The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway's 3460 class comprised six Hudson type (4-6-4) locomotives built in 1937 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA (#3460-#3465). With 84" drivers, they were designed for high stepping at speed on passenger and fast mail trains running on the railroad's fairly flat division between La Junta, CO, and Chicago, IL. All were built as oil burners, although in a way that would permit easy conversion to coal burning if required.
The first of the six locomotives, #3460, was streamlined and became the Santa Fe's only streamlined steam locomotive.
Painted robin's egg blue and silver it gained the nickname "Blue Goose" and featured widely in company publicity. #3461 was
fitted with a streamlined "skyline" casing along the top of the boiler, encasing stack and domes in an experiment to see if this would clear smoke away from the locomotive but it was not retained. All the locomotives otherwise had a Santa Fe-style telescoping stack extension, which elongated the stack to clear smoke better and could be lowered to pass under low bridges and through tunnels.
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In December 1937, #3461 set a world record for the longest single run by a steam locomotive when it completed the two thousand, two hundred and twenty-seven miles hauling Train #8, the Fast Mail Express, from Los Angeles, CA, to Chicago, IL. It made only five refuelling stops en route and ran at an average speed of 45 mph, including stops, achieving a maximum speed of 90 mph. On steeply graded portions of the run it was assisted by helper locomotives.
The engine has a 14’ 6” driver wheelbase and overall engine wheelbase of 41’ 1”. It had 90 sq ft of thermic duplex syphons in the firebox, and security water circulators in the 25" combustion chamber. It was equipped with a Schmidt Type E Superheater, Worthington feedwater heater and SKF roller bearings on all axles.
The Santa Fe rebuilt
the 3460s in 1945, installing a new arrangement of tubes and flues which reduced the total heating surface from 6,850 sq ft, including 2,080 sq ft superheating, to 6,323 sq ft, including 2,020 sq ft superheating. The rebuild increased the engine weight from 412,330 lbs to 417,300 lbs but reduced the weight on its drivers from 213,440 lbs to 210,800 lbs.
The tender weighs 173,446 lbs light, 396,246 lbs fully loaded with 20,000 gallons of water and 7,107 gallons of oil.
The grate area reduced slightly from 99 sq ft to
98.5 sq ft with the rebuild, although the firebox
area increased from 375 sq ft to 433 sq ft. The boiler pressure remained at 300 psi, although tractive effort rose from 48,618 lbs to 49,465 lbs. The cylinders were rebored from 23½” x 29½” to 23½” x 29”.
#3463 is the only survivor of this class. It was retired in 1953 and donated to the City of Topeka. When we visited, it was on static display on the southeast grounds of the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, KS.
In 2012, the Minneapolis-based Coalition for Sustainable Rail announced plans to rebuild #3463 into “the world’s first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive” using low-cost torrefied biomass, a biofuel that has the same handling properties as coal but is carbon neutral.
Plans had been made to move #3463 to a site in the Twin Cities area to begin the rebuild but there has been growing opposition, which has coalesced around ownership of the locomotive and whether it can be used by the Coalition for the purposes it plans,