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
Lima Locomotive Works in Lima,
Ohio. This particular company also manufactured conventional "rod"
type steam locomotives.
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
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, in
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.