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Baldwin Locomotive Works Pennsylvania Railroad S-2 Steam Turbine Locomotive
In the waning years of steam, the Baldwin Locomotive Works undertook several attempts at alternative
technologies to diesel power. In 1944, Baldwin built the sole example of the S2 class, c/n 70900, for the
Pennsylvania Railroad, delivering it in September 1944. It was the largest direct-drive steam turbine
locomotive in the world and had a 6-8-6 wheel arrangement. It was originally designed as a 4-8-4, but due to
shortages of lightweight materials during World War II, the S2 required additional leading and trailing
wheels. Numbered 6200 on the PRR roster, the S2 had a maximum power output of 6,900 HP and was capable of
speeds over 100 mph . With the tender, the unit was approximately 123 feet long. The steam turbine was a
modified marine unit. While the gearing system was simpler than a generator, it had a fatal flaw: the turbine
was inefficient at slow speeds. Below about 40 mph the turbine used enormous amounts of steam and fuel. At
high speeds, however, the S2 could propel heavy trains almost effortlessly and efficiently. The smooth
turbine drive put far less stress on the track than a normal piston-driven locomotive. However, poor
efficiency at slow speeds doomed this turbine, and with diesel-electrics being introduced, no more S2s were
built. The locomotive was retired in 1949 and scrapped in May, 1952.
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