• What were B&A Berks used for?

  • 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 Alloy
Allen Hazen wrote:
(I can't remember the driver size, but there was one order of 2-8-4 that didn't fit in either category: a miniaturized version for the Norfolk Southern, a not-particularly-prosperous southern line whose track probably wouldn't have tolerated the weight of one of the bigger Berkshires.)

Hi Allen--
What relationship did this 'Norfolk Southern' have to the current Norfolk Southern rail system?

Found the answer; from Wikipedia:
"An earlier company, also named the Norfolk Southern Railway, serving primarily North Carolina and the southeastern tip of Virginia, had been acquired by the Southern Railway in 1974. The older company was the namesake for the 1982 combination. Headquarters for the newly established NS were established in Norfolk, Virginia."

I remembered reading the Norfolk Southern article, and I didn't remember any information about a previous railroad with this name. However, I went back to the article, and the information was there--it might not have been on my initial reading.
  by dti406
A couple of items:

Everybody seems to have missed the MP Berkshires, which is not hard as they were rebuilt by the MP's Sedalia shops from 63" drivered Berkshires into 75" Drivered 4-8-4 Northerns.

The Norfolk Southern Berkshires were an odd bunch of 5 engines, their weight was only 335,000# versus the 385,000# of the next lightest Berkshire. Most Berkshires were in a very narrow weight range except for these engines. They were sold to the ASARCO railway in Mexico when they were retired on the Norfolk Southern

  by Allen Hazen
((Off topic))
The Norfolk Southern name...
After Southern took over the old Norfolk Southern (rebuilding its low-nose diesel hood units with high noses...), they merged it with another Southern subsidiary, using the Norfolk Southern name: I think, though my memory is hazy, that the merger legally involved merging the Norfolk Southern into the other subsidiary, whose corporate name was then changed. When the Southern and the Norfolk & Western were negotiating their merger, and came to the point of choosing a name, "Norfolk Southern" was the obvious choice, except that there was another corporation that already bore that name. So the name of the Southern subsidiary was changed again -- I think to the original name of the line Southern had merged the old NS with -- so the new railroad could use the good name. Got that? There will be a quiz on Monday.
If we are trying for a complete list of railroads with 2-8-4...
(i) ASARCO doesn't sound like the name of any Mexican railroad I know of, so it may be the name of a company that bought the locomotives and which then leased them to an operating railroad. (There are other examples of locomotives being bought, and I think lettered for, by Mexican non-railroads for use on Mexican railroads: financing capital investments gets complicated in any country.) Does anyone know where in Mexico the ex-NS Berkshires were used?
(ii) During World War II, a number of power-short railroads in the western U.S. bought second-hand steam locomotives from eastern railroads. I have an even-vaguer-than-usual recollection that some ex-B&M 2-8-4 wound up on the Southern Pacific. Is this right or am I confused?
Rick-- the rebuilding of MP's 2-8-4 into 4-8-4 is one more instance of something alluded to earlier: the "first generation" Berkshires were built in the "drag freight era"; by WW II most railroads wanted to run faster trains, and so wanted higher-drivered steam power.
Didn't IC rebuild the original Lima prototype 2-8-4 into a freight-service Hudson?
  by dti406
The NS Berks were sold to ASARCO (American Smelting a Refining Co.) through a third party. They were then converted to oil firing and then lent to the power short NdeM railroad to haul ASARCO's standard gauge cars. (ASARCO did operate their own narrow gauge railroad.) The tenders were originally lettered for ASARCO in 1950 and later changed to NdeM later in their careers.

Yes the IC did rebuild one of the Berkshires, but it was not No. 7050 (The original 2-8-4) but number 7038. They did not make one engine but two out of that engine. The boiler was used for the 4-6-4 #1 and the running gear was used on a Mikado.

  by Allen Hazen
Thanks for the further information, Rick!
I think I read that the Berkshire converted by IC was the original prototype in an article in "Trains" years ago: there are moments when I come close to feeling a faint doubt that "Trains" is the most reliable scholarly source ... .