The International Steam Pages


True Articulated Steam Locomotives Part 1

Click here for the introduction to Articulated Steam Locomotives of the World.


Wiener classified true Articulated Steam Locomotives in three parts:

1. Articulated Locomotives having one driven and one undriven bogie - eg single Fairlies

2. Articulated Locomotives with one engine and two driven bogies - eg geared locomotives such as Shay, Climax, Heisler (updated 28th March 2013)

3. Articulated Locomotives with two engines and two two sets of driving wheels - eg double Fairlies, Meyers, Garratts (picture of NSWGR 6029 added 2nd June 2015)


1. Articulated Locomotives having one driven and one undriven bogie - eg Single Fairlies

Most Fairlies were 'doubles' (see elsewhere), singles were built in relatively smaller numbers. For a description of Fairlie locomotives in general see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairlie, it has a section on single Fairlies. The Festiniog Railway has a replica single Fairlie built in 1999, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ffestiniog_Railway and specifically http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ffestiniog_Railway_rolling_stock. These photographs are courtesy of James Waite.

There is a single Fairlie preserved at Reefton in South Island, New Zealand, this is Ray Schofield's picture:

Mason built locomotives of this type (Mason Fairlies) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_Bogie and one is reported active at the Henry Ford Museum - also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Henry_Ford. This is Alex Mayes' July 2009 picture:


2a. Articulated Locomotives with one engine and two driven bogies - eg geared locomotives such as Shay, Climax, Heisler

Geared locomotives were almost exclusively built in the USA for operation on logging railways although they were exported in some numbers for use on such systems in East Asia and Australasia. The last working examples in the world were Shays found up to the 1970s and even just into the 1980s on the Alishan Forestry Railway in Taiwan and on logging railways and sugar mills in Negros, Phillipines. An excellent general resource for these locomotives is http://www.gearedsteam.com/index.html which has dedicated sections for each of the American builders. For a more international view, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geared_steam_locomotive, this necessarily covers non-articulated locomotives. Given the massive web coverage of North American geared locomotives, I have deliberately tried to look further afield for my examples, as Tom Schultz put it to me "Many Shays, a handful of Heislers and even a few Climax locomotives are serviceable. Numerous Shay, Heisler and Climax locomotives are preserved, not serviceable. Web-based lists of these locomotives are easy to find and access, I found a page which showed no less than 15 Climax, 28 Heisler, 82 Shay and 6 Wiliiamette geared locomotives!

I have now added (28th March 2013) a page of preserved American geared locomotives, courtesy of Donald Nute.

The Shay Locomotive - see http://www.shaylocomotives.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shay_locomotive 

Shay geared locomotives were built by the Lima Locomotive Works in some numbers, vertical cylinders driving a crankshaft to which were attached gears acting on geared driving wheels, with a boiler offset to one side. They were broadly classified by the number of 'trucks', each with four wheels one of which was under the tender (two in the case of the D type).

Type Trucks Cylinders
A 2 2
B 2 3
C 3 3
D 4 3

Shays were built for a variety of gauges from two foot (610mm) to standard. This is a 762mm (2' 6") gauge 2 truck example at Alishan in March 1976, courtesy of Nicholas Pertwee, at that stage the Shays on the line were used only for short workings and shunting:

Those from the Philippines shown below were all 1067mm (3' ft 6") gauge. 

This two truck Shay was the last such working example on Negros, it was based at Insular Lumber's Hinobaan wharf as #10 where it was photographed by Peter Nettleship::

Earlier the late Basil Roberts found the sun on the 'wrong' side of this similar engine #2 at Fabrica in 1974:

The company disposed of a couple of 3 truck Shays to the nearby Lopez sugar mill, Basil Roberts saw their #9 at work on the same trip.

By 1979, #9 and 10 faced in opposite directions and worked alternately. On my trip in February 1979, we had the sun on the wrong side the previous afternoon and had to make the long trek back next morning. It was worth it!

Of the nearly three thousand built, there are more than one hundred surviving Shays - see http://www.shaylocomotives.com/surviving/SLc-Survivors.htm) and it's not too hard to find one working in North America at least.  Among those 'preserved' railways known to have at least one in working order are:

Alishan Forestry Railway - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alishan_Forest_Railway

Cass Scenic Railway - http://www.cassrailroad.com/

Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad - http://www.roaringcamp.com/

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad - http://www.ymsprr.com/

Georgetown Loop Railroad - http://www.georgetownlooprr.com/ (likely to be new for 2011 with a Shay from Midwest Central Railroad, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa)

Foster Brook and State Line Railroad, Bradford, PA 

This is a small private 610mm (2ft) gauge railroad with intermittent operation which has the smallest Shay ever built by Lima. These pictures of it working on 31st October 2009 are courtesy of Kermit Geary, Jr.

