WELCOME TO A WEB SITE DEDICATED TO THE LIMA LOCOMOTIVE WORKS
Lima Locomotive Works, located in Lima, Ohio was known for two things, the shay locomotive development and its line of Super-Power locomotives. It was a unique leader in the development of the modern steam locomotive. The most outstanding achievement in solving America’s transportation problems in the first half of the 20th century was the remarkable development of the steam locomotive.
The pinnacle year of 1925 witnessed great improvements in the steam locomotive which made possible the development of more power without exceeding existing wheel load and clearance limits, and those results were accomplished with a marked decrease in fuel consumption. The Super-Power Locomotive—the economical modern power plant on wheels—represented the gem in outstanding achievement with this development.
The year 1925 saw the start of a new era in railroad operation brought about by the introduction of Lima Locomotive Works' experimental 2-8-4 Engine A-l, the first of the Super-Power Locomotives.
It had become apparent that the demands of shippers and passengers for higher speeds were revolutionizing the operating requirements of the steam locomotive. No longer would drag freights at 10 to 15 miles an hour give the rapid service consistent with the demands of modern transportation then accepted.
Realizing this, Lima Locomotive Works engineers, led by William E Woodard designed and built a prototype locomotive to demonstrate, at Lima's expense, to the railroads a revolutionary locomotive that became the forerunner of the modern steam power plant.
Recognizing the obvious need for a faster and more cost-efficient locomotive the designers that locomotive necessitated larger boiler capacity, which in turn demanded larger grate areas in the firebox to avoid an excessive fuel consumption rates and more complete combustion of the fuel. It was obvious, too, that the higher speeds would increase the stress on track structure unless a new design could possess the desired high horsepower without extending the limits of axle loads. This combination of requirements pointed to a redistribution of locomotive weight and the use of a revolutionary four-wheel trailing truck under the fire box.
Lima’s A-l locomotive was the pioneer of the 4-wheel trailing truck locomotive which became synonymous with modern high-speed operation and a hallmark of Super-Power.
In addition, many innovations in locomotive design were included in the A-l which were subsequently accepted as standard practice and included in most locomotives built after 1925. Included among these were higher boiler pressure, cast steel cylinders for weight saving, Type E Superheater, integral cast-steel frames with articulation characteristics and The Locomotive Booster.
The objectives in the design of this Lima Super-Power Locomotive were: Maximum power output per driving axle; most economical use of steam in the cylinders under all conditions of service; and a boiler with firebox capable of supplying abundant steam at high efficiency.
The results of the operation of the A-1 experimental locomotive were such as to revolutionize the old conception of railroading and to bring about a rapid speeding up of operations.
Railroad operating conditions especially at the time of WW II demanded the pulling of heavier trains at higher speeds with lower costs. Speeding up operation without reducing train tonnage (which is the same as an increase in gross ton-miles-per-train-hour) could only be accomplished with higher horsepower locomotives.
Conventional low freight train speeds or securing increased speeds at the sacrifice of tonnage killed operating economies. Super-Power Locomotives not only started maximum train loads for a given weight on drivers, but they had the ability to haul heavier trains at higher speeds than was heretofore possible. This type of operation brought increased revenue to the railroads.
Thanks to the ingenuity of Lima's design engineers, headed by William Woodard, and their initiative, which resulted in the construction of the A-1 experimental locomotive, the railroads were able to meet the increased demand for speedy deliveries which were accepted as a matter of course.
Following the great success of the Lima A-l, 2-8-4, several hundred locomotives based substantially on this design were built for American railroads.
In the final analysis it was the earning power of locomotives that determined their value. To be worth while this showed an adequate return upon the investment. Super-Power Locomotives were doing this. They not only showed handsome returns based on the direct savings effected in operation but by reason of the increased capacity which they added to the railroad they greatly expanded the revenue-earning possibilities of the entire transportation plant.
On the following pages you will see a snap shot of Lima Locomotive Works from its earliest days through its end as a locomotive builder, some of its products and its processes.