The Shay consisted of 2 or 3 vertical steam cylinders
positioned on the right
side of the engine just forward of the crew cab. The piston
rods were attached to a "crank shaft" similar to that used in today's
automobile engines. Attached to either end of the "crank shaft"
were drive shafts that extended to a gear box on the outside of each wheel.
The left side had no gearing or cylinders. The boiler is
located off center and to the left of center of the entire frame. This was
necessary for the location of the cylinders.
The side of the Shay where the cylinders are located is
the right side. The side opposite the cylinders is the
"wrong" side.... or at least that is what the inner circle of Shay
enthusiasts term it. The left side or the"wrong" side has also been
the least photographed side of Shay locomotives. Folks want to take
pictures of the "business" side and typically the ignore the docile left side.
The engines were manufactured with either two or three
cylinders. The two cylinder engines were manufactured early on in the life
span of these locomotives and were usually smaller and less powerful than
the three cylinder units. The three cylinder models were used on the larger
and more powerful engines.
Models with two, three, or four truck sets
were manufactured. Generally speaking as you added more more working
weight, trucks \ drivers, and cylinders the more pulling capacity the
locomotive would produce. With the third cylinder being the limit
quantity wise, the cylinders and their stroke size increased to produce the
power needed as one progressed up the list of available models. The
two truck models carried their fuel and water bunker at the back of a single
frame for the entire locomotive. On the three truck models, an
additional tender with its own single driving truck was added to the basic
two truck locomotive frame. With the four truck model, the tender was
longer and was supported by two driving trucks.
The text in the previous two paragraphs is a basic
summarization of a more formal grouping or classification system that
existed for the Shays. The following table summarizes the models
available in the company's 1919 marketing catalog, The Shay Locomotive.
Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio. This
particular company also manufactured conventional "rod" type steam
Although some engines were exported, the vast majority
were used from coast to coast in the United States.
Approximately 2,761 were manufactured.
1880 - 1945. - The first Lima factory built
Shay was a two truck Class "A" sold to J. Alley Co. for $1,700 in 1880,
with two others being sold that year. The last Shay built was the
three truck Class "C" locomotive (sn - 3354) sold to the Western Maryland
Railroad in 1945. This locomotive is still in operation on the
Railroad State Park, in Cass, WV.
Wood, coal, and oil.
Ephraim Shay of Harbor Springs, Michigan patented
(#242,992) the Shay on June 14, 1881. His work on a prototype began as
early as the winter of 1872.
Being a timber man who was frustrated by the
performance of "rod" locomotives of the day, he created and operated a
single cylinder unit to assist with the harvesting of his timber for
transport to his lumber mill. He sold the manufacturing rights to Lima
sometime in 1879 or 1880.