“A Helluva Way To Run A Railroad!”
by Emmett R Smith
THE History of the Delaware & Hudson Railway Company, America’s oldest transportation company, is the story of much experimental work with high-pressure steam through the high-rolling 1920s and flat-busted early 1930s. This research involved developing operating boiler pressures of up to 500 (!) psi, right down in the depths of the Great Depression.
D&H 4-8-0 Locomotive #1403 — L F Loree
THE Above locomotive was named for D&H “High Pressure” President L F Loree and presents some hair-raising numbers indeed.
DATA FOR THE L F LOREE:
Configuration — 4-8-0
Weight on engine pilot, pounds — 69,000
Weight on drivers, pounds — 313,000
Weight of engine, pounds — 382,000
Weight of tender loaded, pounds — 287,000
Weight of engine and tender, pounds — 669,000
Boiler pressure, psi –500
Cylinder, 1 high pressure — 20″ x 32″
Cylinder, 1 intermediate pressure — 27.5″x 32″
Cylinders, 2 low pressure — 33″ x 32″
Driver diameter — 63″
Tractive effort, triple, pounds — 75,000
Tractive effort, simple, pounds — 90,000
Tractive effort, auxiliary locomotive, pounds — 18,000
Tractive effort, maximum, pounds — 108,000
Grate area, square feet — 75.8
Valves and motion — poppet, rotary Cam
Feed water heater — Dabeg
Tank capacity — 14,000 Gallons, 17.5 Tons
Fuel — Bituminous coal
Track gauge — American standard
MORE May be learned below about the D & H Railway…but the site is peculiarly reticent about the company’s once-upon-a-times foray into quarter-ton steam operating pressures:
HIGH-PRESSURE Steam power seems logical on the face of it, more potential energy, MORE power to roll.
And with an external combustion engine, you don’t have the sins of reciprocity associated with a gas or diesel engine. Or not much, anyway, the reciprocity shows up in the driving wheels and ensuing vibration hammering the rails to powder. One badly balanced wheel on a large enough engine could spring the rails in one (!) trip, according to American steam locomotive writer Alfred W Bruce.* However, this is a sideline — all steam locomotives presented builders with similar problems to be compromised — and the story of high-pressure steam is nonetheless one of some big returns. But, at even bigger engine-maintenance costs.
In the end the three [four of these were built between 1924 and 1933, ranging from 350-500 psi, per Drury –ed] D&H high-pressure locomotives are perhaps to be summed up as innovative anachronisms.
Dr Richard Leonard writes that “[o]ther features of the  No. 1403 unusual for North American locomotives were the overfire jets on the firebox, supplying extra air for more complete fuel combustion; the auxiliary engine on the six-wheel rear tender truck; and rotary cam poppet valves, driven from a gear suspended at the center of the main driver. Overfire jets appeared on some more conventional post-World War II locomotives such as the Chesapeake & Ohio’s ‘Allegheny’ 2-6-6-6 articulateds erected by Lima Locomotive Works, and the 2-8-4s supplied to the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie in 1948 by the American Locomotive Company. Poppet valves, of European origin, were thought to be more efficient than standard valve motion such as the Baker or Walschaerts types, but they incurred higher maintenance costs. Oscillating-cam poppet valves were used on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s T1 duplex 4-4-4-4s, the C&O’s streamlined L-1 4-6-4s and a few other locomotives, but rotary-cam valves appeared only experimentally.” Dr Leonard finishes by noting that the D&H high-pressure engine series especially on its short (63″) legs together with its high TE was “essentially a low-speed freight engine [appearing just as] the cutting edge was [turning] toward ‘super-power’ high-horsepower locomotives capable of both freight and passenger service. **
A survey of American high-pressure steam, including pictures of D&H and other locomotives, is online here:
The Self Site also features THE MUSEUM OF RETROTECH & UNUSUAL STEAM LOCOMOTIVES:
The rationale for high-pressure is summarized in this Wikipedia article:
And, the story of D&H’s President from 1907-38, Leonor F. Loree, is to be found here:
In any case, the locomotives are interesting to look at…and I kind of wonder WHEN (not “if”) they’ll be BACK?
Also, in view of Dr Leonard’s findings above, I can only wonder what additional design-changes — in addition to normalizing the HP-IP compound cylinder mountings and, perhaps, some 80″ legs and appropriate adjustments to the pilot-loading! — would have been needed to make the D&H bumble bees into true wasps of the late-modern mainline?
* — Bruce, Alfred W, /The Steam Locomotive In America/, ww Norton & Company, 1952
** — Dr Richard Leonard, at: http://www.railarchive.net/centprog/lf_loree.htm
[Emmett R Smith
[all text-rights reserved & all other rights revert to holders
[5 September 2009]