RFD 2, Granville, Ohio
The above engraving represents one style of Shay’s Patent
Locomotives, which will do more work than any other style of
locomotive of the same weight. On steep grades and short curves
they are especially serviceable. We build four sizes of this style,
to wit : 18 tons, 15 tons, 12 tons and 10 tons weight.
The 18 ton locomotives have 10×10 cylinders. The drivers (8) are
2G to 30 inches high. The tenders hold 700 gallons of water. One of
these locomotives has drawn 100 tons up a grade of 98 feet in 3,800
feet, and part of the grade was 6 feet in 100 feet. They will run
from 12 to 15 miles per hour.
The 15 ton locomotives have 8×8 cylinders. The drivers are from
24 to 20 inches high. The tenders hold 600 gallons of water. Will
run from 12 to 15 miles per hour, and will draw 300 tons on a good
The above two sizes are too heavy for wood track, consequently
are made for iron track only.
The 12 ton locomotives have 8×8 cylinders. Boilers are
horizontal, boot shape and of ample capacity : they are more
drivers are from 21 to 2G inches high, and suitable for wood or
iron track ; for wood track the drivers are 5f inches on the face.
The tenders will hold 600 gallons of water. Have open cabs. They
will draw 50 tons on a wood track, and will run from 8 to 15 miles
The 10 ton locomotives have 7×7 cylinders. The boilers are
horizontal, boot shape and of ample capacity. This size is
especially suitable for wood track. The drivers are 21 inches high,
and for wood track are 5f inches on the face. The tenders hold 500
gallons of water. Have open cabs. They will run from 6 to 12 miles
per hour, and will draw a heavy load, according to size.
The estimated weight of all of the above locomotives is in
The trucks are so constructed as to make them flexible and
strong. The pinions are cast steel and not liable to break.
Steam jet and hose to raise water into the tank is
Construction Equipment Division
At first glance the geared locomotive is a subject somewhat
removed from the bill-of-fare originally intended for the Album.
Consider however, that the original Shay locomotive was built from
a threshing engine and boiler and kinship is established.
Like so many men, who start up a new industry, Ephraim Shay
didn’t intend to invent anything he simply worked out a
solution to a mighty pressing problem. Mr. Shay was lumberman at
Haring, Michigan whose primary problems were to buy standing timer,
cut it, and haul it to a sawmill. The hauling was done by horse and
ox teams using ten foot high log wheels for favorable sites in the
summer and sleighs on frozen trails in winter and on stands
otherwise inaccessible. The winter hauling trails were often
sprinkled on cold nights to help the going a little.
Such was the system until one winter in the early 1870’s
when the snow and freeze-up didn’t come. Mr. Shay, like many
another lumberman, having laid out considerable money for buying
and cutting fine white pine logs faced bankruptcy unless the logs
could be hauled to a saw-mill.
A railroad into the woods would do the trick, of course, and
locomotives were in common use on fairly well graded and ballasted
iron rails. Mr. Shay couldn’t afford such an engine, much less
the graded iron track it required, so he set about building a
locomotive suited to his needs.
He started with an ordinary flat car, mounting thereon a
vertical boiler from a threshing engine and hung along the right
side a two-cylinder engine. He extended squared shafts fore and aft
from the engine to drive pinions which in turn drove gears attached
to the outside faces of the truck wheels, converting them to
drivers. At one end of the flat car he mounted a water tank on the
other end a wood box and his locomotive was complete.
Now here was an engine where every wheel on the track and every
pound of weight was used for pulling. Further it would bend in the
middle to negotiate sharp curves and pull as well on a curve as on
straight track. Still further the engineer could adjust or repair
any moving part, anywhere without the need for hoists, pits or any
For six winters during the 1870’s Mr. Shay worked out the
weak parts of his engine and prospered by the steady delivery of
logs to the sawmill regardless of weather. By 1881 other loggers
realizing Mr. Shay’s advantage wanted him to build engines for
them. Having only a blacksmith’s drill press and a lathe to
work with, Mr. Shay declined to start another engine and referred
his customers to the Lima Machine Works who ‘put more brains
into their work than any other firm he was acquainted
Accordingly a telegram to Lima, Ohio brought Mr. George Disman
to Haring where he made drawings of Mr. Shay’s locomotive. Mr.
M. J. Bond a saw-milling neighbor of Mr. Shay ordered the Lima
built Shay Locomotive.
On June 14, 1881 Mr. Shay received a patent on his invention,
which patent and sole right to manufacture were assigned to the
Lima Machine Works for $10,000.00. During the next 65 years a total
of 3354 Lima built Shays went into service all over the world.
Of course, changes and improvements were made through the years
Locomotive type boilers replaced the orginal upright, 3 cylinders
were used in place of two to give better starting torque on grades
and some Shays for main line use were massive. In all cases,
however, the right hand wheel was geared to the extended engine
shaft giving a positive drive to all 8, 12, or 16 wheels, exactly
as Ephraim Shay built from the beginning.
The Shay was never a thing of beauty, running more to muscle
than style like the lumbermen who used them. The appearance of
these engines wasn’t helped as replacement stacks were made
diamond, balloon or sunflower shaped as fancy dictated. Older
photographs show Shays sporting a set of antlers or evergreen trees
in season marks perhaps of appreciative engineers.
A man who heard a Shay before he saw it had visions of an
express train at full speed. Actually, 16 exhaust bursts to each
turn of its small drivers resulted in a lot of commotion for its
leisurely 10 to 15 miles per hour. To the men around a log-train
the ability to start and control logs on steep grades
without brakes meant a lot more than speed.
The last Lima Shay was built in April 1945. This engine is
in the B & 0 Museum of Transportation and a similar engine may
be seen in its own display building at Lima, Ohio. Would that all
builders took pains to perpetuate the engines which helped build
What makes a man Great? Obed Hussey, inventor of the Reaper and
Ephraim Shay, inventor of the geared locomotive are surely
candidates. Moreover both men, in my book, rank with the truly
great in that they also loved children. Mr. Hussey lost his life
accidentally while bringing a glass of water to a little sick girl
on a train. Mr. Shay, during his lifetime, built and gave to
children over 500 miniature log bobsleighs complete even to the
little metal chains and runners.