The Willamette Geared locomotive - see http://www.gearedsteam.com/willamette/willamette.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_locomotive

These are essentially Shay look alike locomotives built after the original Shay patent expired with some improvements. Thirty three were built and some six survive, they are listed here (scroll down) http://www.shaylocomotives.com/surviving/SLc-Survivors.htm. Only one is operational at the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad - http://mtrainierrailroad.com/ This is an official MRSR picture of the locomotive after restoration at its first public showing in August 2009:

The Climax Geared locomotive - see http://www.climaxlocomotives.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climax_locomotive

Compared with Shays, these were slightly more conventional! The locomotives have cylinders (mainly inclined but also horizontal or vertical) on both sides which are attached to a transmission shaft under the locomotive which drives two (sometimes three) trucks, one under the smokebox, the other one/two under the tender. 

Of the one thousand or so built, some twenty are said to survive in North America and half a dozen in Australia and New Zealand, see http://www.climaxlocomotives.com/surviving/. This one is at Shantytown, Greymouth on South Island, New Zealand in 2002, it was certainly in operating condition then, I have heard nothing to the contrary since.

On the other hand, this example at Pukemiro on North Island was some way off being a runner when I photographed it in 2002:

Other sites with potentially operational Climax locomotives:

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park - under restoration 2009 - http://www.cassrailroad.com/

Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad, West Virginia - http://www.mountainrail.com/, this is David Longman's picture from April 2003:

Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad - http://www.mrsr.com/

Roots of Motive Power, California - http://www.rootsofmotivepower.com/

Puffing Billy Railway, Victoria, Australia - under restoration 2009 and active from August 2013 - http://www.puffingbilly.com.au/. The pictures below are from Robert Wilson, see also http://members.ozemail.com.au/~telica/Puffing_Billy_Climax_1694.html.

The Heisler Geared Locomotive - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisler_locomotive and http://www.gearedsteam.com/heisler/heisler.htm

These differed from the geared locomotives above principally in that they still use coupling rods, characteristically they have a V shaped cylinder arrangement operating on a central shaft. Some 30 are known to survive in North America and about a third are likely to be operational at any time. Elsewhere, there are several in New Zealand at Shantytown, Ferrymead Park in Christchurch and Pukemeiro. None is remotely near being a runner at the time of writing, this is the Heisler at Pukemiro photographed in 2002:

This is Wilson Lythgoe's picture of the one at Ferrymead in steam back in January 1969. Its boiler certificate expired shortly after and I believe it has not run since... (added 9th July 2013)

This example was photographed by Martin E. Hansen on the Sumpter Valley Railway - http://www.sumptervalleyrailroad.org/ - in Oregon, USA in 2011:

Hunslet Engine Company, Leeds, England 

The British were not greatly into geared locomotives but Avonside built a few for South Africa and after their business was taken by Hunslet in 1934  they also built one for the same market. See http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/hunslet/hunslet.htm.- the principal difference being that the Avonside used a worm drive and the Hunslet bevel gears like the American locomotives. The picture shown on the site above actually shows an Avonside locomotive (dated as delivered 1931 before that company closed).  All of these locomotives postdate Wiener's book although the same picture is in Binn's Bradford Barton Book, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avonside_Engine_Company. One of these locomotives is now reported to be in the care of the Phyllis Rampton Trust in the UK -see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Rampton_Trust.

There are several pictures of this type on this wonderful website, a real treasure trove - http://steam-locomotives-south-africa.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/miscellaneous-cane-tramway-images.html

A & G Price of Thames, New Zealand 

This company produced clones of Climax and Heisler locomotives (see above), as far as I know none left the country.

This one is a Climax look alike (Price E class) at Pukemiro next door to the real thing (seen above) in 2002:

Fortunately, this Heisler lookalike was in much better health when I photographed it in action at the McLean's Island site of the Canterbury Steam Preservation Society, it was the only 'Heisler' they built:

This is a Price Cb class in action at Pukemiro (Ray Schofield photograph), it is said to have been based on a Climax A type with vertical cylinders (out of sight), it is a significant locomotive as I do not think there are any Climaxes like it surviving in original condition. Similar locomotives survive at Tokomaru and Ferrymead (Christchurch).

2b. Miscellaneous New Zealand Locomotives

There are references above to New Zealand built locomotives which are copies or derived from products of other makers (usually American). However, an indigenous industry grew up which n#built locomotives which owed nothing to foreign influence. There is an excellent website which details both types - http://www.trainweb.org/nzgearedlocomotives/index.html.

This is John Raby's 2016 picture of the sole surviving Davidson which is preserved on the road between Greymouth and Reefton.


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk