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

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Tue Sep 6 21:33:24 EDT 2005

Having worked in engine service for the ACL beginning in September 1941,
once in awhile I have one of those "what if" questions to pop up in my head.
You fellows on the N&W are justifiably proud of your J class 4-8-4's, as they
performed well in the assignments for which they were built, which was to
handle passenger trains over the curvey rip-rap of the N&W between Norfolk
and Cincinnati. Compared to the ACL, the N&W was only incidentally in the
passenger business, half of which was a joint operation with the Southern
Railway. In an acceleration test, ACL R-1 No. 1800 was coupled to twenty
heavyweight friction bearing passenger cars that weighed 1500 tons ( and not
to a 12 or 14 car lightweight Powatan Arrow easy rolling train set.) The
went from a dead stop to 70 MPH in eleven and one-half minutes and eleven
miles. They were capable of handling up to 21 heavyweight cars at 90 MPH,
and made the schedules of the ACL's fastest trains in a little better than 13
hours between Richmond, Va. and Jacksonville, Fl. The N&W was not even in
the same ballpark with the ACl when it came to operating passenger trains.
I submit to you that A J class locomotive with it's 70 inch drivers could not
have matched an ACL R-1 in an acceleration test with 1500 tons. Stuart
Saunders, who was not the brightest star to ever shine at the N&W bought
eight of the 12 large 24,000 gallon tenders off the 1800's from the ACL for
use on some of the N&W Y class locomotives when the ACL scrapped the
1800's. Bill Sellers

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