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Background Information

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SRC 89 working on the daily passenger train in 1993.

Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 2-6-0 represents the wheel arrangement of two leading wheels on one axle (usually in a leading truck), six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, and no trailing wheels. This arrangement is commonly called a Mogul. In the United States, this type of locomotive was widely built from the early 1860s to the 1920s.

Other equivalent classifications are:
UIC classification: 1C (also known as German classification and Italian classification)
French classification: 130
Turkish classification: 34
Swiss classification: 3/4


Although locomotives of this wheel arrangement were built as early as 1852–53, by two Philadelphia manufacturers ( Baldwin and Norris), these first examples had their leading axles mounted directly and rigidly on the frame of the locomotive rather than on a separate truck or bogie. In these early 2-6-0s, the leading axle was merely used to distribute the weight of the locomotive over a larger number of wheels. It did not serve the same purpose as the leading trucks of the Americans or Ten-Wheelers that had been in use for at least a decade.

The first 2-6-0 with a rigidly mounted leading axle was the Pawnee, built for heavy freight service on the Philadelphia & Reading. In total, about 30 locomotives of this type were built for various railroads. While they were generally successful in slow, heavy freight service, the railroads that used them didn't see any great advantages in them over the 0-6-0 or 0-8-0 designs of the time. Essentially, this design was an 0-8-0 with the lead axle unpowered.

The first true 2-6-0s were built in the early 1860s, the first few being built in 1860 for the Louisville & Nashville railroad. The design that we know today required the invention of a single-axle swivelling truck. Such a truck was first patented in Great Britain by Levi Bissell in May 1857. The New Jersey Locomotive and Machine Company built their first 2-6-0 in 1861 as the Passaic for the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The Erie Railroad followed in 1862 with the first large order of this locomotive type. In 1863, Rogers built what some cite as the first 2-6-0 built in the United States for the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company. It is likely that the locomotive class name Mogul derives from a locomotive built by Taunton in 1866 for the Central Railroad of New Jersey; that locomotive was named Mogul. However it has also been suggested that, in England, it derived from the engine of that name, built in 1879 by Neilson and Company for the Great Eastern Railway.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's #600, a 2-6-0 Mogul built at the B&O's Mt. Clare shops in 1875, won first prize the following year at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It is preserved at the B&O Railroad Museum (the former Mt. Clare shops in Baltimore).

United States

The railroads that used these first 2-6-0 examples noted their increased pulling power, but also found that their rather rigid suspension made them more prone to derailments than the 4-4-0s of the day. Many railroad mechanics attributed their derailments to having too little weight on the leading truck. In 1864, William S. Hudson, then the superintendent of Rogers, patented an equalized leading truck that was able to move independently of the driving axles. This equalized suspension worked much better over the uneven tracks of the day. The first locomotive built with such a leading truck was likely completed in 1865 for the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company as their number 39.

Very few of these classic steam locomotives still exist, most of them having been scrapped as newer, faster, and more powerful steam engines were developed in the twentieth century. The USRA standard designs of 1914 did not include a 2-6-0.

United Kingdom

A LB&SCR K class locomotive of 1913

In the United Kingdom, where locomotives are generally smaller than in the US, the 2-6-0 was found to be a good wheel arrangement for mixed-traffic locomotives. The first unsuccessful examples were fifteen locomotives built to a design of William Adams (locomotive engineer) for the Great Eastern Railway in 1878-9. The Midland and South Western Junction Railway acquired two examples built to an Australian design by Beyer, Peacock and Company in 1895 and 1897. In 1899 the Midland Railway (MR), the Great Northern Railway and the Great Central Railway all purchased examples from the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the USA; the MR also bought ten from the Schenectady Locomotive Works at the same time. At the time of the Grouping in 1923 2-6-0s were operated by the Caledonian Railway ( 34 class), the Glasgow and South Western Railway ( 403 class), the Great Northern Railway ( H2, H3 and H4 classes), the Great Western Railway ( 2600 and 4300 classes), the London Brighton and South Coast Railway ( K class) and the South Eastern and Chatham Railway ( N class).

New and successful mixed traffic 2-6-0 designs were subsequently built by all of the Big Four British railway companies and by British Railways, until 1957. The last 2-6-0s were withdrawn from service in 1968.

One 2-6-0T tank engine was built for the Garstang and Knot-End Railway.


Still in operation

United States

Three notable 2-6-0 locomotives still in operation in the USA are:

  • The No.2 Baldwin Engine, one of multiple narrow gauge engines in Mt. Pleasant Iowa,
    which has been rebuilt and maintained by the Midwest Central Railroad, a group of
    volunteer machinists and steam enthusiasts associated with the Old Threshers Reunion since 1959. ( history)
  • Old Engine #89 (video) near Strasburg, Pennsylvania, which has been maintained by the Strasburg Railroad
    ( more info)in their machine shop since 1977, in conjunction with the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
  • Locomotive No. 2 "Lilly Belle" on the Walt Disney World Railroad in Orlando, Florida
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