The Shay Geared Locomotives.

Updated: 2 Mar 2003
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These locomotives had perfectly good reasons for their apparently eccentric design. They were often used in logging camps and other remote locations where the track was roughly laid and subject to tight curves and steep inclines.

Some were designed to run on logs rather than rails. Steel rails cost money, but in lumber camps there is one thing you have plenty of- trees. The practice was therefore to lay down treetrunks as "rails". Obviously conventional railway wheels would just fall off the treetrunks, so big concave wheels were used, rather like car wheels with no tyres on. These gave very little grip, so the only way to get some tractive effort was to make sure that all the wheels were driven. The Shay design was well-suited to this.

A Shay geared locomotive, with vertical engine. Built by the Lima Company. Note the drive shafts to each bogie, fitted with sliding splines and universal joints to allow movement.

Above: A Shay at work. This version seems to have a double-bogie tender.

Above: Side elevation of a 3-bogie Shay

Left: The front of the Shay, showing the offset boiler.

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