New York Central / Big Four 4-8-2 "Mountain" Type Locomotives

Introduction

The New York Central Railroad needed a successor for its 4-6-2 "Pacific" that it was using for fast freight and selected the 4-8-2 wheel arrangement for a trail. In 1916, it bought a single "Mountain" type locomotive (road number 2500) from the American Locomotive Company and put it to the test. Satisfied with its performance, the NYC decided that the name "Mountain" would not be appropriate for a river level railroad and chose to call the 4-8-2 wheel arrangement "Mohawk" on its railroad. Twenty-nine more "Mohawks" were delivered by the end of the year. These thirty, ALCO built, locomotives (road numbers 2500 through 2529) were designated Class L-1a and had 28 x 28 cylinders, 69" drivers, a 200 psi boiler pressure and exerted 54,084 lbs of tractive effort.

During 1917 and 1918, 55 "Mohawks" designated Class L-1b (road numbers 2530 through 2584) came from ALCO and in 1918, one hundred 4-8-2s would arrive from the Lima Locomotive Works. These Lima built locomotives, Class L-1c (road numbers 2585 through 2639) and Class L-1d (road numbers 2640 through 2684) were duplicates of the ALCO built Class L-1a locomotives.

Between 1925 and 1930, the NYC bought a total of three hundred more "Mohawks" and designated them Class L-2. All 300 of the L-2 Mohawks were eventually numbered 2700 through 2999. Those L-2 Mohawks originally numbered 2450 through 2499 were renumbered 2950 through 2999 in 1936.

In the 1940s, 115 more "Mohawks" were added to the roster making a total of 600 4-8-2s built for the New York Central. This last group included the 65 Class L-3 (road numbers 3000 through 3034 and 3050 through 3064 from ALCO and road numbers 3035 through 3049 from Lima) and the 50 Class L-4 (road numbers 3100 through 3149 from Lima).

The NYC performed heavy repairs on and did rebuilding of locomotives at shop complexes such as those at Beech Grove, IN and Collinwood, OH.

The L-3 and L-4 Mohawks were built without smoke deflectors, and were the only Mohawks retrofitted with them. The L-3a Mohawks were built with roller bearings on all axles, but the L-3b and L-3c Mohawks were built with roller bearings on all axles except those of the driving wheels. The L-4 Mohawks were built with roller bearings on all axles.

The L-3 Mohawks were built with Boxpok driving wheels and the L-4 Mohawks were built with either Boxpok or Scullin Disc driving wheels. These wheels had a nickel content of 2-3 percent, but no NYC engine was equipped with stainless steel drivers. According to Mr. Gerbracht, stainless steel has metallurgical properties which make it unsuitable for use in driving wheel centers or tires.

There are two surviving NYC "Mohawks": number 2933 at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, MO and number 3001 at the National NYC Railroad Museum in Elkhart, IN.

Class Details by Steve Llanso

Class L-1 - later boiler (Locobase 15999)

Data from NYC 1930 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.)

Within a couple of years of the time that 2568 was fitted with a new boiler at the same time it received a third cylinder (Locobase 16001), two of the L-1as described in Locobase 4793 emerged with a variant of that vessel.; 2605 was converted in February 1923, 2518 in April 1925. The combustion chamber had indeed been replaced by longer boiler tubes, but the basic Type A superheater layout remained the same.

Class L-1a, b, c, d (Locobase 4793)

Data from "NYC 4-8-4 Type Freight Locomotives", Railway Mechanical Engineer, Vol 92, No 2 (February 1916), pp. 77-80. See also "New York Central 4-8-2 Type Locomotives," Railway Age Gazette, Volume 63, No 24 (28 December 1917), pp. 1167-1170 . (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.) Works numbers were 56000, 56027-56055 in 1916, 56910-56964 in 1917-1918 and Lima works numbers were 5499-5553, 5585-5629 in 1918.

The first of a numerous stud of Mountains (known as Mohawks on the NYC). Schenectady built the first two batches 2501-2584), the first thirty designated L-1a, the other 53 L-1b. Lima continued with 2585-2639 (L-1c) and finished off the class with 45 (2640-2684) L-1d in 1918.

