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  • Western Maryland's Class 11 Russian Decapod 2-10-0 "Jew Engine"

    E. Roy Carpenter, Jr.

    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 38 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 39

    The term "Jew Engine" came up several times during the search for information on these engines; it is a term that was commonly used in relation to the WM's Decapods. Popular theory has it that these engines were ordered in 1914, people of the Jewish faith controlled the economy of Czarist Russia, hence, the nickname.

    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 40 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 41

    A total of 1,230 of these engines were ordered from Baldwin and Alco. The Decapod was popular in Europe because of its light axle loading.

    At the time of the Russian revolution in 1918, there were about 200 of these engines still undelivered. All of them ended up on various American roads. All of the Western Maryland Decapods were built by Baldwin; engine Nos. 1103-1109 around February, 1918, and, because of gaps in their builders numbers, it is believed that 1101 and 1102 were built shortly before and 1110 somewhat later (see Table I for builder number information). It follows that the Western Mary land engines would be Baldwins because about three quarters of all Western Mary land steamers were built by them. Most sources put WM acquisition in 1920. Superheaters were installed by the road sometime after their purchase. Baldwin built some similar Decapods in 1924, Strasburg's No. 90 is one of these. None of the WM engines are left. There are, however, a few of the originals left, Baldwin's 48522 at Ottawa, Kansas, 48420 at Kirkwood, Missouri, UNK No. at Atlanta, Georgia, and 47953 at the Illinois Railway Museum, last run by Eagle-Pitcher in 1958, test fired by the Museum on October 30, 1972, and currently being re stored to full operating condition by the Museum at Union, Illinois, about 50 miles west of Chicago.

    Mr. Earl F. Selby, a Western Maryland engineer, who lives in Hagerstown, Mary land, and who fired and ran these engines remembers them double-heading sand and ballast to Edgmont to build the Army's Letterkenny Depot in 1942. They were also used on the Cumberland and Baltimore locals. The Cumberland local would leave Ridgeley with 33 to 35 hoppers, would water at Old Town, Town Creek (later) Keifers and Hancock. On occasion it would pick up a car of apples at Spring Gap, lumber at Hancock, and more coal at Cherry Run (Big Pool). On to Williams port, then a 900 2-8-8-2, Road Classes L-l and L-2, would push it up Williams port hill to Hagerstown. Before they were scrapped in 1950, they used to pull 33 loads of coal a day to the Patomac Edison power plant in Williamsport on the Old Patomac Valley Railroad.

    The winged emblem was applied to the Decapods in 1941 after the 1200 4-6-6-4's, Road Class M-2, came from Baldwin with them.

    In 1936 and 1937 there were heavy coal trains to Port Covington for shipment to Europe. A historical footnote is that Port Covington is the site of Fort Covington, one of the forts that kept the British out of Baltimore during the War of 1812. The Battle is commemorated by a state holiday, "Defenders' Day," September 12th.

    Mr. Selby recalls that the Decapods were "good steamers, good riders, easy to fire with big fire boxes." They had wide tires, no flange on the main drivers, and would sometimes "walk off the track." A boilermaker he knew remembered that he liked to work on these engines.


    The starting point is a Pacific Fast Mail, United, Frisco (SL-SF) 2-10-0 Russian. This is a model of an Alco, not a Baldwin, however, they are very much alike. The only thing hard to change would be the Builders Plate (as seen through a magnifying glass). They are not cheap. This is a quality brass Japanese import and it's price history is typical of brass. They started in '65 at $49.50, '67 to $54.95, early '70 to $74.50 and $84.95. The Fall of '73 saw the price increase to $99.00, winter '73, '74 to $145. I don't know if Baldwin made a profit on one to one scale in '18 but the Japanese sure must be on their one to eighty seven scale in the '70's. To modify the above to look like the Western Maryland's Us, several things can be done. They include:

    1. Remove the head end brakeman 's doghouse on the tender deck.
    2. Move the bell from the smoke box front to the top of the boiler just in front of the steam generator.
    3. Remove the smoke light mounted in front of the stack.
    4. Replace the headlight with a Kemtron Pyle National type, remove the visor.
    5. Move the whistle from the steam dome to the turret.
    6. Mount the boiler check valves horizontally instead of vertically.
    7. Add another sand pipe going to the rear.
    8. Build tender coal space side up almost even with the top of the vertical side of the cab.
    9. Add piping on top of the drifting valves.

    This listing is about as detailed as it can be and is reasonably complete. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 make the big difference. Champion Decal set No. EH-29 "Western Maryland Steam Locomotive" has the winged emblem and looks great.

    If a Pacific Fast Mail sound system is to be installed, it should be installed prior to painting. Also, the speaker supplied is too large to fit properly. Lafayette has one for about $1.75. A one wire hook-up is better than the two wire hook-up shown in the instructions. This allows you to run the engine (for maintenance and wheel cleaning without the tender being attached.

    Tommy Gilbert in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, does some of the above mentioned modifications as well as nice paint jobs for a reasonable price. I personally have done none of this to my power but others have and it works well.


    My thanks to Mr. J. David Conrad, Superintendent of Motive Power, at the Illinois Railway Museum for the information regarding existing and operating Russian Decapods in this country.

    One can look at pictures and read volumes, but even then something is missing. I am deeply grateful to Mr. Earl F. Selby for supplying the missing part: first hand experience running and firing the Western Maryland's Decapods. Mr. Selby is an engineer on the Western Maryland and has worked for the Road since 1934. Several pleasant hours were spent in Mr. and Mrs. Selby's home in Hagerstown, Maryland, last year just listening and ask ing questions. It is my hope that some of this is reflected in this article. ERC, Jr.

    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 42 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 43

    Article Details

    • Original Author E. Roy Carpenter, Jr.
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date December 1978

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