Classic Trains Summer 2015; Frisco 2006 The Malfunctioning Mallet

Discussion in '2-8-8-2 Mallet' started by Karl, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    The Summer issue of Classic Trains contains a marvelous picture taken by James Westby that is now in the collection of Louis Marre. I loved Mr. Marre’s comments about Frisco 2-8-8-2 number 2006. The image was taken at Monett on January 1, 1917, and the scene harkens to Ozark shade-tree mechanics, and their penchant to fashion solutions to mechanical problems sans the proper work space. It would seem that the shop men have fabricated a hoist using everything save a “skyhook”. It’s a great vignette! The apparent pristine condition of the pilot gives pause, and it makes me wonder if the 2006 wasn’t involved in some low-speed mishap.

    At the time of the photograph Monett had a 70-foot turntable, and locomotives that exceeded that length such as the Mallets’ and the newly arrived (1916-1917) spot-class 2-10-2’s were turned on the wye that connected with the line to Ft Smith, Arkansas. By May 1919, materials were on hand from Bethlehem Bridge to construct a 100-foot replacement turntable.

    I have often wondered about the much-repeated refrain in the railfan press that these locomotives were misfits, etc. The notion that these locomotives were inherently problem locomotives has not been supported with any evidence that warrants this conclusion. The Frisco gave the Mallets a Cooper’s rating of E-50, which was the same as 1040-class Pacifics, the 1281-1305 class Consolidations, and the 1306-1345 class Consolidations, which were in mainline use at the time. Thus, the Mallets were capable of working on all of the Frisco main routes and several branch lines. Indeed, it was their relatively light axle loading that permitted these engines to work the Birmingham-area coal branches once they were bumped from Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma lines by more modern power. Given the locomotives’ specification, they were well suited for dragging trains over the Ozark grades at speeds of 15-20 mph, and it’s my opinion that this is the job that they performed until the arrival of the sixty Spot-class engines (1916-1917), the thirty three USRA Light Mikados (1919), and the thirty-five Baldwin heavy Mikados (1923). The paradigm had shifted, and the Mallets were sent to work between Amory, Mississippi Birmingham, Alabama. Frisco employee magazines note that during 1915 the Mallets handled oil tank trains between Afton, OK and Sapulpa, and other sources show the Mallets handling SE Kansas coal . While in the Birmingham area, the FEM’s report that these locomotives were handling trains from the “coal branches” of 60-70 cars at 70 tons each.

    The Frisco spent money to make betterments to these engines. Three of the locomotives, 2001, 2004, and 2007, received 39” piston valves on the low-pressure cylinders. The Street chain and bucket “after-market” stoker was replaced with an auger stoker, and during the mid to late 20’s, Lewis Draft Appliances were added to reduce back pressure.

    Ultimately, the effects of the depression and the addition of modern power doomed the Frisco Mallets, and not in my view, some sort of mechanical deficiency.

    As noted, the locomotives finished their careers in the Birmingham, AL area, and the Frisco retired them all by 1939. As might be expected, the locomotives that were equipped with the LP piston valves were the last to go.
    2001: April 1939, Birmingham
    2002: July 1935, Birmingham
    2003: July1935, Birmingham
    2004: April 1939, Birmingham
    2005: December 1929, Springfield; another source notes early 1928
    2006: July 1935, Birmingham
    2007: April 1936, Birmingham
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  2. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    I certainly have enjoyed reading this Karl, very well written, presented and organized.
    Thank you for doing the research and taking the time to post it.
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  3. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    I asked my Dad about them the first time I saw a photo of one and he said he fired a couple of them and they leaked like sieves and were hard to see ahead in winter because of it.
    He hated the spot engines both firing and running. He said a funeral train of them went through Newburg heading for Springfield and the engine crews that were hanging around the depot lined up and cheered and clapped when they saw them.
  4. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    That is a very nice article, my grandfather started with Frisco (as Boilermaker). That probably was not much before the shop closed in Monett. Then he went to the North Shop by Washington St. Finally to the Diesel Shop. He had two brothers that worked at what he called the West Shop. I will get to the hobby shop and see who is in the photo. Not much chance, but I had a ton of relatives that worked out of the Monett shops, most did not move when it closed.
  5. palallin

    palallin Member

    As I understand things, it was not mechanical, but design deficiency that doomed them. They were incapable of producing enough steam for the job required of them after the Drag Era wound down. Collias reports delays while building up steam at the bottom of grades. This view fits well with the claim that more modern power replaced them: the more modern power had the steaming capacity.

    I wonder, had their steaming capacity been (expensively!) increased, would they, like the spot series, have been limited by balance problems. What works well enough a 15 mph might not at 40 mph.
  6. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    A problem that I have discovered with some railfan publications are the lack of citations provided, consequently what gets stated in one work will often be stated in another publication. The source of the reference is never known, but yet it gets used as truth.

    When purchased, there were very few locations capable of turning the locomotive, and as noted in the TRAINS article and in a 1919 Annual report, Monett didn't have a turntable capable of turning the 1910-built locomotive until 1919. In 1907, the longest turntables on the Frisco were 70'. The Mallets needed a turntable of at least 86'

    I have been suspicious of the steaming capabilities cited by some, because when I plug the locomotives heating surface numbers, cylinder size, etc into some general demand formulas (there are all sorts of old steam texts on google books), nothing seems to be amiss. One has to wonder if the reports of steaming issues were related to keeping a hand-fired locomotive against the peg. The Mallets had a sizable 75.3 ft^2 grate area.