The RAG report said the engines handled fast freights of 2,500-3,500 tons (75-93 loaded cars) over a 139 mile (224 km) route in five to eight hours of total time. But these were not the engines that made the 4-8-2 such a staple on the Water Level Route. For one thing, they were completed without automatic stokers. This meant, according to the New York Central Museum website (nycmuseum.railfan.net/MOHAWK.htm), that they couldn't use all the potential in their boilers. Moreover, they were hard on the track.

Although the proportions of boiler to cylinder and to grate were approximately the same and L-1s had the same 14" (356 mm) piston valves, later Mohawks had bigger grates and boilers as well as a longer stroke and higher boiler pressure.

Still, this class was big enough to merit upgrades of their own and by 1930, all had been retrofitted with Duplex stokers, almost all had trailing truck boosters, and 117 had feed water heaters. Elescos were installed on 20 L-1a, 18 L-1b, 24 L-1c, and 20 L-1d. Coffins were fitted to 1 L-1a, 14 L-1b, 7 L-1c, and 8 L-1d. 2533, 2610-2612, 2668 received Worthingtons. 2533 was equipped with thermic syphons

Two L-1b--2568-2569--were converted to a three-cylinder design (25" x 28") in 1922 and 1924, respectively; see Locobases 16000 and 16001.

By the mid-1930s, 50 of the 185 L-1s (almost all those that had not been upgraded with feed water heaters) had been scrapped. By the end of World War Two, most surviving L-1s trailed tenders carrying 22-23 tons of coal.

Class L-1b - 3 cylinder (Locobase 16000)

Data from NYC 1930 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.)

Locobase 4793 shows the original 1916-1918 L-1a design. 2569 was one of two converted by Alco to three-cylinder operation as part of that company's push to generate more power with lower forces in a given locomotive setup. Each of the three cylinders had an 11" (279 mm) piston valve.

2568, detailed in Locobase 16001, also had the new boiler that would be installed in all the L-1s.

2569 was retired on 1 January 1936 and were broken up in July 1936.

Class L-1b - 3 cylinder,, new boiler (Locobase 16001)

Data from NYC 1930 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.)

One of two L-1a converted to a three-cylinder power layout as part of Alco's promotion of that center-cylinder solution to the need for more power. Each of the three cylinders had an 11" (279 mm) piston valve. Its new boiler excluded the combustion chamber of the original design, which, as noted in Locobase 15999, resulted in some of the longest tubes ever installed in a locomotive boiler. Unlike the other L-1 updates, however, the 2568's boiler had only 3 1/2" tubes that held more superheater elements

2568 was retired on 1 January 1936 and were broken up in April 1936.

Class L-2a (Locobase 444)

Data from the 1930 guide to Dimensions and Classifications of Locomotives seen on http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nyc/nyc-lb30.html (May 2003). (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.) Works numbers for the L-2a were 66281 in March 1925, 66578-66647 in March 1926, 66648-66676 in May.

Boiler had Elesco feedwater heater, valve motion limited cutoff. NYO&W 459-460 similar. Like the L-1s, these Mohawks were limited to a 60-mph maximum speed. But their bigger boiler and grate set the standard for later NYC 4-8-2s. The L-2c (Locobase 15994) were similar, but fitted with Coffin feed water heaters.

Class L-2b (Locobase 213)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.)Works numbers were 67742-67757 in February 1929, 67758-67766 in March, 68118-68142 in October.

Known as Mohawks in New York Central service (Locobase 15900), these Mountains followed the NYC's L-2a and duplicated their dimensions.

Boiler had Elesco feed water heaters in 2900-2914 and Worthingtons in 2915-2924, valve motion with limited cutoff operating 14" (356 mm) piston valves.

Slightly larger boilers than the earlier L-2as.

