Friday, June 24, 2011

The Willamette Geared Locomotive

Railroad Park, Dunsmuir, California. Thursday, May 12, 2011. Medford Corporation road Number 7 stands guard at the entrance to Railroad Park Motel. Still waiting to fill her tank with water. She has been waiting patiently since 1965.

Number 7 is one of six remaining Willamette Geared Locomotives. Six out of 33 produced - 18% of a locomotive type escaping the cutter's torch.

Willamette Iron & Steel opened their doors in 1865. Located on the western bank of the Willamette River, adjacent to downtown Portland, Oregon, Willamette became a well-respected manufacture of steam powered logging equipment - yarder's, skidder's, donkeys, et al.

While many rail fans are familiar with Willamette Iron & Steel building logging equipment and geared locomotives, they are not aware of the companies shipbuilding expertise, contributing significantly to the War Effort.

Willamette Iron & Steel built a number of vessels for the US Navy, including a goodly number of AM's (Auxiliary Minesweepers,) APL's (non self-propelled barracks ships,) and PCE's (Patrol Craft Escort.) Click on AG-72, Parris Island to see her history.

I caught these views of the Alaska State Ferry "Malaspina" being lengthed by 56 feet to 408' at Willamette Iron & Steel in 1972. (Never went out in my boat without a camera!)

Willamette Iron & Steel obviously enjoyed innovative management. "Thinkers," as we used to say, "who thought outside the box." While busily involved in the logging equipment market, they began building an experience base, performing maintenance and repairs on regional locomotives.

Timber operators chose Willamette in Portland for locomotive repair and servicing, rather than endure the time and expense of sending equipment from the Pacific Northwest all the way back to Lima, Ohio!

And, from these experiences, they began to write down all the improvements operators wanted to see, in the Lima locomotive. Long story short, in November 1922, the first Willamette Geared Locomotive was delivered to Coos Bay Lumber Company.

It is not correct to call her a "Willamette Shay." "Shay" is a trademark owned by Lima Locomotive Works. She is a "Shay type." But the correct nomenclature is "Willamette Geared Locomotive."

Hutchinson Lumber #5, Construction Number 9, delivered July 3, 1923

Willamette Iron & Steel offered three "shay type" locomotive models:
  • 50-2. 50 ton, 2- truck, 11" diameter cylinders, with 13" stroke.
  • 70-3. 70 ton, 3-truck, 12" diameter cylinders, with 15" stroke. 75-3.
  • 75 ton. 3-truck, 12½" diameter cylinders, with 15" stroke.
Construction Number 21 was built as a model 70-3 for the Anderson-Middleton Lumber Company in Cottage Grove Oregon. She was delivered February 20, 1926, as Road Number Two.

Road Number Two was an oil burner, providing superheated steam at 200 psi, providing 31,968 pounds of tractive effort, with a gear ratio of 2.368:1. Subsequently,
  • Sold 1933 to Western Lumber, West Fir (on SP's Natron Cutoff, near Oakridge Oregon)
  • Sold 1936 to Westfir Lumber Company, Westfir
  • Sold 1946 to Edward Hines Lumber, Westfir.
  • Rebuilt in Salem and sold 1949 to Medford Corporation, road number 7, Medford Oregon.
  • Retired and sold 1965 to Railroad Park, Dunsmuir California.

You may hear someone refer to a Willamette Locomotive as a "Pacific Coast Shay." Not so. Willamette Iron and Steel being located on the West or Pacific Coast may cause the confusion.

The "Pacific Coast Shay" was designed and built by Lima Locomotive Works. Actually, Lima's "Pacific Coast" model, incorporated improvements Willamette had incorporated on Lima in the "Willamette Geared" locomotive design!

The overall decline in orders as logging companies moved toward the use of motor vehicles rather than rail, resulted in Willamette shuttering their locomotive line. The last locomotive, Construction Number 34, was delivered to J. Neils Lumber Company of Klickitat, Washington on December 27, 1929.

For several years, I traveled from Vancouver (Washington) to the Bay Area attending trade shows. I always planned my trip to include an overnighter at Railroad Park in Dunsmuir, California.

The motel features a number of boxcars and cabeese, converted to overnight accommodations, with stunning interiors.

It is amazing what can be built inside a steel boxcar or caboose! The wife and I kept track of the units we stayed in, so that we could enjoy the various floor plans. Six-thousand foot high Castle Crags and Little Castle Creek, provide a stunning backdrop for this interesting motel.

SP 8530 Tunnel Motor running crew change Dunsmuir April 1991

Another good reason to overnight in Dunsmuir; originally know as "Pusher," it is a great place to enjoy heavy-duty mountain railroading. Built by Southern Pacific, back in my day, gaggles of SD-45's and SD-9's were growling up and down the mountain. And before my day, a round house full of gnarly cab-aheads, awaiting assignment on the Cantera Loop. It is Union Pacific now.

I appreciate my good buddy Jim and his wife for providing the photos of Number 7. They made a trip to the Bay Area in May, and agreed to stop off and take photos for me.

Sparing the details, I lost more than 18,000 files, spanning almost five years, several months ago. Amongst the loss, all the photos taken by my late wife and I during our many great stopover's in Dunsmuir.

0 Comments - Click here:

Post a Comment

"Comment" is for sharing information related to this article. "Anonymous" comments are not published.