Steam Engine Classes

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Kanawha, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    I'm curious how the class names for steam engines came about, specifically for the C&O. I know all the nicknames for the different wheel configurations (Mountain for 4-8-2, Mikado for 2-8-2, etc.) But most of the class names (such as H8 type 2-6-6-6's, and J3 type 4-8-4's) escape me. Is there a website with information about what the class name and number signify?

    Thanks! :)
  2. corwinktbt

    corwinktbt Old-time steam.

    Here is a link to a nice informational site. Under "wheel arrangements", they have several explanations for the names of various classes.
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    If you look at enough different railroads, it seems that many of them just worked their way through the alphabet. Others started out using the first letter of the wheel arrangement's generic name, such a "M" class Moguls. This system sorta fell apart when some wiseguy invented the Mikado. :rolleyes: There was a discussion in another thread about the Southern Pacific's AC-class 2-8-8-2 Cab Forwards (the four-wheel truck under the firebox came later): the AC stood for articulated Consolidation, just as their earlier compound 2-6-6-2s were called the MM class, for Mallet Moguls. Usually, the number following the class letter denoted subsequent models of the same wheel arrangement, but this could also include locos that were exactly the same as the previous class, but from a different builder. Some roads had sub-classes beyond this even. The Canadian National, in 1923, rostered 531 Ten Wheelers, in classes F, G, H, and I, with up to 21 sub-classes, and those subdivided further by a lower-case letter: for example, an H-6-d.
    Other roads went even further, adding an "s" or "S" after all of the other letters and numbers to denote locos which were superheated. This practice died out when superheated locos became the norm, usually. ;)
    You could learn the classes of the various C&O locos, but they would probably have little relationship to the classes that another road used for the same wheel arrangement. Just like the steam loco itself, their class designations appear to be unique to the road that owned them.

  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Some roads started with A for the oldest or smallest and worked their way up; others started with the most presteigeous and worked their way down. The LNER (Britain) made their newest Pacific A1 and the other A2, then the rebuilt A1 became A3, the streamliners were A4 and the tanks were A5. When the next Chief came in, his locos became A1.
    The 0-6-0 locos were J and went up to J97 or so. The classes were numbered by the previous railways they came from, with gaps.
  5. toptrain1

    toptrain1 Member

    Every railroad had their own way of classifing their locomotives. As to type names like Pacific, Ten wheeler, Alantic, Baltic, Mogul, Hudson, Columbia, Mikado, Decapod, Parrie, Dockside, Teaketle, Camelback, Consolidation, Northern, Mountain, Fireless cooker, American, Sidetanker, and these are only American names. Other countries had differert names for the same things. With these most denote wheel arangment. Some boiler configeration. Some on tenderless locos wather tank type. After awile all will be made known to you.
  6. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    toptrain1, I know that all railroads had their own nicknames for loco configs. for example, the C&O wouldn't be caught dead running an engine called a "Northern", so they named them "Greenbriers". lol

    Thanks guys!
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    That's what the PRR did. They started with A for 0-4-0s and eventually got up to T for 4-4-4-4 rigid-frame duplex engines. Electrics were classified in the same scheme. Like the SP, they classified articulateds (which, since they disliked Mallets, were mostly electrics) as doubled smaller engines. 4-6-0s were G, so when they built a 2-C-C-2 (4-6-6-4 by steam numbering) electric, they called it the GG-1.
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would go to the C & O historical society for information on the C & O specifically. Every railroad classified their locomotives differently. Some named their locomotive types, and as you mentioned they would name them according to the preference of the individual railroad. In the case of the Santa Fe, they had no names for the types of locomotives and still don't. When they get an order of locomotives they assign numbers to that batch. The first number in the series becomes the class, thus in the case of 4-8-4s they had 2 classes. The first 4-8-4 they got was the 3750, so they were called the 3750 class, and included #s 3750 to 3787 I think. The first of that class arrived in 1927 and the last in the 1930's. Then during ww2 they received another order of 4-8-4s but the 3750 set of numbers was already full, so the new locomotives were numbered in the 2900's and became the 2900 class.

Share This Page