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Selkirk to Connaught
Or, from 2-10-4 to 4-10-2

F. H. Howard

Painting/ Max Jacquiard

THE Canadian Pacific has always been - and today, as its center of gravity moves west, is even more - a mountain-intensive railroad. And while it may not resemble the Southern Pacific in every way, there have always been, in addition to their initials, certain similarities to the SP's Central Pacific. Especially in steam days.

Each had punishing grades; the biggest steam power on the system; a multiplicity of tunnels and the increasing aggravation of smoke inside them; curves, which, taken with the tunnels, crippled visibility; and oil for fuel.

The SP overcame these problems by reversing its locomotives and running them cab first, possible only with liquid fuel. SP had flirted with the idea of simply running the engines backwards, but tender-first is no way to run a railroad. (It did try respirators for the crew, with air supplied from the brake system, but not for long.)

SP's cab-forward engines, 256 of them over 35 years, were articulateds, six- and eight-coupled, compound and simple, many in the Sierra Nevada where most of its tunnels are. CP had 36 2-10-4's, of the Selkirk type if you please, not Texas. While quite light by others' standards (312,800 pounds on drivers, 452,500 pounds total engine weight), they were claimed by CP to be the biggest locomotives in Canada, actually, in what was then the British Empire. This British Empire provided a Class AAA minor league for Canadian bigness competitors, since the Yankees dominated the major league. Canadian National people said the honor belonged to their five T-2 4100-series 2-10-2's, hulking great hippos helping out of Toronto, drivers scarcely higher than bottle caps. And the honor did, on a tractive force scale, since the CN Santa Fe's churned out 91,700 pounds with booster vs. 89,200 pounds for the original Selkirk with booster.

Anyway, these CP T1's were oil burners, maintained at Calgary, Alberta, and working to Revelstoke, British Columbia, 262 miles over and through the Rockies and Selkirks.

I was a junior draftsman in Room 1000 of CP's Windsor Station HQ in Montreal, subordinate to engineers who, along with their predecessors, had pioneered more than their share of steam power over the years. I was given a lot of interesting assignments, often having to go out to the big Angus Shops and collaborate with general foremen, boiler- makers, and machinists. I thought of one project of my own one day, and took it to the chief mechanical engineer, but he wouldn't go for it.

This was in 1947, and I was very young, and he was very important, and I was lucky to get a full two-minute audience. He was also very wise, and knew the weary way to push a betterment appropriation through the tangle of brass hats obsessed with a black bottom line. He didn't have to tell me his reason, and likely figured he'd manifested the essence of kindness by not scorning the idea to my face.

What's more, his ears had no doubt caught the 2-cycle chant, while my friend Bert Mimms, the sardonic test engineer, newly returned from dynamometering a (4-cycle Alco) demonstrator, confided that "we'll never buy another steam engine." We did, as a matter of fact, purchase six T1ds, and even as we spoke, we were converting Consolidations to light Mikados . . . via the erecting shop tracing on my drawing board, indeed.

BUT let's back up 40 years to 1947 and revert to present tense. Let's imagine there are no intellectual handicaps, that the CME has given my concept his blessing. How will I convert one of our T1 Selkirks to cab-in-front, on the SP philosophy and rationale?

The conversion will have to involve one of the earlier T1a 20 engines, nonstreamlined, mostly, devoted to freight service, frequently as helpers, Nos. 5900-5919 (Montreal, 1929). The later T1b streamlined ones (often in passenger service) are quite inappropriate candidates, since a streamlined engine is supposed to lessen wind resistance in the forward direction, and would look bizarre pretending to do it the other way. To keep everybody oriented, we'd better continue to call the front and back, right and left sides of our engine as built. Let's separate the engine from the tender and start at the front.

