H-8's, Big Boys, Challengers and Y-6's

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jun 27 12:52:54 EDT 2013

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Back to talking about why the Y was better
than a Big Boy, H-8, or anything else out there. :)
Ken Rickman

Regarding the above comment from the several day's running thread:

While admittedly we can beat this iron horse to death, I think it
misleading to say this or that was better than the other, at least in these
cases. Each of these native beasts was well-suited to its needs in its
native environment. The Y-6 may not have been well-suited to the UP
environment but was ideally suited for that which the N&W operated. Most
railroads had abandoned compounds long before but the N&W was superb at
adapting the style to its profile and runs.

The same can be said for the Big Boy -- the UP designed and adapted it to
its best potential in its native environment.

Switch either of them around and who knows what would have been the
outcome? In the same mode, the NP I think it was had those Yellowstones
with the humongous fireboxes in order to get enough heat out of their
native coal, lignite, which has been compared to not much better than dirt
for burning. It has been postulated that if they ever put good coal, like
the N&W's Pocahonatas grade into it, it just might have been more powerful
than any of them.

As for the H-8 Allegheny, the C&O didn't really know what a great workhorse
they had in it until it was too late and the commitment was well-entrenched
for dieselization. Sure, It wasn't as long as the the Big Boy, true, but it
was heavier and apparently more powerful (from available records) than it.
Could it have out-slugged the heavy grades like the Y-6's -- that's another
story, but we can dream to maybe see it happen when we all visit that great
big roundhouse in the sky. and the Big Boys, and Yellowstones and other

Bob Cohen
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