Class L-2c (Locobase 15994)

Data from the 1930 guide to Dimensions and Classifications of Locomotives seen on http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nyc/nyc-lb30.html (May 2003). (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.) Works numbers were 67821

-67835 in April 1929, 67850 in May, 67851-67875 in April, 67876-67899 in June, 67900-67905 in July, 67906-67914 in August, 67915-67920 in September

The L-2c's Coffin feed water heaters required more room ahead of the drivers compared to the earlier L-2a (Locobase 444). So Schenectady moved the truck 6" (152 mm) further forward, which closed the distance between the truck's rear axle and the rear face of the cylinder. The front truck's axle moved 4" (102 mm) further ahead of the cylinder's front face.

The Coffin would be replaced and the boiler reconfigured; see Locobase .

Class L-2d (Locobase 15900)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.) Works numbers were 68118-68142 in October 1929, 68093-68103 in February 1930, 68104-68117 in March.

Boiler had Elesco feed water heaters and BK stokers, valve motion with limited cutoff.

Slightly larger boilers than the earlier L-2as (Locobase 444). More important, tenders trailing the last 50 engines used water scoops to extend their water range. The class's cast-steel engine beds, roller bearings, lightweight main and side rods meant the NYC could raise the maximum speed to 80 mph, thus making them truly dual-purpose locomotives. According to nycmuseum.railfan.net/MOHAWK.htm, L-3s developed 4,100 hp at 57 mph, which was a 23 1/2% increase over the L-2ds.

Known as Mohawks in NYC service, 50 of this class went to the Big Four (CCC&StL); see Locobase 213.

Class L-2d - converted (Locobase 16002)

Data from tables in 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.)

Boiler had Elesco feed water heaters and BK stokers, valve motion with limited cutoff.

Slightly larger boilers than the earlier L-2as (Locobase 444). More important, tenders trailing the last 50 engines used water scoops to extend their water range. The class's cast-steel engine beds, roller bearings, lightweight main and side rods meant the NYC could raise the maximum speed to 80 mph, thus making them truly dual-purpose locomotives. According to nycmuseum.railfan.net/MOHAWK.htm, L-3s developed 4,100 hp at 57 mph, which was a 23 1/2% increase over the L-2ds.

Known as Mohawks in NYC service, 50 of this class went to the Big Four (CCC&StL); see Locobase 213.

Class L-3a, b, c (Locobase 214)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and NYC 1-1944 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in August 2013 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.) Schenectady works numbers were 69337-69361 (L-3a) in 1940 and 69362-69371 in 1940-1941 (L-3b). Lima supplied another 15 in the same years as works numbers 7779-7793. Schenectady finished the class with works numbers 69745-69759 in 1942.

The first 25 of these dual-service engines were assigned to passenger trains. All of the L-3s were fitted with roller bearings in both the lead bogie and trailing truck as well as the tender's six axles for lower resistance and faster running; only the driver still used plain bearings. Pressing the boiler at 250 psi meant smaller cylinders to fill and still greater power. The L-3b and c were fitted with trailing-truck boosters that added 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) to starting tractive effort. L-3a and L-3c had Worthington feed water heaters. L-3b mixed in Worthingtons (3025-3034) in the Schenectadies and Elescos in the Limas (3035-3049).

Drury (1993) claims they were the equal of the better-known Hudsons at passenger running while the 4-6-4s couldn't haul freight. The L-4s that followed the L-3 class (Locobase 215) had drivers that were 3" taller.

The nycmuseum.railfan.net/MOHAWK.htm website puts it more strongly about both the L-3s and L-4: "[Their] performance was almost beyond belief. It was nothing for them to bring in a heavy freight drag, be serviced, and leave a few hours later at the head of one of the "Great Steel Fleet' passenger trains.".

In the latter service, their huge twelve-wheel tenders ensured endurance. Although tank capacity seemed almost modest, track pans between the rails on the Water Level Route meant the engine could take on water while scarcely slowing down. 86,000 lb (39,009 kg) of coal cut the number of stops for refuelling considerably.

