Timken 1111

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Timken 1111
Timken 1111
Power type Steam
Builder American Locomotive Company (ALCO)
Build date 1930
Configuration 4-8-4
Gauge ft 8½  in (1435  mm)
Career Northern Pacific Railroad
Class A-1
Number in class 1
Number 2626
Locale regular service in Washington, Idaho and Montana
Delivered February 8, 1933
Retired August 4, 1957
Disposition scrapped

Timken 1111, also called the Timken Four Aces, was a 4-8-4 steam locomotive built in 1930 by American Locomotive Company (ALCO) to serve as a demonstration unit for new roller bearings produced by the Timken Roller Bearing Company. It was the first locomotive built with roller bearings rather than friction bearings.

Design and construction

Timken chose a 4-8-4 on which to demonstrate the company's bearings so the locomotive could be used in all types of railroad work, especially on heavy freight and fast passenger trains. A total of 52 different parts manufacturers agreed to supply their parts for the locomotive "on account" until the locomotive operated over 100,000  miles (161,000  km). The suppliers' names were placed on a plaque that was fastened to the tender for the duration of the demonstration period.

Assembly took place at ALCO's Schenectady, New York, plant, the former Schenectady Locomotive Works.

In-service demonstration

The locomotive's first demonstration runs were hauling freight on the New York Central Railroad. After those demonstrations, it was used on thirteen other major railroads, including the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, New Haven Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), in both freight and passenger service. The PRR used the locomotive on a passenger train where it hauled twelve passenger cars through the Allegheny Mountains so well that the train did not require the use of helpers and arrived at its destination three minutes early.

At some of the stations on the locomotive's demonstration runs, publicity stunts were held where the locomotive would be pulled by as few as three men (or as was done in Chicago, by three women); these publicity stunts were designed to show that the roller bearings produced so little friction that the locomotive could easily be moved by hand.

By August 1931, the locomotive had been used for over almost 90,000 miles (145,000 km) when it was delivered to the Northern Pacific Railroad, the fifteenth railroad to trial the locomotive, for its final demonstration runs. With a dynamometer car in tow, the Northern Pacific was able to drive the locomotive as fast as a sustained 88  mph (142  km/h) while pulling the North Coast Limited passenger train past Willow Creek, Montana.

Regular use and disposition

The Northern Pacific was pleased enough with the locomotive's performance to purchase it from Timken on February 8, 1933, after it crossed the 100,000 mile mark. The railroad renumbered it to 2626, classifying it internally as locomotive class A-1 (this locomotive was the class's sole member), and used it in passenger service between Seattle and Yakima, Washington, and later shifted its service to passenger trains between Seattle and Missoula, Montana. Northern Pacific used the locomotive for 23 years before retiring it from active service. The locomotive's last run was made on August 4, 1957 when it pulled a passenger train from Seattle to Cle Elum and return.

Efforts were made at preservation for the locomotive, and the Timken Company even seriously considered purchasing the locomotive and moving it back to the company's Canton, Ohio, headquarters under its own power. But the locomotive was scrapped before Timken and Northern Pacific could complete their negotiations.

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