# Whyte notation

A selection of early 20th century locomotive types according to their Whyte notation and their comparative size
Whyte notation as of 1906. From a handbook for railroad industry workers published in 1906.[1]

The Whyte notation for classifying steam locomotives by wheel arrangement was devised by Frederick Methvan Whyte[2] and came into use in the early twentieth century, encouraged by an editorial in American Engineer and Railroad Journal (December 1900). The notation counts the number of leading wheels, then the number of driving wheels, and finally the number of trailing wheels, groups of numbers being separated by dashes.[3] Other classification schemes, like UIC classification and the French, Turkish and Swiss systems for steam locomotives, count axles rather than wheels.

In the notation a locomotive with two leading axles (four wheels) in front, then three driving axles (six wheels) and then one trailing axle (two wheels) is classified as 4-6-2.

## Method

### Articulated locomotives

Articulated locomotives such as Garratts, which are effectively two locomotives joined by a common boiler, have a + between the arrangements of each engine. Thus a "double Pacific" type Garratt is a 4-6-2+2-6-4.

Simpler articulated types such as Mallets, where there are no unpowered wheels between powered wheels, have extra groups of numbers in the middle. Thus a Union Pacific Big Boy is a 4-8-8-4; four leading wheels, one group of eight driving wheels, another group of eight driving wheels, and then four trailing wheels.

For Garratt locomotives the + sign is used even when there are no intermediate unpowered wheels, e.g. the LMS Garratt 2-6-0+0-6-2. This is because the two engine units are more than just power bogies. They are complete engines, carrying fuel and water tanks. The + sign represents the bridge (carrying the boiler) that links the two engines.

### Suffixes

No suffix means a tender locomotive.

T indicates a tank locomotive: in European practice, this is sometimes extended to indicate the type of tank locomotive: T means side tank, PT pannier tank, ST saddle tank, WT well tank. T+T means a tank locomotive that also has a tender.

In Europe, the suffix R can signify rack (0-6-0RT) or reversible (0-6-0TR), the latter being Bi-cabine locomotives used in France.

The suffix F indicates a fireless locomotive (0-4-0F). This locomotive has no tender.

Other suffixes have been used, including ng for narrow-gauge (less than 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) ) and CA or ca for compressed air (running on compressed air from a tank instead of steam from a boiler).

### Internal combustion locomotives

In Britain, small diesel and petrol locomotives are usually classified in the same way as steam locomotives, e.g. 0-4-0, 0-6-0, 0-8-0. This may be followed by D for diesel or P for petrol, and another letter describing the transmission: E for electric, H hydraulic, M mechanical. Thus 0-6-0DE denotes a six-wheel diesel locomotive with electric transmission. Where the axles are coupled by chains or shafts (rather than side-rods) or are individually driven, the terms 4w, 6w or 8w are generally used. Thus 4wPE indicates a four-wheel petrol locomotive with electric transmission. For large diesel locomotives the UIC classification is used.

## Limitations

The main limitation of Whyte Notation is that it does not cover non-standard types such as Shay locomotives, which use geared trucks rather than driving wheels. The most commonly used system in Europe outside the United Kingdom is UIC classification, based on German practice, which can define the exact layout of a locomotive.

## Naming

In American (and to a lesser extent British) practice, most wheel arrangements in common use were given names, sometimes from the name of the first such locomotive built. For example the 2-2-0 type arrangement is named Planet, after the 1830 locomotive on which it was first used. (This naming convention is similar to the naming of warship classes.)

### Common wheel arrangements

The most common wheel arrangements: the front of the locomotive is to the left.