    Based on my reading, I believe that they were fit-for-purpose machines and very capable of hauling freight up Ozark grades at 15-25 mph while in compound mode. I could not find any ETT dictated speed restrictions on the Mallets; the ETT's placed a 35 mph limit on the spot class engines. During 1916-1917, they were made immediately obsolete with the arrival of the spot class 2-10-2's. During the '20's, the addition of the Lewis Draft Appliance (as noted in one of the FEM's) and addition of the piston valves on the LP cylinders speaks to the confidence that the railroad had in these locomotives. The arrival of the Mikados during the 20's put the Mallets and the 2-10-2' s out to pasture.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  7. palallin

    palallin Member

    Well, if it was steaming capacity, they were hardly the only ones. The Erie Triplexes are another example, so I understand. Can a75.3 ft^2 grate area supply enough to meet the demand? How does it compare , with, say the spots? The Mikes? The Northerns? In any case, 15 - 25 mph was not longer meeting the need.

    What coincided with the Mikes' success--or, perhaps, what caused the Mikes to be ordered?-- was the shift from drag thinking to shorter, more numerous, faster trains. This far I think we can trust Collias because the phenomenon was common throughout the RRing of the time.

    The variables are:
    Philosophy of the RR
    Capabilities of the engines
    Demands of the customers
    Capacities of the fixed plant
    Competing shipping methods

    Which drove which?
    There is a cycle, perhaps, of an incremental change here or there influencing all the others until the paradigm shifts.
  8. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Karl, as always, a fascinating read and a meticulously researched and thought-out article.

    I can't remember reading if some of latter-day improvements to the Mallets included lengthening the tenders concurrent with the lengthen turntables. Seems I did read (Collias, maybe?) that the Mallets as delivered has woefully inadequate tender sizes due to the smaller turntables and that, as such, a good deal of time had to be spent stopping for fuel and water.

    If the tenders were never enlarged, then it sure seems like an operational deficiency rather than a mechanical one. It also makes me wonder why, if the Mallets had to be turned on the wye at Monett and presumably other locations, why didn't they make the tenders larger to begin with?

    I've often thought that, if baseball has SABR, then domestic railroads should have SARR. Or at least SFRR (Society of Frisco Railroading Research).
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  9. palallin

    palallin Member

    I don't have my references with me at the moment: do we know the heating surface for the Mallets?
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  10. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    I tried to post a photo of the 2001, new in a train on her way to the Frisco from American Loco. No matter what I did with the size, it still won't upload, says the image is too big.
  11. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    I think there is a dimensional limit as well, eg, it can’t exceed x by y pixels
    Try resizing
  12. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Only data I have per Collias:

    Cylinders: 39x30 front, 24.5 x 30 Rear
    Drive Wheel Diameter: 57"
    Boiler Pressure: 200
    Grate Area: 75.3 sq ft
    Wt. 418,000 lbs
    Tractive Force: 100,000 Simple, 83,500 Compound
    Tender Capacity: 16 tons, 8,000 gals.
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  13. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

  14. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    That is a brute! I like it even with all the short comings, talk about short, that tender does not seem to match the locomotive. Another curiosity for me is the square valve gear on the lead engine and the round on the rear. Is that swing help, or is it switching?
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  15. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    The Mallet boilers were the first Frisco engines to have a combustion chamber (6 feet).
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
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  16. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    One of the notions, which I wanted to convey with regard to the grate area, and by extension the total locomotive evaporative heating surface (EHS), is that given the 2001 EHS, it would have been difficult for a single locomotive fireman to manually fire one of the Frisco Mallets. Volume 55 of the Railway Age Gazette offers an interesting discussion determining the maximum TE for a given speed, and to what extent is that TE value limited by the firing rate. The article presents a table (which I have reproduced graphically and a chart, which provide some approximations for firing rates. Assuming the use of SE Kansas / SW Missouri Pennsylvanian High Volatile Bituminous A coal, which had a heat content of 10,310-12,695 BTU per pound. Remember, it’s always about the geology. The chart indicates that one pound of that coal could evaporate approximately 10.05 -11.7 pounds of water per square foot of EHS per hour, or 43,932 – 51,145 lbs (5268 gal – 6132 gal) of water per hour. The second table indicates that an EHS 4371.4 would require about 7300 pounds of coal per hour to evaporate that much water. The most commonly seen figure in the period literature is that a hand-fired rate 5000 lbs per hour is a maximum. So when working all out, the Mallet’s fireman would be hard pressed to keep things hot. Chris is correct, the original Mallet tenders’ carried 10 tons of coal and 9100 gals of water ( a second source said 8000 gal). At those rates, the locomotive would not miss a water plug or coal chute.

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
  17. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    I never see a mention of the first Frisco Mallet, No. 2000
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  18. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    An elusive beast to be sure
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  19. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Supporter Supporter

    Kind of like the E-8, 2009 --"Jet Pilot"?

    BTW, KARL - and Others .... Really enjoyed this!
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  20. palallin

    palallin Member

    Interesting stuff.

    But they weren't hand-fried engines, right? Karl's post above reinforces my fuzzy memory that they were given first the Street stokers and then augers. If they were running out of steam, apparently it wasn't the fault of the firebox or the heating surface (the combustion chambers will go a long way to increase effective grate area, right?) but rather the inability to keep the fires supplied. The performance then is pretty inEfficient if not technically insufficient, at least by later metrics.

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