Susan Parker

Byers Industrial 0-4-0 Geared Locomotive 

The Locomotive

Byers locomotive builder's photograph (ex. libris Susan Parker).

(Click on image for large 6000 pixel wide version - c. 2.4 MB jpeg file - opens in new window.)

The Byers 0-4-0 locomotive is an interesting little industrial engine capable of useful work on both standard or narrow gauge track, and can negotiate very tight radius curves due to the extremely short wheelbase.

Motive power is provided by a pair of vertical "bottle" style steam engines, more commonly used in stationary power plants, and a geared drive to both front and rear axles.

Modelling the Byers Locomotive

I have two projects based on this locomotive.

A small scale live steam locomotive in 16mm to the foot scale to run on 1-3/4" (45mm) Gauge 1 or G scale track. This is to be a "fun" loco and will be a "look and feel" rather than "exact in all respects" model. An electric version is also possible. Part of the interest in this scale is that it should be possible to make something in a relatively short period of time (hopefully months rather than years).

A large scale live steam locomotive to run on 4-3/4"or 5" gauge track with inside wheel sets, or 7-1/4" or 7-1/2" gauge track with outside wheel sets which the geared drive enables one to do easily. The concept is to have a "run anywhere" locomotive that can fit in the trunk of even a small car and will still be powerful enough to pull a couple of adults.

16mm Scale Locomotive Project 1/8th Scale Locomotive Project

Follow the above links for more information.

Elk Fire Brick Co

A Byers locomotive at work c. 1946 (images: Tom Crawford collection) .

The Elk Fire Brick Co.'s aptly named "Dinky" locomotive was used for about 50 years to haul clay wagons at the St. Marys plant in northwestern Pennsylvania.

More pictures and information HERE.

Engineering News article - 21st May 1896

A Geared Locomotive for Contractors' Use.

The contractors' locomotive is a very important item of the plant for many engineering works, quarries, brick years, etc., and whilst fitness of finish and economy in operation are not important requirements, strength of parts and attachments is exceedingly important to enable the engine to work regularly over a very rough track and to withstand the shocks and rough handling to which it is inevitably subjected. In a majority of cases the engines used by contractors are ordinary locomotives of small size, with piston rod connected directly to the driving wheels by a connecting rod, but in recent years geared locomotives have shown such advantages as to come into favor. We show herewith a geared locomotive designed for contractors' use, and built by the John F. Byers Machine Co. of Ravenna, O.

This locomotive is a four-wheel tank engine, and has heavy cast-iron sectional frames, in which are formed the guides for the axle boxes, and which serve to add to the adhesion weight of the engine. The wheels are 24 ins. in diameter, and are placed inside the frame for a track of 36 ins. gage, and outside for standard gage. They are of cast iron, with chilled treads. Upon the middle of each side frame is mounted a vertical inverted engine, driving a main shaft, which carries and driving pinion A. This pinion drives two gear wheels B, B, on a countershafts, which in turn drive the two pinions C, C, on the axles of the carrying wheels. It is plain spur gearing, back geared 3 to 1, three revolutions of the engine giving one revolution of the axles. The gear wheels are cast with solid webs and wide faces, and the pitch of the teeth is 1 1/2 ins. The countershafts are 2 7-16 ins. diameter, carried in bearings on a transverse frame or bedplate, which is bolted to the side frames. The main axles are of steel, 2 15-16 ins. diameter, with large bearing carried in oil boxes. The leading axle has side-bearing bars D, D, which rest on bearing boxes on the axle E, E, and these bars carry the transverse equalizer F. This arrangement allows sufficient vertical play in the leading main bearing, and also effects such a distribution of the weight that the engine will ride steadily over any ordinary inequalities in the track, and will pass easily around curves of 25 and 30 ft. radius.

The boiler is of T shape, with a circular firebox in the vertical leg and tubes in the horizontal barrel. This barrel is entirely filled with water, the water level reaching up into the vertical leg, and steam is taken from the upper part of this leg, which serves as the steam dome. The shell is lagged and jacketed in the usual way. The exhaust pipes run full size to the exhaust nozzle in the smokebox, and discharge into a petticoat pipe of the usual pattern. The vertical extension of the exhaust pipes downwards on the outside of the smokebox, as shown in the general view, is for the purpose of a drip, and the lower end of each extension is provided with an opening 1/8 in. diameter, which is left permanently open. In the later engines the exhaust is run from the cylinders directly underneath the boiler, and thence by a single pipe to the smokebox, a single drip pipe with permanent opening being provided. The sandbox and bell are mounted on the boiler barrel, and the fitting include a glass water gage, water try cocks, two injectors, etc.

The engine is provided with a friction brake, shown in the side elevation, which is placed on the rear countershaft. It consists of two cup-shaped disks G, G, faced with wooden friction blocks H, H. These disks are attached to two yokes J, J, which in turn are moved in line with the countershaft by means of the threads on the operating shaft K. The brake is applied by moving the disks G, G against the center disk L, which is keyed to the countershaft. The yokes J, J and the disks G, G work lose on the shaft, but are fastened at the lower or forward end of the yokes J, J to the transverse bedplate., This brake is operated by a horizontal hand wheel M, and bevel gear N. It is powerful and sensitive and very easily handled.

