Great Indian Peninsula 4-6-0 Locomotives in India

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class BESA/HP (Locobase 4241)

Data from Hollingswortth (1982) and [] (30 June 2003) (link later updated to [], last accessed 26 April 2020) and [], a page of the ca. 1920 Vulcan Foundry catalogue. See also "New Designs of Locomotives", Mechanical Engineer, Volume XVIII (10 November 1906), p. 646;.Cyril Hitchcock, "The Standardisation of Locomotives in India, 1910", Engineer, Volume 110 (28 October 1910), pp. 475; The Engineer's editors presented an emphatic dismissal of the notion of standarisation of types (e.g.: "Standard Goods", "Atlantic Passenger") in the same issue at p. 468. A rebuttal by "WW" appeared in the 11 November 1910 Engineer at p. 511; and "The Work of the British Engineering Standards Association as Applied to Locomotives and Rolling Stock: The Standardization of Locomotives for Indian Railways", Locomotive Magazine, Volume XXV [25] (15 August 1919), pp. 120-123.

A full expansion of the BESA acronym explains the characterization of these engines by Hollingsworth (1982) as "More British than anything that ran in Britain ..." Introduced as the British Engineering Standards Association 4-6-0 Heavy Passenger, the first Indian BESAs came from North British. The ME report quotes the BESA's reason for recommending a Belpaire fire box, which observed that it gave "more steam and water capacity than the usual arrangement with semic-circular outside shell and girder stays for the inside firebox, and with increasing pressures and larger fireboxs the length and weight of girders become excessive, and direct staying has therefore to be resorted to."

Vulcan Foundry, Robert Stephenson, Kitson, and Glasgow-based George Beardmore also contributed batches. (Locobasea 6371 shows the Vulcan version, which had 20" cylinders and a larger boiler that reflect an individual railway's willingness to tweak the design.)

Slide valves, Stephenson link motion, and saturated steam were soon replaced by piston valves, Walschaert's gear ouside and a useful amount of superheat.

The design proved enduring -- simple, rugged, tolerant of less-than-perfect operating conditions. Writing in 1910, "WW" reported on the design's strengths and weaknesses. "We found we could haul more than the siding would hold ...with the maximum number we could run on them they could on the long runs get up to 30 miles per hour [48 kph] and stop in, say 1 1/2 miles [2.4 km]."

Illustrating the capacity and efficiencies of the HP design, WW claimed that the 4-6-0 "took three more than the combined loads of two older class engines." Savings included "one set of staff, using roughly 80 per cent. of the coal and 60 per cent. of the oil and in 2 1/2 in 15 less time per trip." Even maintenance saw a benefit as the class did "somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 per cent. more mileage before repairs than the old engine."

Vulcan's 1920 catalogue showed two versions of the HPS superheated variant. They're shown in Locobase as 2576 (Robinson) and 6366 (Schmidt)..

The only "serious fault" WW could find was "if pressed they would not steam, as the heatng surface was far too low for the cylinders ...a 19 1/2" cylinder calls for 2,250 sq ft [209.0 sq m], and I should be glad to see a superheater over and above that. I have tried hard to get steam on on a rough night in the rains and been beaten."

Obviously, Locobase defers to the operator in this matter, but wonders if the cause lay as much in the poor quality of coal as in an inherent flaw. The Indian website expressed its dissatisfactions with the BESA designs, shedding light on this question: Many of the designs "performed poorly because they were British designs not well-adapted to Indian conditions. They had narrow grates and fireboxes meant for high-grade coal, inside cylinders, and other such British features of the period."

He added that running goods trains on the engine brake supplied was "naturally insufficient, and seeing one of these trains trying to stop from high speed is an education."

He commented that the 2-8-0 would have been too much engine and "would have been wasted."

Data from [] (30 June 2003) and [], a page of the ca. 1920 Vulcan Foundry catalogue. The catalogue shows two versions of the HPS superheated variant. They're shown in Locobase as 2576 (Robinson) and 6366 (Schmidt).

Some ran well into the 1980s.

Class BESA/HPS - Schmidt (Locobase 6366)

See the original HP (Locobase 4241) for a full description of the BESA program. See Locobase 2576 for the Robinson superheater version of the HPS. All HPS locomotives were fitted with the Belpaire firebox.

