Virginian 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives in the USA

The Virginian Railway ordered and took delivery of five "Berkshire" type locomotives from the Lima Locomotive Works in 1946. These locomotives were designated as Class BA and were given road numbers 505 through 509.

This order followed an order for ten Class K-4s "Berkshires" for the C&O. Due to war time restrictions, the design was frozen so the Virginian's "Berkshires were made identical to the C&O's. These Class BA Virginian locomotives had 69" diameter drivers, 26" x 34' cylinders, a 245 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 69,350 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 460,000 pounds.

There are no surviving Virginian 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives


ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
BA 5505-5091946LimaNumbers 505-509 scrapped in 1960

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class BA (Locobase 63)

Data from a 1951 Virginian locomotive diagram supplied to Locobase in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. (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 9107-9108 in June 1946, 9109-9111 in July.

Said to be virtually identical to C&O K-4s. How powerful and smooth was a Lima 2-8-4? EW King, Jr. (in Drury, 1993) says they "had speed well beyond that required." In a detour move on the Norfolk & Western, the Virginian's 505, pulling a 3,500 ton train, was claimed to have hit 87 mph.

The diagram shows that the firebox had two arch tubes (19 sq ft/1.76 sq m) and two thermic syphons (103 sq ft/9.57 sq m) that contributed to the firebox heating surface. A Worthington5 1/2 SA feed water heater added energy to the steam-generating system. Fourteen inch (356 mm) piston valves had a travel of 8" (203 mm). Although the diagram shows a combustion chamber, it doesn't give the length.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID63
RailroadVirginian (VGN)
Number in Class5
Road Numbers505-509
Number Built5
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)18.25 / 5.56
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)42 / 12.80
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.43
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)93.17 / 28.40
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)74,400 / 33,747
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)295,600 / 134,082
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)460,400 / 208,834
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)410,200 / 186,064
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)870,600 / 394,898
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)25,000 / 94.70
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)21 / 19
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)123 / 61.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)69 / 1753
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)245 / 16.90
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)26" x 34" / 660x864
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)69,368 / 31464.83
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.26
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)73 - 2.25" / 57
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)202 - 3.5" / 89
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)19 / 5.79
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)475 / 44.13
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)90.30 / 8.39
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4776 / 443.87
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)1932 / 179.55
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)6708 / 623.42
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume228.63
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22,124
Same as above plus superheater percentage28,539
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area150,124
Power L133,097
Power MT987.37

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Wes Barris