PRR B6

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Pennsylvania Railroad B6
Specifications
Power type Steam
Builder Altoona Works
Build date 1902–1912 (B6)
1912–1913 (B6sa)
1916–1920 (B6sb)
Total produced B6: 79;
B6sa: 55;
B6sb: 238
Configuration 0-6-0
UIC classification C (B6) Ch (B6s/B6sa/B6sb)
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver diameter 56 in (1.422 m)
Wheelbase locomotive: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
Fuel type Coal
Boiler pressure 205 psi (1.41 MPa)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 22 in × 24 in (559 mm × 610 mm)
Valve gear B6: Stephenson;
B6sa/B6sb: Walschaerts
Valve type Piston valves
Tractive effort 36,144 lbf (160.8 kN)
Career
Preserved
  1. 60 (B6sa), #1670 (B6sb)
Disposition Two preserved, remainder scrapped

The Pennsylvania Railroad's class B6 was its most successful class of switcher, or as the PRR termed them, "shifter". The PRR preferred the 0-6-0 wheel arrangement for larger switchers, whereas on other roads the 0-8-0 gained preference. The PRR used road locomotives, generally 2-8-0s, when larger power was required.

The original class B6 was built at the Altoona Works during 1902–1913; 79 were constructed. These had the PRR's trademark square-shouldered Belpaire firebox and 56-inch (1.422 m) drivers. They were constructed as saturated steam engines, rebuilt with superheaters later as class B6s, and had piston valves and Stephenson valve gear.

The next version built was the B6sa, 55 of which were built at Altoona during 1913–1914. These had radial-stay fireboxes, common elsewhere but rare on the Pennsylvania, and they replaced the Stephenson gear with the more modern Walschaerts valve gear. Steam delivery pipes were outside, like all other PRR modern power. All were built superheated.

Finally, during 1916–1920, 238 of class B6sb were built. These were the final, definitive type, and had a Belpaire firebox, but were otherwise little changed from the B6sa. The final 97 locomotives had piston valves mounted outboard of the cylinders, instead of inbound as previously built, giving the cylinder assemblies an outward cant at the top, rather than inward.

All B6sa and B6sb locomotives were retrofitted with power reverse to make the frequent back-and-forth of switching quicker and easier.

The last PRR locomotive in active service was #5244, leased to Union Transportation of New Egypt, New Jersey until July 1959.

Two B6 survive, B6sb #1670 was saved in the PRR's historic collection at Northumberland, Pennsylvania and was donated to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania along with the majority of that collection.

B6sa #60 is on a siding in Hockessin, Delaware, along the Wilmington and Western Railroad. It has a larger tender, from a 2-8-0 Consolidation, but it is intact, albeit in poor condition.