The drawing show only the iron frames, the wooden footboard and front end supports being omitted. The front and back cross frames have been changed somewhat from the form shown in the photograph, but the arrangement of the engine, main shaft, countershafts, gears, driving wheels, etc., is the same in all the machines. These locomotives are said to give a steady drawbar pull, and to be capable of hauling and train load of 250 tons (including weight of cars) at a speed of six to eight miles per hour on a straight and level track. Their short wheelbase enables then to pass the very sharp curves usually to be found on contractors' track and industrial railways. Four of these locomotives have been built thus far, and three of them are in service, being used by the Casparis Stone Co., of Loansport, Ind.; the Buffalo Cement Co., of Buffalo, N. Y., and W. J. Murray, contractor, of New York city. The general dimensions of the engines are given in the accompanying table:

General Arrangement Drawings.

Locomotive Plan and Side Elevation Drawing (ex. libris Susan Parker).

(Click on image for large 5700 pixel version - c. 375 KB gif file - opens in new window.)

Technical Specification

Contractors' Geared Locomotive

Driving wheels, diam 24 ins.
Journals, driving axles 2 5-16 x 4 ins.
Axles, diam 2 15-16 ins.
Main shaft, diam 2 1/8 ins.
Countershaft, diam 2 7-16 ins.
Wheelbase 3 ft. 4 ins.
Length over all 12 ft. 2 ins.
Width over all 6 ft.
Weight in working order 11,000 lbs.
 Full coal capacity 250 lbs.
 Full water capacity of tank, 100 gallons 834 lbs.
 Allowed for water in boiler, 180 gallons 1,500 lbs.
Cylinders 5 1/2 x 7 ins.
 Distance c. to c. 4 ft. 1 in.
 Piston rod, diam 1 in.
Valve Gear Link Motion
 Steam ports 9-16 x 4 1/2 ins.
 Exhaust ports 1 x 4 1/2 ins.
 Lap of valves 5-16 in.
 Lead of valves 1-16 in.
 Max. travel of valves 2 ins.
Boiler; type Tee
 Vertical leg 32 x 60 ins.
 Barrel 26 x 64 ins.
 Tube sheet and barrel plates 1/4 in.
 Height from rail to centre line 3 ft. 9 ins.
 Length of smokebox 1 ft. 8 ins.
 Working steam pressure 120 lbs.
Firebox Circular
 Diameter inside 28 ins.
 Depth inside 26 ins.
 Side plates 5-16 in.
 Crown sheet 3/8 in.
 Grate area 4 sq. ft.
 Staybolts, diameter 3/4 in.
 Water space, width 2 ins.
Tubes; material Steel
 Number 32
 Diameter, outside 2 ins.
 Length between tube plates 6 ft. 0 ins.
Heating surface -
 Tubes 88 sq. ft.
 Firebox 14 sq. ft.
 Total, with exterior tube area 102 sq. ft.
Exhaust nozzle, diam 1 11-16 ins.
Smokestack, smallest diam 8 ins.
 Height 3 ft. 4 ins.
 Height from rail to top 8 ft. 2 ins.
Tank capacity 100 gallons
Coal capacity 250 lbs
Brake Friction disk, operated by hand.
 Driving pinion; diam., 5 13-16 ins.; number of teeth 12
 Intermediate pinion; diam., 12 ins.; number of teeth 25
 Axle gear wheel; diam., 17 9-32 ins.; number of teeth 36

Photograph, description, drawings and table scanned/transcribed by myself from the original Engineering News article of the 21st May 1896 - Pages 342 & 343

Byers Engines

Byers produced a wide range of single and twin cylinder stationary engines. Their railway locomotives were presumably a diversification project as only about a half dozen were produced (see the Geared Steam Website - Byers Owner Roster) and these made substantial use of their standard stationary engine components.

The locomotive engine was based on their 16 horsepower twin cylinder stationary engine, and had the valve gear positioned outwards on either side (unlike their standard stationary twin).

Cross section detail and parts description of a Byers Vertical Steam Engine (SP).

Illustration of Byers vertical steam engine and boiler, and size and specification of double cylinder engines (SP).

( The scans for these two Byers pages 4 and 38 were sent to me after this page was initially put up and provide a lot of useful additional information which is much appreciated.)

Information Source

I was fortunate in finding an original copy of the Engineering News article contained in the 1896 journal (Jan to June). It was an eBay purchase and although it cost me USD150 to buy and ship to England I felt it was worthwhile to get the original pages to scan. I wasn't aware of the picture at that time, so I am even more pleased to have that for the additional information.

Original Byers Locomotive Article - 21st May 1896 - Pages 342 & 343 (ex. libris Susan Parker).

(Click on image for large 1000 pixel version of page 342 - c. 1.3 MB jpeg file - opens in new window.)

Unfortunately the bound journal does not include the advertisements, so I have linked this image from the Geared Steam website.

Engineering News Advertisement, January 1896 - Geared Steam Image.
(N.B. not January 6th as issue dates were on the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd or 30th of that month).

Additional References & Links

Geared Steam Locomotive Works 

Geared Steam Website - site of original inspiration for this project.

Timbertimes #31 page 20

A Byers Geared Steam Locomotive in West Virginia A very rare logging locomotive.


Wachs running..another view Although not a Byers engine this Wachs Steam engine restored by "stobertc" is similar in many details and the numerous photographs can give one a clearer understanding of the engine and it's assembly.

Link images in this section are linked from their respective websites - please let me know if they disappear.


All information, drawings and images on this website
Copyright 1975-2008 Susan Parker (unless otherwise credited).