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Steam & Excursion > The Story Is In The Details

Date: 09/13/20 15:32
The Story Is In The Details
Author: MaryMcPherson

Here we see a photograph of one of the best 2-10-2 Central type locomotives on the roster of the Illinois Central Railroad.

This locomotive was originally built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1921, bearing road number 2995 and builder's number 6232.  This was the drag freight era and the I.C. purchased 125 of the 2900 class locomotives, which like most 2-10-2's of the era were powerful but slow.  In the decade following the delivery of these engines, freight schedules needed to be accelerated... NOT the forte' of the 2900's.

The most famous solution the I.C. found was rebuilding fifty-six of the 2900's into 2500 class 4-8-2's between 1936 and 1942.  Another forty-eight of the locomotives saw improvements to their running gear that increased their speed.  These became the 2700 clas 2-10-2's between 1942 and 1945, some of which would see operation until the very end of steam.  Then there was a one-off rebuild, number 2750, outshopped in November, 1943, that served as the prototype for the most extensive 2-10-2 improvement program.

That program would create the 2800 class Centrals.  This program mated brand-new boilers with improved running gear, and the result was a locomotive that topped 100,000 lbs of tractive effort and could run at speeds in excess of 50mph... definitely NOT typical of the 2-10-2 type!  These twenty locomotives were created between December, 1943, and December, 1945, and were assigned to the Iowa Division where they saw use handling hotshot meat trains.  When the Iowa Division became one of the first divisions to be dieselized, the 2800's migrated to the St. Louis and Kentucky Divisions.

This photo shows #2811 on September 9, 1956, and at first glance there isn't much to identify what is going on.  But on closer inspection, the 306 milepost shows that the locomotive is now working on the St. Louis Division.  Today, milepost 305.7 is North Carbondale on Canadian National's former I.C. Centralia Subdivision.  The control point is just north of Dillinger Road, north of the remnants of Carbondale's North Yard.  So that tells us the where; other details tell us what is going on.

At first glance, the locomotive's front being in shadow would indicate this is a northbound in the morning.  Not so fast.  Just in front of the locomotive, a pole line is just visible on the other side of the tracks.  The pole line was on the east side, so this makes the train a southbound in the late afternoon.  If you look closely, a switch stand is attempting to hide next to the locomotive's cylinder.  The target indicates the switch is lined to diverge from the mainline.  This switch doesn't exist today, though there is still a single stub-ended siding on the west side of the mainline that is all that remains of the west-side yard tracks that once were there.

So now we have figured out the scene.  #2811 is arrving in Carbondale in the late afternoon with a local freight from Centralia.  She is just beginning to ease her train onto one of the yard tracks on the west side of the mainline.  In a few minutes, she'll be cut off her train and work her was to the engine terminal where she'll be serviced for another day's work tomorrow; either returning to Centralia or making a round trip to Cairo.  As for her train, the number of 3500 class switchers stationed at Carbondale will be getting those empty coal hoppers ready for mine runs on the branches to the east of Carbondale, and loads headed to the Central Illinois Public Service generating station near Grand Tower to the southwest.

Just another day on the Mainline Of Mid-America.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 15:45 by MaryMcPherson.

Date: 09/13/20 15:35
Re: The Story Is In The Details
Author: elueck

Very Nice Mary!

Date: 09/13/20 16:42
Re: The Story Is In The Details
Author: refarkas

First-rate detective work and photo.

Date: 09/13/20 18:45
Re: The Story Is In The Details
Author: tomstp

Mary it appears these engines got all box pok  which would greatly increase their speed ability getting rid of poor balancing.

Date: 09/14/20 07:50
Re: The Story Is In The Details
Author: MaryMcPherson

tomstp Wrote:
> Mary it appears these engines got all box pok
>  which would greatly increase their speed ability
> getting rid of poor balancing.

Most of what the I.C. termed "improved" classes of locomotives got Boxpok main drivers.  This included all the 2700 and 2800 class Centrals, 8000 class Limas (a 2-8-4 in I.C. lingo), and 2100 class Mikados that were rebuilt from castoff 2-10-2 parts.

Many of the Harriman Standard Mikes got Boxpok main drivers too, but that becomes more hit-and-miss with the railroad's near constant tinkering and renumbering.  Most of the last renumbered 1400's, 1500's and 1600's, while previous renumberings didn't (it was the "Improved Mikados" that were the last to wear those numbers).  "Unimproved" Mikes in the 1200 and 1300 series did not get the new main drivers.

The Mountains were another case.  The 2500 series rebuilt from 2-10-2's got Boxpok drivers on all axles, and the built-new 2600's got Baldwin Disc Drivers.  The 2300 and 2350 engines, rebuilt from 2400 series passenger Mountains, also got Boxpok drivers on all axles.

The I.C.'s original mountains, the sixty engines of the 2400 series built between 1923 and 1926, were more of a mixed bag.  Eleven of these became 2300 and 2350 series locomotives.  Many of the remaining 2400's got Boxpok main drivers, while others got other varieties; it was rather hit-and-miss what got what.  Perhaps it depended on what happened to be on hand when an engine cycled through for a rebuilt.  I have a photo of #2416 taken in the fall of 1938 that shows the Boxpok main drivers were being applied by that time; I susepct this began in 1936 along with the Paducah rebuild programs.  Other engines got Web Spoke or Baldwin Disc Drivers similar to the 2600's, and a few others appear to have gotten Scullin main drivers.

52 Card Pickup, anyone?

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions

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