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Recently there was a thread which started with a question about what kind of a passenger train to couple to a 5010Class 2-10-4, and expanded into a discussion of what use Santa Fe might have made of its 2-10-4's in passenger service.  The evidence showed that the 2-10-4's did indeed appear at the head end of some passenger trains, but only occasionally, and this information, copied from a 1954 Plains Division (Waynoka-Amarillo-Clovis) employee timetable, demonstrates why:



100 MPH

  • 4-8-4  2900-2929;  3776-3785
  • 4-6-4  3450-3465
  • 4-6-2  3403-3435

90 MPH

  • 4-8-4  3751-3775
  • 4-6-2  3516

70 MPH

  • 4-8-2  3715-3744

60 MPH

  • 2-10-4  5000-5035
  • 2-6-2  1001-1133;  1801-1882
  • 2-8-2  3168-3236;  4013-4014

All other steam locomotives were restricted to 50 MPH or less.  As additional information, here are the motorcars and diesels:

100 MPH

  • E1, E3, E6, E8m, DL-109, DL-110, PA1, PB1, F-M Erie-Built (all)
  • F3  16-36
  • F7  36-42 (4-unit), 300-314 (bobtail)

80 MPH

  • F7  325-344 (bobtail);  191-192 (RDC);  M 190 (motorcar)

70 MPH

  • M 160-M 162 (motorcars)

65 MPH

  • M 115-157, M 175-M-187 (motorcars)
  • All road switcher units except RS1 (GP7, GP7m, RS2, H16-44, RSD4, RSD5)
  • FT  100-199, 401-430 (100 MPH for units painted in rednose "warbonnet" during 1940's and very early 1950's but by 1954 all were 65 MPH)
  • F3  200-201 (blue/yellow)
  • F7  202-280 (blue/yellow)

After 1954, when RSD7, GP9 and F9 units were delivered they were 65 MPH.  Switchers, including RS1's were 40 or 45 MPH.  Critters were 30 or 35 MPH.  65 MPH engines were allowed 70 MPH after 1958.


The above maximum speeds were sometimes exceeded.  Sometimes the crew got away with it; sometimes they did not.  But the above information represents Mechanical Department instructions for safe speeds for continuous operation, and, if exceeded, risk of mechanical failure was increased.


Last edited by Number 90
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Thanks for posting Tom.  However, it looks like something's missing, which makes me curious.  In the 90 mph steam locomotive category, the only mention of 3765 Class engines is 3765 and doesn't list the rest of the class anywhere.  I know that 3765 had some differences from the rest of the class do to it originally being intended to be streamlined, but would the 90 mph limit apply to the rest of the class?  


That said, I was surprised that 3765 was limited to 90, and why wasn't he rest of the class be listed? 


I had always assumed the 3765 Class to possibly be the quickest of the ATSF Northerns.


From steam "Together with the Union Pacific FEF series and the New York Central's Niagaras, these engines were the highest expression of ultra-long-distance passenger power in US service."

Thanks for pointing out the omission of 4-8-4's 3776-3775.  They were indeed 90 MPH engines, and I fixed the original post.  It was a keyboard error on my part.  I also remembered that I had omitted the Alco-GE RSD4 and RSD5 engines, which, like other mainline road switchers, were allowed 65 MPH during the transition era (although I doubt that they attained that speed often, as I remember them being able to pull a mile of cars, but spreading 1600 HP out over 6 traction motors eliminated them from winning any races). 


I had thought that the big 2-10-4's were rated for 70 MPH, but was wrong.  I am glad I found this timetable in my files.


Dominic, On Santa Fe, the passenger engines were not called "warbonnets."  That was a term that originated with rail fans, and came into use on the railroad after the 1990 resurrection of the paint scheme.  The passenger units were called "rednoses" and in south Texas a few men called them "redheads."  The passenger F-unit diesels were (mainly) kept numerically coupled until around 1959.  They were purchased as 6,000 horsepower locomotives in A-B-B-A configuration with 2-digit numbers, as 4,500 horsepower locomotives in A-B-B configuration in two groups with numbers in the 300's, and also as 3,000 horsepower locomotives (4 of them) in A-B configuration.  The ones which lacked a cab unit on the rear were called "bobtails."  The reason for not buying A-B-A configuration was steam generator capacity.  Santa Fe rednose F3A and F7A units had vertical tanks at the rear for extra steam generator water, while the F3B and F7B units had a vertical boiler water tank at the front and a Steam generator at the rear.  Steam was critical on Santa Fe passenger trains as the railroad used steam ejector air conditioning on its passenger cars, right up to the end of ATSF passenger service.  Most other roads switched to propane-powered mechanical A/C when they purchased their postwar streamlined passenger cars.  Didn't mean to ramble, but I wanted to explain that seemingly odd way to purchase passenger locomotives.

Last edited by Number 90

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