Erie 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives

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

Class Qty. Road Numbers Year Built Builder Notes
S-1 25 3300-3324 1927 ALCO Numbers 3300-3324 scrapped between 1950 and 1952
S-2 25 3325-3349 1927 Lima Numbers 3325-3349 scrapped between 1950 and 1952
S-3 35 3350-3384 1928 Baldwin Numbers 3350-3384 scrapped between 1950 and 1952
S-4 20 3385-3404 1929 Lima Numbers 3385-3404 scrapped between 1950 and 1952

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

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 Raildata 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 Raildata 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 Raildata 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 Raildata 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 of Sweat House Media
Class S-1 S-2 S-3 S-4
Locobase ID 58 59 60 9242
Railroad Erie (ERR) Erie (ERR) Erie (ERR) Erie (ERR)
Country USA USA USA USA
Whyte 2-8-4 2-8-4 2-8-4 2-8-4
Road Numbers 3300-3324 3325-3349 3350-3384 3385-3404
Gauge Std Std Std Std
Builder Alco-Brooks Lima Baldwin Lima
Year 1927 1927 1928 1929
Valve Gear Baker Baker Baker Baker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase 18.20' 18.25' 18.25' 18.25'
Engine Wheelbase 42' 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 lbs 70800 lbs 71700 lbs 72000 lbs
Weight on Drivers 276000 lbs 281000 lbs 284670 lbs 286500 lbs
Engine Weight 443000 lbs 457500 lbs 457500 lbs 468600 lbs
Tender Light Weight 370450 lbs 330000 lbs 370450 lbs 378000 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight 813450 lbs 787500 lbs 827950 lbs 846600 lbs
Tender Water Capacity 20750 gals 16500 gals 20750 gals 20800 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) 27 tons 24 tons 27 tons 28 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) 115 lb/yard 117 lb/yard 119 lb/yard 119 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter 70" 70" 70" 70"
Boiler Pressure 225 psi 250 psi 225 psi 250 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke) 28.5" x 32" 28.5" x 32" 28.5" x 32" 28.5" x 32"
Tractive Effort 71014 lbs 78904 lbs 71014 lbs 78904 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.89 3.56 4.01 3.63
Heating Ability
Firebox Area 449 sq. ft 448 sq. ft 437 sq. ft 449 sq. ft
Grate Area 100 sq. ft 100 sq. ft 100 sq. ft 100 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface 5699 sq. ft 5697 sq. ft 5691 sq. ft 5695 sq. ft
Superheating Surface 2480 sq. ft 2480 sq. ft 2480 sq. ft 2545 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface 8179 sq. ft 8177 sq. ft 8171 sq. ft 8240 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume 241.20 241.12 240.86 241.03
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation 22500 25000 22500 25000
Same as above plus superheater percentage 29250 32500 29250 32750
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area 131333 145600 127823 147048
Power L1 33623 37351 33548 38076
Power MT 1074.29 1172.17 1039.25 1171.98

Photos

Reference

  • Erie Power by Frederick Westing and Alvin F. Staufer, Published by Alvin F. Staufer

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