St Louis-San Francisco 2-10-0 "Decapod" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 1613 (Locobase 8536)

Data from NC&StL 6 - 1951 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange, as modified by Frisco updates. See the later and quite detailed overview published by designer Alphonse I Lipetz, "Russian 'Decapod' Locomotives", The Railway Engineer, Volume 43, No 2 (February 1922), pp. 51-54; April 1922, pp. 136-137; July 1922, pp. 249-251; and November 1922, pp. 415-417. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 2 October 2018 email supplying data on the builders, original tender capacity and weight and locomotive weight.)

When the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) shared the 200 5-ft-gauge Decapods orphaned by the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Frisco came in for a share of the largesse.

1613-1622 were originally produced by Alco's Richmond Works in December 1917 and January 2018 as works numbers 58827-58836 for the USRA as their accounting numbers 1013-1022. 1623 was also turned out by Richmond in January 1918. Assigned USRA 1053, the engine served the Southern as 8010, the MKT (also 8010) before landing on the Frisco.

1624-1626 came from Alco's Brooks Works at Dunkirk, NY in January 2018 as works numbers 58867, 58688, 58903 and were assigned 1074, 1089, and 1097 by the USRA.

1627-1632 were Baldwin engines produced in February 1918 with works numbers 47894-47895 47900, 47953, 48136, and 48522. Their USRA numbers were 1134-1135, 1140, 1147, 1181, and 1190

The All-Time Diagram book notes that the original 1621 suffered a "mysterious explosion" at the Waterville, Miss coal field that completely destroyed it. Other sources indicate it was blown up during an Alabama mine strike. Anxious to replace the engine, the Frisco traded 4-6-0 #614 for the Ft Smith, Subiaco & Rock Island RR's sole Decapod #101 (Baldwin 48420).

In most cases, the "Russians" had 25" x 28" cylinders and steamed at 180 psi. A post on the Frisco History board -- [] -- by "Karl" on 7 May 2007 entitled "Random Bolshevik Musings" explains that the higher pressure and bigger cylinders of the original locomotive led to a very slippery engine. To avoid polishing the rails, several of the class had their cylinder diameters reduced (probably through bushings) to 24" (610 mm). The resulting tractive effort of 47,500 lb (21,456 kg or 211.89 kN) was still sufficient for most of the light-rail freight hauling usually performed by this class.

Karl adds: "Regardless, the Frisco viewed them as good locomotives, and tweaked them a bit to improve performance. The [cylinder] reduction decreased tractive effort to 47,500lbs, but improved adhesion to 3.89 and it improved fuel economy. The coal burners received stokers. Again no date is available. The Frisco also gave each locomotive a single thermic syphon, which improved boiler circulation, and added to the heating surface. The class survived intact until the end of steam on the Frisco."

Karl comments that the Decapods probably rendered more than the branch-line service they're usually credited with: "I have several photographs of the 1630 handling the High Line passenger train. There are also two references in the Frisco Man of the 2-10-0's handling extra passenger trains, which carried veterans' specials. One article stated that the train contained a healthy 14 cars. Given the stubby, 52" drivers, one wonders why these engines were selected for this service."

The Quanah, Acme & Pacific leased the 1617 and 1628 from the Frisco.

As the Frisco began retiring the class, they sold 1615, 1621, 1625, 1630, and 1632 to the Eagle Picher Mining Company in October 1951. Thirteen years later, Eagle Picher donated all five to various sites. In engine number order, the recipients were Altus, OK, National Museum of Transport in St Louis, Texas State Fair Association in Dallas, TX, Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL, and the Smoky Hill Railway and Historical Society of Ottawa, KS.

In museum operations, boiler pressure is set to 160 psi (11 bar), which reduces strain on old steel and improves traction that much more.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Middle Run Media

Locobase ID8536
RailroadSt Louis-San Francisco (Frisco/(SLSF)
Number in Class20
Road Numbers1613-1632
Number Built20
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)18.67 / 5.69
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)27.83 / 8.48
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.67
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)60.46 / 18.43
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)184,500 / 83,688
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)210,000 / 95,255
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)142,400 / 64,592
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)352,400 / 159,847
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)7400 / 28.03
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)14 / 13
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)62 / 31
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)52 / 1321
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)180 / 12.40
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)25" x 28" / 635x711
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)51,490 / 23355.50
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.58
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)194 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)28 - 5.375" / 137
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)17 / 5.18
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)227 / 21.10
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)64.60 / 6
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2610 / 242.57
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)579 / 53.81
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3189 / 296.38
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume164.05
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation11,628
Same as above plus superheater percentage13,721
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area48,215
Power L18781
Power MT524.63

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