• Strangest Steam Locomotive

  • Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads
Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads

Moderators: slide rules, Typewriters

  by CarterB
The South African (and other) Garratt's were strange looking, but quite successful and long used to spread axle loads on several guages, including 2' guage.

There was also supposedly a Russian "Big Joe" that was a 4-12-12-4 + 4-12-12-4

http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/L ... adrapl.htm

http://1stclass.mylargescale.com/vsmith ... del%20.pdf

  by scottychaos
Here is one of my favorites,
the Lehigh Valley's "Lilliput"
a 2-2-0 built by Mason.



So many crewmen, there's not even room for everyone to ride....... :-D
  by Juniatha
TB Diamond wrote:The C&O and the N&W steam turbines receive my vote. Possibly their electric traction motors disqualify them, however? Should this be the case, then my vote goes to the Pennsy's S-1 steam turbine.
Well, I would not call them 'strange' - they were one-off engines, sure, but both the C&O and the N&W steam turbine engines had their aesthetic values.
The C&O engine was strange in so far as the arrangement of drive axles was not as one would expect by the arrangement of the bogies. That was a feature bespeaking design difficulties in this first-ever experimental engine. The N&W # 2300 had a clean and logic arrangement of components and a full adhesion w/a, though a giant one with four bogies of three axles each.
The PRR direct turbine engine was class S-2 by the way - class S-1 was the 6-4-4-6 original Duplex. # 6200, as she was logically designated (the S-1 was # 6100) was an engine of aesthetic lines and proportion if you take an unbiased look at her, especially if seen in three-quarter front view where the large tender was moderated by perspective. Even the point of how to 'fill the gap' with cylinder blocks missing in an otherwise principally classic type steam locomotives was acceptably solved, in my opinion solved best with addition of the large smoke deflectors. The later fitted small German type 'Witte' wings were neither fitting the engine nor were they arranged in a way understanding their function (much too close to the boiler, not reaching forward of the smokebox front). A side view revealed though, the engine suffered as did the T-1s from excessively beefed-up tenders that made them look like hefty teenagers having eaten a dozen hamburgers per day for years on end. Yet that described their coal consumption, not so much because of inefficient use of steam in either the poppet valve cylinders or the turbine but by sheer squandering of unburned slush of coal that draughting distributed over the lineside country due to the heavy abrasion by filling giant coaling docks and chute-delivery to tenders was done, and by finally charging coal from there up into the firebox by archimedes screw. That effectively turned stoker firing into a mixture of pulverized coal, fine grain and lumps firing of which of course only the larger pieces remained on the grade to be efficiently burnt while the finer particles were pulled right up the chimney.
It might be considered
strange that railroads allowed this to go on and rather added up two more axles to tenders to compensate for the heavy consumption and cleaned rolling stock more or less often than care for a sound solution, or in other words: before the advent of the diesels they really couldn't have cared less for technical, organisational and financial implementations of heavy fuel consumption.
Strange days had found us ... (Jim Morrison, slightly adapted)
Last edited by Juniatha on Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
  by Juniatha
My favourite of the 'strangers' are the Triplexes - not so much because I would consider them most weird but rather because they were a bold attempt at off middle-of-the-road design and actually had a point in them. That it didn't work out as thought has much to do with a lack of understanding at that time and maybe by the very engineers involved of what really makes a boiler steam. So basically two essential faults were 'designed' into them, intriguingly into all of them - there was no learning from mistakes, likely because the reason for trouble was not understood.
1) The idea of making it parallel-compound engines with the rigid rear engine under the boiler being HP and both the swivelling Mallet type front engine as well as the tender engine LP made it appear easiest to allow exhaust of the rear LP engine to exhaust at the rear - its steam being used a little in a preheater, no more. Thus half the exhausting steam was lost on draughting - which at a time when highly efficient draughting arrangements were still unknown was a desaster for combustion rate in relation to steam consumption rate.
2) The compounding idea also seems to have contributed to hiding the fact that there basically was a 50 % increase in steam demand due to the engine having three eight wheel drive sets instead of two of a 'straight' Mallet; yet the boiler was just that of a 2-8-8-0 engine. That called for a substantially higher specific steaming rate in this boiler than known before in 'straight' Mallets. The fact that the additional tender drive set was working on LP must not be misinterpreted since it meant that only one of each HP cylinder was to feed one entire LP drive set. That in turn meant that each of these HP cylinders asked for a much higher passing through of steam - or in other words: there were effectively two three cylinder compound engines distributed over three drive sets. This view also highlights the difficulties associated with getting all three sets to work to an acceptably even factor of adhesion to get a tractive effort in proportion to the additional adhesion weight. It was sure not helpful that tender drive wheels found varying adhesion with supplies being consumed. If that latter problem did not turn up much in service it bespeaks low exploit of the extra amount of adhesion weight, i.e. relatively low drawbar pull, and thus low output since this was essentially a low speed drag machine. This fact again helped the overly strained and under-draughted boiler to more or less cope with demand and this way the engines managed to chuff along slowly at uncertain boiler pressure and do more or less what a good 2-8-8-0 could have done, except for outright starting effort.
Had the ill-rated aspects of design been put right - who knows: railroads putting two Mallets or later two SE articulateds on a freight on the climb and a pusher to the rear could have been interested in a Henderson 4x8 coupled engine as he envisioned (I leave alone his 5x8 coupled plan with concertina boiler because that would just have been way beyond the technical knowledge and capabilities then available).

