TrainWeb.org Facebook Page
Atlantic Coast Line 4-8-4s

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
Class R-1 4-8-4's

the "1800's"

by Hugh Odom

e-mail: whodom2001[at]yahoo[dot]com

last updated 16 January 2015


[ACL 4-8-4]

Atlantic Coast Line No. 1808

from the H. L. Broadbelt collection

This page provides an overview of some of my favorite steam locomotives used in the United States, the Class R-1 4-8-4's of the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) Railroad.

The ACL R-1's were built in 1938 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the road's lucrative passenger traffic between Richmond, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida. The 1800's were the only "modern" steam locomotives owned by the ACL, and featured cast bed frames with cylinders and many accessories cast integrally, cast pilots, roller bearings on leading and driving axles, handsome Baldwin disk drivers, 275 PSIG boilers, Type "A" superheaters, Worthington SA feedwater heaters, front-end throttles, large fireboxes with combustion chambers and equipped with four thermic syphons, Elesco centrifugal steam separators, extensive mechanical lubrication, and massive 8-axle tenders. The engines featured jacketed smokeboxes and were painted in a sharp two-tone metallic gray/black paint scheme with silver striping and driver tires. The ACL herald on the tender was a separate embossed sheet metal disk which was attached to the tender, and which provided a dramatic change from earlier engines which merely had "Atlantic Coast Line" lettered on the tender.

These engines replaced double-headed USRA Pacifics on the road's passenger trains and their performance initially exceeded all expectations. During testing, no. 1800 accelerated a 20 car, 1500 ton passenger train (consisting of friction bearing heavy weight cars) from a dead stop to 70 miles per hour in 11-1/2 minutes and 11 miles. In passenger service, the R-1's made as high as 18,000 miles per month. The R-1's could hold to the scheduled running times of the fastest passenger trains with as many as 21 heavy weight cars. Initially, the maximum operating speed was limited to 80 MPH, but (after the running gear balance was adjusted) their speed was later raised to 90 MPH. Although 90 MPH was the "official" speed limit for these engines, amateur observers (my father for one) often clocked them in excess of 100 MPH on the ACL's mostly level and straight mainline.

ACL #1802

ACL no. 1802 at Richmond, VA

Otto Perry Photo

Unfortunately, shortly after the locomotives entered service, problems with the counter-balancing of the locomotives' running gear became apparent after much track damage occurred. Although the R-1's were balanced per the AAR's latest published recommendations of 1934, at high speed the main drivers actually left the rails and repeatedly slammed back down, kinking rails and damaging track alignment for miles. Although the design calculations were correctly made, and although the calculations showed that "bouncing" of the drivers should not occur, forces were at work on the running gear of the locomotives which were beyond the capabilities of the engineering of the 1930's to analyze. After much investigation by Baldwin and ACL engineers, the locomotives' counter-balancing was reduced (by removing excess balance material from the drivers) and the problem was eliminated. Unfortunately, as a result of these problems and competitor Seaboard Air Line's success with new EMD diesel-electric locomotives, the ACL's successive new motive power purchases were all diesel. Other railways with modern steam power built about this time (such as the New Haven's 4-6-4's) suffered similar problems.  These problems were significant in discouraging further purchases of modern steam power and unfortunately accelerated the change to diesel-electric motive power in the U.S.

R-1 Cab

Cab Photo of R-1 from the 1941 Locomotive Cyclopedia

The 1800's were overhauled at the ACL shops in Tampa, Florida, as they were too large for the road's backshops in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Few changes were made to the R-1's during their careers. Provisions were made in the original design to allow trailing truck boosters to be fitted, but this was never done. Photographs show that within the first couple of years of service, the original whistles, mounted at the steam dome and fed with saturated steam, were replaced with larger whistles mounted on the fireman's side of the boiler just behind the stack on the superheater header, where they were fed with superheated steam (see photo below). Headlights seem to have been changed on some if not all of the locomotives as well.  Finally, locomotives 1800, 1801, 1806, 1807, 1808, and 1809 were fitted with Timken light-weight pistons, piston rods, cross heads, and new tapered main rods with roller bearing wrist pins (see photos  below). These components greatly reduced the mass of the reciprocating parts which improved the R-1's running gear balance even further.

