Shay Geared Locomotive

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by N Gauger, May 17, 2002.

  1. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Lima Locomotive Works No. 1 Shay Class 65-3 Geared Logging Locomotive
    First from this Picture you will notice that the Boiler is off center to the Engine’s Left.

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  2. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    From the left side of the engine you really see a normal looking engine.

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  3. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    But, look at it from the Right side, and you will see what makes it go,

    These gears and pistons allow the shay to pull greater loads, up steeper grades, more efficiently than most other classes of locomotives. The overall length of the Shay, is 52 Feet. Also a credit to it’s design is that compared to other locomotives it is light. Only 137,000 Lbs. It’s Gauge is the standard 4’ 8-1/2”. The piston system transfers the pulling force, to the wheels, via, the connecting rods and gears (shown here):

    The Shay was designed by Ephraim Shay, in the 19th Century. He had to design a locomotive that was light, and that had all the qualities mentioned above, and be able to move among trees for logging use. This pictured Shay was produced by the Lima Locomotive & Machine Co. in 1906.

    The First Shay, was purchased by Milton J, Bond in Michigan. Bond was a lumberman, who saw the value of the Shay. As the production of the Shay’s increased, so did their size. The larger size ended up with 3 cylinders. In 1946 the Largest Shay was built for the Western Maryland Railroad. The Heaviest was produced for the Greenbriar, Cheat and Elk Railroad. It was built by Lima, and then modified by the Cass Shops of the GC&E RR. It ended up weighing an estimated 200 Tons.

    The most popular Shays were the 42 Ton Two Truck, and the 65 to 70 Ton, Three Truck. The Shay pictured here (From The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania) has been used by, numerous Railroads, including:
    Enterprise Lumber Co., Sims Louisiana, Cherry River Boom and Lumber Co, Richwood, WV, F.C.Cook & Co.,Alexander, WV.,Beech Mt. RR Alexander, WV., Cook-Natwick, Alexander, WV,. Ely Thomas Lumber Co., Fenwick, WV.

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  4. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    You have done your home work.

    Living here you begin to think no other place cut timber.
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Yep, shays were neat engines.

    The single biggest advantage of geared locomotives was that they were easier on the track. This meant that mining, lumber, or whatever industry could use lighter track. Specifically, it was the pounding of the rods that caused conventional engines to destroy track.

    A couple other benefits they enjoyed were that the wheels were small and all of the weight rested on the drivers...so they'd have more umph on hills for their size. Since this was at the expense of speed, you can hear a shay on the verge of exploding when it approaches 15mph. Small two cylinder shays were Class "A". 3 cylinders where Class "B"...if I recall, 3 cylinders with three trucks were "C". There were also 4 truck shays.

    If I recall, Lima began to produce more conventional locomotives than shays around 1920. Pacific Coast shay was a competitor. Lima produced them to a myriad of odd gauges. Currently there is still a 3' gauge shay just west of downtown Lima. The shays were assembled in a different part of Lima's plant than their rod engines...all of the buildings were still standing until around 10 years ago.

    The boilers were off center to evenly distribute the weight...counterbalance the mechanism on the right side. If I recall, the shays were the second most possible variety of geared engines after Heislers, but more popular than climaxes. Ironically, Charles Heisler...inventor of the Heisler locomotives (which were manufactured in Erie, PA)...was from Wapakoneta, OH. A town approximately 10 miles south of the Lima Locomotive Works.
  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    According to Wikipedia (and don't complain about its low reliability right now) there were over 2700 Shays, over 1000 Climaxes, and over 600 Heislers. That's surprising - I thought there were more Heislers than Climaxes.
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Some more info on geared locos that I recall:

    Shays were the easiest to work on - the mechanism was all on the right side. However, snow banks could gum the works up much easier than on the Heisler and Climax. The Climax was the least affected by snow - the gearing and shafts were on centerline above the axles.

    Later Climax models with the outside pistons, counterweights, and horizontal jack shaft sometimes had nasty vibration problems when not properly balanced.

    The Climax could accept considerably rougher track than the Shay or the Heisler. In fact, quite a few were made for log rails with flanges on both sides of the wheels.

    Shays were the slowest of the 3 geared types. Early Climax's had a 2 speed transmission that was dropped when the Climax grew bigger and heavier. Heislers normally had bigger drive wheels, and had a considerably higher top speed than the Climax and Shay.
  8. hel1um

    hel1um Guest

  9. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    a couple advantages of the Heisler

    The Heisler was the latest to be designed, and had several design advantages. Like the Climax, but unlike the Shay, the drive line was centered, which improved the flexibility of the trucks, and improved tracking. also with the say the pistons were directly over one rail. on operations where the locomotive was never turned , that ran shays exclusively, you could see one rail was perfectly straight and smooth, and the other was crooked and wavy, due to the pounding the Shays cylinders gave it.


    I have posted digital a photo I have taken of a photo Mack Montgomery took back in the 1970's that shows a section of the Grahm County Railroad near Robinsville NC. This outfit used shays, and did not turn them. look at the diference between the left and right rail.

    also, using ride rods to transfer power to the outside axles on a truck, the Heisler had fewer axle gears, a cost savings originally , and a maintenance savings later. More importantly the Heislers axle gears were enclosed in a case, and ran in oil, like an automotive transmission, where the shay and the Climax had open gearing that needed to be frequently greased. That job was a lot easier on the Shay, where the gears were on the outside of the tuck; On the Climax, someone would have to climb under the locomotive to do that job.

    On all of these locomotive the universals , and slip joints would have to be greased regularly. on the shay these were hanging out where it was easy to get to them, on both the Climax and the Heisler these were under the locomotive, and it was a tougher job to service them.


    Bill Nelson

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