Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No. 1278
Builder: Canadian Locomotive Company, Ltd. - Kingston, ON
Built: 1948                      
Serial No: #2435
Wheel Arrangement: 4-6-2 Pacific
Driver Diameter: 70"
Cylinder Bore x Stroke: 20" x 28"
Boiler Pressure: 250 psi
Pulling Power: 34,000 lbs. tractive effort
Engine Weight: 117 tons
Length: 76' 4"
Fuel: Coal
Capacity: Coal - 14 tons; Water - 8,000 gallons
Class: G-5-d
Status: Non-operational
Jerry Jacobson’s ex-Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No.1278 was one of thirty, G-5-d class engines built during 1948 at Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston, Ontario. Its light weight construction was perfect for light-rail, branch line duty on CP’s passenger and freight trains. No.1278 (serial #2435) was equipped with all of the modern devices of the day, including an Elesco feedwater heater and mechanical stoker.
Inside the firebox a new style of button-head staybolt was employed to assemble the side sheets to the crown sheet. Like stablemate No.1293, No.1278 has no steam dome.
The specifications for No.1278 are the same as for Jerry’s ex-CP No.1293, except that the former uses a bundle-type of Elesco feedwater heater in a horizontal “tube” mounted transversely across the front of the smokebox. No.1293 uses a vertical, coil-type of Elesco FWH resembling a lady’s hatbox that projects upward out of the top of the smokebox in front of the stack.
Both of Jerry’s G-5-d Pacifics have all-weather cabs, but climb into the engineer’s seat on a hot July day and you will soon learn that the poorly ventilated, enclosed space is better suited for Canada’s cold weather.
As with CP 4-6-2 sisters Nos.1246 and 1293, No.1278 was purchased (in 1965) by F. Nelson Blount for use at his expanding Steamtown USA museum and tourist train operation in Bellows Falls, Vermont. It operated there as No.127, and was leased to the Cadillac & Lake City during 1970-71 when the loco was returned to Vermont for continued Steamtown tourist train operations. After Steamtown moved to its new home in Scranton, Pa, the lighter No.1278 was traded to the Gettysburg RR for ex-Canadian National 2-8-2 No.3254, a more powerful steamer for use on Steamtown’s steeper grades with longer trains.
On the evening of June 16, 1995, a series of lax maintenance and operational errors combined to cause No.1278’s crown sheet to fail, and the blast of escaping steam burned three crewmen (fortunately, all survived). The National Transportation Safety Board investigated, determining that the modern, Canadian design of the firebox with button-head staybolts may have prevented additional injuries (and perhaps deaths) from this incident. Since then the Federal Railroad Administration has developed an all-new set of rules for the maintenance and operation of steam locomotives, and all of us are safer today because of No.1278’s bad experience.
The former Gettysburg RR equipment was sold at auction during 1998, and Jerry Jacobson purchased both No.1278 and a small, ex-Frisco 2-8-0 which since has been sold to a museum in Michigan.
Today No.1278 sits in the Age of Steam Roundhouse, waiting for a major rebuild.