractive effort, and larger heating dimensions.

Unlike the Brooks S-1 (Locobase 58) and Baldwin S-3 (Locobase 60), the S-2s were run at 250 psi (17.25 bar), but the Erie calculated their tractive effort at 60% cutoff and a 77.5% of MEP and credited the engines with 72,000 lb starting TE.

Starting out with a tender that held 16,500 US gallons(62,453 litres) of water and 24 tons (21.75 tonnes) of coal, the S-2 eventually pulled the same big vehicle used by the other Erie Berks - it's shown in the specs.

Class S-3 (Locobase 60)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia and from Erie 7-1949-1 Loco Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. See also DeGolyer, Vol 81, pp. 185+. Works numbers wer 60558-60560 in July 1928; 60577-60580 in August, 60612, 60614-60621, 60634-60641 in September; 60645-60655 in October. (Thanks to Jack Davis for his March 2013 comments that led to an update of the Erie series and to Chris Hohl for pointing out a discrepancy in the S-3 and S-4 class road numbers.)

Fireboxes had 22 sq ft of arch tubes and 107 sq ft of thermic syphons contributing to their heating surface, boilers had feedwater heaters, valve motion operated 14" piston valves and had limited cutoff.

The S-3 (Baldwin) had the lower boiler pressure of the S-1, but the longer engine wheelbase of the S-2.

Class S-4 (Locobase 9242)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia and from Erie 7-1949-1 Loco Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. Lima's works numbers were 7379-7398 in 1929. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for pointing out a discrepancy in the S-3 and S-4 class road numbers.)

Fireboxes had 107 sq ft (9.95 sq m) of thermic syphons and 22 sq ft (2.05 sq m) in two arch tubes, boilers had Worthington BL feedwater heaters, valve motion had limited cutoff of the 14" (356 mm) piston valves, which had a maximum travel of 9" (229 mm).

Completed the set of 105 Berks ordered by the Erie with only a few changes. Like the other Limas (S-2; see Locobase 59), the S-4s were run at 250 psi, but the Erie calculated their tractive effort at 60% cutoff and a 77.5% of MEP and credited the engines with 72,000 lb starting TE.

Jack Davis emailed Locobase on 17 March 2013 with this reminiscence: "My father started to work on the Erie RR on 11-26-1918. I have heard him say that the 3300's were by far the finest engines that he had the honor to run." Davis then reports that his father's last run in steam occurred on 15 January 1951 at the throttle of 3389.


Specifications by Steve Llanso
ClassS-1S-2S-3S-4
Locobase ID58 59 60 9242
RailroadErie (ERR)Erie (ERR)Erie (ERR)Erie (ERR)
CountryUSAUSAUSAUSA
Whyte2-8-42-8-42-8-42-8-4
Road Numbers3300-33243325-33493350-33843385-3404
GaugeStdStdStdStd
BuilderAlco-BrooksLimaBaldwinLima
Year1927192719281929
Valve GearBakerBakerBakerBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase18.20'18.25'18.25'18.25'
Engine Wheelbase42'44'44'44'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.43 0.41 0.41 0.41
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)86.17'86.60'91.55'91.54'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)71000 lbs70800 lbs71700 lbs72000 lbs
Weight on Drivers276000 lbs281000 lbs284670 lbs286500 lbs
Engine Weight443000 lbs457500 lbs457500 lbs468600 lbs
Tender Light Weight370450 lbs330000 lbs370450 lbs378000 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight813450 lbs787500 lbs827950 lbs846600 lbs
Tender Water Capacity20750 gals16500 gals20750 gals20800 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal)27 tons24 tons27 tons28 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) on which locomotive could run115 lb/yard117 lb/yard119 lb/yard119 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter70"70"70"70"
Boiler Pressure225 psi250 psi225 psi250 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke)28.5" x 32"28.5" x 32"28.5" x 32"28.5" x 32"
Tractive Effort71014 lbs78904 lbs71014 lbs78904 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.89 3.56 4.01 3.63
Heating Ability
Firebox Area449 sq. ft448 sq. ft437 sq. ft449 sq. ft
Grate Area100 sq. ft100 sq. ft100 sq. ft100 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface5699 sq. ft5697 sq. ft5691 sq. ft5695 sq. ft
Superheating Surface2480 sq. ft2480 sq. ft2480 sq. ft2545 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface8179 sq. ft8177 sq. ft8171 sq. ft8240 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume241.20241.12240.86241.03
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22500250002250025000
Same as above plus superheater percentage29250325002925032750
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area131333145600127823147048
Power L133623373513354838076
Power MT1074.291172.171039.251171.98

Photos

Reference

Credits

Introduction and roster provided by Richard Duley. Class details and specifications provided by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media.