Data from an account of a later shipment was described in the Vulcan Magazine for 1950 [] . Of the 84 locomotives in this batch, 69 had the Schmidt Type A with area shown in the specifications. 10 more had a trifurcated version measuring 404 sq ft (37.53 sq m), and 5 had the 5P4 superheater that yielded 475 sq ft (44.13 sq m). Piston valves measured a generous 10" in diameter.

See also the ca. 1920 Vulcan Foundry Catalogue hosted on [] for an earlier variant.

Class D4 (Locobase 20160)

Data from "Great Indian Peninsula Railway," Locomotive Magazine, Volume XIX [19] (15 January 1913), p. 3 and "Bogie Passenger Engine and Tender for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway", Vulcan Foundry Locomotive Catalogue, No. 26, found on Flicker's Historical Locomotive Images website at []. (Many thanks to Jorge Cerezo Toledo for his 26 June 2021 email containing links to several sites including the Vulcan Catalogue referred to above.) Works numbers were 2818-2823 in 1912.

This design by the GIPR's London-based consulting engineer Robert White and fulfilling the specification of the GIPR's locomotive superintendent S J Sarjant is clearly a superheated version of the standard BESA/HP Ten-wheeler design described in Locobase 4241. Vulcan used as its template the batch for the Bombay, Baroda and Central India the company delivered in 1905.

To accommodate a relatively large superheater installation, the company removed just over half of the original small tubes. They retained the Belpaire firebox and the running gear, but dropped the boiler pressure by 20 psi (1.38 bar). (This was a typical adjustment to the greater power in superheated steam, which many operators figured allowed them to reduce the overall stress on the boiler. Before too long, most users kept or even increased boiler pressure during such conversions.)

These engines handled part of the impressively long distances for mail trains that left Bombay. 1919's schedule called for the Punjab Mail run 957 miles (1,541 km) to Delhi in a little over 31 hours. Two Bombay mail trains left for Calcutta. One traveled through Nagpur before it arrived at Calcutta's Howrah station, 1,223 miles (1,969 km) and 46 1/2 hours later. The other's route went by Jubbulpore (616 miles/992 km) and arrived at Howrah 44 1/4 hours and 1,349 miles (2,172 km) from its origin. And the Madras Mail took almost 36 hours to cover the 794 miles (1,278 km) to Madras.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Middle Run Media

ClassBESA/HPBESA/HPS - SchmidtD4
Locobase ID4241 6366 20160
RailroadGreat Indian Peninsula (GIPR)Great Indian Peninsula (GIPR)Great Indian Peninsula (GIPR)
Number in Class3876
Road Numbers
Number Built3876
BuilderseveralseveralVulcan Foundry
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)14.25 / 4.3414.25 / 4.3414.25 / 4.34
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)27.25 / 8.3127.25 / 8.3127.25 / 8.31
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.52 0.52 0.52
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)51.67 / 15.7551.58 / 15.7251.67 / 15.75
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)38,080 / 17,27338,080 / 17,273
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)118,000 / 53,524118,412 / 53,711113,904 / 51,666
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)154,560 / 70,107170,688 / 77,423158,144 / 71,733
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)139,944 / 63,478103,936 / 47,145
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)310,632 / 140,901262,080 / 118,878
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)5400 / 20.454800 / 18.18
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)11.20 / 10 8.25 / 8
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)66 / 3366 / 3363 / 31.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)74 / 188074 / 188074 / 1880
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)180 / 12.40180 / 12.40160 / 11
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)19" x 26" / 483x66020.5" x 26" / 521x66020.5" x 26" / 521x660
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)19,406 / 8802.4222,591 / 10247.1220,081 / 9108.60
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 6.08 5.24 5.67
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)196 - 2.25" / 5797 - 2.25" / 5799 - 2.25" / 57
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)24 - 5.5" / 14024 - 5.25" / 133
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)15.87 / 4.8415.85 / 4.82
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)157 / 14.59157 / 14.59152 / 14.59
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)32 / 2.9737 / 3.4432 / 2.97
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1990 / 184.881613 / 149.911599 / 149.11
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)430 / 39.96407 / 37.81
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1990 / 184.882043 / 189.872006 / 186.92
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume233.24162.40160.99
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation576066605120
Same as above plus superheater percentage576080596144
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area28,26034,19529,184
Power L1722014,01011,964
Power MT404.68782.52694.69

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