The earliest 2-8-0-‘s on the New York Central were, interestingly enough, not an NYC design but 55 Baldwin and Dickson products built new for the New York, West Shore & Buffalo in the mid-1880’s. They were acquired in 1886 when the Pennsylvania road was leased by the NYC&HR, though the motive power was not officially absorbed into the roster until 1899.

As for the New York Central itself, four small 2-8-0’s were built by Schenectady in 1888 (later Class G) but apparently made little impact as the parent road began investing heavily in a 2-6-0 design that, with later improved models, became the standard for the gradeless New York/Buffalo line right up to 1900. The four oddballs, as rebuilt, lasted right into the early 1920’s. 2-6-0’s were not quite up to the grades on the Boston & Albany so that line became an employer of the Consolidation as early as 1887. The Big Four also began utilizing the type for its freight business in 1898. It was not until 1901 that the NYC&HR and Michigan Central adopted this now popular engine, for their freight hauling.

Lake Shore 5564is class G-46g, built by Brooks in 1911. Standard, straight forward Freight Hauler with tender scoop. β€” Alco photo
(G-46 on Cincinnati Northern 1924 list)

It began on the NYC&HR with the building of No. 2332 (Class G-1) at Schenectady, an experimental cross compound, and there followed 80 similar engines with 63″ drivers (Class G-2) through 1903. Another experimental engine was built in 1902, No. 2399 (Class G-2a) similar in most respects except this one was a tandem compound. 15 of these tandem compounds were built by Schenectady in 1903 (Class G-4) but with low 51″ drivers. These G-4’s featured very large heating surfaces and the largest boiler in use on the railroad at the time.

Meanwhile the Lake Shore road had embarked on a 2-8-0 program of its own in 1899 and 1900 with the Brooks Locomotive Works constructing 15 small G-41 engines followed by 50 Class G-42 locomotives. While not particularly large, they were the most powerful freight power on the LS&MS and sufficient enough for the gradeless main line they called home. They were evidently successful as 120 more (this time Class G-43) followed through 1903.

Stumpy 2-8-0 was originally G-5f 2749, Schenectady, May, 1905. Rebuilt for switching service, renumbered 699, G-10f, 1912. Rebuilt to H-5p 2-8-2, No. 3935, Jan. 1917. (Brooks) Renumbered 3722 in 1917, then 1248 in 1936, and finally 1380 in 1948. An impressive lineage. β€” Alco photo

The Big Four also built 76 of their own design 2-8-0’s, Classes G-63 through G-71 beginning in 1898. The Michigan Central checked in with more than 75 compounds, their Class G-80, starting in 1901 and the P&LE began acquiring the type, all simple engines, in 1897 and by 1910 had over 100. Numerous other 2-8-0’s_ were acquired by the Central in taking over lines like the Fall Brook, Beech Creek, Toledo & Ohio Central, Kanawha & Michigan, Peoria & Eastern etc.

The assorted compounds were no more successful on the Central-than they were on any other road and none were ever repeated. The G-4’s were soon simpled to Class G-4a, and the G-2’s, while not simpled, were all modernized with super heaters and-outside valve gear. Some were transferred to the Michigan Central very early in life. That road’s G-80’s, for the most part, were similarly improved.

5398 was originally built as Lake Erie & Western G-16w in 1912. This Vanderbilt line was taken over by the New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Road) in 1922 and this engine became their number 498. The smaller NKP could get by with three digit numbers. β€” Alco photo

Another version of the 2-8-0 (Class G-46) this one with 57″ drivers, made its appearance in 1903 on the LS&MS where it was to be used in pusher service on the Franklin Div and on the new hump yards until the arrival of the 0-10-0-‘s. The class. proved so satisfactory that it was built in quantity, for coal and ore service on the LS&MS, Big Four and; T&OC.

In 1903 a 2-8-0 design was introduced that set the pattern for the next decade. This was Class G-5 and its later version, Class G-6. The G-5 was similar in many respects to the G-4 but was a simple rather than a compound engine. The G-5 was note worthy in that LS&MS 912 was the first engine on the road to be equipped with Walschaert valve gear. This motion, popular in Europe for many years, was invented by E. Walschaert in Belgium in 1844. Its extreme accessibility and the lightness of its part made it vastly superior to the then in use Stephenson Link Motion with its eccentrics between the drivers. A G-6 also participated in a first NYC&HR 2932 Class G-6f was the first on the road to be equipped. with an automatic stoker, a product of the Standard. Stoker Co. (See H-5 for further data 0-5 Class).

Chicago River & Indian No. 200, class G-47, Schenectady 1913, was sold to Lake Superior & Ishpeming in 1925. Drivers were 61″ and engine weighed 244,500 lbs. —Alco Photo

Though shunted off most of the main lines with the coming of the Mikados many G-6’s and G-46′ . lasted well into the diesel era of the 1950’s doing branch line work on the Michigan Central and Big. Four lines.

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