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  • Southern Pacific Whaleback Tenders

    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 6


       When the sand house talk gets into the subject of steam power on the Espee, the discussion will most certainly include the red and orange Daylights and the exclusive-to-that-road cab forward Mallet and articulated type haulers that were known far and wide for their fine performance and distinctive design. Quite often the speakers will find themselves branching off into the subject of the tenders that were so vital to these same locos and, sure enough, it is inevitable for someone to bring up the unique Vanderbilt offshoot known as a Whaleback or Haystack tender, or in official Espee nomenclature a Semi-Cylindrical tender. To be sure the Espee was not the only road possessing SC tenders, but they were the largest user of them by far, and that plus the fact that several individuals have expressed an interest in them as various brass imports have come through equipped with them, has made the time ripe for some basic information on the different classes used and with what types of power they were coupled.

       First of all, it is only fitting to mention the railroads that have made use of SC tenders. In addition to the Espee, the El Paso and Southwestern had a number of these tenders, all of whom became the property of the larger road when it took over the Phelps-Dodge owned line in late 1924. Next in line is the three foot gauge Nevada-California-Oregon which contributed locos and cars to the Espee's own narrow gauge operation in the Owens Valley. A coupie of the N-C-O locos also found a new home of the Pacific Coast Ry. near San Luis Obispo, Calif., where they ran until about 1947. At that time one of the PC locos (a sister to Espee #18) took a long voyage to its last home of the island of Oahu where it ran on the Oahu Ry. for a very short time.

       Two other lines in the Hawaiian chain saw fit to make use of locos with SC tenders as well as the Oahu Ry. One of them was the three foot Kahului Railroad on the island of Maui, but photos of only one loco of this road have been seen by the writer, so how many of these tenders were in use by this company remains a mystery. (3 locomotives #10, 11, 12 - 2-6-2's, built by Baldwin 1924, 1928, 1929-ed.) On the Island of Hawaii, the "Big Island" as it is known, were to be found several SC tenders operating behind the locomotives of the Hawaii Consolidated Ry., a standard gauge line which quit years ago (abandoned 1946-ed.)

       Back here on the Mainland, down Oklahoma way, there was a road called the Kansas Oklahoma & Gulf that bought some locos with SC tenders back in the 'teens. This line was actually made up of three small lines operating together, the others being the Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka and the Midland Valley; today all three are a part of the Missouri Pacific and the steamers with their whaleback tenders are long gone from the rails.

       Lest I hear a big outcry from the Rock Island fans about the SC type tenders that their favorite road at one time employed, I will remark that this group was perhaps the most distinctive of all in style and design, for they were the only tenders of this type that I know of, that were rebuilt, having originally been constructed as true Vanderbilt tanks, later modified when (I am told) trouble began to develop with the underframes and bolsters. Beyond this, I know of no other American railroad, save possibly some industrial line, which made use of this very different type of tender, so now we must go back to Sacramento and check out the Southern Pacific versions of them which is the object of this article as stated earlier.

       Before continuing, let me once again mention the tender classification system that was used by the SP, which I feel is important to anyone contemplating a layout depicting the steam era. In reality there were two class systems, the first one lasting only a short time in the true sense of the word, because it was rather vague and incomplete. This system was put into use around 1915, but was gradually phased out during the 1920's, being retained primarily for tenders slated for scrapping during that period, or for some that were to be used for a few more years in MOW service. One exception to this was on the narrow gauge line where the system was in use to the very end in 1960.

       In this system all tenders of a like water capacity were stencilled in white on each side of the frame with an abbreviation of that capacity, followed with a number to indicate the individual unit. For example all 7000 gallon tenders were given the figure "70", then a short dash, and finally a number such as 1, 2, 3, 4 ,and so on as they were picked out for repairs or painting or what-have-you, which meant that tender 70-1 may have been rectangular, while 70-2 could have been a Vanderbilt type, and so forth. It was soon realized by the officials of the road that it was not the desired system.

       About 1922 another tender classification system was devised. One which placed all units of a common design together, and also indicated the water capacity, and structural or design differences.

    S.P. #3400 was a class C-18 loco that was built by Baldwin in 1902 for the El Paso-Northeastern. Later on she became an El Paso & Southwestern loco, ending up on the Espee in 1924. In this Jan. 1946 photo taken at El Paso, Tex. the loco is still burning coal that is carried in a 70-SC-1a unit in diagram books. Take a look at the old Baldwin style smoke box door, and the former arc or acetylene headlight housing which was very common on Espee until the late 1940's. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 7

        This is the system which we will be in contact with in this article, and throughout most of our dealings with Espee steam power. Using the 7000 gallon figure once again, we can now add the letter "R" for rectangular, of "C" for cylindrical (Vanderbilt), or "SC" for semi-cylindrical (whaleback or haystack), and in addition to that we will include a number to show a change in design, a later revision or a re-built or any one of several variations that may have been devised from the first units turned out by the builder. From this system we can ascertain differences (not always visual) between Vanderbilt tenders designated 70-C-1, 70-C-2 or 70-C-3. 7000 gallon retangular tenders would therefore be classed as 70-R-1 and 70-R-2. These class designations were also used in diagram books as page numbers, and occasionally the further addition of a letter was used to indicate a change in design, or in size of the fuel compartment, etc. 70-R-1 class tender on page 70-R-1 shown on page 70-R-1a carried only 1968 gallons of fuel. Finally on page 70-R-1b is to be found a 70-R-1 tender which is equipped for carrying coal; it has a ten ton bunker in place of the oil tank. The subclass letter was used only on diagram pages; the basic class did not change. (This same method was also used for the locomotive diagram pages for the same reasons).

       When this new tender class system was worked out, it was decided to assign a genuine serial number to each one, and this along with the class designation was cast into a pair of badge plates, one for each side of the frame, which measured 4"x 7".

       You will note that up to now nothing has been said as concerns the fuel capacity of these tenders, and rightly so, for it was not indicated with either of the two systems. Why not, you ask, and I must answer that I do not know, and may never be able to tell you since no one has found the answer or so it would appear.

       Let's now go about the job of learning how to identify the SP whaleback tenders, class by class, as they are the easiest of all to document simply because they consisted of fewer classes than the other three types of tenders used by the road, I will cover them by class rather than by when they were first built or acquired, with the standard gauge units being listed first; the narrow gauge examples will be discussed in a separate section.

    S.P. #2617, another switching C-4 from Schenectady in 1901 showing the 73-SC-1 variation without running boards. This was one of a number of older 2-8-0's that never received a superheater or piston valves. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 8

    Standard Gauge Semi-Cylindrical Tenders

    49-SC-1. These two tenders were not of whaleback design, but I am listing them because there has been infrequent reference given in diagram books. They were actually Vanderbilt tenders, and were essentially the same as class 47-C-1, having been original equipment on S-10 locos #1298 and #1299. The tender used on the recent Westside HO import of an S-10 will serve to identify them. This was a case of misclassification!

    62-SC-1. This was a one-of-a-kind tender that came with a C4 2-8-0 in 1901. It was built with a full width oil tank of 3040 gallon capacity, but was converted to a "clear vision" model by reducing the fuel compartment to 2120 gallons, supposedly at Los Angeles on 1925. This was Espee's very first venture into whaleback tenders, and it remained in active service for many years. It was known to have been coupled to S-70-6-0 #1119 during the middle 1930 period, and was later operated with C-5 #2646. No model has been brought out featuring this tender.

    70-SC-1. Here was a group of tenders that came with the acquisition of the El Paso & Southwestern in 1924. They were originally designed to carry coal, as were most of EP&SW's tenders, and were built with full width bunkers capable of holding fourteen and one half tons. When first built, these tenders were used behind 2-6-2's that became Espee' classes PR-1 and PR-2 as well as some Pacific's that were numbered #3100-3109, class P-11. The ten that were with the 4-6-2's were brought to Los Angeles around 1930 and were changed to clear vision oil types, subsequently being used with 0-6-0, 2-6-0, and 2-8-0 type locos, possibly others. The remaining six tenders had the coal bunker cut down in size to nine tons, and they remained in service on the Rio Grande Division (the old EP&SW) which was partly coal burning in freight and switching until 1950. They were used with 3400 series 2-8-0's in classes C-18 and C-19. These tenders look much the same as the 62-SC-1, however they were lower in overall height and were longer. They were also equipped with an uncommon version of Andrews trucks which had a noticeable curve to the top of the sideframe. Regrettably no importer has seen fit to bring in a model loco with a 70-SC-1 to date, but perhaps that will change in the future.

    S.P. #2612, a 1901 Schenectady of class C-4 in switching service at Los Angeles in May 1937 when equipped with a 73-SC-1 tender with the side running boards. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 9

    73-SC-1. This class was the most easily identified of all Espee whaleback tenders, and was also among the largest in number of units, totalling fifty-three. Of these, only seven were original equipment, having been delivered with some C-5 2-8-0's built in 1903. The remainder were extras. In their early days many of these t nders were assigned to A-1 and A-2 Atlantics, E-6 4-4-0's, T-5 Ten-Wheelers, and at least one C-12-8-0. Normally they were to be found in the company of freight locos and some switchers in classes M-6, M-8, C-2, C-4, C-5, C-8, C-9 and S-8, but during WWII A-3 #3052 was seen with one, and around 1954 or so P-6 Pacific #2458 was equipped with one of these tenders for use in stationary boiler service. While appearing large and ungainly behind the 0-6-0, the 73-SC-1 looked rather small and useless with the 4-6-2, and that illustrates the wide span of loco types with which these tenders dealt over the years.

       About ten years ago Balboa imported a class C-9 2-8-0 which had the version of this tender built with outside running boards, and recently the Westside fire train with loco #2248 came through with them, so take your pick as both were used, although I believe that the latter were more common. The first examples had them in any event.

       Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the 73-SC-1 class was the use of a "common" tank for both oil and water, with a dividing wall in between, a design characteristic that was not repeated because of possible leakage of water into oil and vice-versa. In addition to that, changing from one fuel to another would have been a difficult task; the majority of SP tenders had an oil tank that could be lifted out for repair or possible conversion to coal if deemed feasible. In view of this these tenders faired very well, since many were in use to the end of steam, and two were saved, the only standard gauge whalebacks that were afforded that privilege. T-1 #2252, which is on display at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville, Calif., still has the tender that it carried for many years in fire train service, and near Los Angeles, the Lomita Railroad Museum can boast of the other 73-SC-1 which is coupled to #1765, a class M-62-6-0.

    98-SC-1. With this class we get into a group of tenders that are closely associated with the earlier Espee cab-forward locos, the 2-8-8-2's and the 4-6-6-2's, although certain otber types of power were equipped with them and their derivitives as well. The 98-SC- 1's were built with separate tanks for oil and water, the four-and-one-half inch space between them being covered by a heavy frame or "bridge" which is very noticeable in photos. The oil tanks on these tenders were 91" long inside and held 3120 gallons, the front bulkhead being 19 1/2" back of the front beam, and all that were to be found coupled to cab-forwards had pressurized oil tanks. All of the 98-SC-1 tenders were eventually rebuilt to classes 120-SC-1 and 120-SC-2, probably during the late 1920's and early in the 1930's, as the above locomotives were simpled and otherwise modernized in that period. Incidentally, there were thirty-one units in this class.

    98-SC-2. This class numbered only six tenders, all of which were later converted to class 120-SC-3. They are virtually identical in appearance to the 98-SC-1's and carry the same amount of fuel and water. Most likely they were assigned to the same types of power and were also built with pressurized oil tanks for that reason.

    This view of #3616's tender reveals some very interesting details, notably the full pilot for extended reverse operation, but also worth nothing are the weld seams left over from 98-SC days. Try them on your models sometime! Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 10

    98-SC-3. This group of tenders were apparently built as extras and were assigned as needed. The oil tank on this class held 3610 gallons and measured 105" inside, a feature which placed the front wall a mere 5 1/2" back of the front beam. Of the eleven that were built, ten were converted to class 120-SC-4. As with the two previous classes, any 98-SC-3 coupled to a cab-forward would have been equipped with a pressurized oil tank.

    98-SC-4. This class was small in number, with a total of four tenders having been built. The oil tanks once again were a 3610 gallon affair, and the tenders no doubt looked the same as class 98-SC-3. While the exact locos to which these tenders were first assigned is not known, it is felt that the 4-6-6-2's were a possibility. All four were rebuilt to class 120-SC-5 in the 1920's.

    98-SC-5. Another group of whaleback tenders, these were ten in number, and were assigned to various locomotives as deemed necessary, having been built as extra units. The oil tank capacity was 3120 gallons, and six of this class were converted to 120-SC-6's at a later date. TW-8 #2922 was seen with a 98-SC-5 in 1948.

    98-SC-6. There was only one tender in this class, and it is thought that it may have been built for cab-forward 2-6-6-2 #4211 (later 4-6-6-2 #3911) but the records are not clear on this point. This tender had an oil tank capacity of 3835 gallons which was obtained by rivetting additional steel to the tank bottom to raise it. It is not known whether this modification was made by the builder or by the Espee, however this capacity was reported as early as 1917.

       Class C-9 2-8-0 #2534 was photographed with this tender in 1948, but most assuredly it saw service with at least one other engine in its long career.   No one has imported a brass model with this tender, and because it was a "one only" it's unlikely that anyone will do so. I would hope to eventually see some model brought out with a class 98-SC-3 or 98-SC-5 some day, though, since a few of these were not changed.

       Before I go on to other classes of whaleback tenders, I should mention the period in which the 98-SC's were constructed. Those units that were ordered with locomotives came from Baldwin between 1911 and 1913, while the 98-SC-3 class came from Alco in 1914. The 98-SC-Ys were built in 1916 and 1917, apparently by Lima, although the records are not sure.

       For those of you who are attempting to identify tenders from photographs, when you reach the 98-SC group, you may have some difficulty, because all units with the small oil tank (except for the lone 98-SC-6) look alike,and likewise all tenders with the long tank are ditto. If you have access to Espee tender assignment cards, you are very lucky indeed, but if you are not that fortunate the following suggestion may help: The tenders with the 91" long oil tanks are found to have five double vertical rows of rivets on their sides, while those with the larger 105" tanks will have six double vertical rows. Also as mentioned previously, the longer tanks will come nearly to the front beam. This will put you in the correct basic group, but beyond that this writer can offer nothing else in the way of aid as even he does not possess the assignment cards! Several reasons can be given for the use of different classes on what may appear to be identical equipment. Occasionally the use of different builders would be enough to change classes, as would the year of construction itself.

    S.P. #2630, a 1902 Baldwin built loco in class C-5 as it appeared in Jan. 1949 at Oakland, Cal. The tender seen in this photo is one of the un-modified units in class 98-SC-5. #2630 was one of several C-5 1ocos that were not equipped with piston valves or a superheater, hence it was confined primarily to switching service. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 11

       However, a more logical reason in some cases had to do with the application in early days of a vestibule and a passenger buffer to tenders used with varnish. When these appliances were removed, the established class was retained. A final possibility here to consider is that the 98-SC's in each oil capacity group carried weight variations, both in unladen and ready to roll form. The internal bracing, frame design and the thickness of steel used may have had an influence on this instance, but as before I do not have the information at hand. Just be sure that your model looks right and it's not likely that even a nit picker will have much to say!

    120-SC-1. These tenders were rebuilt by SP in 1928-30 for use with the old 2-8-8-2's and 4-6-6-2's which were being simpled and otherwise upgraded at that time. When these locos were scrapped in the late 1940's the tenders were applied to various members of classes C-8, C-9 and C-10, all 2-8-0's, F-12-10-2's, and Mikados in classes MK-2, MK-4, MK-5, MK-6, MK-7, MK-8 and MK-9. When used on some of these locos the oil tanks were raised six inches, probably to more closely match deck heights, but the tank capacity remained at the new figure which was 3817 gallons. The tanks from some of these were later on used to make 120-SC-Ts.

    120-SC-2. There were only two of these, and like the previous class they were converted from 98-SC-1's. It would appear that the "2" designation as used here stems from the application of Bethlehem booster trucks to both, and while these trucks were removed in 1932, the pair were not re-classified. As rebuilt in 1928 one of these big SC's was placed behind AC-1 #4010, while the other took its place in line with loco #4028, and AC-2. When the 2-8-8-2's were scrapped in the late 1940 period, the two tenders took up residence with MK8 #3312 and F-1 #3611 respectively. At this time the oil tanks, which held 3817 gallons, were raised six inches.

    120-SC-3. This class was converted from 98-SC-2 in 1930 and 1931, at which time they were coupled to AC-1, AC-2, AC-3 and AM-2 1ocos which were undergoing removal of their low pressure cylinders along with other modifications. When these engines were done away with the tenders spent a few more years behind MK-4, MK-7 and MK-9 locos, thus giving them an extended operating range because of the fuel and water capacity increase, not possible with their old tenders. These tenders also carried 3817 gallons of oil, and some of them for use with the Mikados had the tank raised six inches. Worthy of a word or two at this time is the fact that the 120-SC's that have been accounted for were all equipped with pressure oil tanks, which were a must when coupled to a cab-forward.

       Some of the 120-SC-3's later gave up their tanks for a new class, 120-SC-7, which we will cover shortly.

    S.P. #2534, C-9, Baldwin 1907 as she looked at Watsonville, Cal. in Oct. 1946. Trailing the loco is the one-of-a-kindclass 98-SC-6 tender. Note the additional steel rivetted to the bottom of the oil tank to increase its capacity. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 12
    Top: S.P. #3616 is a class F-1 loco built by Baldwin in 1919. Seen here at Colton, Cal. in 1947, the engine has been assigned a 120-SC of the 1, 2, or 3 sub-class, which has had the oil tank raised six inches. The uneven positioning of the trucks is quite obvious in this view as is the former bottom edge of the tank (from 98-SC configuration) as can be seen by the weld line under the lettering. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.

    Bottom:S.P. #2552, a Baldwin 1907 of class C-9 shown at Bakersfield, Cal. in Mar. 1950 after receiving a 120-SC tender with the smaller oil tank, sub-class 1, 2, or 3. For an added bit of interest check the feedwater heater and the never blanked cab window above the numbers "25", reminders of past days on the S.P.de M. where things were sometimes done differently! Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 13

    120-SC-4. Among the largest of the whalebacks was this class, having been rebuilt from the 98-SC-3 group which was equipped with the 105" long oil tank. Fuel capacity was now up to 4415 gallons, and pressure was employed to force it to the locomotive firebox. The 120-SC-4's were rebuilt in 1930 and 1931 as well as from 1935 through 1937, and they were used with AC-1, AC-3 and AM-2 locos at that time. When these old work horses were scrapped, the tenders saw additional service in the company of C-8's and C-9's, F-1's, MK-4, MK-5, MK-6, MK-7, JK-9 2-8-2's and an SE-4 0-8-0. The tanks from some of these were used to construct another new class, that being 120-SC-8, and by the way some of the oil tanks once again had to be raised that magical six inches when used with the above locos.

    120-SC-5. This class had an identical appearance to the previous group, but was converted from 98-SC-4's between 1930 and 1931 and 1936, once more for use with AC-1, AC-3 and AM-2 articulated. The oil tank held 4415 gallons, was pressurized and was raised six inches for use with the MK-4's, MK -5's and MK-9's that received them just before 1950.

    120-SC-6. Here was what became the final class of whaleback tenders on the Espee ...for awhile, that is. These were rebuilt in 1936 and 1937 and were assigned to classes AC-1, AC-2, AC-3 and AM-2. When these old hogs were gone, the tenders wound up behind C-5's, C-9's and C-1O's, all Consolidations, plus MK-2, MK-4 and MK-7 2-8-2's, and sure enough when coupled to some of their new found friends, certain of them had the oil tank raised six inches. One of these tenders contributed its tanks to the building of a 120-SC-8. Curiously enough, these 120-SC-6 tenders had the 105" oil tank, yet the 98-SC-5's from which they were derived only had a 91" long tank, and the writer has found no evidence any tanks having been lengthened, either by welding or rivetting. This may always remain a mystery unless one of our readers can bring out the story.