Last edited by Juniatha on Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

  by pennsy
Hi All,

While it is true that the triplexers were steam oddities, it is also true that they were an attempt at MU'ing steamers. That is, one crew for all that power. Obviously, dieselization finished that idea. Still and all, it does remind me of Trains Magazine's article on the Garratt-Big Boy combination that was proposed at one time. It essentially was two Big Boys in a Garratt configuration. ie semi-articulated-articulated-semi-articulated.

  by Aa3rt
scottychaos wrote:Here is one of my favorites, the Lehigh Valley's "Lilliput" a 2-2-0 built by Mason. Scot
Scot, thanks for posting that photo! I remembered seeing it in Trains way back in the early or mid-1950s and haven't seen that photo since. That was definitely a unique loco. Any idea where it served on the LV system?
  by Juniatha
pennsy wrote:Hi All,

While it is true that the triplexers were steam oddities, it is also true that they were an attempt at MU'ing steamers. That is, one crew for all that power. Obviously, dieselization finished that idea. Still and all, it does remind me of Trains Magazine's article on the Garratt-Big Boy combination that was proposed at one time. It essentially was two Big Boys in a Garratt configuration. ie semi-articulated-articulated-semi-articulated.
Hi, Thomas-the-Pennsy-Tank-Engine
(please excuse my interpretation of your picture)
Yes, an attempt at MU'ing if you count the drive sets as units- which should be called fair if you consider one eight-coupled steam drive set the equivalent of one BB diesel unit. May I add one remark on the Triplexii: I wrote before: boiler size remained that of a 'straight' Mallet - so, what could have been done about that? Well, these engines appeared before Mallets came to acquire rear trucks. Had the design of a later 2-8-8-4 been extended to the idea of tender drive then a better support by boiler capacity could have been had - provided, to be sure, that draughting was put right! - which would have meant to do away with that rear-exhaust 'cheating' and find a sound way to bring rear engine exhaust all the way to the front, likely by side-passing firebox / ashpan below cab / running board above drive wheels while live steam would have to pass midways underneath a roof dividing ashpan. Nothing is for free in life and the price to pay for that extra t.e. by tender drive would have been high at any rate.
My gosh - a proposal to multiply Mallet x Garratt - wasn't that a bit overdoing it? What kind of a boiler did they propose to fit and what about all those live and exhaust steam pipings: there should be a significant thermodynamic loss to be expected with anything but super careful insulation and conduct of pipes, and even then: surging or oscillation pressure waves could build up in the long live pipes if the engine happens to work at their proper frequence and this could have surprising effects on disturbing the eveness of cylinder filling and thus on the eveness of torque per wheel revolution.
Further, (a), Mallets were made to run forwards, basically. True, the SP made them run backwards, but I don't know about what track maintenance commented on that - they sure were glad to see the last of it! A Garratt is essentially an engine having two independent chassis sets in symetrical arrangement in order to make the engine principally bi-directional. Now, if it were for a symetrically arranged 'malletization' that would mean one chassis set would have to run 'backwards' in the sense that the rigid drive set preceeds the swiveling one- the SP cab-forward characteristics revived! (b) Since in a Mallet the leading drive set is made to behave like a giant truck, swivelling under the front part of the boiler, any centering device putting up a centering force inevitably calls for a minimum of compensation rearwards of the rigid drive set. This was provided by the four or six wheel truck under the firebox of later SuperPower articulateds. In the independent chassis of a Garratt this compensation would not, or but insufficiently be there and thus there would be the design dilemma of needing centering force to stabilize running but having to limit its value as low as possible in order to avoid excessive flange pressure values in the rigid drive set of the chassis running through curves; however high flange pressure on leading axle on outer rail caused by opposing flange pressure on inner rail on last drive axle (or: third and fourth in a four axle drive set) would be inavoidable instead of running free, or nearly of flange contact. That would cause flange / rail wear regarded inacceptable by modern standards and could even cause such an engine to be prone to derailing under disfavorable conditions.

