Tuesday, February 23, 2010

THOSE DANG 4-4-0's...

While I frustratingly fish around for more information on the earliest 4-4-0's, the 1876 builds, I can at least post this unfinished drawing of the Ptarmigan, which will be re-posted later when it's finished. Pipes are unconnected, levers go nowhere, the brake system is not yet added and some other known details are missing.

left click to enlarge

The Ptarmigan, built in 1880 and numbered #88, was named after someone or something in the Steamboat Springs, Colorado, area.

The only things I can find named that today near Steamboat Springs are three motels.

Friday, February 19, 2010


The next drawing is/was to be of the D&RG's first 4-4-0's nos. 16-18, but the amount of available data out there on these locomotives is astounding in it's inaccuracy and just plain wrong guesswork.

So... It may take me awhile to come up with even a close approximation of what these locomotives were like.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

D&RG's FIRST... Part seven

No locomotives were purchased in 1875, primarily a result of the financial panic which started in 1873.

Four new Baldwin Class 40 2-6-0's were ordered in 1876, #13, #14, #15, and #19. They were again slightly larger than the previous 2-6-0's, but did not have the second steam dome.

left click to enlarge

These locomotives were the first to come with two-truck, eight-wheeled tenders.

Names were still being applied to motive power:

#13: "Santa Clara"
#14: "Chicosa"
#15: "Raton"
#19: "Monte Cristo"

None of these drawings are in any way finished. I anticipate upgrading and correcting them often as more information is gathered.

If anyone has photos, drawings, sketches, or measurements on any of these locomotives and does not mind sharing, make a comment indicating so and I'll forward you my e-mail address.

Keep in mind any information offered may be presented publicly in this blog and possibly later publications. Credit for information will be given to whomever offered it. I will update these drawings with any new information that is usable, an easy task for computer-generated drawings.

My intention is to compile and present the most accurate information possible before we all bite the dust and take whatever knowledge of these mountain railroads we have with us.

Too many fantastic lifelong collections of photographs and memorabilia have been carelessly tossed away by unknowing or disinterested family members who thought that Dad's collection of train junk was just that... Junk.

In my view, it is the information that is important, not who had it stashed away.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

D&RG's FIRST... Part six

The D&RW wandered afar for this next locomotive, an English-built 0-4-4-0T Vulcan Farlie. Originally used to pull coal trains from South Pueblo to Divide, it was re-assigned to La Veta Pass as a helper. The very limited quantities of coal and water it could carry is most likely the reason the D&RG did not buy more than one of these units.

left click to enlarge

When the conventional numbering system overtook the number 101, the number was changed to 1001.

The locomotive underwent many modifications. One headlamp and one bell was removed. The steps near the engines were removed. The cab was "winterized" with several of the windows boarded up and doors installed. An additional and higher capacity water transfer pipe was added between the two tanks. Two coal bunkers were added, both going across the entire top of the tanks and boilers.

left click to enlarge

Imagine having to shovel coal from one of those bunkers in the middle of winter on La Veta Pass.

If ever there was a locomotive the D&RG should have saved for prosperity, this would have been it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

D&RG's FIRST... Part five

Double steam domes... #11, "Cucharas", and #12, "Las Animas".

These two Baldwin locomotives were the last of the Class 35 2-6-0's. They both sported a second steam dome just to the rear of the stack. The idea behind such a forward-mounted dome was that a much shorter throttle pipe would increase efficiency. One must assume that it didn't pan out very well. Perhaps the savings created by the increased efficiency - if any - were not enough to justify the cost of the additional dome.

To my knowledge, these two were the only 2-6-0's the forward steam dome concept was applied to. However, the D&RG tried this forward steam dome idea on it's first three 4-4-0's in 1876.

left click to enlarge

If you look on page 18 of Robert A. LeMassena's "Rio Grande... to the Pacific!", you will see one of these locomotives and how those larger steam domes were polished to a mirror finish.

Both of these locomotives were rebuilt into Class 39 0-6-0T's, #11 Mar 1885 and #12 Mar 1884.

Since the Class designation generally indicated the tractive effort of a locomotive, upgrading the class of these units from Class 35 to Class 39 indicates - to me- more tractive effort.

