Shay Engine number 4 a tthe Cass, WVA Scenic Railroad

By Edward W. Brown; posted August 3, 2013

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We took a ride on the Cass, WVA Scenic Railroad, to Whittaker Station. This was formerly a logging railroad, utilizing a variety of coal fired steam engines. Note the three vertical steam cylinders, and the direct drive gearing to the six sets of drive wheels. These engines were not very fast, but they had enormous torque and pulling power.

The cylinders each have a power stroke in both directions, and the crankshaft is spaced at 120 degree intervals. This generates six power strokes per revolution, and a typical modern four-stroke gasoline or diesel engine would need to have twelve cylinders to accomplish the same. The normal steam pressure is between 190 and 200 PSI, above 205 sets of the "popper" valves, and with less than 60 PSI, the engine will stop running, and the steam pressure will be insufficient to operate the brakes..

The tour trains pull four open-sided passenger cars.

The Whitaker Station run, which is the shortest (3 hour) trip, consumes about 2 1/2 tons of coal. The engine re-fills with water, just before arriving back at the starting point. One of the firemen (coal shovelers), and his son came by the house in the evening for a short visit.

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