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H0 USRA 2-8-8-2 with Sound & DCC Clinchfield #737

H0 USRA 2-8-8-2 with Sound & DCC Clinchfield #737

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PROTO 2000 Heritage Steam Collection USRA 2-8-8-2 w/Sound & DCC - Powered

Clinchfield #737

Big Steam for Big Trains

* New Engine Numbers
 
* Over 150 Hand-Applied Details
 
* Detailed Cab Interior w/Operating Windows
 
* Constant & Directional Lights
 
* Handles 18" Radius Curves & #4 Turnouts!
 
* Slow Speed Under 3 Scale MPH; Fast speed to 65 Scale MPH
 
* 16-Wheel Drive and 24-Wheel Electrical Pickup
 
* Dual Flywheels
 
* Proto MAX(TM) Metal Knuckle Couplers
 
* History Booklet & Certificate of Quality
 
* Available With or Without Sound & DCC Sound operates with standard DC or DCC controllers. Features Steam Sounds, Whistle, Bell, Squealing Brakes, Doppler Effect, Generator Whine and Trailer mode to mute whistle and bell for double-heading.
 
In the early 1900s, 2-8-0s were the biggest engines owned by most railroads. But moving maximum tonnage required regular double-heading, and as costs increased, railroads began looking for new solutions. While the idea of combining two engines as one large one had been tried in Europe, it was not until 1904 that the B&O introduced the 0-6-6-0 to America. Operated by a single crew, the engine had a large boiler carried on two sets of drivers and cylinders (each referred known as an engine). The rear engine was fixed, but the front could pivot to take curves. Impressed with the power and potential of the new design other roads ordered similar engines. While they could economically pull most anything coupled behind them, the rough ride made them unsuitable for road service.
 
In 1906, the Great Northern took the next step, ordering the first 2-6-6-2s from Baldwin. The first true road Mallets, these engines proved ideal for mountain districts, providing maximum pulling power at low speeds. Other roads with steep grades and heavy trains watched this advance with interest, and many acquired 2-6-6-2s of their own.
 
Bigger is better was standard design theory in this period, and in 1907, the first 0-8-8-0 was built for the Erie. Too powerful to pull the wood-framed cars of the era, it was successful as a helper engine and other roads soon tried the design. Here too was untapped potential, and by adding lead and trailing trucks, the SP created the first 2-8-8-2s in 1909. Assigned to the rugged Sierra-Nevada route, the engines were impressive, handling more tonnage with substantial savings of both fuel and water. This design caught the eye of other roads, notably N&W, who acquired 2-8-8-2s in 1910.
 
By the time WWI began in Europe in 1914, small numbers of 2-6-6-2s and 2-8-8-2s were found chiefly on eastern lines. Powerful but slow with a top speed around 20mph, they were best suited to routes where steep grades and heavy trains, such as coal and iron ore, were the norm.
 
While US industry had been supplying war materials and foodstuffs since the beginning, it was unprepared for the added demands of America's entry into the conflict in March, 1917. Railroads too had their problems as lines of urgently needed locos and cars awaiting repair grew longer. Since each road had unique designs, it was almost impossible for one line to repair another's equipment. In an effort to overcome this and other operating problems, the government assumed control of the railroads in December, creating the United States Railroad Administration (USRA).
 
One of its first duties was to create standard designs of locos, freight and passenger cars with interchangeable parts that could be used and serviced on virtually any railroad.
 
Coal, essential in peace, had become critical in war and big power was needed to keep it moving. Rather than starting from scratch, the USRA 2-8-8-2 was based on N&W's proposed Y-2a, an improved (but as yet unbuilt) version of the Y-2 then being constructed at the N&W's Roanoake shops. Delivered in 1918, the Y-2 showed problems generating enough steam due to its small firebox. While the war ended before USRA 2-8-8-2s could be delivered, development and construction continued. When completed in 1919, the USRA 2-8-8-2 was outwardly similar, but had a slightly smaller boiler and a larger firebox with a bigger combustion chamber, a combination that could generate steam faster than the N&W originals.
 
Purpose-built and too large for most roads, only 80 USRA 2-8-8-2s were ordered for three coal-hauling roads: N&W, Clinchfield, and Virginian. While N&W liked their new class Y-3s, the other roads were less than enthusiastic. Virginian flatly refused the five it had been allocated, which were then sold to the N&W. Before the year was out however, the USRA ousted the road's president and 20 were delivered as class USA. Clinchfield took 10 of the new class L-2 engines, which were on a par with its own L-1 2-8-8-2s.
 
After USRA control ended in 1920, copies of its designs were built for some years to come. Improved versions of the 2-8-8-2 were ordered in 1923, including 15 for the Virginian (class USB), 10 for the Clinchfield (class L-3), 10 for Rio Grande (class L-107) who assigned them to Utah coal service, four for the NP (class Z-4), and another 30 for the N&W. Only N&W continued to improve on the design, eventually leading to its superb Y6b. Perhaps the best testament to the success of the USRA 2-8-8-2 was its long years of service, with many handling heavy freight and switching service into the 1950s - some N&W engines were still active as late as 1958!

Walthers Part # 920-60201, p. 30 Walthers 2010

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