The 1800's were well-designed steam locomotives and were nearly state-of-the-art for 1938, lacking only roller bearing axles on the trailing truck and tender axles.  Their large fireboxes with combustion chambers and 4 Nicholson Thermic Syphons were among the largest in heating surface area of any 4-8-4 and undoubtedly made them prodigious steamers.  One curiosity is Baldwin's use of relatively small piston valves for such large engines which seems to have been part of Baldwin's design philosophy at the time.  The 1800's had only 12 inch diameter piston valves whereas even the ACL's much smaller Class P-5 Pacifics had 14 inch valves.  The R-1's also had somewhat smallish superheaters for their size (Type A, 1425 square feet).  These two items would have restricted their "breathing" at high speed by impeding the steam flow into and out of the cylinders.  Later 4-8-4 designs used 14 inch piston valves with even longer valve travel and huge Type E superheaters to improve their high-speed performance.  Nonetheless, the R-1's were known as outstanding performers on the ACL and their theoretical design deficiencies were not seen as drawbacks when they were in service.


ACL R-1 Details of Interest

The photos below point out some minor changes made to the R-1's during their service on the ACL.

ACL 1800 new

Builder's Photo (above) of R-1 showing (1) original headlight, (2) original whistle fed with saturated steam from the steam dome, (3) heavy, one-piece forged crosshead and (4) heavy, non-tapered main rods.  This photo also shows the ASF wheelsets on the lead truck (indicated by the large hubs with bolts around the perimeter) which were an interesting development of the 1930's.  These wheelsets included both roller bearings and conventional journal bearings on each axle.  The friction bearings were intended to serve as a "back-up" in case the "new-fangled" roller bearings should fail.

ACL R-1 modified

Late photo (above) of ACL R-1 showing (1) different headlight, (2) larger whistle fed with superheated steam from the superheater header, (3) Timken light-weight crosshead (not seen are Timken light-weight piston and piston rod), and (4) light-weight, tapered main rod with roller bearing wrist pin. This photo unfortunately also shows the not-quite-spic-and-span condition somewhat typical of most ACL steam, especially near the end of steam on the railway.

ACL R-1 tender herald

Another interesting feature of the R-1's was the Atlantic Coast Line herald on the tender, which was an embossed aluminum plate mounted to the tender rather than just a painted logo. The builder's drawings for the locomotives show that rivets were omitted in this area of the tender, welding being used to secure the internal braces to the exterior sheets in this area.  The rivet-free area can be seen on the photo of N&W 2084 below with the herald removed.


ACL R-1 No. 1802 in Richmond, Virginia, July 11, 1947
photo by C. W. Jernstrom

ACL R-1 No. 1809 at Jacksonville, Florida, April 14, 1948

photo by C.W. Jernstrom

The R-1's were gradually shifted to fast-freight service and were also very successful in this application. In freight service, the R-1's were rated at 6200 tons under normal conditions on the road's mainline between Richmond, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida. The 1800's operated into the early 1950's until they were all retired and scrapped between 1951 and 1953. Unfortunately, none of these engines was preserved.

The massive 8-axle tenders (24,000 gallons water, 27 tons of coal) of eight of the R-1's were purchased by the Norfolk and Western in 1953 and attached to Y-4 class 2-8-8-2 compound mallets (see below). These engines operated until 1958 when they too were withdrawn and scrapped.

ACL R-1 tender behind N&W Y-4

N&W Y-4 No. 2084 with R-1 Tender
photo from Virginia Tech N&W Collection

Models:

A brass HO scale model of the R-1 was imported by Overland Models in the mid-1970's:

ACL Overland model

Specifications:

