The most perfect locomotive -- N&W's J -- and Its TOP Speed of 128 mph!!!

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sun Sep 10 06:36:59 EDT 2006

How was that speed measured?

----- Original Message -----
From: nw-mailing-list at
To: nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Saturday, September 09, 2006 12:57 PM
Subject: RE: The most perfect locomotive -- N&W's J -- and Its TOP Speed of 128 mph!!!

Gordon, Ed, Abram, Kenneth, Jim, Bill And All You Other N&W "Egg-spurts" And "Men of Iron" Out There,
Ah, Yes, the Ultimate Js that I treasure in memory from my fondly-recalled Youth riding both ways out of Bluefield, WV, in the early 1950s. But here is a brand-new J story (in at least two ways) that I took to be Gospel at the time. -- However, should I now disavow its content here right at 50 years later??
While awaiting my Virginian Signal Supervisor Father's imminent arrival at Bluefield on Number 25 one beautiful early afternoon about 1955, Our Princeton Park Avenue Neighbor Stanley Clendenin invited into the very large cab of a Y-5 or or a Y-6 just west of the depot in his capacity as Yard Engineer. During our brief conversation before the J-powered westbound "Powhatan Arrow" arrived just yards away, Mister Clendenin told me about a break-in run in 1941 of The Number 600 during which this famous charge -- on the Suffolk-Petersburg "corduroy" log-underpinned straightaway through the Great Dismal Swamp -- reached 128 miles per hour!!!!
What do You Fellas think about that!! Is this ?"a rural legend" Or The TRUTH As Emanated From Stanley Clendenin??? Best Wishes in Your Cogitations, Lloyd D. Lewis.....


To: nw-mailing-list at
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2006 18:19:45 -0400
From: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Re: The most perfect locomotive
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
Markku Kastinen,
Steam Enthusiast, Finland.


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