    120-SC-7. This came as a total surprise to the writer: a whole new class of tenders built in 1949 and 1950! Actually these were some more rebuilds, having been constructed by applying tanks from 120-SC-1 and 120-SC-3 tenders to 120-R-2 frames. These 120-R-2's were the coal tenders that came with the B-1 Berkshires that the Espee bought about 1945 from the Boston & Maine for use on the Rio Grande Division. Around 1949 it was decided to bring the 2-8-4's west and convert them to oil burners, but why the B&M frames were used one can only guess. They were much newer of course, and probably had far less mileage piled up, but also it could have been another case of trying to match loco and tender deck height.

       For those of you who model the early '50's, here are the locos to which the 120-SC-7 tenders were assigned: 3500, 3501, 3503, 3504, 3505, 3508 and 3509. The tender from #3508 was later on applied to SD&AE 2-8-0 #101, class C-31.

    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 14
    Top: S.P. #3205, an MK-2 that came from Baldwin in 1911 on the Oakland deadline in Apr. 1953 when equipped with a 120-SC tender of 4, 5, or 6 sub-class as indicated by the larger oil tank which has six double vertical rows of rivets. A number of other MK-2's also were rebuilt with the large sand dome, sport cab and turret as seen here. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.

    Bottom: S.P. #3240 was the second loco to bear that number. She was orginally built as Arizona Eastern #905 in 1913 by Baldwin, a class MK-4 loco. As seen on the Oakland deadline in Apr. 1953, the 120-SC of 4, 5, or 6 sub-class very clearly shows the raised oil tank. Also in evidence are the never removed full length ladders to the running boards, a holdover from A.E. days. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 15

    120-SC-8. Here we have the final class of standard gauge whaleback tenders to be found on the Southern Pacific. By combining the tanks taken from 120-SC-4 and 120-SC-6 tenders with the frames from 120-R-2 rectangular coal units, the railroad was able to outfit the remaining ex. B&M 2-8-4's and operate them in Southern California a bit longer. These tenders were rebuilt in 1949 and 1950 and were used with locomotives 3502, 3506 and 3507. When #3507 was scrapped its tender was used with SD&AE 2-8-0 #102, another class C31 engine, and then it was transferred to SP C-9 #2799.

       For you modelers who may be interested in picking up some 120-SC type tenders for your HO layout, I can recall one having been imported a long time back by Balboa in conjunction with an AM-2. At a later date, the same company brought out a B-1 Berkshire, but I believe that the latter may have been incorrect for either 120-SC-7 or 120-SC-8 due to the truck spacing from the ends of the frame. The front truck on the original Espee 120-SC's was set back quite aways from the end sill, but of course the two classes that were built using B&M frames had even spacing of the trucks. If you can latch on to one of the latest Westside B-1 imports, I think you will end up with the proper tender for one of the final classes. One other feature of those late rebuilds seemed to be a much wider "bridge" between the tanks than was to be remembered on the original tenders, and this has been carried over to the model.

       Before moving on to the narrow gauge whaleback tenders that were used in the Owens Valley, I will stick my neck way out with the statement that the Espee's Coast Lines divisions were, with three exceptions, the only areas in which these unique and different tenders were ever operated. Two of these exceptions were the previously mentioned late use of a pair of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern, while the remaining one was on the Pacific Electric which has a 70-SC-1 coupled to 0-6-0 #1506, class S-8, a loco acquired from the parent system where it had been originally #1123. If any of our readers have photos of SC type tenders operating on the T&NO, the NWP, or on the SPdeM, we would be most happy to see them in the pages of PM.

    Narrow Gauge Semi-Cylindrical Tenders29-SC.

        Of all the narrow gauge whaleback tenders that were recorded, this one appears to have had the smallest water capacity. It was first found coupled to NCO #3 which was a 4-4-0 built in 1887, but since this loco was originally a wood burner, and no doubt had a rectangular tender, it would seem possible that the whale back tanks were built on the old frame early in this century, or that the complete tender was built as a replacement. It may have been taken from a scrapped NCO loco whose existence has escaped the records. Whatever the case may be, the 29-SC (serial number 29-1) was applied to 4-6-0 #14 at Mina, Nevada in February of 1932, and stayed with this loco until it was taken from revenue service in late 1945. At that time the loco and tender were taken to Colfax, Calif., for stationary boiler service, where they were used until cut up for scrap in 1951.