The air hoses must come off the pilot deck and be taken around to the rear. So must the pilot, pilot beam, and front coupler (no drawbar), and the "handle-pull-the-pin," as I later heard a French-Canadian hogger call it. But the cast steel frame - I'm keeping the four wings for firebox and cab support - steps at a point about 3 feet too short, so I'll have to build all that back out for the pilot assembly to end up where it's of some use. That's just steel plate or channels and welding red. The pilot braces won't come around, it just costs money to cut them away. I'll put a sheet between the pilot and the cab floor to keep out summer debris. The bits and pieces for winter snowplow attachment come too, which might present a visibility problem; I hope not. The headlight, number, and classification lights must come off, of course, and places found for them on the cab back wall. I'll be needing something different in the way of flag brackets, and may have to go to the car department for them. The graceful smokebox handrail will still service the engine - house mechanics on their rounds, as will the brief running board steps. The now naked door will still have to open for the boilermaker's inspection - no cinders in these oil burners - and when the superheater units are to come out, the whole smokebox front will still have to be unshipped - we don't use the Okadee hinges. The tender has to come off first for that and the engine pushed into the roundhouse without it - which is one reason the CME didn't like my idea, although the SP had this problem too and wasn't deterred.

I'd better get into all the piping changes that will result from switching the tender from back to front, so to speak. Air brake and signal lines are shorter, but steam heat and oil lines are longer, including a steam line to keep the oil liquid - this is Canada, remember. The steam heat line will have to be lagged, and I'll run it tight along the inside of a running board - this is a handsome engine and I want to keep it that way.

Now for the long and short of water piping: First of all, I'll take advantage of the Elesco (we're almost 100 per cent Elesco) feedwater heater's position in front of the stack and its - now - proximity to the tender by moving the water pump from its position halfway down the boiler - why not onto the pilot deck? That means short water inlet, short water outlet up to the bundle, short condensate return to heat the tender, but longer piping for the steam to run the pump, and a full-length pipe for cold water all the way back to the injector. I'm aware that the delivery of heated water will now have to move across to the right side of the boiler top check valve - I'll say why shortly. I hope that the bundle, which is simply a heat exchanger, can accept water and exhaust steam from the opposite directions to what they are now. Or maybe Elesco has a right-handed bundle I can use. I'll bet they do, in fact, for those roads that like it that way. SP's no help, since it uses Worthington.

That just about does it for the feedwater delivery apparatus, except for the injector, a CP-standard Hancock nonlifting type under the engineer's floor. That has to go over to the other side (remember the engineer's on the left now), and . . . good! Hancock does have a left-handed version, otherwise my steam and delivery pipes would have some really goofy bends. The main run of the delivery pipe simply moves across under the other running beard and up to the left connection on the top-check valve. CP policy is a single top-check valve for both deliveries, two systems of course being mandatory.

Now let's have a look in the cab and what's there. We have a vestibule cab, which is really helpful. To start with, all three seats must be transposed and reversed. The front-end brakeman may get a break here, or if not, how about a doghouse on the tender (not a CP custom so far)? Of course that means heat and insulation, so forget it. The back of the cab will have to be rebuilt somewhat, and likely insulated. Windows all across (with wipers) will justify a middle seat for the brakeman, but there's a sandbox there too for the flues. The headlight must go below that, and it might need a visor so the crew can see properly at night. We'll keep the sliding side windows; incidentally, the T1's, alone among CP power, have the upper half of the cab sides sloping inward - and why not keep the armrests too? Springtime in the Rockies then can be contemplated at leisure by a crew drifting back down on a helper turn. For which they won't need windshields though, will they?

I don't deny that my (new) front end has no style, resembles the awkward early SP conversions, and reminds me of Charles Kettering's remarks about a camel being a horse designed by a committee. By the time this exercise gets by the chief draftsman, the assistant CME, and the chief of motive power, to say nothing of the superintendent of motive power Western Lines - maybe even the chairman of the board - it may acquire much grace, even comeliness. I don't know that I'm esthetically qualified anyway, my job being that of a callow engineer, not a stylist, - Raymond Loewy I'm not.

