The most perfect locomotive

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Fri Sep 8 18:19:45 EDT 2006

I can reinforce, but not substantiate, both speed figures that you mention.
In fact, both speed figures are the exact values that I have heard before
for Class J locomotives. I heard these speed figures first hand (but not
quite from the iron horse's mouth).

When I worked at the N & W's Shaffers Crossing roundhouse in Roanoke, VA,
one of the roundhouse foremen there told me that he was the Motive
Department employee who had traveled with the Class J when it was tested on
the Pennsylvania Railroad and that it reached a speed of 118 miles per hour
across the flat Indiana countryside before a hot bearing caused a slow down
or, maybe, a stop.

When I worked summers in the N & W's steam locomotive shop at the end of
the branch line to Durham, NC, one of the Norfolk Division engineers told me
that he had run Class J locomotives at 110 miles per hour on the main line
across the relatively flat Atlantic Coastal Plain.

Unfortunately, at a much younger age I did not realize then the importance
of taking notes, so I cannot cite the names of these men who told me of
their first-hand experiences.

Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message -----
From: <nw-mailing-list at>
To: <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:42 PM
Subject: The most perfect locomotive

>I am a very unfrequent contributor to this respectable list. I have a

>serious admiration to N&W class J for following reasons:


> * best combination of drawbar and speed

> * reliability

> * operational efficiency

> * very beautiful

> * I am born in May 1950, the same date 611 came out of Roanoke factory


> I have heard records of the loco doing 118 mph with a few cars and steady

> 110 mph with 15 pasenger cars. This in unbeliaveble considering the tiny

> 70" driving wheel diameter. Is there anyone alive who can confirm these

> feats?


> Markku Kastinen,

> Steam Enthusiast, Finland


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