Arrangement
(locomotive front is to the left)
Whyte classification Name
Non-articulated locomotives
0-2-2 Northumbrian
2-2-0 Planet
2-2-2 Single,[2] Jenny Lind
2-2-4
4-2-0 Jervis[4]
4-2-2 Bicycle
4-2-4
6-2-0 Crampton[5]
0-4-0 Four-Coupled
0-4-2
0-4-4 Forney[1]
2-4-0 Porter, 'Old English'[6]
2-4-2 Columbia[1]
2-4-4
4-4-0 American,[1][7] Eight-wheeler
4-4-2 Atlantic[1][8]
0-3-0 (one driving wheel per axle; used on Patiala State Monorail Trainways and also on the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway)
0-6-0 Six-Coupled,[1] Bourbonnais (France), USRA 0-6-0 (United States)
0-6-2
0-6-4 Forney six-coupled[1]
2-6-0 Mogul[1][10]
2-6-2 Prairie[1][2]
2-6-6
4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler[1][11] (not Britain)[12]
4-6-2 Pacific[1][2][13][14]
4-6-4 Hudson,[15] Baltic[2]
0-8-0 Eight-Coupled,[1] USRA 0-8-0 (United States)
0-8-2  [16]
0-8-4
2-8-0 Consolidation[1][2][17]
2-8-4 Berkshire, Kanawha[20][21]
2-8-6 Used only on four Mason Bogie locomotives
4-8-0 Twelve-Wheeler[1]
4-8-2 Mountain,[2][22] Mohawk[23]
4-8-4 Northern, Niagara, Confederation, Dixie, Greenbrier, Pocono, Potomac, Golden State (Southern Pacific),[24] Western, Laurentian (Delaware & Hudson Railroad), General, Wyoming (Lehigh Valley[25]), Governor, Big Apple, GS Series "Daylight" (Southern Pacific)[24]
4-8-6 Proposed by Lima, never built
6-8-6 (PRR S2 steam turbine locomotive)[26]
8-8-8 (Breitspurbahn)
0-10-0 Ten-Coupled,[1][27] (rarely) Decapod
0-10-2 Union[27]
2-10-0 Decapod,[1][28] Russian Decapod
2-10-2 Santa Fe,[1] Central, Decapod (only on the Southern Pacific)
4-10-2 Reid Tenwheeler,[30][31] Southern Pacific, Overland[32]
0-12-0 Twelve-Coupled
2-12-0 Centipede[1]
2-12-2 Javanic
2-12-4
4-12-2 Union Pacific[33]
4-14-4 AA20[34]
Duplex locomotives
4-4-4-4 (PRR T1)[35]
6-4-4-6 (PRR S1)[36]
4-4-6-4 (PRR Q2)[37]
4-6-4-4 (PRR Q1)
Mallet[18] (simple and compound) articulated locomotives
0-4-4-0 Bavarian BB II [38]
2-4-4-0
0-4-4-2
2-4-4-2
0-6-6-0 Erie
2-6-6-0 Denver & Salt Lake
2-6-6-2 C&O/N&W. C&O Class H-2 thru H-5. Alco 1912.
2-6-6-4 Norfolk & Western
2-6-6-6 Allegheny,[39] Blue Ridge
4-6-6-2 (Southern Pacific class AM-2)[40]
4-6-6-4 Challenger[41]
2-6-8-0 (Southern Railway, Great Northern Railway)[42]
0-8-8-0 Angus
2-8-8-0 Bull Moose
2-8-8-2 Chesapeake, Norfolk & Western
2-8-8-4 Yellowstone[43]
4-8-8-2 Southern Pacific cab forward classes AC-4 through AC-12 (except AC-9)[40]
4-8-8-4 Big Boy[44]
2-10-10-2 (Santa Fe and Virginian railroads)[42]
2-8-8-8-2 Triplex (Erie RR)
2-8-8-8-4 Triplex (Virginian RR)[45]
Garratt articulated locomotives
0-4-0+0-4-0
0-6-0+0-6-0
2-4-0+0-4-2
2-4-2+2-4-2 Double Columbia
2-6-0+0-6-2 Double Mogul
2-6-2+2-6-2 Double Prairie
2-8-0+0-8-2 Double Consolidation
4-4-2+2-4-4 Double Atlantic
4-6-0+0-6-4
4-6-2+2-6-4 Double Pacific
4-6-4+4-6-4 Double Baltic, Double Hudson
4-8-0+0-8-4 Double Mastodon
4-8-2+2-8-4 Double Mountain
4-8-4+4-8-4 Double Northern

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