Y Class, Etc

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Jun 28 08:19:03 EDT 2013

There is another not commonly addressed factor here; that the commercial locomotive builders were interested in their own profits, and would usually take the path of least resistance to get there.

Alone among the world’s railroads in the 1920s and later, N&W thought that the economy of the compound (Mallet) was worth pursuing. They set about finding ways to make the Mallet faster – fast enough for its needs. The commercial builders thought they could sell speed in the form of the big simple articulated locomotives without having to tackle the problems of the Mallet. And they came up with various more profitable to build higher –drivered simple articulateds with humongous boilers, rationalizing that the railroads wouldn’t mind paying for more fuel and water as long as they could get over the road maybe five MPH faster. Were the DMIR Yellowstones more expensive to build (buy) than a Mallet of comparable power? I haven’t seen the figures, but my guess is that they were, and Baldwin was happy to get the extra money. Did they cost more to run than a Y-6? Again, I haven’t seen any figures, but my guess is that they did. How much faster did they get over the road with those ore trains than a Y-6 could have gone? Again, an educated guess says that the difference, if any, was paper thin. As far as gross-ton-miles per train hour per dollar is concerned, my money is on the Y-6.

You have to understand that a lot of PR effort was expended to make the railroads think the way the builders wanted them to think. The Mallet is hopelessly slow and out of fashion – let us build you this humongous 2-8-8-4 that’ll run faster.

It’s interesting to contemplate that if a railroad needed a higher-drivered engine on the Y-6 pattern, that the wheelbase of each engine might be a foot and a half longer; the engine with 63” drivers might be good for 60 MPH cruising speeds, but how much more economical would it have been to run than a Big Boy was? But UP and Alco got together and decided that they needed an enlarged Challenger for Wahsatch and Sherman, and that’s what they got. They paid for it, too; first cost and GTM/TH/$. But they weren’t going to show any dissatisfaction with the decision.

Go back and read some of the literature about the 2-6-6-6 and you’ll find that it was not designed to satisfy any transportation need of Chesapeake and Ohio. It was simply an all-out effort to produce a locomotive which could put more drawbar horsepower on a train than anything else ever had. From that standpoint it was successful. It was designed by the Advisory Mechanical Committee in collusion with Lima. But the AMC folks knew that if they told C&O it was good that C&O would buy it. And they bought 60 of them.

While you’re contemplating the Y-6, don’t overlook the fact that it was a superbly counterbalanced locomotive; it didn’t pound the track with its 58” drivers. Baldwin had trouble counterbalancing its 69”-drivered Western Maryland Challengers which were known to be hard on track. The fact is that Baldwin couldn’t even keep an 80”-drivered Northern (ACL’s R-1s) from being hard on track at the speeds ACL wanted to run them; they wound up in freight service.


From: NW Mailing List
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:19 PM
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: RE: Y Class, Etc

There was purpose behind designs, the Big Boy was meant to tackle Sherman Hill, it has larger drivers for speed not to just get over the grades but out west is a lot of land to cover and get over it as fast as possible.

N&W had numerous tough grades and perhaps harder curves, speed was not exactly the big handle to get over its grades than to get as much tonnage over as possible, double heading and pushers a common scene on the N&W.
Again the A class was essentially a Y modded for speed and larger drivers for the not so mountaneous and level routes for speed, but they were put on the plodding Y6 runs as well.

The railroads had their engines made -their- way for -their- purposes.

The DM&IR had their yellowstones and were more powerful than the big boys, why...heavy ore trains, which can be far heavier than any coal train.


On 6/27/2013 12:00 PM, nw-mailing-list-request at nwhs.org wrote:

Subject: RE: Y Class, Etc
From: NW Mailing List mailto:nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Date: 6/27/2013 11:35 AM
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org


And this is why I commented what I did earlier.

People often compare engines between roads when really there is no real comparison to be made. The debate over the Challengers and "A" Class got to the point in the 1980's that Trains magazine and maybe Railfan & Railroad had articles on this and at least two video makers had videos out on the subject!

I just find it foolish for people unaware of Roanoke's ideology to make comparisons.

Jeff Lisowski

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