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Reading T-1 4-8-4 2102 steam locomotive profile

By Steve Sweeney, Trains.com Digital Editor | April 6, 2022

Northern-type steam locomotive was built to haul heavy trains

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Large, black steam locomotive under power and steaming.

Reading T-1 4-8-4 2102 is a steam locomotive of the Reading Company T-1 class locomotives built by the Reading in the 1940s. No. 2102 is expected to return to service in 2022 on passenger excursion runs in eastern Pennsylvania on lines operated by its owner, and his railroad, the Reading & Northern. Periodic updates are available from the railroad.

Large, black steam locomotive under power and steaming.
Reading Co. 4-8-4 No. 2102 on a test run in a Reading & Northern yard, April 6, 2022. Kevin Gilliam via Facebook video

Reading T-1 4-8-4 introduction

Bert Pennypacker wrote about Reading’s T-1 locomotives in the December 1960 issue of Trains and described their history. No. 2102 began life as Reading 2-8-0 No. 2044, a heavy consolidation-type locomotive. The locomotives were originally built by Philadelphia’s Baldwin Locomotive Works from 1923 to 1925. They formed the I-10sa class of steam locomotives and were noted for their large size — much larger than comparable engines on other contemporary railroads.

Toward the end of World War II, the locomotives were chosen to supply boilers and parts for the planned 4-8-4 T-1 locomotives in part because of their already large size. Reading rebuilt the locomotives in their own shops in Reading, Pennsylvania, from 1945 to 1947 — among the last new mainline steam locomotives built in the United States.

Reading rebuilt No. 2102 and sister locomotives with 27-by-32-inch cylinders, 70-inch diameter driving wheels, 240-psi operating boiler pressure, and a tractive effort of 68,000-pounds. This was boosted by a trailing truck booster which originally produced 11,100-pounds of tractive effort. The renewed locomotives weighed 441,300-pounds, much more than the original Consolidations’ 314,950-pounds of total weight.

Reading 2102 in service

Locomotive 2102 and its sister engines served in passenger service as well as dirty coal-hauling up to fast-freight service for the Reading. Pennypacker wrote in 1960 of Reading train crews using T-1 locomotives to keep up with passenger train operations and even eliminate helper service in certain locations.

“This was the first (and only) completely modern, high-horsepower, high-speed freight engine Reading ever had,” Pennypacker wrote.

T-1 locomotives had varied service until Reading stored them 1954. The Pennsylvania Railroad used several in 1956 to ease it through a motive power shortage. But it was unglamorous service. No. 2012 was even pictured in Trains as a stationary steam boiler in June 1960 (Trains, December 1960, Page 23).

Iron Horse Rambles and the present

As an experiment, Reading put T-1 No. 2124 back into service for a limited time as a passenger excursion engine in the “Reading Rambles” of the early 1960s. No. 2102 participated in those popular excursions before being retired a second time and changing ownership multiple times until purchase by Reading & Northern owner Andrew M. Muller Jr. in the mid-1980s. Muller operated the locomotive in eastern Pennsylvania and even on Conrail trackage before long-term storage in 1991.

Today, Reading No. 2102 is going through a restoration and break-in period. The first new “Iron Horse Ramble” planned for May 28, 2022.

2 thoughts on “Reading T-1 4-8-4 2102 steam locomotive profile

  1. Not all T-1’s were passenger equipped; only the last group, 2120 to 2129, had steam and signal lines for passenger. T-1’s were not permitted in Reading Terminal or the platform tracks at Reading Outer Station, which ruled out every schedulled R.Co. passenger train.

    As far as I know, only 2126 pulled a passenger train before the Iron Horse Rambles, the middle leg from Reading to Catasauqua of a Philadelphia to Catty fantrip, going via Reading with return via Bethlehem. LV power presided over that road between Catty and Bethlehem.

    2100, 2101 and 2102 have had steam and signal lines added for 1960-present fantrip service.

  2. On a few occasions, T-1’s handled military “mains,” particularly from Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania to Camp Kilmer, NJ, during the Korean War. I know someone who was aboard one of those trains.

    Also, while regular steam operations on the Reading ended in 1954, a few T-1’s were returned to service at Gordon and Rutherford in 1955, 1956 and 1957 for a few months each winter of those years. The last T-1’s were parked in early April, 1957.

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