Well, a friend of mine did layout a family of quadruple-drive-set engines - basically for pure technical interest if it could be done and what design implementations and demands it would cause as regards retaining even weight distribution with vertical, horizontal plus corkscrew flexibility on trackage at high / low points, curves / s-curved opposing switches and entering / leaving a superelevated track section. But these were essentially ramp or mountain line tank engines where the relative boiler size was as large as reaching all over the drive sets with mass of supplies comparatively smaller in percentage of total engine service mass and more evenly distributed, too, arranged as usual in tank engines. In the end he managed to find sound solutions for all the major specific problems imposed by such a super-large engine and had reached a point where these engines would be extremely forgiving to flaws in track alignement, would freely run through curve radii as used in European mountain lines (down to 140 m radius) including 1 in 100 entry / leaving sections of superelevated track and wind through s-curved switches - however level of design compexity and techniques applied then were far from what was used in 1940s / '50s articulated steam design, while externally it all looks perfectly classic still. In these engines all drive sets are arranged in bogies so the long rigid unit of main frame, boiler and supplies tanks is fully bogie suspended. The point in these engines was to attain maximum t.e. in a near full adhesion w/a on comparatively light and curvy track not allowing high degree coupling nor the very high axle loads used in the design of US Super Power Steam which of course helped to contain the number of axles needed for a demanded t.e.
The way traffic has developed on European mainlines there is neither need nor space for extra heavy trains in freight yards, signalling does not allow for extra long trains either because the rear end would then would foul the advance signal which on lines with dense traffic is combined with the main signal post of the preceeding section. On the other hand, up-hill speeds have been substantially raised with electric traction - to such an extent that ramps of about 1 in 100 are little felt as concerns speeds of express trains and even freight trains maintain over 40 to 50 mph on continuing up-hill sections. This way line capacities have been boosted to such degrees that the existing old mainlines are still capable of handling present day traffic, although the idea of base or level-tunneling major passes in the Alpine Mountain always remains a topic - less of technical but of financial and political problems with lines passing borders...

Last edited by Juniatha on Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.

  by TB Diamond
Umm...should have said Pennsy S-2. Lionel didn't produce a S-1 come to think of it.
  by Juniatha
On the other hand - forget about what has been said to this point and just enjoy a view of Karen Parker's Pixel Magic loco-odditive modifications.
Never saw such things before!

Read what happened at Corkscrew Curve and check out the little known EERIE (no typing error) 2-4-6-8-10-12 at:
http://home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasoni ... l#multplex
Or the Pennsy Multiplex class Ynot and other oddities beyond believe at:
http://home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasoni ... l#prr-mult
(by the way: this latter also holds some - more or less correct - information about the Russian 14-coupled AA-20)
I had to read it slowly - or else I might have chocked!
.........*Now, this footnote is written next day - and still, whenever one of those terms come to my mind it starts me giggling-chuckling whether I want it or not. So, in contrast to yesterday's recommendation I have to warn you, folks: don't visit that page if you have something serious to do or say within the next three hours or so ... 'Corkscrew Curve' - oooh-my, what a daring way to build a mountain mainline ( - although, they do have such curves on a metre gauge mountain line in Switzerland - ) ... class Y-2-b-or-not-to-be: that classic Shakepeare question applied to steam locomotives .... ingenious ... forbidden ... great!
- Juuuniathahaha -

  by abaduck
Yes, I know it's not American as per the original spec. of this thread, but when it comes to strange steam locomotives, surely Bulleid's 'Leader' wins hands down?


See: http://www.semg.org.uk/steam/leader_01.html for more.

  by Juniatha
abaduck wrote:Yes, I know it's not American as per the original spec. of this thread, but when it comes to strange steam locomotives, surely Bulleid's 'Leader' wins hands down? Mike
Hello Abaduck

