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NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:48 p.m.

Another engine exclusive to the Boston & Albany among New York Central Systems motive power were the A-1s. Around 1922, Lima had cooked up a more powerful Mikado for the New York Central, called the H-10. New York Central was impressed and ended up purchasing 452 of them from Lima and Alco for use on the New York Central, the Big Four (CCC&StL), the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie and the Michigan Central.

But Lima had a reputation as a tinkerer. And so they continued to play with the basic formula of the H-10 2-8-2 and realized that if they slung a 4-wheel trailing truck under the back, they could put an even larger firebox under the boiler to generate higher boiler pressures and make a more powerful locomotive. They built a prototype that used the same 28"x30" cylinders and 63" drivers, but bumped the firebox area up from 261 square feet to 433 square feet and the boiler pressure up from 200psi to 240psi. Tractive effort went from 66,000lbs, with another 10,000lbs on hand with a trailing truck booster, in the H-10 2-8-2 to 76,000lbs, again with another 10,000lbs available from a trailing truck booster, in this new 2-8-4 through minimal mechanical changes.

The New York Central wasn't particularly interested in this new engine, they were quite happy with their Mikados and Mohawks, thank you very much, but they knew just the place where they might work out and had Lima send the prototype up on the Boston & Albany for testing. After slugging it out hauling tonnage in the Berkshire Mountains, the new type of engine was found to haul more than a Mikado and use up to 23% less coal. The Boston & Albany purchased 25 of them and named them Berkshires after the mountain range they worked in. They would go on to purchase another 20 of them, in three separate classes.

With the big Elesco feedwater heater hung out over the smokebox, square high-capacity sand-dome and bell mounted on the side of the smokebox face, they were a unique and brooding-looking engine.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:49 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:49 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:50 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:50 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:51 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:52 p.m.

The final batch of B&A Berkshires, the A-1c, replaced the Elesco feedwater heater with a Coffin internal feedwater heater and moved the bell on top of the boiler, which made them look much less interesting.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:56 p.m.

The B&A A-1s were spread throughout the system at times, particularly during WWII and after the Boston & Albany was dieselized and they were sent west. But the New York Central never really ordered anymore Berkshires for the main system or any subsidiaries until '48, when a disconnect between management and the motive power department resulted in an order of 10 new Berkshires. The NYC tried to cancel the order but Alco was already underway with construction and so 7 were built and pawned off on the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, class A-2, as the last steam engines Alco built. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 3:57 p.m.

A good angle highlighting the size of that sand dome that Boston & Albany needed for all the mountains

Duke
Duke MegaDork
2/18/21 4:38 p.m.

May be an image of road

May be an image of outdoors

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/21 4:58 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

Is that local to you? I wonder how a Montana Rail Link unit ended up there.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
2/18/21 8:47 p.m.

No, I just found the pics. I liked how it looked like it couldn't drive in the snow either.

 

slowbird
slowbird UltraDork
2/19/21 1:00 a.m.

Reminds me of this CN locomotive in 1998 that was taken off the rails and moved down the street to provide power to buildings during a bad storm.

Hey, maybe Texas could try this out.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/21 5:53 a.m.

In reply to slowbird :

Interesting that they ran the thing down the pavement under its own power.

UP and BNSF have enough power idled that they should be able to provide some for Texas. I've also seen similar things done with steam locomotives, to run the steam heat and big buildings during cold snaps.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/21 9:59 a.m.

NYS&W #3040 running the Suzie-Q's plow down Schuyler Street this morning

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/21 2:43 p.m.
NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/21 3:00 p.m.

Reading T-1 #2108 and #2109 leased as stationary boilers

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/21 3:19 p.m.

George Hart's CP Pacifics #1238 and #1286 at Reading, PA being used as stand-in stationary boilers at the hospital. Hart's High Iron Co. had an excursion planned on the CNJ and then they were called into emergency use. HICo had to scramble to find new motive power for the trip and ended up getting Steamtown USA to send the Canadian Pacific #1278 down (Nelson Blount was reluctant until he was informed he would get to open her up on the mainline) and Strasburg sent over #90, which had only arrived from Colorado shortly before to help with the grade at Wilkes-Barre.

I've read that the excursion ended up being a bit of a disastrous affair. It was brutally cold, #90's tender rattled itself apart from the sustained 45mph running and partially derailed, people had to be transferred over to buses and they were 3 or 4 hours late getting back.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/21 5:10 p.m.

So the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington today was reaaallly cool.

The background on the museum is that was founded by a guy named Harry Percival Jr. who spent his childhood playing on the abandoned WW&F right-of-way as a kid and then as an adult began buying up chunks of the right of way. He found a widow whose husband had bought the last surviving WW&F locomotive, flatcar and boxcars for a stillborn amusement park, and then convinced her to sell them to him. Her one stipulation was that the museum had to have a caretaker to keep an eye on the equipment at all times. So he built a house facing the Sheepscot Station, engine house and "Armstrong" turntable and lived there. When Harry Percival passed away, his house was made the museum headquarters and office. I like the roof painted to resemble one of the Forney tank engines and a boxcar.

