Questions on the J's and A's

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sun Nov 26 20:03:29 EST 2006

Last week I was reading Ken Miller's book on the J as well as Ed King's book
on the A's. I will start off with a question I'm curious about regarding the
A. I forget the page it's on, but Ed King mentioned that when the first A's,
1200 and 1201 were built that they had a "rather high-pitched and anemic"
whistle, which was criticized by some Southern Railway employees. I'm having
a difficult time imagining an A with an unimpressive whistle after seeing
1218 operate. My question is are there any sound recordings of any of the
first A's with the original whistle or are any of these whistle's still in
existance. If someone has heard one of them, is there another whistle on
another operating locomotive that you could compare it too? And when did N&W
change the freight whistle and adopt the hooter whistle that had been used
on passenger power?

Also, relating to whistles, were the J1's of 1943 equipped with the same
type whistle as the 611 and the other streamlined J's, or were they equipped
with the hooter whistles (until they were streamlined) since they were
considered a freight locomotive?

Furthermore, when were the bells on top of the J's relocated to underneath
the back of the pilot? Had the bells on the top of the boiler been the
swinging type or the same type as that currently on 611. Did 611 ever have
it's bell located on the boiler top or was the bell always in it's current

Finally, does anyone know what happened to 611's doghouse on it's tender? I
recall seeing it was still on top of the tender in a photo dated Memorial
Day 1963 in Ken Miller's book on the J, but obviously was taken off by the
time it was restored to service in 1981-1982.

Thanks to anyone who can be of some assistance. I know these may seem like
trivial questions, but as a fan of N&W steam, these are some things I have
been curious about.

Steven Ashley
Spartanburg, SC
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