       I have noticed that all of the NCO tenders were apparently built as single tank units, much like the standard gauge 73-SC-1's, but before the line was made a part of the big SP in the late 1920's they seem to have been rebuilt into tenders with separate tanks for oil and water, all that is except for the lone 29-SC, a fact that is borne out by examination of pictures in the various books that have been written about this fascinating road.

    34-SC.  A bit larger in capacity is this tender which was numbered 34-3 by the Espee. It was built for 4-6-0 #18 in 1911 and an NCO tender, coming to the Owens Valley in 1928. 34-3 has stood the test of time as it still exists in the company of #18 in a park in Independence, Calif., one of only three narrow gauge whalebacks saved from the torch. When built for the NCO this engine was given the number 12; it had a sister #11 which was sold to the Pacific Coast Ry., becoming their #111. It is likely that an identical tender was used with the latter loco.

    35-SC. Going up approximately another 100 gallons we now come to the class of narrow gauge SC's that were most numerous, it being thought that the Espee may have had as many as six members, although the records are not entirely clear. It is felt that these tenders were numbered 35-44, 35-45, 35-46, 35-47, 35-48 and 35-49. 35-44 was assigned to engine #22, a 4-6-0, until 1935 when it was supposedly done away with, the loco receiving a larger tender, as we shall soon see. The original loco for this tender is unknown, however I will venture a guess that it was one of NCO's earlier Ten-Wheelers, scrapped by Espee before turning a wheel in revenue service. That would have given this tender around five or six additional years of life.

       Tender #35-45 seems to have been built for NCO #8a 1907 built 4-6-0 which later on became SP #8. Both the locomotive and tender were donated to the state of Nevada in 1955, where they were displayed for some time in Carson City. If you visit that area today you will find #8 long gone, but do not despair for she is safe and sound up in Sparks, another thirty three miles north and slightly east.

       If any of our readers get as far as Laws, Calif., they will no doubt discover Espee #9 on display. This was the last operating steam loco on the narrow gauge, having been vacated in 1960, then sent to the city of Bishop before reaching her final resting place. This loco was built in 1909 and was equipped with the SC tender later given the number 35-46 by the Espee. This was the last example of a narrow gauge whaleback tender to literally earn a place in the sun!

    S.P. #3505 is a class B-1 loco originally built for the Boston & Maine by Lima in 1928. Here she is at Los Angeles in Mar. 1950 with a 120-SC-7 tender. Notice the even spacing of the trucks from each end, and the extra wide "bridge" between tanks. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 16

       Tender 35-47 is somewhat of a mystery, that is as far as its date of application, when vacated, and when finally scrapped. This 3500 gallon SC was used with another of the former South Pacific Coast 4-6-0's such as #14, in this case loco #15, and since the engine itself is thought to have been cut up in December, 1935, it is felt that the tender joined it in the iron pile at that time.

       The number 35-48 is based upon an assumption only, as no records indicate it's existence at all. It is felt that loco #16 may have been coupled to this one when scrapped in December, 1935, simply because an SC had been photographed with this ex. SPC 4-6-0 in the early 1930's.

       Tender 35-49 was built for NCO 4-6-0 #7 which was built in 1903. This loco was probably not used by the Espee as it was cut up in 1935. The tender was applied to former SPC Ten-Wheeler that was given the number #17, this being accomplished in February, 1930. The loco and tender were in use until late 1945 at which time they were taken to Salem, Oregon for stationary boiler service. The pair were scrapped in April of 1952.   When the Pacific Coast purchased NCO #10 in 1928, one more tender of 3500 gallon capacity may have had a new lease on life, as this loco was sister to Espee's #8 and #9. NCO #10 became PC# 110; it was scrapped in 1948.

