Western Maryland 2-10-0 "Decapod" Locomotives in the USA

To the best of my knowledge the WM adapted their Russian decapods to standard gauge the same way other roads did with extra wide driver tires. I have never seen or heard anything different. The only explanation that comes to mind for the extra weight carried by these locomotives would be replacement of the frames. On at least some WM locomotives, the K-1 pacifics for example, the railroad replaced the original cast iron frames with steel frames. In the case of the K-i they also added new piston valve cylinder saddles to replace the original slide valve saddles. Perhaps the frames of the decapods were replaced to reduce maintenance and in the process they were made 2 inches longer. Weight was possibly added to improve their factor of adhesion. Improvements to the engines like thermic syphons would have added weight though in small amounts.

At some point the WM decided to try using the 1110 as a yard engine in Elkins, WV. The wide tires and long wheelbase led the 1110 to a number of visits to the ties around switch points. Needless to say the experiment was short lived.

The little decapods were used nearly system wide and were preferred power on many of the local and branchline trains. They did everything from fetching coal and working mainline locals to running the daily locals on the Waynesboro and other branches. They did their jobs well and were generally liked by the crews.

One interesting oddity about the I-1, at least when they first arrived on the WM, was that the throttles worked in reverse of normal. In other words the throttle was opened by pushing it forward and closed by pulling it back toward the tender. More than one engineer commented about feeling silly when one of them would slip and the automatic reaction was to shove the throttle forward. Of course the slipping only got worse and the engineer had to quickly close the throttle by pulling it back out. That was probably the biggest negative comment I ever heard about these locomotives.

One last note about the I-1. While these locomotives are commonly known as "Russians" on all other railroads I am aware of that was not the case on the Western Maryland. Around Hagerstown, MD the railroaders often called them "Jew" engines. Nobody seemed to know why and the only speculation I have heard is that the nickname came from the engines original destination of Russia and some tie in with the revolution. However the men who worked on the WM out of the Elkins, WV area had another name for the 1100's. They simply called them "little eleven hundreds", an obvious distinction from the huge I-2 class decapods.

The I-2 decapods were a direct result of the success of the WM's huge H-9 consolidations. These consolidations were built with 61 inch drivers, huge cylinders matched by equally huge boilers, and some of the first giant tenders. The idea was improve train speed and tonnage handled by running faster with more tonnage and eliminating stops for coal and water. By the mid twenties it was determined that an even bigger locomotive was needed to handle heavier trains with fewer locomotives on the new Connelsville extension. These locomotives needed to be able to operate over the entire mainline of the railroad.

The WM and Baldwin basically took the H-9 consolidation, maintained the same 61 inch drivers, added a driver, and multiplied all the other important dimensions by one third. Even the tender capacities were one third larger. The result was a very successful locomotive. Baldwin's experience building hundreds of huge I-1 decapods for the PRR was certainly a major factor in the design as well.

As built the I-2 was huge but basic. This included the running gear which was heavy and not well balanced. It was nearly impossible to run the I-2's at speeds above 40 MPH and not pleasant to be going that fast. At one time there was an order that anytime an I-2 slipped its drivers the engineer had to report the milepost location and the local track crew was sent to look for broken and damaged rails. On one occasion an engineer on the Baltimore line got mad at his slipping I-2 and allowed it to continue slipping. The track department was not amused when they went out and found 13 rails had to be replaced. The I-2 was also operated in pool service over the Reading Railroad between Lurgan, Pa and Rutherford, PA. The Reading, tired of replacing damaged rails, once banned the I-2 from their railroad. WM answered by banning the Readings equally heavy and poorly balanced 2-10-2's from their railroad. It did not take long for the railroads to determine it was better to put up with each others locomotives than to lose the territory for their own.

Over the years the WM improved their decapods with light weight rods and re-balancing. Some received new disc main drivers. While never really sanctioned by the railroad, enginemen soon found their improved decapods could be operated at speeds of 45 and even 50 MPH. The railroad also raised steam pressure from the original 225 PSI to 240 PSI resulting in a 6000 pound increase in tractive effort. Other improvements included thermic syphons, a nonlifting injector paired with an exhaust steam injector, and improved lubrication systems.

The WM engines were built a few months before the virtually identical copies for the L&NE. These were most definitely a WM/Baldwin designed locomotive. To that end it can be argued that WM 1120 was really Baldwin's 60000th locomotive. Of course the Baldwin experimental demonstrator locomotive number 600000 now in the Franklin Institute was given that builders number and 1120 received number 60001.

