Kevin’s Komments 02/25/2022

Davenport Locomotive Works

So – I spotted this great little diesel switcher, Peoria & Pekin Union Railway #200.  Searched and found this website: , where you can find a few pics and some basic info on the P&PU Ry.  (If you go to the home page of the Don Ross Group website, you can find a lot of different RR based pages.)  The site lists this loco as a Davenport-Caterpillar built in 1938.  What caught my interest was that I remembered that the Davenport Locomotive Works pops up on the geared steam locomotive site: .

So jumping into the history of the Davenport Locomotive Works, they were originally founded in 1901 as the W. W. Whitehead Co. By 1902, they were selling small steam switchers like this 0-4-0T:

In 1903, they renamed the company to the Davenport Locomotive Works.  They became a competitor of the H. K. Porter Company producing industrial switching locomotives.  Their main business in the ‘20s were these small “dinkies” – 0-4-0T and 0-6-0T saddletank switchers.  Here’s a Davenport 0-4-0T built in 1907 for  the Isthmus Canal Commission where it operated as No. 802.  It was then acquired by the Alaska Engineering Commission as #6 in 1917.   This locomotive was 3 foot gauge and was converted to standard gauge and used as a shop switcher in Anchorage.  It was later renumbered #1 for the Alaska RR.

Here’s an early Davenport that’s still operational today – the Cedar Point & Lake Erie RR (CP&LE) #3, built in 1910. #3 has been given the name “Albert” named after the sun of a sugar cane plantation owner, who was the original owner of the steamer. Albert is a 3’ gauge loco.

As mentioned above, Davenport built not only rod steamers, but also geared steamers – Actually they were hybrid rod/geared locomotives. Two types were built. One was a fixed frame unit similar to their saddletank locos:

They built both 4 and 6 driver models. The cylinders are horizontal like a rod locomotive. The cylinders drove an axle with gearing meshed with a gear on one of the wheel axles. The drive wheels were then tied with standard side rods. The hybrid rod/gear locos were said to be able to pull a third more tonnage than an equivalent direct rod drive loco.

The 4 driver model could be built from 5 to 25 tons:

The 6 driver models could be built from 7 to 30 tons. (There appears to be a separate rear truck under the tender – though the tender appears to attached to the cab.)

The second type of geared locomotive that Davenport built were duplex type locomotives. The duplexes had separate 4 wheel trucks mounted to swivel independently like the Shays and Heislers.

Again, horizontal cylinders drove a gear axle similar to the fixed frame drive. Each truck had it’s own pair of cylinders.

Horizontal cylinders were mounted on each truck which drove a gear axle:

Best roster information available had Davenport building at least 5 of the duplex steamers from 1912 to 1916, and at least 25 fixed frame hybrid steamers from 1919 to 1925.  After 1910, Davenport branched out into larger locomotive like 2-4-0s, 4-4-2s, 2-6-0s, and 2-6-2s. 

During WWI, Davenport built locomotives that were shipped to France to transport equipment in the trenches.  Here’s a 2-6-2 trench Davenport that’s been rebuilt and is operational:

This Davenport, built for the United States Army Transportation Corps (USATC), is a Class S100.  This 0-6-0 was used in Europe during WWII (later sold to the British Southern Ry).  USATC bought the class S100s from Davenport, Porter, and Vulcan for use all over the world including the US during WWII.

Here’s a Davenport 2-6-0 Mogul on display:

…One of their classic rod 0-4-0Ts – also rebuilt and operational.

Check out this conventional Davenport 0-4-0 38 ton switcher built in 1909.

Davenport built fireless steam switchers. This is the Alabama Power Company #40 built in 1953. (We’ve seen this pic a while back under and industrial switcher project.) The fireless locomotives would get pressurized steam from the power plant and store it in its tank/boiler. The loco could then run for a period of time off of the stored steam pressure. The advantage is that the loco could switch in areas with flammables.

Davenport eventually bought its competitor Porter in 1950. Of course by this time, they were competing with Whitcomb on small diesel switchers. Here’s part of an interesting Davenport marketing piece. They make a play on the Davenport and Porter origins with “DavenPorter”.

…another couple interesting ads:

Davenport continued building locomotives until 1956.  Here’s some of their diesel switchers.  GN Davenport GM 5T, Spokane WA 1998 (on display).

Recently arrived at Washington Junction, Downeast Scenic’s Davenport DH25 looked pretty fresh in the morning sun of August 15th 2009.

CNJ Davenport DE35 #1001, 1954, built in 1941 – working the Jersey docks & ferries.

Here’s a 45 ton diesel switcher:

If we go inside the Davenport Locomotive Works, we can see them forging a drive rod around 1920, Davenport, IA.

Here they make a core for a cast.

…and they plane a fire box.

As one of the later steps of a locomotive assembly, they attach the drive rod.

…a Davenport builders plate:

Besides manufacturing locomotives, Davenport dabbled in tractors and snow plows.  They built the Davenport-Frink snow plow.  Frink became a famous supplier of sturdy snow plows.  Here’s a Frink snow plow – not sure if this is a Davenport-Frink, but it certainly is a very serious looking plow!  (The Davenport-Frink plows may have been rail plows and not road plows – as seen in the ad pic above.)

…must have dabbled in lathes, also:

Then we get back to that loco in the first pic – Davenport Locomotive Works #2244, built in 1938 and sold to the P&PU in 1939.

The Davenport switchers really caught my eye as I went through sources.  They worked with a number of technologies and designs, and changed to more efficient models with the evolution of the industry.  They remained a strong competitor in the industry for over 50 years.  What a great find!



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