    39-SC. Finally we come to the largest narrow gauge whaleback that was thought to have existed, a one-of-a-kind which was given the number 39-4 by the Southern Pacific. This tender was built in 1914 for NCO 2-8-0 #14. At a later date the loco was numbered SP #1, but by 1933 both loco and tender were the property of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad. About a year later, the NCNG decided that the combined length of loco and tender were too much for their turntable, so they returned the big SC and received rectangular tender number 22-3. The 39-4 was stored by the Espee until February, 1935, at which time it was applied to 4-6-0 #22, the former Florence & Cripple Creek "Vindicator". This loco and tender was used on the narrow gauge until sometime in 1942, but they fell victim to the need of another stationary boiler, so they were shipped to Bayshore where they were used for that purpose until scrapping in March, 1949.

       There was presumably one more very small whale back narrow gauge tender that the Espee used until 1929, but the records are so incomplete that more than a mere mention of it is impossible. It was coupled to 4-4-0 #4, and was sent to the NCNG where it ended its days behind a former Rio Grande 2-8-0, #8 on the western road.

       That's it Espee fans and modelers. I hope that you have been helped in your efforts to identify these interesting tenders. I realize that there are many variables and many details which make any further attempt at documentation all but impractical. Total confusion would be the likely result, and of course, the space required to do much more would be difficult to come by. I can certainly suggest that if you are seriously modeling the Southern Pacific a selection of photos be obtained and thoroughly studied, and if you can find a collection of small equipment diagrams of tenders, so much the better. Between the two aids all but the most difficult-to-answer questions should be resolved before long, and your modeling pleasure will be increased many times over.

       As a last word on the narrow gauge, I recall the importation of models of #8, #9 and #1, plus the NCNG version of the latter with the little rectangular tender. I can only say that they are probably correct since the first two can be measured easily, while the latter were drawn up many years ago for publication. Whether these will be re-issued, or whether new models come out remains a big question that only time will tell. Let's hope that the importers listen when we talk!

    Top: On Display at Spark, NV. July, 1979. Photograph by Peter Arnold.

    Bottom: S.P. #3506 came from the Boston & Maine in 1945 to help form class B-1. Also a Lima 1928 graduate, this 2-8-4 has been equipped with a 120-SC-8 tender as shown in Los Angeles in Mar. 1950. This was one of four B-1's that retained the Baker valve gear. Photo from Mills-Leetzow collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Page 17

          Further information concerning semi-cylindrical tenders and related subjects may be obtained from the following publications, although some of them may be difficult to come by due to limited printing, or the fact that they were produced a number of years back:


      Ships and Narrow Gauge Rails; the story of the Pacific Coast Company. Gerald M. Best, 1964.

      A Century of Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives. Guy L. Dunscomb, 1963.

      Southern Pacific Erecting Tracings. Evergreen Hill Designs, 1977.

      El Paso & Southwestern Loco and Tender Diagram Book. Theodore L. Howes, 1965

      Hawaiian Railroad. John B. Hungerford, 1962.

      Railroading. Article entitled, "Cornelius Vanderbilt, M.E. ",issue #24, August 1968.

      Slim Rails Through the Sand; the story of Espee's narrow gauge Owens Valley line. George Turner, 1963.

      Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California. David F. Myrick, 1962.


       As a finale to this article I must mention several individuals who provided certain vital ingredients that helped bring it all together. First of all there was Arnold Menke who just happens to be a Southern Pacific tender historian. His work has made it possible to give builders dates and tender assignments, something that would otherwise have been impossible to do, as well as to be able to relate the story of two classifications systems that were used.

       When it came to the question of what became of the Midland Valley and its associated lines that had SC tenders, I called upon a friend of mine by the name of De Alexander who is in fact modeling the MV, and has amassed a fair amount of information on that road. Without his help I would have been without the answer that was needed.

       Lastly, but not necessarily in order of importance, I once again must give a great deal of credit to Duane Leetzow for his excellent-as-always photographic work that has illustrated this article. Without these pictures I most likely would have needed the often spoken of 1000 words, and they would have turned enjoyment into a great big space taking chore ...

    COVER PHOTO Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge #9, 4-6-0, with the Whaleback tender and train on May 30, 1957. Three of the narrow gauge locomotives had these unique tenders. Transparency courtesy Peter Arnold Collection.
    Protype Modeler October 1981 Back Cover Protype Modeler October 1981 Front Cover

    Article Details

    • Original Author Gordon Y. Mills
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date Octoner 1981

    Article Album (14 photos)

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