Class L-4b (Locobase 215)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and NYC 1 - 1946 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive collection. (Thanks to Jason Cippola, whose 21 March 2015 triggered a complete overhaul of the New York Central's Mohawk entries and the creation of several new ones.) Works numbers were 7978-7988 in December 1942, 7989-7994 in January 1943, 7995-7999 in February, 8000-8002 in March, 8292-8298 in October, 8299-8307 in November, 8308-8316 in December.

Firebox heating surface included 35 sq ft (3.25 sq m) of arch tubes as well as a sizable combustion chamber. They were identical to the L-3s (Locobase 214) but had 3" (76.2 mm) taller drivers and slightly larger cylinders to compensate. Piston valves measured 14" (356 mm) in diameter and the boiler accommodated a Worthington feed water heater. They took a further step in friction reduction by having the driving axles also turn in roller bearings

Farrington (1976), who didn't particularly like the J-class Hudsons, says these L-4s could climb Albany Hill with seven cars in tow without a helper.

The nycmuseum.railfan.net/MOHAWK.htm website puts it more strongly about both the L-3s and L-4: "[Their] performance was almost beyond belief. It was nothing for them to bring in a heavy freight drag, be serviced, and leave a few hours later at the head of one of the "Great Steel Fleet' passenger trains." 50 L-4s ran up about 5.5 million miles (8.55 million km) in their first four years--an average of 27,500 miles (44,275 km) per locomotive per year. 4.5 million (7.25 million km) of that distance was covered hauling passenger trains.


