New England 0-4-0 "Switcher" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class unknown (Locobase 15946)

Data from "Steam Motor Car, New England Railroad," American Engineer, Car Builder and Railroad Journal, Volume 71 (November 1897), pp. 367-369, Volume 72 (June 1898), p. 213; John H White, The American Railroad Passenger Car, Volume 2 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), pp. 584-585; "The Erie 'Composite'", Railway Age, Volume 25 (1 April 1898), p. 223.

The Railroad Journal report noted that changing demands for suburban railroad service and competition from ever-extending electric trolley car service led the NERR's General Manager C Peter Clark to approach Schenectady with a request to adapt an old dining car to a self-propelled combination (i.e. baggage and passenger) motor car he called the Composite.

The report observed that the design of such a car may appear to be "a very simple matter. It is, however, exceedingly difficult to secure the necessary power, endurance, and ability to accelerate a train with the necessary compactness and the freedom from oscillation or vibration connected to the train."

White says that A J Pitkin, Schenectady's active and imaginative general manager, took a special interest in this project and "devised and patented a ball-bearing, circular, iron-frame boiler mounting, apparently not realizing that the same scheme had been patented thirty years earlier by Woodbury." (The Baldwin placed in service at around the same time in Cincinnati and Fairfield (Locobases 12237 and 12269) mounted their boilers on the car floor.). A photo in the November 1897 article shows the high-pressure boiler mounted vertically, directly on the truck and looking, without all of the surrounding carbody, like an early B&O Atlantic design.

The dining car had rolled on two six-wheel trucks. The front truck now had two coupled axles and constant-lead radial valve gear for steam admission. The passenger compartment now held 60 seats. In all, it was a design that allowed for the maximum boiler capacity available in a vertical boiler within the limits of a coach body.

White wrote that the boiler's steaming capacity fell short when the car ran its first tests on a 20-mile branch line. Relocating the car to "dead level" Cape Cod answered that complaint, the motive car proving capable of pulling another passenger coach or six-eleven freight cars. Service speed was limited to 45 mph (72.5 km/h). The coke fire could burn for 12 miles (19.3 km) without tending and it had enough water for 60 miles (97 km).

The Composite served the New England's (now owned by the New Hav n) Dedham branch until 1904, when it was placed in storage for two years.

Schenectady built a duplicate power truck for the Erie's single venture into a steam motor car; this was delivered in October 1897 for installation in an old emigrant car. Although the vehicle initially fired the imagination as a solution to short-distance branch line work, White reported that it fell short, as did a second car bought in 1898. Of the second car, an anthracite burner numbered 680, White wrote: "[E]ven though the car ran fourteen trips a day over the 4-mile branch, breakdowns were frequent and the ride was rough, more like a locomotive's than a coach's." And, like all other such vertical-boiler vehicles, the car couldn't make enough steam to meet the schedule. It was retired and broken up before 1902.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID15946
RailroadNew England
Number in Class1
Road Numbers
Number Built1
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)6 / 1.83
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)56.83 / 17.32
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.11
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)56.83 / 17.32
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)70,000 / 31,752
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)115,000 / 52,163
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)1400 / 5.30
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT) 0.70 / 1
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)23 / 11.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)42 / 1067
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)200 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)12" x 16" / 305x406
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)9326 / 4230.21
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 7.51
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)318 - 1.25" / 32
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m) 4.73 / 1.44
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)52.10 / 4.84
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)11.23 / 1.04
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)539 / 50.07
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)539 / 50.07
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume257.89
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation2246
Same as above plus superheater percentage2246
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area10,420
Power L15356
Power MT843.42

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