Philadelphia & Reading 4-8-4 "Northern" Locomotives of the USA

I-10a 2-8-0 When Revelle W. Brown became president of the Reading Company he wanted to speed up freight service. To that end he ordered the company's superintendent of motive power and rolling equipment, E. Paul Gangewere, to get together with the design engineers at the Baldwin Locomotive Works to develop a plan to convert 30 of the railroad's I-10a 2-8-0 Consolidations to new 4-8-4 Northerns.

These 30 steam locomotives (road numbers 2100 -2129) were rebuilt in the railroad's own shops in Reading, PA, beginning in 1945 with the project completed by 1947. The conversions were made with several reclaimed parts from the I-10a Consolidations (road numbers 2020-2049) and new parts furnished from Baldwin and other vendors.

The first 20 locomotives converted were put into freight service and were regularly used for coal traffic. The last 10 were equipped for passenger service but, except for a few troop trains, were also used for freight.

The Reading Class T-1's were handsome heavy-duty locomotives which saw steady work until diesels took over freight service in the early 1950's. As they were taken out of service, the T-1's were kept in top-notch shape inside the Reading Roundhouse.

By 1956, steam was dead and virtually all steam locomotives but the T-1's were gone from the Reading. The only exceptions to this were 10 G3 Pacifics which remained in storage until mid-1957 when they were scrapped and a single 0-6-0 (Reading number 1251) which was still used as a switcher at the Reading shops and is now preserved at the Strasburg Railroad.. Three years later the T-1's would begin a new and more celebrated career pulling train loads of railfans on excursions through the Pennsylvania country side. These outings became known as "Reading Rambles".

Of the 30 T-1's built by the Reading only four survive today and are located as shown below.

The Iron Horse Rambles (Reading Rambles)

Excursions were a regular part of railroading in the waning days of the steam era. These rail outings were usually run "off the beaten track" over freight-only branches or were main line "Autumn leaf excursions " run in the fall to view the Autumn colors.

2102 on a Ramble. On the Reading Railroad these excursions which became known as "Reading Rambles" were started in 1936, when the first was run in October and was billed as an "Autumn leaf excursion". This very popular ramble ran every year until the outbreak of World War II. After the war only a few rambles were run and, when diesels took over completely in the mid 1950's, they were thought to have become a part of the romantic history of railroading.

Then surprisingly in 1959, the Reading announced an "Iron Horse Ramble" to be led by a steam locomotive, one of the T-1s, #2124. This nostalgic revival of the rambles was run on October 25, 1959, with #2124 pulling a 16 car train from Wayne Junction to Shamokin. The Reading continued to run the rambles using T-1 #2100, #2102 and #2124 until high locomotive repair costs and track deterioration caused the cessation of these very popular outings. From the October 25, 1959 ramble to the last one on October 17, 1964, the Reading had operated a total of 50 "Rambles".

An interesting note is that on that 50th and final "Ramble", the T1 broke a tender or engine spring. It was later replaced with one from the 2123 which had recently been sold for scrap but was still intack. There was a TRAINS photo showing the 2123 being scrapped.

The American Freedom Train

In April, 1975, the American Freedom Train, a 20 car rolling museum, full of exhibits about American history embarked on a nationwide tour. This train carrying some of the nation's treasures, was the brain child of Ross E. Rowland, Jr.

His plan was to have the train travel from city to city and to be pulled by restored steam locomotives. For the southern and western portions of the tour he was able to secure the services of restored Southern Pacific #4449 and the restored Texas & Pacific #610.

2101 Pulling the American Freedom Train For the east, Ross Rowland found a Reading T-1, #2101, in a scrap yard in Baltimore, MD and overhauled it in the same Reading shop were it had been converted nearly 30 years earlier.

After the American Freedom Train, Ross Rowland kept #2101 and conducted a series of "Chessie Steam Special" excursions on the Chessie System in 1977 and 1978 until #2101 was severely damaged in a roundhouse fire in 1979. The fire was so severe that the coal in 2101's tender burned. As a result there was some uncertainty in the structural integrity of the locomotive and tender. After the fire the Chessie, who had been pleased with the "Chessie Steam Special" program, wanted the steam train excursions to continue and traded to Ross Rowland a C&O main line steam locomotive (#614) for the damaged #2101. They also contributed $100,000 to the restoration efforts of #614. In return Ross Rowland (Steam Loco. Corp of Americs) would cosmetically restore #2101 to its "American Freedom Train #1" appearance and donate it to the B&O museum where it still remains today.

About That Wootten Firebox

John E. Wootten patented a boiler, in 1877, that was designed to burn small sizes of cheap anthracite coal. Slow burning anthracite required a very large grate area to achieve the same heat as a much smaller one that burned bituminous coal. His firebox was extremely wide and shallow at the bottom and had a crown sheet curved with a large radius. The design permitted a thin fire and a light draft which avoided blowing fuel out of the stack.

The Reading Railroad used Wootten fireboxes on most of its steam locomotives from 1880, right up to dieselization. The I-10a locomotives, built in 1923-1925, and later converted to T-1s, had a firebox with over 90 square feet, which was about double that of a comparable soft coal burning locomotive at that time. The T-1 had a grate area of 94.5 square feet.

Over time, a mixture of hard and soft coal was used on the Reading Railroad and in the 1940's it changed to 100% soft coal. The Wootten fireboxes were modified to burn stoker-fed bituminous coal. The Wootten firebox proved a natural for getting the huge heating surface that was required in the larger locomotives that were used in the later days of the steam era.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class T1 (Locobase 275)

Data from table and diagram in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia.

Firebox had thermic syphons.

Trailing-truck booster added 11,100 lb to starting tractive effort. These engines were built using the boilers from 30 I-10 2-8-0s. The back end was unchanged, the front lengthened.

According to John Bohon, who wrote Locobase care of Wes Barris's on 3 October 2011. The first engine used friction bearings on the drivers. The other ten used roller bearings. Lead and trailing trucks used roller bearings of either SKF or Timken manufacture. Bohon comments that there was no pattern as to what tenders used which bearings.

Bohon adds: "the original use of all the T-1's was in fast freight service. Like most railroads the Reading needed engines to speed up their trains. It was not until later when the diesels started to arrive in mass that the T-1 was bumped down to coal train service. In spite of the compromises in their construction these were good locomotives."

Specifications by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Class T1
Locobase ID 275
Railroad Philadelphia & Reading
Country USA
Whyte 4-8-4
Road Numbers 2100-2129
Gauge Std
Builder Reading
Year 1945
Valve Gear Walschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase 19.25'
Engine Wheelbase 45.83'
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.42
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender)
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) 69740 lbs
Weight on Drivers 278200 lbs
Engine Weight 441300 lbs
Tender Light Weight 367700 lbs
Total Engine and Tender Weight 809000 lbs
Tender Water Capacity 19000 gals
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) 26 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) 116 lb/yard
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter 70"
Boiler Pressure 240 psi
Cylinders (dia x stroke) 27" x 32"
Tractive Effort 67984 lbs
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.09
Heating Ability
Firebox Area 465 sq. ft
Grate Area 94.40 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface 4920 sq. ft
Superheating Surface 1214 sq. ft
Combined Heating Surface 6134 sq. ft
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume 232.01
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation 22656
Same as above plus superheater percentage 27187
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area 133920
Power L1 23993
Power MT 760.54

The Four Surviving T-1s


A Brief History of 2100
  • Originally built in 1923, by Baldwin as an I-10a 2-8-0 road #2020
  • Converted to T-1 Class in 9/6/45 by the Reading Railroad
  • Was used on the Reading Rambles from 1959 through 1964
  • Sold (with two other T-1s 2101 and 2102 along with an 0-6-0 1251) to Striegel Supply & Equipment (scrap yard) in Baltimore, MD in 1965 (1251 is now at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania). Photos of 2100 at Striegel Supply.
  • Bought by Ross E. Rowland Jr in 1975 (used for parts for 2101 rebuild)
  • 1975 - 1987: stored in Hagerstown, MD
  • In 1987 2100 was sold to the "2100 Corporation". The group was led by Richard Kughn and included Ross Rowland and Bill Benson.
  • Overhauled in 1988 at Hagerstown, MD (by Richard Kughn at a cost of over $1,000,000) with plans to run it. However, no railroad was found that would agree to accommodate a locomotive that large.
  • It was broken in on the Winchester & Western after rebuilding and then stored until it was towed (under steam; without main rods) to the Wheeling and Lake Erie Rook Yard in Pittsburgh. Rods were installed and it ran to the W&LE shops in Brewster, OH.
  • Stored at the W&LE shops in Brewster, OH until 198?
  • The Kughn group donated 2100 to the Portage Ohio Regional Transportation Authority (PORTA) which had plans to operate it on its lines. These plans did not work out and PORTA placed 2100 up for sale.
  • Stored by PORTA at the Ohio Central Railroad shop in Coshocton until 1998
  • Sold at auction on 1/16/98 to Tom Payne (RailLink Ltd, of Edmonton, Alberta).
  • On the last week of May, 1998, 2100 was steamed on test runs conducted at the Ohio Central Railroad.
  • Tom Payne planned to have 2100 spend a few months during the summer of 1998 at the former Michigan Central Railroad Shops which are now part of the Elgin County Railway Museum in St. Thomas to have it converted to burn oil. Tom also bought an auxiliary tender and owned twelve stainless steel first class cars and planned to offer excursion trips through the Canadian Rockies. However, after successfully converting number 2100 to an oil-burning locomotive, Tom Payne determined that there was no suitable location to operate the locomotive out of St. Thomas, Ontario.
  • June, 2005 2100 was sold to the Golden Pacific Railroad in Tacoma, WA.
  • 2100 moved to WHECO siding, Richland, WA
  • April, 2015: 2100 moved to Clark Ave Roundhouse, Cleveland, OH for restoration
More Photos and Information


