As delivered to the Rock Island in 1909, this Pacific type (4-6-2) locomotive was one of thirty-three unsuperheated P-31 class (#862-#894) built at Alco’s Schenectady, NY, works. It was originally #887 but was renumbered #886 when it was donated to the City of Peoria, IL, in 1955.
All the P-31s were superheated by the Rock Island in 1917 and the drivers increased by 1” to 74” in diameter. This increased the engine wheelbase from 32’ to 34’ 8” and the driver wheelbase from 12’ 4” to 13’. The engine weight dropped slightly from 227,000 lbs to 226,950 lbs, from 148,000 lbs to 147,750 lbs on the drivers. Cylinders remained at 23” x 28” but the grate increased from 44.8 sq ft to 45 sq ft and the firebox from 179.41 sq ft to 238 sq ft. With 676 sq ft superheating, total heating surface decreased from 3,671 sq ft to 3,555 sq ft. Boiler pressure stayed at 185 psi but tractive effort dropped from 31,907 lbs to 31, 476 lbs.
The superheated engines also had a slightly larger tender, up from 150,000 lbs to 150,640 lbs with water capacity rising from 7,500 gallons to 7,900 gallons. The coal carrying capacity of 13 tons was unchanged.
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Some of the P-31s, including #887, were equipped with Delta boosters adding 10,198 lbs tractive effort and were redesignated P-33-B. Other, later modernising features include the solid, plow-like pilot and repositioning of the headlight, originally raised ahead of the stack, to the centred position on the smokebox front.
In its years of service, #887 hauled the finest Rock Island trains such as the Golden State Limited with the Southern Pacific from Chicago, IL, to Los Angeles, CA, and the Rocky Mountain Limited from Denver, CO, to Chicago, IL.
The last Rock Island steam-powered train to leave Peoria was hauled by #886, which the railroad agreed to donate to the city, but it was discovered too late that the engine had already been scrapped. The railroad still had an identical engine, #887, which they simply repainted as #886. It initially went on display at Glen Oak Park and then at Detweiller Park, where it fell into disrepair. The park board sold it to the Wheels O' Time Museum in 1984.
It is one of only three Rock Island steam locomotives saved from the scrapper.