Moving right along to the fireman's controls: oil supply (I may need a pump now), oil heating, damper, blower, dynamo, and water pump are easy enough, even the hydrostatic lubricator, just piping crossovers from left to right. This really can't go on a drawing, and the pipefitters at Ogden Shops in Calgary will figure out all this routing better than a draftsman can. I'm concerned that the fireman would have to reach around to get at all his valves if they're mounted conventionally, so I'll try them on a stand along the cab wall beside him, or possibly slightly in front of him. The firedoor will become awkward in his new position, so I'll turn it 180 degrees and put it back on the same studs.

However, the engineer's controls aren't all that simple. Bell, whistle, sander, and cylinder cocks are no problem: they're placed on a stand something like the opposite side. The whistle and bell cords can hang from the roof somehow. His injector controls will come up through the floor as before with the old holes covered, while the headlight switch and fuse box go on the upper cab wall over his head. The brake stand and duplex dials will be as before on his left, on a newly-designed pedestal away from the backhead, with the cutoff control and steam heat gauges nearby.

The tougher controls to figure out are throttle and reverse gear. The throttle rod must remain along the boiler where it is, but now on the wrong side. We could hang the marine-type lever and its quadrant over the engineer's left shoulder and connect it by a shaft to a mating lever across the cab - a sturdy shaft in sturdy bearings, since we want no loose play in this critical mechanism. Now, the multiple-throttle valves themselves, up at the header, must still open in the usual way, which means a backward pull on the throttle red. (CP's stylish practice is to run this through the hollow handrail all the way up to the American front-end throttle, and talking of American, the ICC doesn't permit this - U.S, handrails have to be solid!) This arrangement, incidentally, allows no compensating lever halfway along the boiler to reverse direction, but reverse is clearly needed here if a backward pull in our cab on the left is to produce a backward pull at the front end on the right. The early SP's used much the same system, a shaft across the cab. It would be just fine if the American Throttle Company offered a wrong-side version of what's on the T1a, so the rod could then run along the same side of the boiler as the begger sits at. Maybe the Chicago & North Western has such an arrangement, since it runs on the left - must look that up in the Locomotive Cyclopedia ... Well, C&NW hasn't, but what's the matter with me? SP does have a left-hand header on its later AC's; for the same reason I want it. So there's my choice: a somehow Rube Goldberg at low cost, or a new throttle at higher cost. Interestingly enough, my right-hand handrail has had to be bigger around than my left one, so I'll have to exchange handrails to go with the new throttle location!

All modern big engines on my railroad use a screw reverse gear with a homemade air motor powering the hand-wheel. There's no way this affair can be turned around and transferred, as is, to the other side, so I'll have to replace it with a Barco or Franklin power reverse cylinder and piston. The lever and quadrant will go on a stand beside the engineers knee, while the cylinder itself can go neatly out on the bracket left vacant when we relocated the water pump! Which cancels any undesirable drilling and tapping into the boiler shell. The bell crank has to move over to the other end of the valve gear cross-shaft as a result of all this.

One or two things are left to be done in and around the cab. T1's have three blow-off cocks, and the one on the throat sheet is the fireman's responsibility, while the others are opened from the running boards. So I'll just switch around the rigging to where the fireman now sits. Funny thing, SP crews operate blow-off cocks from rigging outside the cab sidewalls.

I see, coming back from the superheater along the left running boards, a lagged pipe: steam to the auxiliary turret just outside the cab, with the valves inside, for air pump, water pump, steam heat, and dynamo. This turret, or one doing this job, will have to be moved to somewhere an top of the firebox, where there is already a saturated companion, or otherwise the engineer would have all this literally behind him. Since these main valves are customarily open all during a run, perhaps they could be looked after before he climbs aboard, but I doubt he'll do it himself.

Since this engine is really going to be running backwards, meaning that whenever the boiler has been used to going uphill, it will now think it's going down, I believe I must pay some attention to the waterglass or its mountings so the crownsheet stays protected; the SP did, along with the gauge cocks too. On the subject of steam, the main pressure gauge could do with a little relocation for better visibility - our crew will be facing away from it now. And that's about all for the cab.* I don't know yet which engine will be chosen for this honor, If it's 5911, then the cab will be different. It has an ordinary, squared-off cab, arising from a disaster at Illecillewaet, B.C., in 1936, when, pulling a westbound stock extra, it was derailed by a snowslide. The cars and then the tender were pulled back with a cable, which broke, letting the tender run down into the engine, killing 16 good mountain railroad men and demolishing the cab. So 5911 was given another one, from the ill-fated, short-lived, high-pressure 2-10-4 8000, then being scrapped. (The 8000's big tender was bestowed on 5812, a contemporary 2-10-2.)

Before I forget, reverse the sander pipes. And yes, the dynamo exhaust.

AND now for the really interesting challenges - the motion, the counterbalancing, the spring rigging, and the small wheels, both fore and aft. T1a's have Walschaerts valve gear, like every CP engine since 1908. Theirs is direct, the eccentric crank following the crank pin with the link black at the bottom of the link in forward gear. But the engine will now spend its (or her) life - or most of it - in what it believes is in reverse. I still want the link block on the bottom, for the usual good reason that if a radius rod hanger should break, the block can't fall down and throw, or try to throw, the engine into reverse. I've never actually heard of a radius rod hanger breaking, but I haven't been around all that long, and there are many things I've never heard of. Another one is white-leading the hangers every three months just so as to detect any cracks.

Getting back to the point, I want the link block down most of the time, and the way to have it there is by converting the valve gear to indirect, with the eccentric crank preceding the main pin in what used to be forward direction. Since the crank is keyed to the pin, I'll have to arrange for each pin to come out of its main driver, rotated as far behind the vertical center-line as it is forward, then pressed back in. Which is what the SP did. Hmm... this could involve a lengthened eccentric rod, couldn't it? The reverse lever up in the cab must still drop the link block when it's moved ahead, so the reach rod connection now has to go below the fulcrum instead of above it. Either that, or teach all the engineers turning around at Field, B.C., that you pull back on the gear for this engine to go forward. Include the hostlers at Calgary and Revelstoke as well.

These T1a's, unlike their streamlined successors, have alligator cross-heads with guides above and below, presumably of equal strength and cross-section. I'll have to check if this be true, since the piston and main rod thrust loading will now be on the bottom guide bar, in whichever direction the engine is moving. This too the SP had had to check.

So much for the motion. And I won't have to lay out a new union link, combination lever, and valve stem arrangement, which at first I thought I would; I was on the wrong track there.

On to counterbalancing. This engine, used occasionally in passenger service, is balanced accordingly, and the overbalance, which is speed-sensitive, has been calculated so as to produce a somewhat satisfactory side-to-side nosing effect along with an equally satisfactory up-and-down dynamic augment - but only a compromise in both cases, which is why I say "satisfactory" advisedly.

THIS was done on the premise that the engine would be working smokebox first, but when working smokebox last, with the cab so much farther from the piston thrust than the smokebox was, is the nosing, at whatever speed, going to be different, meaning worse? Lateral motion devices - the T1's have one and I'll relocate it - constrain fronts of steam locomotives from swinging wildly from side to side under the influence of pistons reversing in a quartered rhythm, and according to Newton's first law; furthermore, my new engine may have moments of inertia different from before. I don't know I'll have to consult older and wiser heads, of which there are plenty around. Hammer-blow shouldn't change, since drivers will be rolling at the same rpm, but if l have to adjust counterbalance for reciprocating nosing, then I fear rotating hammer-blow will change.

Nobody said that it would be easy, at least not for me. The other, nondriving, wheels are interesting, are they not? My engine is going to be a 4-10-2... which is not just a 2-10-4 going backwards. The four-wheel Delta trailing truck does just that - trail - but it's going to be useless as an engine truck; it holds up its share of the weight all right, but no more. Since it doesn't know how to guide a locomotive around curves, it has to go - into the Ogden Shops spare parts pool, complete with its wheels and axles, springs and equalizers. T1a's have boosters, but alas not this one anymore - boosters don't hang on engine trucks. Away with it, and its twin steam and exhaust pipes, which will vacate some longitudinal space for all that piping I've been adding.

Where do I find the proper engine truck? I do believe our K1's, those two lovely 4-8-4's running between Montreal and Toronto every night, have the answer; it might well serve very nicely. The K1's and the T1's have so much in common - the same boiler, in fact - that one's engine truck should, if I'm lucky, replace the other's trailing truck. The loaded weights of these siblings are almost the same, so I think I'll just use the K1 as it is, which includes roller bearings. Now an engine truck rotates around a center pin, plus having swing motion, so I have a real guiding device, for the 4 in my 4-10-2. Of course I must design a proper mounting structure between the two side members of the cast frame extension. I'm most thankful that it's an oil-burner I'm working with, or what the hell would I do about an ashpan and hopper, occupying precisely the area where I'm putting my engine truck mounting? The SP was equally grateful, I see.

Now to the other end. My employer has never used any of the single-axle trailing trucks - Cole, Delta, Hedges - that other North American railroads favor. CP has preferred the British (London & North Eastern) system, of an axle in an extension to the main frame, supported in angled pedestals, permitting it to align itself to curved track by skewing it as it slides laterally, one journal inching forward, the other backward. To accommodate this, I'm going to build two pairs of pedestals and attach them to each side of the old pilot platform.

But I can't. I can't just attach these structures to the steel castings, neither by welding nor by bolting, without machining flat surfaces to receive them; otherwise their alignment would be so inaccurate as to cause the boxes to run hot within minutes. I can't get this machining done without sending the whole cast-steel frame down to General Steel Castings at Granite City, Ill., for milling, Another reason for milling away the sides of the pilot platform is its width; unfortunately, the 45-inch wheels used with this rig are so high that they'll hit the platform on curves. And finally, added to which I don't want to make it harder for the piston and rod to come out.

So I'm going to break with tradition and use the existing outside-bearing two-wheel leading truck as a trailer, It can take the weight, I know; the centering action will be useless but not in the way.

I may have to get special dispensation to do this, but show me another way. Now I'll have to tie or untie all the wheels in, in terms of springs. I fear there's going to be a bunch of rework to the equalizing system, although the driver springs themselves are going to be unchanged. A 4-10-2 has for its necessary three-point suspension an engine truck, with its own private equalizers, for the front point. All the drivers and the trailing wheel down one side are to be equalized in one system, and the same down the other side, for the other two points. On the other hand, my 2-10-4 has its first three pairs of drivers equalized with its engine truck through a cross-equalizer, so some of that has to be discarded; I'll hang on to the existing equalizers between the drivers, with new ones connecting the springs between the (former) No. 3 and No. 4. Two new ones too are needed for my trailing wheels, and there's room for them inside and below the cylinders. So now I've got the two points all equalized together - I hope. I hope, because the ratios of the two ends of each equalizer may have to be changed if the engine is going to be level, at rest and in motion. All of which is going to take a layout on the drawing board and some calculations of the weights on all these wheels, As long as the trucks assume the same weights as their predecessors (and why won't they?), I should be O.K.

Talking about being level, a casual gaze upon the engine truck makes me wonder about the weight it's carrying; I'm mindful of the slug of steel I've just attached to the engine truck of my son's American Flyer to keep it on the track. Now it does seem that the Pennsy - the Standard Railroad of the World? - actually tied in the 4-wheel engine truck of its 80-inch-drivered Atlantic and Pacific racers to the leading drivers, presumably doubly ensuring proper weight distribution. But this is too great a departure for my 63-inch Rocky Mountain pusher, so I'll tip my hat to Altoona but no more.