GENERAL DATA
28. HEATING SURFACE, SUPERHEATER 1,425 SQ. FT.
1. CYLINDERS: DIA. X STROKE 27" x 30"
29. HEATING SURFACE, EQUIVALENT TOTAL 6,891 SQ. FT.
2. VALVE GEAR WALSCHAERT
30. GRATES, AREA 97.7 SQ. FT.
3. VALVES, SIZE & KIND 12" PISTON
31. ARCH TUBES NONE
4. VALVE, MAXIMUM TRAVEL 7 1/2"
32. STOKER STANDARD H-T
5. VALVES, STEAM LAP 1 3/8"
AIR BRAKE
6. VALVES, EXHAUST CLEARANCE 1/4"
33. SCHEDULE W.A.B. CO. TYPE 8-ET
7. VALVES, LEAD IN FULL GEAR 1/4"
34. BRAKE PWR 60% DRVRS & 45% B. TRUCK @ 50 LBS PRESSURE
8. VALVES, CUT-OFF IN FULL GEAR 85%
35. PUMPS 2-8 1/2" CROSS COMPOUND
9. RATED TRACTIVE POWER 63,900 LBS.
TENDER
10. RATIO OF ADHESION (WT. ON DRIVERS/TRACTICE POWER) 4.12
36. FRAME CAST STEEL
11. SHARPEST CURVE 16 DEGREES WITH 1/2" TRACK SPREAD
37. DRAFT GEAR MINER A-5-XB
WEIGHT
38. BRAKE SCHEDULE W.A.B. CO. TYPE 8-ET
12. LEADING TRUCK 89,343 LBS.
39. BRAKE PWR 100% @50LB. PR. OF LT. WT. TNDR (186,200 LBS.)
13. TOTAL DRIVERS 263,127 LBS.
40. TRUCK, TYPE 8 WHEEL RIGID FRAME, CAST STEEL
14. TRAILER TRUCK 107,800 LBS.
MISCELLANEOUS
15. TOTAL ENGINE 460,270 LBS.
41. INJECTOR NATHAN TYPE HP
16. FRONT TENDER TRUCK 222,450 LBS.
42. LUBRICATORS 2 NATHAN MECH. DV-7
17. REAR TENDER TRUCK 213,050 LBS.
43. POWER REVERSE BALDWIN TYPE "C"
18. TOTAL TENDER 435,500 LBS.
44. DRIVING BOXES TIMKEN ROLLER BEARINGS
19. TOTAL ENGINE & TENDER 895,770 LBS.
45. FIRE DOOR FRANKLIN BUTTERFLY TYPE No 8
BOILER
46. SUPERHEATER ELESCO TYPE "A"
20. WORKING PRESSURE, MAX. 275 LBS.
47. HEADLIGHT GOLDEN GLOW
21. FIREBOX, LENGTH X WIDTH 138" x 102"
48. GENERATOR SUNBEAM
22. TUBES, No, O.D. & GA. 198~2 1/4" ~No 11 B.W.G.
49. TRAIN CONTROL GENERAL RY. SIGNAL
23. FLUES, No, O.D. & GA. 58 ~5 1/2" ~No 8 B.W.G.
50. AIR PUMP LUBRICATOR WEST'G. MECH. TYPE F-1
24. TUBES & FLUES, LENGTH (OUT. TO OUT. OF TUBE SHEETS) 252"
51. FEED WATER HEATER WORTHINGTON OPEN TYPE 5 1/2 SA
25. HEATING SURF., TUBES & FLUES 4,185 SQ. FT.
52. SYPHONS (4) THERMIC
26. HEATING SURF., FIREBOX,SYPHONS, COMB.CHAMBER 568 SQ. FT.
53. SPEED RECORDER VALVE PILOT
27. HEATING SURFACE, TOTAL 4,753 SQ. FT.
54. SANDER BREWSTER

General data on the R-1 from the ACL

Links

Visit my main page, the Ultimate Steam Page at http://www.trainweb.org/tusp

Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Historical Society

The Atlantic Coast Line Network

References

1. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad- Steam Locomotives, Ships, and History by Richard E. Prince

2. Atlantic Coast Line, The Standard Railroad of the South by William E. Griffin, Jr.

3. The Locomotives That Baldwin Built by Fred Westing

4. Model Railroader magazine, August 1960 issue.

5. Baldwin Locomotives magazine, July 1938.

6. Railway Mechanical Engineer magazine, December 1938.

7. Locomotive Quarterly, Fall 1991, "Atlantic Coast Line Motive Power"

8. Lines South, 3rd Quarter 1998, ACL R-1s



Site launched May 16, 2003

Back to Top



TrainWeb.org Facebook Page