Santa Fe 3463

How to Operate a Steam Locomotive, with Santa Fe 3464!

Ever wonder how the Santa Fe trained its crews to operate steam locomotives? CSR worked with the Kansas Historical Society to have this Santa Fe Railway training video re-scanned at 1080p resolution from the original 16MM film. We then edited the piece together, complete with narration and some "period" music. It also provides some video evidence of the high speed running these locomotives provided - 90+ MPH!

More information to the "sister" locomotive to that which "starred" in this video can be found on the CSR webpage dedicated to 3463

Lawsuit Regarding Santa Fe Steam Locomotive Settled, CSR Rightful Owner of ATSF 3463

On July 6, 1948, Santa Fe steam locomotive No. 3463 rests between runs at Dearborn Station. Photographer unknown, from the collection of Warren Scholl, colorized by Jared Enos in 2015.

T O P E K A, K A N S A S | January 23, 2018 –  The ownership dispute over former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive number 3463 (ATSF 3463) has been settled by an agreement of four parties, with ownership finally vested in favor of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR). An agreement between CSR, the City of Topeka, the Attorney General of Kansas, and the Great Overland Station ratified last week clarifies that the 1937-built steam engine is the property of CSR. The Minnesota-based not-for-profit also announced this week that it will be shifting its goals with the locomotive from research to preservation.

“We are thankful to the hard work and dedication of the City of Topeka, the Kansas Attorney General, the Great Overland Station and, certainly, the outstanding team at Frieden, Unrein, and Forbes, LLP, that handled this unique and challenging case,” said CSR President Davidson Ward. “We look forward to continuing our work in Topeka, especially as we announced today our shift in plans for the one-of-a-kind locomotive from solid biofuel testbed to preserved artifact.”

When CSR initially announced its biofuel and steam technology project in mid-2012, it had sought to use ATSF 3463 as a centerpiece of the research and as a showpiece of the technology. This plan was put abruptly on hold in 2013 due to an ownership dispute over the steam engine, and CSR leadership pursued other avenues to keep the research progressing despite the delay.

“Instead of hoping and waiting for the lawsuit to be resolved in our favor, we decided to continue our pursuit of solid biofuel, steam locomotive, and advanced steam technologies,” said CSR Senior Mechanical Engineer Wolf Fengler. “Now that those initiatives are well underway, vetting the theories we had hoped to prove with the Santa Fe locomotive, we have opted to table our plans to modify the engine as a testbed. Instead, CSR will work with collaborators in Topeka to ensure the locomotive is moved, preserved, and, if practical, restored to operation.”

CSR will work with collaborators in Topeka to ensure the locomotive is moved, preserved, and, if practical, restored to operation.

CSR is launching a program today to ensure that ATSF 3463 is properly preserved. The goal is to raise funding to move the locomotive from the Kansas Expocentre grounds to a location in Topeka where it can be preserved, develop a covered home base for the locomotive in Topeka, and determine whether there is a viable case for returning the locomotive to steam as a preserved artifact. Depending on the outcome of the "go / no go" decision regarding operational restoration, CSR will either pursue overhauling the locomotive to operation, or perform a cosmetic restoration to return it to its appearance when donated to the City in 1956.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure the locomotive has a future where it is properly preserved, be that as an operational locomotive or as a static display,” explained CSR Board Member and Santa Fe Railway Historian Warren Scholl. “Now that the ownership of the artifact has been clarified, we look forward to working with all partners, local and national, to ensure the safe future of ATSF 3463.”

Steam Train Lawsuit Receives Clarity, CSR Position Regarding ATSF 3463 Validated

T O P E K A,  K A N S A S | April 11, 2017 –  Shawnee County District Court has ruled in favor of Sustainable Rail International d/b/a Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) in its case concerning quiet title of the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) steam locomotive No. 3463. District Court Judge, the Honorable Larry D. Hendricks, released a detailed decision concerning the case Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in which he finds that defendant Topeka Children and Santa Fe Railroad, Inc. (TCSFR) has no standing to remain in the lawsuit.  This decision paves the way for CSR to enter negotiations with the City of Topeka concerning the locomotive.

“Now that the court has determined that TCSFR does not have sufficient standing to remain in the lawsuit, we look forward to working with the City of Topeka to resolve the matter,” said CSR President Davidson Ward. “Of specific importance to CSR is outlining a realistic path forward that provides for the preservation of No. 3463 and a secure facility in Topeka for it to call home.”

