Heisler Geared Steam Locomotives

Geared Steam Locomotive Works

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"Geared Locomotives For Log Roads"
The Lumber Trade Journal - May 1, 1918


Logging railroads are never precise until after they cease to be logging roads and become public carriers. On such roads steep grades, sharp curves, uneven track, light rails and bridges are not exceptions, but the rule, justified by economy and experience. For the usefulness of logging roads decreases with time in proportion to the efficiency of the locomotives used upon them. As soon as the timber in a district tapped by a logging road is cut, the value of that road as a logging road is gone, and it must be either abandoned, or, if conditions warrant, converted into a standard, public carrier.  ***** DO NOT COPY ****  Violators will be prosecuted!  gearedsteam.com

It is for just such logging roads that the Heisler Locomotive Works, Erie, Pa., builds its "Geared Steam Locomotives." On logging roads the geared locomotive is the right engine in the right place. ***** DO NOT COPY ****  Violators will be prosecuted!  gearedsteam.com



In order to obtain the greatest traction, it is essential that all of the weight be upon the driving wheels, but on sharp curves and uneven track a long, rigid wheel base is impracticable. The Heisler geared locomotives carry all the weight upon the drive wheels, but instead of a long, rigid wheel base, have two or more swiveling trucks. This arrangement not only enables the engine to maintain a fair speed over sharp curves and uneven track, but by distributing the weight over a greater length of track, eliminates the necessity for numerous ties, heavy rails and bridges, and this in turn, means a large reduction in the investment necessary to construct each mile of track. This saving is effected in several ways. The cost of rails is often reduced one-half; the number of ties required is much smaller; the roadbed can be graded and ballasted for much less; and the building of bridges is cheaper. Moreover, when compared to a direct-connected locomotive, the first cost of a geared engine is less for a given amount of tractive power.  ***** DO NOT COPY ****  Violators will be prosecuted!  gearedsteam.com

Upon closer inspection another important advantage of the geared over the direct-connected engine for service on private lines becomes apparent. The safe speed of any type of locomotive for such service is from six to 12 miles and hour, and at these speeds a direct-connected locomotive has a very slow piston speed and therefore a defective draft. This difficulty the geared locomotive remedies by means of its gear ratios which give a higher rotative speed to the engines, resulting in higher piston speed. In addition, more frequent exhausts give a better draft in the fire box, resulting in better steaming, while reduced cylinder condensation means still more economy under the conditions obtaining upon timber roads. ***** DO NOT COPY ****  Violators will be prosecuted!  gearedsteam.com

The company points to its 22 years of practical experience in this specialized field, to its corps of technically trained engineers and practical operators, and its careful testing and adaption (sic) of all improvements. But the company also takes pride in showing the actual work of the engine itself, and the detailed mechanical features which it claims are largely responsible for the success of the Heisler geared locomotive in its chosen field of work. Among the most important of these features are the following: ***** DO NOT COPY ****  Violators will be prosecuted!  gearedsteam.com

Simplicity, the best materials, thorough workmanship, especially in careful machining and fitting, obtaining efficiency and durability. Great flexibility avoids a tendency to leave the rails on sharp curves and also reduces the loss of power due to flange resistance and internal friction, thus preventing abnormal wear of tire flanges and driving mechanism. The apt design of the heavily proportioned truck constructed entirely of iron, steel and bronze, prevents the truck from getting out of square when running on curves or even over obstructions and leaves it independent of the gear frame, eliminating abnormal strains. The independent steel gear frame, carefully planed and bored, is fitted with long, machined phosphor-bronze axle and shaft bearings that can be quickly taken up for wear or replaced without affecting the exact alignment of the gears, also rigidly maintains in accurate alignment the enclosed oil-submerged and noiseless steel bevel gears. The very heavy gears have extra large wearing surface, and even when much worn, withstand severe shocks without breaking. The axle gears are easily removed being clamped so they can be readily replaced on the road by any intelligent engineer without the use of special appliances. Large boiler capacity and liberal cylinder volume in proportion to weight of the locomotive enable it to start heavy loads, and when started, maintain good speed, while using steam expansively and economically without causing unnecessary drain upon the boiler even when hauling maximum loads. Parts subjected to most wear are so arranged that they may be replaced by inexpensive duplicates, which are so carefully machined they may be replaced on the road by the engineer without special tools or appliances. All bearings are of phosphor-bronze, adjustable for wear, and are provided with efficient oiling devices. The universal couplings are self oiling, and fitted with removable bronze bushings, easily replaced on the road. The motor engines have balanced slide valves of the simplest possible construction located so as to be easily inspected and repaired. All bolts and nuts carry self locking devices, and the weight on all drivers is as nearly equal as possible.   ***** DO NOT COPY ****  Violators will be prosecuted!  gearedsteam.com

The drive shaft of the Heisler locomotive is placed centrally and this location permits a proper protection from snow, grit and sand carried over by the drivers. The engine is symmetrically constructed and can be changed from wide to narrow gauge, or vice versa, by merely shortening the driving axles, swivel bars and spring bolsters as all other parts are interchangeable.

Realizing the frequent absence of roundhouse and machine shop facilities on many logging railways, the company has planned its engines and its service so as to eliminate the necessity for such facilities. All parts are standardized and carried in stock.


This information was transcribed in its entirety from the article entitled "Geared Locomotives For Log Roads" that appeared on page 43 of the May 1, 1918 issue of The Timber Trade Journal.

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