Shay Development Time Line

Geared Steam Locomotive Works ©

Home| Baldwin| Bell| Byers| Climax| Davenport| Dewey| Dunkirk| Heisler| Other| Rod| Shay| Willamette|
Books| Search| Videos|

< Shay Main

Some of the notable developments in the line of Shay locomotives is detailed in the table below.  These are listed in ascending chronological order.  In many cases, only the year of the development is known.  Other notable developments are not listed only because an approximate date of occurrence is not known.    See Note.  


Class  Development  /  Change / Event



First  straight boiler Shay built - s/n 50



First 3-truck "Tender" type Shay built - s/n 117 - This was the first Class "C" design.  The engine, boiler and cab were part of one unit.   A separate "tender" unit similar to that used on contemporary "rod" locomotives  housed the water and fuel.   The middle or 2nd truck was located under where the cab and tender were joined.  The rear truck was located  toward the rear of the tender.



"I" beam steel frames begin replacing wood frames



3rd steam cylinder introduced with s/n 126 900d - Two cylinder models continued to be built.



Wagon Top Boiler introduced with  s/n 130



First 3-truck "Extended" frame type Shay built.  This 2nd design of the Class "C" model replaced the water and fuel "tender" design of 1884.  The common engine and boiler frame was extended to the rear of the crew cab to allow the mounting of a fuel bunker.  A separate "tender" unit for water (only) was joined behind the new extended engine frame.   The middle truck was moved forward from its former "joint" location to a position under the rear of the extended engine frame below the cab.  The rear truck was moved forward to the middle of the tender frame from its former extreme rear mounting under the tender.

late 1880's


Last vertical boiler Shay  built.
Single pipe cylinder exhaust replaced the three pipe exhaust system.
Smooth side steam and sand dome design replaced the "fluted" versions. 

1888 -1894


Full sheet metal truck covers applied over the right truck sides was available beginning in 1888 and discontinued in 1894.  The earliest "noted" on existing photographs was s/n 209 built on 06-09-1888.  The the latest "noted" on existing photographs as s/n 474 built on 10-27-1894. *(b)



All steel cab introduced  with - Freeo Valley Railway #3 - s/n 555



First oil fired Shay built - Sierra Rwy #10 - s/n 718



First 4 truck, 3 cylinder Shay built - El Paso & Northwestern Rwy #105 - s/n 673



First "left handed" Shay built. - Sr. Octaviano B. Cabrerra #1 - s/n 757



Last "boot" or "T" boiler Shay built - Kelly Island Lime and Transport #27 - s/n 1516



Main crankshaft bearing bracket - The E. Dillon's & Son #1 - s/n 1553 is earliest locomotive appearing in "existing" photographs with this bracket. *(a)    



Steel plate truck frames debuted on D.H. McEwen Lbr Co.'s #1 - s/n 1823.  The archbar frame design would still available after this date.



Steel "girder" frame introduced with Eastman-Gardiner & Co.'s s/n 2307



Super heater debuted with s/n 2845  900d



Open steel "girder" frame design conceived.   Date of first production unit unknown.

1927   Piston Valve Cylinder system introduced.



Pacific Coast Shay model debuted with s/n 3312  900d

05-14-1945   Last Shay built - Western Maryland Rwy #6 s/n 3354


Note: Some dates are "cut off" dates and others are "available" dates. 

^ top of page

Reference: Unless otherwise noted, the information on this page is "based" on developments and dates noted in:
"A Chronology of the Shay Locomotive"  by Dan Ranger <> November-December 1986 issue of "Locomotive & Railway Preservation".  

 *(a)  -   This 9/16/1905 inception date of the "main crankshaft bearing bracket" differs from the 4/1906 for El Dorado Lbr Co's s/n 1628 noted in the main source above.   It is possible a "slightly" earlier built locomotive debuted the bracket since photographic evidence disproved the main reference source and  photographs for all earlier locomotives are not in existence.   

Photographic evidence shows the bracket was optional but increasingly popular until as late as 6/30/1910 where it appears s/n 2307 "may" have been the last (or very near) built without the bracket.

 *(b)  -   The 1888 -1894 date range noted differs from the 1890 -1893 date range noted in the main reference source above.   I arrived at this broader date range by studying existing photographs only.   My date range also assumes  the covers in the photos of the two locomotives were applied at the time they were built rather than as a retrofit.    Since photographs don't exist for all locomotives in this era, it is possible that locomotives built "slightly" earlier or later than the two noted may have had factory installed covers as well.

^ top of page

We  thank:

Dan Rowe of the Dripping Springs Locomotive Works for: 

^ top of page

< Shay Main

Home| Baldwin| Bell| Byers| Climax| Davenport| Dewey| Dunkirk| Heisler| Other| Rod| Shay| Willamette|
Books| Search| Videos|


   We  Need  Your  Help!