Specifications by Steve Llanso
Class L-1 - later boiler L-1a, b, c, d L-1b - 3 cylinder L-1b - 3 cylinder,, new boiler L-2a L-2b L-2c L-2d L-2d - converted L-3a, b, c L-4b
Locobase ID 15999 4793 16000 16001 444 213 15994 15900 16002 214 215
Railroad New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) Big Four (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC) New York Central (NYC)
Country USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA
Whyte 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2 4-8-2
Road Numbers 2518, 2605 2500-2684 2569 2568 2700-2799 6200-6224/2900-2924 2800-2899 2450-2499 2995, 2998 3000-3064 3100-3149
Gauge Std Std Std Std Std Std Std Std Std Std Std
Builder NYC several Alco-Schenectady Alco-Schenectady Alco-Schenectady Alco-Schenectady Alco-Schenectady Alco-Schenectady Alco-Schenectady Alco Lima
Year 1925 1916 1924 122 1925 1929 1929 1929 1939 1940 1942
Valve Gear Walschaert Walschaert Baker Walschaert Baker Baker Baker Baker Baker Baker Baker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase 18' 18' 18' 18' 18' 18' 18' 18' 18' 19' 19'
Engine Wheelbase 39.33' 39.33' 39.33' 50.58' 42' 42.08' 42' 42.08' 42.08' 43.08' 43.08'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.46 0.46 0.46 0.36 0.43 0.43 0.43 0.43 0.43 0.44 0.44
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) 82.54' 82.54' 82.54' 82.50' 84.58' 84.67' 84.58' 84.67' 84.67' 95.96' 95.96'
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle)
Weight on Drivers 234000 lbs 234000 lbs 244000 lbs 241600 lbs 242000 lbs 247500 lbs 245000 lbs 247500 lbs 247500 lbs 264440 lbs 266500 lbs
Engine Weight 343000 lbs 343000 lbs 372500 lbs 368000 lbs 362500 lbs 368500 lbs 365000 lbs 368500 lbs 371000 lbs 398000 lbs 401100 lbs
Tender Light Weight 166500 lbs 166500 lbs 276000 lbs 276000 lbs 283700 lbs 312700 lbs 310000 lbs 312700 lbs 312700 lbs 374200 lbs 379700 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight 509500 lbs 509500 lbs 648500 lbs 644000 lbs 646200 lbs 681200 lbs 675000 lbs 681200 lbs 683700 lbs 772200 lbs 780800 lbs
Tender Water Capacity 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15000 gals 15500 gals 15200 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) 18 tons 18 tons 18 tons 18 tons 21 tons 28 tons 21 tons 28 tons 28 tons 43 tons 42 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) on which locomotive could run 98 lb/yard 98 lb/yard 102 lb/yard 101 lb/yard 101 lb/yard 103 lb/yard 102 lb/yard 103 lb/yard 103 lb/yard 110 lb/yard 111 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter 69" 69" 69" 69" 69" 69" 69" 69" 69" 69" 72"
Boiler Pressure 200 psi 190 psi 200 psi 200 psi 225 psi 225 psi 225 psi 225 psi 250 psi 250 psi 250 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke) 28" x 28" 28" x 28" 25" x 28" (3) 25" x 28" (3) 27" x 30" 27" x 30" 27" x 30" 27" x 30" 25.5" x 30" 25.5" x 30" 26" x 30"
Tractive Effort 54085 lbs 51380 lbs 64674 lbs 64674 lbs 60618 lbs 60618 lbs 60618 lbs 60618 lbs 60077 lbs 60077 lbs 59854 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.33 4.55 3.77 3.74 3.99 4.08 4.04 4.08 4.12 4.40 4.45
Heating Ability
Firebox Area 248 sq. ft 320 sq. ft 320 sq. ft 249 sq. ft 354 sq. ft 345 sq. ft 354 sq. ft 345 sq. ft 354 sq. ft 373 sq. ft 373 sq. ft
Grate Area 66.80 sq. ft 66.80 sq. ft 66.80 sq. ft 66.80 sq. ft 75.35 sq. ft 75.30 sq. ft 75.35 sq. ft 75.30 sq. ft 75.30 sq. ft 75.30 sq. ft 75.30 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface 5044 sq. ft 4430 sq. ft 4430 sq. ft 5166 sq. ft 4453 sq. ft 4556 sq. ft 4556 sq. ft 4556 sq. ft 4646 sq. ft 4676 sq. ft 4676 sq. ft
Superheating Surface 1406 sq. ft 1212 sq. ft 1212 sq. ft 2120 sq. ft 1938 sq. ft 1931 sq. ft 1931 sq. ft 1931 sq. ft 1931 sq. ft 2082 sq. ft 2082 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface 6450 sq. ft 5642 sq. ft 5642 sq. ft 7286 sq. ft 6391 sq. ft 6487 sq. ft 6487 sq. ft 6487 sq. ft 6577 sq. ft 6758 sq. ft 6758 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume 252.77 222.00 185.65 216.50 223.99 229.17 229.17 229.17 262.00 263.69 253.65
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation 13360 12692 13360 13360 16954 16943 16954 16943 18825 18825 18825
Same as above plus superheater percentage 16299 15357 16166 17234 22040 22025 22040 22025 24284 24661 24661
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area 60512 73568 77440 64242 103545 100913 103545 100913 114165 122158 122158
Power L1 21828 18547 16326 24570 30801 30794 30853 30794 38579 40985 41137
Power MT 822.61 698.96 590.04 896.81 1122.39 1097.20 1110.52 1097.20 1374.58 1366.76 1361.22

Photos

Reference

  • The New York Central System
  • New York Central Historical Society
  • NYC Forum
  • Historic New York Central Steam Photos (Photos courtesy Yesteryear Depot)
  • Memories of New York Central Steam by Arnold Hass (D. Carelton Railbooks)
  • New York Central's Later Power 1910-1968 by Alvin F. Staufer and Edward L. May (Alvin F. Staufer)
  • Rails Along the Hudson by Thomas M. Crawford and Frederick A. Kramer (Quadrant Press)
  • Steam Power of the New York Central System: Vol 1, Modern Power 1915-1955 by Alvin F. Staufer (Alvin F. Staufer)
  • Thoroughbreds by Alvin F Staufer (Alvin F. Staufer)
  • Steam Locomotives of the New York Central Lines, Volume 1, Parts 1 & 2 NYC&HRRR and B&A by William D. Edson and H. L. Vail, Jr., Published by New York Central System Historical Society, Inc.

Credits

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

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