CSR’s ownership of No. 3463 was first challenged by the TCSFR in April 2013 who, at that time, claimed absolute ownership of the locomotive. Following months of unsuccessful attempts to meet with TCSFR about its claims, CSR filed suit in May 2014 requesting a legal determination as to ownership of No. 3463. Shortly after filing suit, TCSFR reversed its position of outright ownership, claiming instead that they were trustees of a trust to protect the locomotive, and that the City of Topeka was the rightful owner, thus drawing the City into the suit as a Party Defendant.

“Through his decision, Judge Hendricks plainly sets forth why each of TCSFR’s arguments fails as a matter of law. While we were confident in our position, the decision clearly supports CSR and the filing of this litigation,” said outside counsel to CSR Matthew Bergmann, of Topeka-based Frieden, Unrein and Forbes, LLP.  “We are extremely pleased with Judge Hendricks ruling.”

Of specific importance to CSR is outlining a realistic path forward that provides for the preservation of No. 3463 and a secure facility in Topeka for it to call home.
— Davidson Ward | CSR

Though the project with No. 3463 has been on hold since 2013, CSR has worked diligently to refine its focus in both the preservation field and the steam and biofuel arenas in response to changing market conditions. Not only has the organization been retained to assist railroads in Germany and the U.S. with matters concerning steam locomotive preservation, but it has also been working with research collaborators at the University of Minnesota to further advance fuel and boiler technologies. 

Remembering the Distance Record of Santa Fe 3461

ATSF Train 19, No. 19, the Chief, with engine 3461, rounds the curve at Clark Street on the way out of Chicago. Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey and courtesy of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art,

ATSF Train 19, No. 19, the Chief, with engine 3461, rounds the curve at Clark Street on the way out of Chicago. Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey and courtesy of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art,

When designed, the ATSF 3460-class of steam locomotives, of which locomotive 3463 is a member, were among the most modern locomotives in operation. With high pressure boilers, all roller bearing axles, large capacity tenders and significant pulling power, the class of locomotives set the stage for the last developments in traditional steam in the U.S. In fact, the locomotives were designed to operate over a 992 mile Chicago – La Junta passenger rail service, one of if not the longest steam locomotive runs to that time.

The locomotives were delivered to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) by road number throughout October, November and December of 1937 in consecutive order (except 3460 which, due to its streamlining, was delivered to the railroad last). Since 3461 was delivered to the ATSF first (October 15, 1937), it was the locomotive on which the railroad performed its detailed tests. A series of commissioning, clearance (note how close the locomotive comes to the "tell tales" in the picture above), performance and track stress tests were conducted on the 3461 from October through December of that year, and the culmination was a highly publicized, continuous run of the locomotive from Los Angeles to Chicago beginning December 9, 1937, some 77 years ago today.

Prior to beginning this historic run, locomotive 3461 made its way from Chicago to Los Angeles, leaving Dearborn Station on December 5 with train 7 – the Fast Mail Express. The engine ran from Chicago to Kansas City without issue, but it soon began experiencing loose fire bricks (used on an oil burning engine to maintain thermal mass and protect certain steel surfaces of the firebox). When the train got to La Junta, it was held for almost a day while crews repaired the firebrick issues. As a new locomotive to the railroad, and one of revolutionary design, 3461 experiencing "teething" issues at that time was not unexpected – in fact the ATSF had placed extra firebrick at La Junta prior to this run anticipating such an issue.

EMD E1s photographed by Jack Delano

EMD E1s photographed by Jack Delano

Once repaired, 3461 continued West, using pushers where required to make grades, and arrived in Los Angeles on time. Again, loosening fire brick was addressed in Los Angeles following the run, but this both marked the successful first major trip of advanced steam on the ATSF and proved that advanced steam could perform favorably in running time with the diesel-locomotives of the era (the EMC E-1s that had also been delivered to ATSF in 1937 - shown at RIGHT).

On December 9, 1937, locomotive 3461 took ATSF Train 8, the Fast Mail Express, out of La Grande Station in Los Angeles and headed east. The train consisted of 11 cars with a trailing weight of 757 tons. Assisted by various pusher engines through the mountainous West, the train made good time upgrade despite being involved in a grade crossing collision that delayed it by 57 minutes.

When the train reached Albuquerque, two additional cars were added, bringing the train to 13 cars and 917 tons. Again, a series of helper and pusher engines were added to the train to help it over the toughest grades on the railroad, including the 3.5% grade over Raton Pass. The helper and pusher locomotives that had aided Train 8 over Raton Pass were cut off at Wootton, and once the train reached La Junta, Colorado, one car was dropped, lowering the train to 12 cars and 830 tons.

