Posted by: bgtwindad | June 6, 2011

C&O Mallet Joins CH&FR Roster

  by BGTwinDad
, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

Dateline: Glover’s Bend, WV

The CH&FR Railroad and the Chestnut Hill Historical Preservation Society today unveiled the latest addition to their shared “living museum” collection: a Chesapeake & Ohio Class H-4 2-6-6-2 articulated “Mallet” steam locomotive.

Engine #1397 was built for the C&O in 1915 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, one of 24 such units delivered that year. Boasting over 70,000 lb of tractive effort, and featuring two independently articulted 6-wheel drivers, the Mallet was ideally suited for hauling heavy coal trains on the steep winding tracks of Appalachia. A single H-4 could more than replace two 2-8-0 Consolidations, reducing crew and maintenance costs and increasing efficiency.  Class H-4 Mallets like #1397 remained in service with the C&O until 1955.

CH&FR 1397 steams into Glovers Bend

According to CH&FR Spokesperson Rachel Frost, #1397 was restored and donated to the CH&FR by the LaVere family, in honor of Capt. James LaVere, great-grandson of company founder John Calvin LaVere and all of the Allied casualties in the 1944 Normandy Invasion.  Capt. LaVere was an engineer on #1397 prior to World War II, and was killed during the initial assault on Omaha Beach.  Frost River Locomotive Works employees volunteered hundreds of hours of extra work to have the locomotive ready for its introduction on the anniversary of D-Day.  Capt. LaVere would have been 100 years old this year.
“The employees of the CH&FR and LaVere Mining have lived and worked together for over a century.  We’re like family, and many of us actually are.  Due to the critical wartime need for coal and rail transport, many of our people were precluded from serving directly on the front lines, so we were especially proud of Capt. LaVere’s service – and by extension the service of all the brave men who fought and died on those beaches.”

The Mallet type articulated locomotive is actually two engines sharing a single boiler.  High pressure steam from the boiler is injected into the pistons driving the rear set of 3 axles.  Exhaust from the rear pistons, at a lower but still usable pressure is then injected into the front driver pistons.  This dual use of the boiler steam has certain thermodynamic benefits, and makes it easier to articulate the front set of drivers.  Simple-expansion engines such as the 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” use boiler steam directly to both sets of cylinders.

Engine #1397 will be on display at the CHHPS museum in Frost River, and will be used frequently for passenger excursions, special events, and periodic revenue service hauling coal.

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