Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Choosing a passenger locomotive, Part 2

 I introduced this topic with a description of how I conduct passenger operations on the Coast Division main line of my Southern Pacific layout, particularly choice of motive power. I concluded by stating that a model of a Class P-10 Pacific would be very suitable for my layout purposes (see it at: ).

Historically, the SP purchased a lot of Pacific-type locomotives, over 140 system-wide. By the end of the Harriman era in 1913, there were 59 of them, in classes P-1 through P-6 (classes P-2 and P-4 were vacant at that time), numbered 2400–2458. None of them were particularly big or powerful, as Pacifics go.

But in 1921, SP resumed purchase of this wheel arrangement with Class P-8. These were much bigger and more powerful engines, weighing almost 300,000 pounds compared, for example, to the 220,000 pounds of Class P-5. They also had far more tractive effort, 43,500 pounds compared to, again, Class P-5 at 30,000 pounds (not counting boosters in both cases).

The new Pacifics were initially assigned to the principal passenger trains on the Overland Route, from Sparks, Nevada to Ogden, Utah, and soon proved their effectiveness, not only handling heavier trains but running through the entire 536-mile distance without change and without helpers. This was a record for long-distance passenger operations at the time.

They were soon followed by the Class P-10 engines, also built by Baldwin, in 1923-24. These 14 engines, numbered 2478–2491, would be the culmination of SP’s Pacifics. They were followed in late 1923 by the first 4-8-2 Mountain types. But the two classes of big Pacifics would continue to perform admirably to the end of steam on the SP.

As it happened, three of the Class P-10 engines were selected to be semi-streamlined for the new San Joaquin Daylight in 1941, engines 2484, 2485, and 2486. Shown below is SP 2485 in this service (Francis C. Smith photo, courtesy Steve Peery), photographed at Bakersfield in August, 1941. Also in 1940-41, most of the P-10 class received skyline casings, like you see below.

But with the outbreak of World War II, the skirts on these three engines were painted black, and then all  skirts were removed by 1950. For an example of the appearance in later years, below is shown SP 2484 at Oakland in 1952 (Doug Richter photo).

Note the “stairs” from running board to pilot, installed with the skirting and left behind when skirts were removed, along with a narrow strip of sheet metal on the side of the stairs. This contrasted with the formed metal steps in this location on most SP steam.

The above photo shows two other noteworthy points. First, the engine has a Class 120-C-3 tender (12,000 gallons, C = cylindrical), like the one it was delivered with, though we know from SP records that tenders were usually changed at major shoppings (Class 1 or 2), so this is unlikely to actually be the original car. And note that running gear is dark in color from grime and dirt, though ordinarily not painted. 

I’ll start with tenders. Here is a photo of a widely used tender class on the heavy Pacifics of the SP, Class 120-C-8. Delivered in 1926 with 4-10-2 engines, they migrated to smaller power in later years, as the big engines got 16,000-gallon tenders (Frank Gillenwaters photo at Oakland, courtesy Bob Church). The six-wheel trucks are heavy-duty designs; these tenders weighed over 130 tons when loaded.

I show the above tender because that is the tender class offered on the Precision Scale brass version of a Class P-10 Pacific that I have.

Finally, I mentioned the appearance of the running gear because brass models of steam power almost always have bright “silver” rods and crossheads. When engines emerged from shopping, they had somewhat this appearance, but a few months on the road, and they looked more like the photo of SP 2484 that you see above.

I’ll turn to the model and what was needed to put it into service, in a following post. 

Tony Thompson

No comments:

Post a Comment