Prior to La Junta, average speeds varied between 42.2 mph and 66.2 mph (67.9 kmh and 106.5 kmh), dependent upon ruling grade. From La Junta to Dodge City, Kansas, 3461 hauled its train at an average speed of 60.8 mph (97.8 kmh) over the 202 mi (325 km) run. At Newton, Kansas an additional car was added, bringing the train back to 13 cars and increasing its weight to 899 tons. Between Newton and Emporia, Kansas 3461 averaged 63.6 mph (102.4 kmh). From Emporia, through Topeka, and on to Kansas City, the train averaged 58.0 mph.

At Kansas City, a car was swapped off the train for another, increasing its weight to 939 tons. From Kansas City, Missouri to Shopton, Iowa, the train began to lose significant time, eventually departing Shopton some 69 minutes behind schedule. The last dash from Shopton to Chicago, however, had the train making up 47 minutes, arriving at Dearborn Station on December 12, 1937 53 hours and 40 minutes after departing Los Angeles.

The numbers of the run are quite impressive. Locomotive 3461 attained top speeds of 92 mph (148 kmh) on the Albuquerque Division and 90 mph (145 kmh) on the Colorado and Western Divisions. Total actual running time of the train was 43 hours, 17 minutes and 15 seconds, while the trip took 53 hours and 40 minutes (allowing adding / subtracting of cars, servicing of the train, stops at stations, and fueling / watering the locomotive).

Conclusively, this record breaking run was important in that it proved modern steam power on the ATSF could maintain similar performance as the diesel-electric power. Even with a heavier consist, 3461 was able to handle its train with comparable time to diesels on the lighter, streamlined Super Chief.

Following this historic run, no other steam-hauled trains have made such a distance without stopping for layover. The 3461 went on to be a "guinea pig" of sorts for the class of locomotives at the Santa Fe. In 1945, it was rebuilt at Topeka to include the addition of a 25" long combustion chamber that included the addition of one safety circulator and two duplex siphons, increasing the direct heating surface in the firebox from 280 to 325 ft2 (26.0 to 30.2 m2). Because of the location of the steam dome in the boiler, however, this addition had the unwanted consequence of lifting water into the dry pipe and down into the superheaters, causing issues with steaming and corrosion.

Details of the 3461's modifications, and the historic 3460 class as a whole, will be included in an upcoming CSR White Paper on the locomotives.

The 3460 class of locomotives served the Santa Fe for nearly two decades, eventually being retired between 1954 and 1956. The engines reliably hauled passenger trains at speeds of between 90 and 100 mph over the ATSF, handling trains in excess of 2,000 tons without issue.

Stay tuned to CSR for more information on the class. As always, if you enjoy what you read, consider making a tax deductible donation to our organization to support our research, preservation and innovation.


Thanks is due to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art who has graciously provided CSR with rare images of the 3460 Class of locomotives taken by Wallace W. Abbey, including the cover photograph.

Sources for this article include:

  • Brasher, Larry E. Santa Fe Locomotive Development. Wilton, CA: Signature Press, 2006.
  • Farrington, Jr., S. Kip. The Santa Fe's Big Three. New York: David McKay Co., Inc., 1972.
  • Smith, Vernon L. One Man's Locomotives. Glendale, CA: Trans-Anglo Books, 1987.

A 1938 Perspective on the 3460 Class

On this "throwback Thursday," enjoy a detailed article from the March 12, 1938 pages of Railway Age.  From the archives of a CSR Board Member comes this detailed look at the 3460-class of locomotives, of which 3463 is a member.  At the time, railroads tended to work with locomotive manufacturers to design locomotives to suit their needs, a uniqueness that was both beneficial in providing route-specific designs but detrimental in that it lead to a lack of standardization across companies and parts manufacuturers.

It is interesting to note the level of detail provided by the article, from detailing the camber of the driving axle springs to the specific type of staybolts employed.  It is worth highlighting that the designers were conscious of the potential need to change fuel types:

"The oil tank is integral with the water-tank structure. Conversion for coal can be made by removing the top of the oil tank over the coal space and substituting coal gates for the front oil-tank closure."

Read the entire article here or by clicking on the image above.

Locomotive 3463 Prepped to Roll

Towards the end of June, CSR completed a successful trip to Topeka to prepare locomotive 3463 for its first big trip in 57 years.   In just a few day's time, the crew drained and inspected all of the locomotive's roller bearing axles and refilled the boxes with new oil.  Following that work, the crew removed key side rods, inspected all of the running gear and cleaned / re-lubricated all necessary parts.

A detailed description of that work performed can be found at this link or by clicking the image at right.  

CSR is in discussions with appropriate parties concerning the move of 3463 out of the Kansas Expocentre Grounds.

For more information, feel free to sign up for the CSR email list. Also keep in mind that, if you donate to CSR and become a Supporter, you will receive updates in advance of the general public as well as knowing you are promoting the mission of CSR.