Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Type Locomotives


The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad made a number of locomotive purchases during World War II to help with the increase in freight traffic.

In 1943, the RF&P bought ten "Berkshire" type locomotives from the Lima Locomotives Works. These locomotives were assigned road numbers 571 through 580 and were similar to the Nickel Plate and the Pere Marquette design. They had 69" diameter drivers, 25" x 34" cylinders, a 245 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 64,100 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 433,200 pounds.

They did not last long on the RF&P as they were retired in 1952 There are no surviving RF&P 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives.

Roster by Richard Duley

Qty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
10571-5801943LimaNumbers 571-589 scrapped in 1952

Class Details by Steve Llanso

Class 571 (Locobase 61)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and RF&P 4 - 1946 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. (My thanks to Chris Hohl for commenting on the valve gear, which led to more research and an expansion of the entry. Also, after Chris's inquiry, I revised the 1st-built date after confirming the later date in a listing of Record of Steam Locomotives Photographed As Built at Lima, Ohio.) Works numbers were 8023-8031 in January 1943.

Firebox heating surface included the area of the combustion chamber, 98 sq ft (9.1sq m) of thermic syphons, and 19 sq ft (1.75 sq m) of arch tubes. The boiler was fitted with a Worthington 5 SA feed water heater.

Procured only because of the drought of diesels during World War II, these worthy steamers duplicated the design of such Berkshires as the Chessie's K-4 (Locobase 55) and Pere Marquette's N-1 (Locobase 54). The 1934 Nickel Plate locomotives usually cited as the template (Locobase 52) had a few more boiler tubes and thus more heating surface area. All were Limas, all had Baker valve gear, and all were exemplars of the Superpower formula.

The RF&P locomotives were taken out of service by 1952 as the RF&P converted to an all-diesel roster.

Specifications by Steve Llanso
Locobase ID61
RailroadRichmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (RF&P)
Road Numbers571-580
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase18.25'
Engine Wheelbase42'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.43
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)94.06'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)
Weight on Drivers271000 lbs
Engine Weight434000 lbs
Tender Light Weight381850 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight815850 lbs
Tender Water Capacity22000 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal)25 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) on which locomotive could run113 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter69"
Boiler Pressure245 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke)25" x 34"
Tractive Effort64135 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.23
Heating Ability
Firebox Area461 sq. ft
Grate Area90.30 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface4772 sq. ft
Superheating Surface1932 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface6704 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume247.04
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22124
Same as above plus superheater percentage28539
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area145699
Power L135684
Power MT1161.18




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