Also interesting is that when the WW&F was abandoned, it was never legally disbanded. The Wiscasset & Quebec charter (the original line name) was still active. So Harry Percival just had to elect officers and hold a stockholder meeting and it was back in business.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/21 5:29 p.m.

Unusual for a railroad museum is that you are free to wander around the property. No "stay behind the rope line" or paying extra to tour the shops. Walk through the engine house, car barn, yard, freight house, just don't get in the way of moving trains.

Around the turntable was Monson Railroad #4, a Vulcan Iron Works 0-4-4T, and Bridgton & Saco River #8, a Baldwin 2-4-4T. These actually belong to the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum, but they lost their storage site, so WW&F is looking after their collection for the time being.

Also from the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum is Bridgton & Saco River #7, another Baldwin 2-4-4T. Also from the museum was Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Rangeley, the only 2-foot gauge parlor car ever built. I couldn't get a photo of it though due to the confines.

Also in the car barn was the pilot off of WW&F #8, which derailed right before the WW&F was abandoned and sat in the woods for years before being scrapped. And the headlight for WW&F #11, which is a new locomotive that they are constructing to the blueprints of WW&F #7.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/21 5:44 p.m.

WW&F #9, a Portland Locomotive Works 0-4-4T, was being steamed up when I got there. Its the sole surviving WW&F engines, and it also belonged to both the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes and the Kennebec Central before the WW&F and us also the sole SR&RL and KC survivor. I also think its the prettiest steam engine I've ever seen, and the love and care is evident. The brass builder plate, gauge bezels, number plate, whistle and bell were spotlessly polished, the glass perfectly clean and no rust anywhere. 

Look at the detail in the cab overhang. There is no reason for that ornate woodwork, and yet its there. That's the mark of a different era. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/21 5:57 p.m.

Inside the engine house. I believe this engine frame is WW&F #10. It was a 30" gauge Vulcan 0-4-4T built for a Louisiana sugar plantation. It was bought by Endsville Railroad in Massachusetts, who cut it down to 2-foot gauge, and then WW&F bought it. Its out of service with boiler troubles but they are having a new one made at the same time as the WW&F #11 build.

Also some impressive old machinery. Not sure what it all is, but its cool.

And a new wooden passenger car that they are constructing.

And a cool Plymouth diesel critter they use for MoW work and relief power.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/21 6:12 p.m.

And then it was aboard and off to Top Of The Mountain Station. I chose to ride the open air car, even in 30 degree weather, to get the full experience. The #9 has some nice stack talk, and an eerie whistle, and they run her right along as fast as those little 33" drivers will carry her. There's a 3% grade, and it has all the attitude and character of a much larger engine. The track has plenty of whoops and irregularities, so its a bit like riding a wooden roller coaster. Also, not all the cars have air brakes, so you have employees cranking down the hand brakes on cars, just like the old, old, old days. I forgot to bring my sunglasses though, and I think I caught every cinder that came out the stack in my eyes.

The employee gives an idea of how small these engines are.

And then aboard horse-drawn sleighs up to SeaLyon Farms. I had the best hamburger I've ever had up there, with the farm's grass-fed beef, American cheese, sautéed onions and the farm's grass-fed bacon. I've never had bacon melt in my mouth before, and this stuff was sliced like 3mm thick.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/21 6:25 p.m.

I walked back down to Top Of The Mountain early to catch the train coming in. I also wanted to see what they were up to in the clearing. They were felling trees and burning them, and I guess the plan is to construct an operational shingle mill here to demonstrate some of the WW&F's customer base.

And then #9 was back to drop off the next batch of passengers and take us back to Sheepscot.

Steam locomotives just look better in the winter. The steam and smoke billows more, and the coal smoke smells better. I think the engineer shortened up the cutoff even more on the return trip, and had her really rocking and rolling on the way back.

I hung around to watch it water up and take off with the next train.

And of course I got a video. 

 

So, very cool place. I can't wait to see them extend the line and construct more

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/21 10:01 a.m.

A route map of all the Maine 2-foot gauge lines. The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington was originally chartered as the Wiscasset & Quebec and planned to reach from Wiscasset, Maine to Quebec, and was not necessarily planned as a 2-footer. By the time they began construction, Maine Central had snapped up most of the prime real estate, leaving only route through valleys for the W&Q. To better negotiate the twisty route, they went with the 2' gauge. The dream of reaching Quebec died when they had to cross the Maine Central's Belfast Branch just north of Albion, and the Maine Central refused to allow them to install a diamond. They renamed it to the WW&F at that time, and that pretty much sealed the WW&F's fate. There was also a chartered line, the Franklin, Somerset and Kennebec Railway, that would have connected the SR&RL and the WW&F but the Maine Central objected (The Maine Central controlled both the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes, as well as the Bridgton & Saco River/Bridgton & Harrison) and it was never completed. 

The SR&RL was the largest at 112 miles in length.

The WW&F was 43.5 miles.

The Bridgton & Saco River/Bridgton & Harrison was 21 miles long. Ironically it renamed to the Bridgton & Harrison only shortly before abandoning the segment to Harrison when the bridge collapsed.

Monson Railway was 6.25 miles.

The Kennebec Central was a whopping 5 miles long. 

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