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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jun 27 17:21:59 EDT 2013

Here are some interesting stats:

H8 on C&O’s .57% Allegheny Mountain: 5750 tons per, total of 11,500 per train, 18 MPH lugging speed (according to Dr. Huddleston).

Y-6 on N&W’s 1% Alleghany Mountain: 5150 tons per, total of 10,300 per train, 15 MPH lugging speed (according to everybody I ever talked to who worked on them). And FWIW, I’ve seen them do it in the rain (under bad rail conditions).

So the 2-6-6-6 was good for 600 tons more on a grade just a little more than half as steep. Big Whoop! And how much more profit did C&O get out of the extra 3 MPH?

Of course, just before the Y-6 got to that grade, it had dragged its 10,300 tons up New River at around 31 MPH. Get your train resistance formula out and turn the crank and tell us what DBHP at the end of the auxiliary tender was necessary for it to do that. Oh, Wait! Dave Stephenson has already done that for you!

55-5600 is all. Just about the same as the H8 put out at that speed. But Wait, again. How many H8s would it have taken to lift that train up to Christiansburg?

On a tractive effort basis, valid at that speed, probably about three. A Big Boy could probably have brought that train up the river at that speed, but two of them would have had to have more help getting up the Mountain with it. (Using Big Boy’s horsepower curve published in Kratville’s book – same DBHP as the Allegheny and the Y-6 at that speed).

But here’s the rub. The Y-6 did it, as Bud Jeffries has so capably pointed out, with a boiler about the size of the J’s.

So you comparison guys can chew on these facts for a while, while I go back to sitting in the corner.


From: NW Mailing List
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:52 PM
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: H-8's, Big Boys, Challengers and Y-6's

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 friends.

Bob Cohen

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