Well - in a way: yes, though by another point of view: not really. I guess we had some US engines in the discussion before that likewise were unhappy but not weird or monstrous by design.
The 'unconventional' (*g* - and that in Britain, mind it!) engine of Bulleid's was in its own way an ingenious machine - perhaps failing because of too much sparkling of Bulleid's unconventional ideas. For example: the idea of a full adhesion bogie concept was progressive - but Bulleid would not have been Bulleid if he had not designed his own and very special type of steam motors for each the bogies. Steam motors and introduction of untried sleeve valves was a bit much at a time. In a modern industrial world to introduce an engine type of such a degree of novelty would all for a lot of test plant running, according redesign, re-testing and re-designing again, re-testing again - and so on and so forth - to go on for years for sure, even with all the computer aided design, knowledge banks on material characteristics and all. Bulleid did neither have such resources nor that time given to him by the railroad nor did he give much time to his staff. It was expectabe to run into trouble of various kind this way. It would have demanded thorough testing, analysation of trouble, redesigning, rebuilding, retesting etc. Then it could have been advanced enough to work as well as any other engine. As it was, that time and that expenditure was not given to any steam development in Britain at that time and so the engine ended up as just another example of an idea that was never really developed.
To my personal view - and this is admittedly an emotional view for now - failure of this experimental type due to lack of support does not bear the aura of tragedy to the extent as did other experimentals, for -a- it still would have had a long way to go until reaching possible success, -b- it would have brought about a form of steam locomotives that would resemble diesel locomotives and thus have lost all the glory of classic steam and - rationally speaking - -c- if made successful, it would have had to compete directly with same concept locos powered by diesel engines and that would have raised the question: if it works as well as a diesel and performs like a diesel - then what advantage is unique to it?
One has to admit that some experimentals that have been touched in this discussion only promised advantages over the existing classic steam types - but offered little to put them above other propositions of modern traction.
In the end what put steam behind was not a question of classic concept versus full adhesion concept, it was sheer lack of straight forward detailed technical development and parallel upgrading of service handling. Steam locomotives struggled on under most deplorable and backwardish conditions of running and consequently had to be designed for it - while diesels demanded exacting procedures and modern type of quality management. Introduction of diesels made the railroads learn that quickly. That was the key to success - a success that could likewise have advanced steam traction to yield the same revenue results.

Last edited by Juniatha on Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by pennsy
Hi All,

It always amazed me that the PRR S-2 did not fare too well with the PRR, yet Lionel's S-2 was ubiquitous. As a kid I remember seeing the S-2 on the shelves of all the stores, friends had one on their layout. It was an incredible success, in O gauge.

Hi Photogenic;

Looks like I really caught your attention with the Double Big Boy Garratt. Probably the best thing for you to do would be to get a copy of the Trains magazine that featured this mechanical monstrosity. One thing that stuck in my mind about it, they had a diagram of this engine going through a crossover, and the semi-articulated portions of the engine, were on both mainlines at the same time. This was one really LONG engine. The engine looked like a snake maneuvering through the switches. I believe the article also had guesstimated specifications for its performance, etc. It was a fascinating article on taking steam engines to the extreme.
  by Juniatha
Hi Pennsy

Well, it is amazing what people come up with. In an era of mulit-uniting such proposals are of course ill concepted. As the engine is enlarged above a certain limit it becomes more and more disproportioned since enlargement in locomotives is basically one-dimensional, i.e. length-wise. So it becomes more and more difficult to design lenghtened components to proper dimensions and proportions. This development can only go on for so long (sic!) until it becomes excessive and will be causing functional problems. This does not yet regard tracking problems which also will become extremely demanding to solve. As I wrote before, I rather consider a Mallet-Garratt something of 'monstrosity' than an edifying project for a number of reasons of which excessive length is just one.
But that's not the end of multiplex-delirium; I had to search a little to find it again but here it is: see http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/L ... ex/hex.htm - and while I'm at it: see http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/L ... ti.htm#hex , too
(No, I'm not even commenting it, folks, no way - no, full stop)
But you can see a nice builder photo of the PRR S-2 6-8-6 turbine loco which I consider NOT a weird but a very good looking engine and one of a sound concept, well basically, although a stranger in a stock of reciprocating power as inevitably any one-off design had to be.
Oh, and with this engine never mix up loco number and ihp output: it was 6200 / 6900 - not vice versa!
Yes, in modelling you can make her a success with a depot having a bunch of S-2s for express service and you can make them abounding on your depot site with one at the coaling dock, one more coming in while another is just leaving to back up to the train (having arrived late with a failed unit on a three-unit set of diesels, *g*) and four more S-2 are looking out of the roundhouse ...

By the way:
'sneaking through the switches like a snake' - this takes me back for a glimpse into my carefree teenie days:
My father had a model railroad set up (occasionally) and one day he came home with a new bought heavy-load transformer carrier; these are basically long vehicles made of two half-units, each of them with one or two multi-axle bogies and the transformer is mounted selfsupporting between the half-units to be rail transported. Because of the length of the vehicle it immediately occured to me that it should be possible to make its ends travel on parallel tracks and so while my father was running the train along and the transformer carrier was to pass over a set of switches I quickly made the hind part switch to the other track and duly the rest of the train followed. That happened so casually that my father had not even seen my action and when the train ran on both parallel tracks he just wondered for an instance before it came to him that of course it was me who didn't take model railroading serious enough and he was split between scolding me and stopping the train bound for disaster where tracks departed ...
  by trapper
How about the heisler SINGLE truck locomotive? Only one made, and never sold. It was built as a contractors engine.
Sure would be neat to see running!!