2101 is probably best known for its part in the American Freedom Train of 1975-1977 after being rescued from a junk yard in Baltimore. During this time it was also used to power the Chessie Steam Special, honoring the 150th anniversary of B&O. It was painted in Chessie System colors, and pulled 18-20 cars. Unfortunately, 2101 is also known for being in the Chessie System roundhouse that burned in 1979. It has been cosmetically restored and is currently on display at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD.
A Brief History of 2101
  • Originally built in 1923, by Baldwin as an I-10a 2-8-0 road #2021
  • Converted to T-1 Class in 1945, by the Reading Railroad
  • 1959 - 1964: Remained on standby during the Rambles, but was never used.
  • Sold to Striegel Supply & Equipment (scrap yard) in Baltimore, MD in 1965
  • Rescued by Ross Rowland and restored at Chessie's (B&O) Riverside engine terminal in 1974
  • Used on the "American Freedom Train" in 1975 and 1976 sharing duties with SP 4449 in 1976.
  • Led steam train excursions on the Chessie System from 1977 to 1979
  • Severely damaged in a roundhouse fire in 1979 after which the damaged tender was swapped with that of the 2100
  • Cosmetically restored as American Freedom Train #1
  • On static display at B&O Museum in Baltimore
More Photos and Stuff


2102 is perhaps best known for its operation on the Blue Mountain & Reading in Hamburg, PA where it was used from 1985 until the early 1990's. In 1995 it was brought to Steamtown National Historical Site to be repaired in exchange for running some excursions. In 1997 work had begun to repair 2102 but in mid 1998 it was suddenly towed to the RBM&N headquarters in Port Clinton, PA where it was put on display. RBM&N had plans to run 2102 on excursions.
A Brief History of 2102
  • Originally built in 1923, by Baldwin as an I-10a 2-8-0 road #2022.
  • Converted to T-1 Class in 1945 by the Reading Railroad.
  • Was used on the Reading Rambles from 1960 through 1964.
  • Sold to Bill Benson's Steam Tours Inc of Akron, OH in 1966.
  • Ran excursions on the Western Maryland and the B & O in 1972.
  • Numbered 302 as the motive power for the Delaware & Hudson's Sesquicentennial in 1973.
  • Ran two series of trips on the Pittsburgh & Shawmut (one from Kittaning PA, the other from Brookville PA) still wearing D&H 302 elephant ears.
  • Sold to Ohio tour group, Allegheny Railroad in 1974.
  • Ran excursions in Ohio and western PA in 1977.
  • Steam Tours operated many excursions until 2102 was forced into retirement in Brownsville, PA in 1977.
  • Overhaul begun in 1977, by a group of volunteers at Monongahela Railway Shops in Brownsville, PA.
  • Tom Jones of Stow, OH with Bob Weightman and Bill Stouffer formed Rails Diversified of Ohio Inc. (RDI) and took over ownership of 2102 in 1980.
  • Appeared in the film "Maria's Lover" which was filmed in 1983.
  • RDI and 2102 ran three Akron, OH to Pittsburgh, PA excursions in September and October of 1984.
  • Steamed from Brownsville, PA to the Reading Shops in August of 1985.
  • Ran excursions sponsored by the Reading Co, Technical & Historical Society to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the T-1s.
  • Sold to Andrew Muller (Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad) in 1985.
  • Ran excursions on the BM&R tourist line from 1985 until the early 1990's.
  • Moved to Steamtown NHS in 1995
  • Moved in 1998 to be displayed at RBM&N's new steam locomotive shops in Port Clinton, PA with plans to rebuild it as soon as the shops are complete. RBM&N plans to run 2102 and 425 on excursions as soon as possible.
More Photos and Stuff


2124 was the first T-1 used on the Iron Horse Rambles and is the only surviving T-1 that hasn't operated since the Reading Rambles in 1964 being replaced by 2101. From 1963 and on, it has been located at Steamtown National Historic Site . There is an organization called Restore 2124 which is attempting to create interest in restoring 2124 to operational condition.
A Brief History of 2124
  • Originally built in 1924, by Baldwin as an I-10a 2-8-0 road #2044
  • Converted to T-1 Class in 1947, by the Reading Railroad
  • Appeared in the opening scene of the film "From the Terrace" with Joanne Woodward. This portion of the 20th Century Fox film was shot in the Jersey City Terminal on December 2, 1959, less than a month after the first three Iron Horse Rambles.
  • Was featured in a double page advertisement in national magazines and in a two full page color spread in a Life article.
  • Was used on the Reading Rambles from 1959 through 1961
  • Pulled its last Reading Ramble on October 22, 1961
  • Retired and sold to "Steamtown" on July, 1963
  • Declared to be restorable but only cosmetically restored in 1997
  • On static display at Steamtown NHS
More Photos and Stuff


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