California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Model Train Help EBook

Southern Pacific
Class MC-1

2 units built

4000 4000 4001

SP ordered two 2-8-8-2 Compound locomotives from Baldwin in 1908, arriving in 1909 as #4000 and #4001. These had the cab in the conventional position; were ordered for the route over Donner Pass, and if successful would be the forerunner of many more.

Some of the features as built of 400-4001 were, wooden pilots and exhaust splitters and like all MC locomotives they had 57 inch drivers. The boiler was actually two boilers, with a boiler feed water pre-heater section in the middle. The were also fitted with a steam superheater to realize more work from the steam.

Tenders were square rectangular ones with 9000 gallon water capacity as delivered. 4000 is usually pictured with a square one, and 4001 usually with a rounded or 'whaleback' tender. More tender detail will hopefully follow...

Successful they were, but the fumes and hot gases in the 40 miles of snowsheds and tunnels nearly killed the engine crew. Respirators were tried and while these fixed the problem of the fumes, the hot gases then cooked the engine crew, there was still the ear-splitting noise from the stack and the exhaust steam frpm the low-pressure cylinders. One trip was tried running tender first, this cured most problems, but created a few different ones; the engineer was then on the wrong side and the visiblity would have been reduced.

What would now be called a 'think-tank' was arranged and the idea of reversing the locomotive similar to a North Pacific Coast engine idea was mooted. Since SP had been at the fore-front of oil firing, it did not matter where the tender was situated.

Plans were drawn up for the first Cab Forward locomotive and were sent to Baldwin who were building the second order of articulateds. These emerged from Baldwin as #4002-4016 and classed MC-2.

The 4000-4001 remained as built, and were transferred to areas with not too many tunnels i.e Shasta Division, Tehachapi's, Colton, Beaumont and Indio.

4000-4001 were converted to Cab Forwards in 1928 and were classed AC-1 and were later converted to single expansion in 1931.


  • A Century of SP Steam Locomotives - Guy L. Dunscomb
  • SP Co. Steam Locomotive Compendium - Diebert & Strapac
  • Cab-Forward - Robert J. Church
  • Cab-In-Front (The Half Century Story of An Unconventional Locomotive) - John.B.Hungerford © 1959
    • reprinted by PFM 1974

Modeling choices at the moment are:

  • For N Scale:
    • ?
  • For HO Scale:
    • ?
  • For S Scale:
    • ?
  • For O Scale:
    • ?

Articulated Index

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This document © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. Richard.A.Percy

Monday, 8 May 2006