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The “Mikado” Type of Locomotive

The 2-8-2 Classification and its Performance in the Economical Movement of Freight



CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY “MIKADO”. Its cylinders are 23½ by 32½ inches; working pressure, 180 lb to the square inch; and driving wheels, 63 inches in diameter. Total heating surface, 4,358 square feet. Ready for the road, the complete locomotive weighs 428,000 lb, and develops a tractive effort of 42,000 lb.

JAPAN was responsible for fostering the creation of one distinctive member of the family of locomotives. Increasing goods traffic in the island kingdom called for more power, and the “Consolidation”, despite its perfection, could not satisfactorily meet the situation. The fuel forthcoming was a most inferior quality of coal, with the result that the effective combustion necessitated a large grate area combined with a fire-box of pronounced depth and volume.

The construction of the new series of locomotives was entrusted to the Baldwin Locomotive Works, whose technicians, in the resolve to satisfy the Japanese requirements, took the established “Consolidation” and gave it a wide, deep fire-box set behind the driving wheels. To provide the necessary support for the fire-box a trailing truck was introduced, giving the wheel

arrangement 2-8-2. For purposes of distinction the new type was standardized as the “Mikado”, out of compliment to the Japanese Imperial Railways upon which it made its debut.

Although the “Mikado” has many decided advantages over the “Consolidation”, notably increased steaming capacity in proportion to adhesion, it did not attract the serious attention of the world’s railways until 1902. In that year an American company requested the Baldwin Locomotive Works to provide them with an engine capable of using lignite as fuel. As the duty was broadly identical with that for which the Japanese locomotives had been designed, the builders suggested the “Mikado”, because this design would assure the requisite fire-box volume and grate area.

This 2-8-2 locomotive went into service upon the road for which it was built at the moment when the railways throughout the country were perturbed by the necessity to move the freight more rapidly in order to avoid congestion. They turned to the new locomotive family in the hope that it might extricate them from their difficulty, and were speedily and completely convinced of its outstanding merits.


POWERFUL “MIKADO” LOCOMOTIVE BUILT FOR THE DELAWARE, LACKWANNA, AND WESTERN RAILROAD, 1922. Ready for the road, this giant weighs 628,100 lb. With “booster”, it has a maximum tractive effort of 79,200 lb.

The wonderful development of the “Mikado” type is reflected by the 2-8-2 monsters which have been built for the Dela-ware, Lackawanna and Western, and the Lehigh Valley Railroads respectively. That for the first-named, supplied in October, 1922, has cylinders 28 by 32 inches and driving wheels 63 inches in diameter. The boiler, 90 5/16 inches in diameter, with 350 tubes, 18 feet in length, carries steam at a pressure of 200 lb. The fire-box measures 120·125 inches by 84·25 inches. The total heating surface is 4,418 square feet; while the superheater has a heating surface of 1,112 square feet. Soft coal is the fuel used, and the grate area is 70·4 square feet.

The tender is of the eight-wheeled type with capacity for 12,000 gallons of water and 14 tons of fuel; its weight in working order is 271,600 lb. The driving wheelbase measures 17 feet; that of the engine 37 feet 4 inches; and of engine and tender 73 feet 2·5 inches. Ready for the road, the locomotive weighs 628,100 lb, and of this weight the engine represents 356,500 lb. Of this total 271,500 lb. are imposed upon the driving wheels; 25,500 lb over the leading truck; and 59,500 lb upon the trailing axle, which is equipped with a “booster”. The maximum tractive effort of the engine is 67,700 lb and of booster 11,500 lb.


“MIKADO” LOCOMOTIVE BUILT FOR THE LEHIGH VALLEY RAILROAD, 1923. The type owes its name to the fact of having been introduced upon the Imperial railways of Japan. This locomotive is fitted with Duplex automatic stoker and “booster”, and weighs, complete, 481,540 lb.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad “Mikado” went into service in the spring of 1923 to a handle the heaviest coal trains which had exceeded the hauling capacity of the largest “Consolidation” then in operation, at relatively high speeds, especially over the freight line threading Wilkesbarre Mountain with its grade of 61 feet per mile. It has cylinders 27 by 30 inches, using steam at a pressure of 200 lb, and drivers 63 inches in diameter. It is equipped with the Duplex automatic stoker and “booster”. Its total weight is 481,540 lb - nearly 215 tons - of which the engine represents 326,340 lb, and the eight-wheeled tender 155,200 lb. The total weight imposed upon the four-coupled drivers is 238,300 lb.

The “Mikado” is also favoured by the Pennsylvania system for general freight haulage; its engines are among the largest engaged primarily in heavy duty. They have driving wheels 62 inches in diameter, and trailing wheels of 50 inches. The total wheel-base of the locomotive and tender is 73 feet 3½ inches, and its weight in full working order is 503,100 lb. The boiler, working at a pressure of 205 lb per square inch, has 5,766 square feet of heating surface, while that of the fire-box is 315 square feet. The tractive effort is 61,465 lb.


STRIKING PERFORMANCE OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD “MIKADO”. A solid train of 50 cars of wheat was hauled from Buffalo to Philadelphia, via Williamsport and Harrisburg - a distance of 416 miles - in 27 hours.

These locomotives have been responsible for some striking running performances. One was the movement of a train load of 50 cars of wheat from Buffalo on the Great Lakes to Philadelphia on the Atlantic seaboard, via Williamsport and Harris-burg, a distance of 416 miles, in 27 hours. In this run all existing speed records for freight haulage were broken. Another equally notable achievement was the transport of the largest single shipment of motor-cars ever made in the United States. The load comprised 500 vehicles, packed in 100 of the special cars designed for this traffic, and was picked up at Long Island to be conveyed over the Pennsylvania system en route for the Pacific seaboard.

To handle the train four powerful “Mikado” locomotives were required, two at the head and the other two at the rear, acting as “pushers”. The train measured 4,809 feet in length, and weighed 8,476,400 lb. When rounding the celebrated Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania, the two pairs of engines, at the extreme ends of the train, at one time were side by side, though a mile apart across the gap, and seemingly moving in opposite directions.


FOUR POWERFUL “MIKADOS” AND A 100-CAR TRAIN ON THE HORSESHOE CURVE, PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD. The train, loaded with 500 motor-cars, was 4,809 feet in length and weighed 8,476,400 lb.

You can read more on “From the Atlantic to the Pacific”, “Giant American Locomotives” and “Locomotive Giants” on this website.