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

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Thu Sep 8 22:49:29 EDT 2005

I have very anxiously awaited this response. I knew they were coming. I do
not have the expertise to give the details about why Mr Sellers was wrong
but I had read to many independent articles that I knew the corretions had
to be comming

Bob Riffe
----- Original Message -----
From: <nw-mailing-list at>
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 12:04 AM
Subject: Re: Atlantic Coast Line R-1 4-8-4's

> Bill - I appreciate your feelings for your favorite 4-8-4s but let's look

> at a few items.


> First, Js never handled a 12-14 car lightweight train; the ARROW was a 5-6

> car lightweight train, which, for a J, was nothing. Two of the three

> Southern trains were all heavyweights, up to 15 cars, and the grades

> between Lynchburg and Bristol were up to 1.34% (westbound up Allegheny

> Mountain). The speed limit on this mountain was 40MPH due to curvature,

> with a 50MPH curve at the bottom so no high-speed run could be gotten for

> the climb. Yet, a J could violate the speed limit up above Montgomery

> Tunnel (several miles up the hill) with a long heavyweight train.


> The J could also run 100 MPH where required, on the Norfolk and Scioto

> Divisions.


> Now, your contention that a J couldn't have accelerated a 1500-ton train

> to 70MPH as quick as an 1800 is not based on anything other than your gut

> feel. Since the 1800 was not capable of producing the drawbar horsepower

> (much less the starting tractive effort) of the J (the J was tops among

> 4-8-4s in this achievement, and the 1800 was not even in the top rank),

> the J could certainly have accelerated any train the 1800 could handle

> faster than the 1800 could.


> I invite you to ask yourself the following question: If you put an 1800

> on the N&W, could it do what the J did? The answer is - no way. It would

> have had trouble lifting a 15-car Pelican out of Marion, Va., eastbound;

> it would have had trouble getting an eastbound Cavalier out of Northfork,

> it couldn't have gotten a westbound Pocahontas back up to track speed on

> Bluefield Mountain after reducing speed for the 25MPH "Jug Neck" reverse

> curve. These are things the J was specifically built to do.


> If you put a J on the ACL, could it do everything the 1800 did?

> Absolutely! The 1800 never had to contend with the grades and curvature

> that the J did, and the J could have made the time. What's the maximum

> grade on the ACL between Richmond and Miami? I'll bet it's less than 1/2

> of 1% and probably less than that (the SAL had worse grades than ACL did).


> And why was ACL so quick to bump the 1800s into freight service? If

> they'd been all that great a passenger engine, they'd have lasted longer

> in the service. But it's well known that they had deficient

> counterbalancing, and were hard on the track. The J's weren't . . .


> Now, Bill - the 1800s were good looking engines. If your admiration ended

> there, I'd be all for you. But if you get into performance comparisons,

> you're treading on thin ice.


> The N&W bought the tenders (ten of them, not eight) because they were big,

> not because the engines that pulled them were great. And Saunders didn't

> buy them . . .


> But Keep Steaming! And I wish you'd distribute those great GM 2-10-0

> audio tapes . . .


> Ed King



> ----- Original Message -----

> From: <nw-mailing-list at>

> To: <nw-mailing-list at>

> Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 9:33 PM

> Subject: Atlantic Coast Line R-1 4-8-4's



>> 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

>> 1800

>> 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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