For my new trailer equalizers to assume this weight I'm talking about, I'll connect them to the frame about 6 inches ahead of the cylinder center-line; that was the fulcrum in the old arrangement. And you know, my boss has almost never wanted brakes on engine trucks or trailers. That's good - I don't have to find somewhere to put them.

Now I'm going to couple up the tender. The front is still the front, but the apparatus that used to connect it to the vestibule cab is superceded. I'm going to keep the drawbar (and safety bar) - all 5 feet of it - and since the tender end of it, and the big pin, won't change, that tells me where the engine end of it has to go, somewhere under the erstwhile pilot deck, above and between the trailer wheels. A sturdy" welded pocket is called for (and a hole in the deck to remove the pin). That preserves the geometry and I hope governs the behavior on curves. You'll note that our big 12-wheel tenders have the front truck well forward, giving them a sort of underbite appearance. The radial buffer, or at least the engine half, will come around to meet with the tender half and I'll have to build up a structure on the pilot platform so that it'll do that. The back-up light cable will go through the handrail, as before. Finally, I'm going to hang steps and grab irons near the engine-tender connection.


Let's see . . . no, I haven't forgotten to reverse the sander pipes. By the way, there's no point in keeping that orange-peel, air-operated smoke deflector behind the stack, if there is one; it may already have been dismantled, as a nuisance. At this point I should relate that I've been working on an arrangement to allow the crew to detect rock falls on curves at night; the headlight always shines straight ahead and would even if it were made to swivel with the engine truck. I need something that would illuminate the ditch to one side or the other and not the rock wall ahead. Two extra ditch lamps will be the solution, broadening the light beam so to speak. I'll put them on the front of my engine, little knowing that 20 years later they'll go on all diesels, by order of the Canadian Transport Commission.

Now the job is done, I must see that my new 4-10-2- plus-tender wheelbase isn't longer than the 100-foot turntables at Calgary, Field, and Revelstoke. The old 2-10-4-plus-tender had only 89 feet odd, so I probably needn't worry.

My final concern is the attitude my creation will take on curves - underhang on the outside, and underhand on the inside - and will it violate the clearance limitations? A good part of its operating territory is curved and every snowshed. tunnel, and siding spacing has been adequate for the old engine - notice how now it's the "old" engine? Maybe this will call for a slow trial run over the Laggan and Mountain subdivisions, and their shop tracks as well. I know of some engines that can go through certain narrow bridges at speed forward but not backward, since then the engine and tender jackknife every so slightly.

By the way, what do I call my 4-10-2? CP can hardly call it a Southern Pacific type. What did the UP call theirs - Overland? That won't do either. We can hardly call it a Kicking Horse, and there's already a Mountain type I we only have two, out of sight way down east). How about Connaught, a good western CP name? And class Q1, one of the few letters CP hasn't used yet? Likewise, the number 6000 has always been vacant. (Subsequently, I discovered in Omer Lavallee's Canadian Pacific Steam Locomotives [Rail-fare Enterprises Ltd., 1985] that the Q1 class had been selected for a proposed but never built 2-8-4 design of I928.)

Has it all been worth it? Most of the expense has consisted of a new throttle, a new bundle, an engine truck, and some heavy weldments, considerable shop labor, and quite a lot of my own time (I wonder what that's valued at?), What's been gained other than (I hope) the gratitude of one or two engine crews, each day, for a few years yet?

Or is this what's called a labor of love? And what will they think at the grade crossings?

F. H. HOWARD has drawn from his experience with Canadian Locomotive, Canadian Pacific, and General Motors Diesel Ltd. for articles in TRAINS dating back to 1953. He is president of Alberta Interemodal Services Ltd. in Calgary. He thanks Bill Withuhn for vetting this manuscript and expresses his appreciation of the late Brian Reed's Loco Profile 28 (Profile Publicatioons Ltd., Windsor, England) on SP cab-forwards. Of Reed, Howard says, "He says he couldn't have written that without the encouragement of G.M. Best: I couldn't have written this without Brian Reed's example before me."

Trains June 1987 © Kalmbach Publishing reprinted with permission

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