To do that, they had to either:

1- Increase operating steam pressure... very risky,
2- Install larger engines... very expensive, or:
3- Improve the HP-to-weight ratio... very simple

I vote for #3. Eliminating the pilot, pilot truck and the tender would improve the HP-to-weight ratio, increasing the Class designation. But that's just a guess, since the weight of the new water tank would be substantial.
D&RG's FIRST... Part four

The first Tank locomotives.

The D&RG built three tank locomotives from the Class 35 2-6-0's. In the process they lost their "names", and were referred to only by their number, which remained the same.

left click to enlarge

This drawing is largely a collection of assumptions. I have only one photo of a D&RG tank loco, and it may not even be of the first three, but of tank number 20 or 21.

I do have a copy of the Baldwin 1877 locomotive catalog, and some details in that book may be close enough to use. Maybe not.

This is a drawing where I really can use some information from anyone that has some.
D&RG's FIRST... Part three

These next three locomotives #8,#9 and #10, had larger fireboxes and wheelbases then the previous 2-6-0's. Note the rear drivers are placed further back than on locomotives #2,#3 and #5. They were still considered as Class 35 locomotives, since the boiler and the engines were still identical.

A larger firebox only meant that these locomotives could generate steam faster, and that they would be less likely to literally "run out of steam" on hard pulls.

These three, built in 1872, were #8, the "Arkansas", #9, the "Huerfano" and # 10, the "San Carlos".

left click to enlarge

The tenders were now larger, and the rear pedestal-mounted wheels have been replaced with a standard pivoting four-wheel truck.

Although the D&RG had purchased Westinghouse air brake assemblies during this time, I have no information about which locomotives were so equipped.

If anybody out there knows, I would appreciate the information so the appropriate drawings can be updated.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

D&RG's FIRST... Part two

The D&RG Railway Company's locomotive roster for the first year of operation consisted of seven units. Four were the 2-4-0's shown further below, and three were 2-6-0's, shown immediately below.
left click to enlarge

The three 2-6-0's were #2 "Tabawachi", #3 "Shou-Wa-No", and #5 Ouray".

These units had no air brakes... No air pump, no air storage tank or piping, no brake shoes. None of that started happening until the following year, 1872, when the D&RG started purchasing air-brake systems directly from Westinghouse.

All seven of these locomotives sported a minuscule four-wheeled tender which lacked such basics as rear boarding steps, handgrabs, tender ladders and back-up lights.

But they were painted up really fancy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

D&RG's FIRST... Part one

The Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company started operations in 1871 with 76 miles of track running between Denver and Colorado Springs.

Their first locomotive was a Baldwin 2-4-0 sporting a four-wheeled tender.

(left click to enlarge)

Locomotive #1 was named the "Montezuma".

The D%RG purchased four of these locomotives, #1 "Montezuma", #4 "Cortez", #6 "Ute", and #7 "Del Norte". None survived the D&RG after 1888.

The above rendition is almost complete, most details having been gathered from multiple sources, so don't go thinking that it is a 100% accurate drawing. Drawings of this nature will always be a collection of assumptions based on whatever information I can get my hands on.

But it's probably pretty close.

If I ever do batch together that book of drawings I keep yammering about, it will include a front elevation and top view.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Did you know that the General, built in December of 1855, was originally a tank locomotive, a 4-4-0-T, no tender?*

It's original stack was a Radley and Hunter balloon type designed for burning wood.

A bit of technical info:

Original cost $8,850.

Empty weight 50,300 lbs.

130 flues, each 11' long, 2" diameter.

The leading truck had a rigid center.

Original cylinders 15" diameter, 22" stroke.

Driving wheels 60" diameter.

Horsepower was betwween 220 and 254 HP, depending on steam pressure.

It had no water injectors. Instead, it had ram type pumps powered by the crossheads.

The below photograph is of engine #3, Serial #631, built by Rogers, Ketchun & Grosvenor, but certainly not a builders photo, since it sports an added-on tender.

Where - and how - was the water tank and wood bunker installed originally? I have found no detailed information yet of the locomotive in its original configuration.

*I have found only one article describing engine #3 as a tank engine, so this may be incorrect.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Had a computer crash awhile back and am just now getting to the Iron Horse and restoring it to something similar to what it was.

The DRGW Ring info at the bottom is giving me fits, unless this is the new look Holmes wants.

Anywho, work on drawings has continued. Below is my rendition(unfinished) of the Baker Passenger Car heater, which will be in the "Car interior" section of the upcoming book, along with its associated piping layout throughout the car.

leftclick to enlarge