Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Type Locomotives


The Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railroad served the Hamilton, Ontario area and connected with the NYC in Buffalo, NY and with the CP in Toronto and Montreal. The New York Central System owned 73% of the TH&B and the Canadian Pacific, owned the other 27%.

The TH&B bought two 2-8-4s from the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1928. They were assigned road numbers 201 and 202 and had 63" diameter drivers, 28" x 30" cylinders, a 240 psi boiler pressure, exerted a tractive effort of 68,900 pounds and each weighed 403,000 pounds.

These two locomotives were the only Berkshires made in Canada. There are no surviving TH&B 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives.

Roster by Richard Duley

Qty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
2201-2021928MLWNumbers 201and 202 scrapped in 1953

Class Details by Steve Llanso

Class As (Locobase 62)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia. See also "Berkshires In Ontario Classic Steam #25" post by "Rob" aka trolleyboy dated Sat, Mar 15 2008 11:19 PM at . See also William Blevins, "The Top Twenty", Canadian Rail, No 306 (July 1977), pp. 197-213. (My thanks to Chris Hohl, whose inquiry about the valve gear led to much research and a substantial expansion of the entry.)

Boiler had Coffin feedwater heater, valve motion limited cutoff, duplex stoker. Note how much lighter for its tractive effort this engine was than many others. (It had a very low factor of adhesion -- was it prone to slipping?). William Blevins' calculation on page 200 established that the boiler could sustain an evaporative rate of 68,690 lb (31,157 kg)/hour. Its calculated max drawbar horsepower of 3,320 (2,477 kW) was topped only by the Canadian Pacific's two 4-8-4s. Measured at 65% cutoff, the tractive effort was still a healthy 69,000 lb (31,298 kg).

Rob's post offers a lot of useful background to this class. He notes that TH&B traffic up the Niagara Falls Escarpment entailed scaling a 1.04% grade for 4.41 miles (7.1 km). Existing Gs Consolidations (Locobase 14707) couldn't manage the loads. Tests with a New York Central Mikado and a Boston & Albany Berkshire led the railroad to opt for the latter. But there was a hitch, according to Rob: "For reasons of economy it was decided to build the locomotives in Canada, Lima had no Canadian subsidiary so tooling would have been prohibitively expensive for such a small order. As luck would have it Alco had just finished an order for 12 Berks of their design for the C&NW so the patterns were promptly rushed to MLW Alco's Canadian wing."

Blevins observed (p. 203) that the As were the "closest approximation to the 'Super-Power' of the Lima Locomotive Works (USA) to be found in Canada.'

The two A class engines arrived on the property on July 8 and July 12 and took on their regular assignment" "...the starlight freight run between Hamilton and Michigan Centrals Victoria Yard in Fort Erie Ontario, a 50 mile (80.5 km) run. " Rob adds that the pair was capable of 65 miles per hour (104.7 km/h) in service, suiting them to stand in for 4-6-2s and 2-8-2s on the Escarpment.

In any event, it was the last freight steam to operate on the TH&B, being scrapped in 1953.

Specifications by Steve Llanso
Locobase ID62
RailroadToronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo
Road Numbers201-202
BuilderMontreal LW
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase16.80'
Engine Wheelbase39.70'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.42
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)75.60'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)
Weight on Drivers249500 lbs
Engine Weight383000 lbs
Tender Light Weight228000 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight611000 lbs
Tender Water Capacity12000 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal)16 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) on which locomotive could run104 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter63"
Boiler Pressure240 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke)28" x 30"
Tractive Effort76160 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.28
Heating Ability
Firebox Area338 sq. ft
Grate Area100.30 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface5080 sq. ft
Superheating Surface2242 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface7322 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume237.60
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation24072
Same as above plus superheater percentage31534
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area106267
Power L131762
Power MT1122.62



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