• "Cowcatcher" Pilots on H10 and L2 Locomotives

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by rlsteam
The typical NYC pilot for freight service was the footboard pilot, even on some of the L3 class. However, on George Elwood's site I see plenty of photos of H10s and L2s with the "cowcatcher" pilot, and these were freight engines. (A few L2s might have been used in occasional passenger service, but probably not after the L3s came.) I understand that the cowcatcher-type pilot (boiler tubing, cast steel or whatever) was required for road power in Canada, and the CASO H7s had that type of pilot. I am pretty sure some H10s or L2s ran in Canada at times (I have seen photos of them supposedly taken in Canada), but why would so many other locomotives in these classes have had the cowcatcher pilot? I used to think the presence of a cowcatcher on an H10 or L2 meant it had seen use in Canada, but now I am having second thoughts. Does anyone know what factors governed which type of pilot to apply? I don't believe it was a matter of earlier photos showing cowcatchers that were later replaced with footboards, because an H10 builder's photo I have shows the footboard as original equipment.
  by erie2937
Look at the location of each picture. You will probably find that most, if not all, pics of NYC freight engines equipped with road pilots were taken either in upstate New York on the lines to Ottawa and Montreal, around Buffalo and Niagara Falls at the eastern end of the Michigan Central, on the Michigan Central between Chicago and Detroit or on the MC/Canada Southern Railway in Ontario.
  by rlsteam
That seems to be the case with the H10a and H10b (a few photos are at Toledo, also). I see H10a 2125 (Detroit), 2192 (West Detroit), and 2232 and 2260 (Toledo). I also have a photo of 2222 (not on the Elwood site) showing the "road pilot," and a station train record from January 1940 that shows it operating between Detroit and Toledo. For the H10b, I see 2340, 2367, 2368, 2388 and 2399 at Detroit, 2343 at Porter, 2383 at Dolton, and 2360 unknown, with the cowcatcher pilot.

For the L2s the situation is different is different, as I see them with the road pilot at Rochester, Harmon and Weehawken as well as elsewhere on the system. I photographed 2967 with the cowcatcher at Lansing, Michigan, in 1953 ( http://www.railarchive.net/nyccollectio ... 67_rcl.htm ).

Terry Link's CASO site does not list any H10s or L2s assigned to CASO in either 1948 or 1952, but I am pretty sure they appeared there occasionally. Elwood shows an L2 doubleheading behind H7 2013 at St. Thomas, Ontario, in December 1940, http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nyc/nyc-s2013o.jpg -- the caption says the Mohawk is 2683 (an L1), but I believe it is 2883, an L2c. The engine has a Baker valve gear, and sheathing ahead of the cab, which were features of the L2 and not the L1, and the positioning of the air reservoir is characteristic of the L2c class. L2c 2883 appears with the cowcatcher pilot here, http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nyc/nyc-s2883s.jpg , in a photo with no location or date but with a GE 70-ton switcher in the background.

Can we conclude that some H10s or L2s operating on the former Michigan Central lines might have had the cowcatcher pilot to enable them to operate in Canada as well, even if we can't find a record of their actually having done so? Any comments would be appreciated, as this is an issue that has bugged me for several years.

Around 1945, when I was seven years old, my father took me to the NYC shops in Jackson, Michigan, where an engineer friend had arranged a tour for us. I saw shop personnel making WOODEN cowcatchers, perhaps because of a continuing postwar steel shortage. Maybe these were intended for retrofitting on locomotives being reassigned to the Canada Southern.
  by rlsteam
From another group, I learn that the Mohawk in the St. Thomas photo I referred to is 2963, and that the photo appeared in the HEADLIGHT in 1984. I couldn't find another photo of 2963 in the Internet.
  by rlsteam
It now develops, from information that has come to me from another source, that there was no regular exchange of motive power between CASO and the former Michigan Central, and that the "cowcatcher" pilots were applied by NYC to some freight locomotives that operated only in the U.S., especially on the former MC lines. The reason for their application is unknown, but it had nothing to do with potential operation of these locomotives in Canada. Also, the NYC regularly constructed these pilots out of wood, rather than boiler tubing or strap steel, and applied them to passenger power as well including the K3, K11 and K14 classes. The "cowcatcher"-type pilots on later power -- J3s, L3s, L4s and Niagaras -- were steel castings, of course.