PCM Y6b question

nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org
Mon Jun 12 10:00:34 EDT 2006

Frank -

Pardon my lateness in getting back on this one, but other factors intervened.

The allocation of the 2162 to Bluefield is an anomaly, and no information has turned up to explain it. My guess is that it somehow escaped being equipped with cab signals, etc., to enable it to operate on the Shenandoah Division; assignment to Bluefield would mean that it wouldn't have to be set aside when being first out would mean that it would have to go up the Valley. As far as maintenance is concerned, the various 2100-series Ys weren't all that much more difficult to maintain; the bed castings and roller bearings made the hard jobs easier. There were differences in feedwater heaters and throttles, but not much else.

The Y-5s were probably selected for the humps because their low-speed power was needed there and the newer engines were seen as better for the road. The Y-5s congregated at Auville and were used on the Dry Fork Branch and as pushers on the Clinch Valley. There was also a concentration of them on the Peavine out of Portsmouth, where they were probably run as fast as any Y-6 anywhere else. But the specific reasons are lost to history, unless something turns up someday in the documents at the Archives.

Actually, the Y's, being compounds with a 4-8-4-sized boiler, probably put less demand on a feedwater heater than on, say, an SP 4-8-8-2 which was a simple articulated. Being a one-piece system, the BL would have been somewhat easier to maintain than the SA, with its separate pumps and the heater in the smokebox. It could have been that Worthington discontinued the BL and N&W had to go to the SA heater for the Y-6bs. It will be noted that BL heaters were removed from some of the Y-3s used in yard service and replaced with a second injector. This could well have been to provide replacements for those on the Ys that got worn out, or to provide a parts pool for their repairs.

Ed King
----- Original Message -----
From: nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org
To: N and W Modeling List
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 1:12 PM
Subject: RE: PCM Y6b question

Hi Ed and others,

The allocation of Y6a # 2162 to Bluefield seems a bit of an anomaly. Other than this loco, all Bluefield Y6s were Y6bs. Why this solitary exception? If Bluefield required another Y6, why not allocate it another Y6b? It would have made the job of the Bluefield fitters easier. Or perhaps that was the point - to enable them to experience working on earlier Y6 models?

It seems generally accepted that, once the earlier locos had been upgraded, all locos of the 21XX series were (theoretically) operationally equal in capability. And yet there seems evidence that some of those involved in operations didn't think so. Why, otherwise, were Y5s especially relegated to hump and yard duties in the '50s? Or was that simply because they were older? And why did Y5s congregate at Auville, as recorded in "Norfolk & Western in Color Volume 1" by Jim Nichols?

The use of SA feedwater heaters on Y6bs must surely have been not merely a question of aesthetics - although it certainly did (in my opinion) improve their appearance. On many railroads, BL feedwater heaters were apparently confined to smaller locos, suggesting that they were not as effective as the SA type on large locos such as the N&W Ys. Perhaps had steam lasted longer on the N&W, Y6s and Y6as would have been altered to SA heaters?

Any comments or information on these matters?

Frank Hung


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