The I-2 was probably the locomotive best suited to the WM mainline that the railroad ever owned. They went everywhere and did nearly every job. About their only handicap was their long wheelbase and heavy axle loading which prohibited them from any number of spurs and branches. They were successful in the original purpose of speeding up trains with heavier tonnage and could also pull coal trains between Cumberland and Williamsport, MD in excess of 10,000 tons. One engineer told me he brought a train of more than 13,000 tons over that line. Trains of 12,000 tons were fairly common. From what I understand the nearly identical L&NE locomotives were equally successful on that railroad. Some of those even carried booster engines on the tenders which gave them more tractive effort than any other decapod. Being successful on 2 railroads makes a strong statement about the quality of the design. Not bad for a locomotive design that was undoubtedly considered outdated when they were built.

Introduction by John Bohon.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class I-1 (Locobase 4404)

Ilustrations in Linn Wescott (Model Railroader Cyclopedia - Vol 1, 1960) and see Drury (1993), 176. Data confirmed and supplemented by WM MISC steam locomotive diagram book supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See the 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.

857 2-10-0s were built by Baldwin and Alco (Richmond and Schenectady Works) for the Russian Government. When that empire was overthrown, some 200 more of the Russian order was diverted to railroads in the US by the USRA.

Note that the original adhesion weight for the Russians was given as 175,000 lb and axle loading weighed in at 34,000 lb. Perhaps when the WM adapted the running gear to run on standard gauge (it had been built for the Russian 5-foot gauge) and stretched the wheelbase by 2", they added a lot of steel to the frame ...Locobase is just guessing.

Class I-2 (Locobase 69)

Data from 1930 Locomotive Cyclopedia table, supplemented by WM MISC steam locomotive diagram book supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. See also DeGolyer, Volume 77, pp. 490+. (Many thanks to Chris Hohl for his 22 September 2017 email reporting unlikely boiler pressure values for 177 entries. A Locobase macro caused the error .) Works numbers were 59947-59951, 59986-59987 in April 1927; 59998-60002, 60038-60039, 60049 in May; 60053-60058 in June.

Virtually identical to L&NE engines (Locobase 65) delivered by the same builder at the same time, except the WM locomotives were slightly heavier and fitted with much larger tenders. The latter were among the largest to be trailed behind a rigid-wheelbase locomotive.

Locobase concludes that, like the L & NE 2-10-0s, the I-2 firebox had combustion chamber that measured 109 sq ft (10.1 sq m). As built, the hearth was rated at 360 sq ft (33.5 sq m) of direct heating surface and total evaporative heating surface was measured at 4,431 sq ft (411.65 sq m). Boiler pressure was then set to 225 psi (15.5 bar)876 working pressure and raised to the specification figure later. The addition of thermic syphons meant deletion of the arch tubes, but the change increased the firebox heating surfact to the value shown in the specifications.

The design had a good amount of superheater area and 14" (356 mm)

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID4404 69
RailroadWestern Maryland (WM)Western Maryland (WM)
Number in Class1020
Road Numbers1101-11101111-1130
Number Built1020
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)18.67 / 5.6922.50 / 6.86
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)27.83 / 8.4833.08 / 10.08
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.67 0.68
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)60.29 / 18.3892.79 / 28.28
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)40,700 / 18,46178,000 / 35,380
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)195,200 / 88,541386,800 / 175,450
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)219,000 / 99,337419,280 / 190,182
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)155,300 / 70,443416,180 / 188,776
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)374,300 / 169,780835,460 / 378,958
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)7400 / 28.0322,000 / 83.33
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)17 / 1630 / 27
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)65 / 32.50129 / 64.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)52 / 132161 / 1549
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)180 / 12.40240 / 16.50
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)25" x 28" / 635x71130" x 32" / 762x813
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)51,490 / 23355.5096,315 / 43687.80
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.79 4.02
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)194 - 2" / 51252 - 2.25" / 57
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)28 - 5.375" / 13764 - 5.5" / 140
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)17 / 5.1817 / 5.18
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)227 / 21.10503 / 46.73
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)64.70 / 6.01104.50 / 9.71
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2607 / 242.574574 / 425.09
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)579 / 53.811248 / 115.99
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)3186 / 296.385822 / 541.08
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume163.86174.71
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation11,64625,080
Same as above plus superheater percentage13,74230,347
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area48,215146,071
Power L1877917,075
Power MT495.76486.61

  • 1107 (Knobmont, WV 5/27/50, photographer unknown Carl Weber collection)
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