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Canadian National Railways U-4a class 4-8-4 Confederation No. 6400 at the 1939 New York World's Fair modern locomotives railroad exhibit.

CN No. 6400 Streamlined Confederation 4-8-4, class U-4-a. Built by The Montreal Locomotive Works in 1936.

Canadian National Railways U-4-a class 4-8-4 Confederation No. 6400 at the 1939 New York World's Fair modern locomotives railroad exhibit.
CN No. 6400 Streamlined Confederation 4-8-4, class U-4-a. Built by The Montreal Locomotive Works in 1936.
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Canadian National U-4a Streamlined 4-6-4 Confederation Locomotive

The CN U-4a class was one of the few streamlined Confederation types, with five locomotives built by MLW and introduced in 1936. U-4a no. 6400 achieved fame in 1939 by heading the Royal Train and being exhibited at the New York World's Fair in the same year. Between 1940 and 1944, a total of ninety more Confederation locomotives, built in four batches, were added to the CN roster.

4-8-4s on the Canadian National

Since the Canadian mainlines were generally laid with 115-pound-per-yard (57 kg/m) rail, Canadian 4-8-4s were heavy and weighed in with axle loads up to 31.3 tons (28.4 t).

When the Canadian National Railway (CN) introduced its first 4-8-4 in 1927, it used the name "Confederation" for the type, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. The CN employed a total of 160 Confederation locomotives.
Altogether forty locomotives were delivered in 1927, twenty Class U-2-a from the Canadian Locomotive Company and twenty Class U-2-b from the Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW).

Another twenty Class U-2-c came from MLW in 1929 and another five Class U-2-d, also from MLW, in 1936.
The CN U-4a was one of the few streamlined Confederation types, with five locomotives built by MLW and also introduced in 1936. U-4a No. 6400 achieved fame in 1939 by heading the Royal Train and being exhibited at the New York World's Fair in the same year.

Between 1940 and 1944, a total of ninety more Confederation locomotives, built in four batches, were added to the CN roster.

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) experimented with the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement in 1928, when two K-1a class locomotives were built in its Angus shops in Montreal, the first locomotives to be built with a one-piece cast-steel frame in Canada. However, since the CPR mainlines were built to high standards, the railway preferred to develop the 4-6-4  Hudson type for passenger work since it gave adequate power and was cheaper to maintain, while a ten-coupled type, the 2-10-4 Selkirk, was adopted for heavy-duty work. Nevertheless, although the two CPR Northerns remained orphans, they proved their worth continuously for 25 years on overnight passenger trains between Montreal and Toronto. Before their retirement in 1960, they were converted to oil-burners and worked freight trains in the prairie provinces.

The U-4a class Confederations were different from the other classes not only in appearance. Other differences included larger drivers, a smaller boiler and grate, and a lower adhesive weight and tractive effort. In addition, the firebox had thermic syphons, the engines had Boxpok drivers, and all of the engine and tender trucks had roller bearings.

CN Class U-4a Overview
Type and Origin

Power: Steam
Railroad: Canadian National (CNR) 
Country: Canada 
Whyte: 4-8-4 
Class: U-4a
Number in Class: 5 
Road Numbers: 6400-6404 
Gauge: Std 
Number Built: 5 
Builder: Montreal Locomotive Works
Works numbers: 68715-68719
Year built: 1936 
Specifications
Valve Gear: Baker 
Driver Wheelbase: 20' 
Engine Wheelbase: 44.12' 
Wheelbase (engine & tender): 82.69' 
Weight on Drivers 236,000 lbs 
Engine Weight 379,800 lbs 
Tender Light Weight: 280,280 lbs 
Total Engine and Tender Weight: 660,080 lbs 
Tender Water Capacity; 11,700 gals 
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal): 18 tons
Minimum weight of rail (calculated): 98 lb/yard 
Driver Diameter: 77" 
Boiler Pressure: 275 psi 
Cylinders (diameter x stroke): 24" x 30" 
Tractive Effort: 52,457 lbs 
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort): 4.50 
Heating Ability
  Firebox Area: 390 sq. ft 
  Grate Area: 73.60 sq. ft 
  Evaporative Heating Surface: 3,861 sq. ft 
  Superheating Surface: 1,530 sq. ft 
  Combined Heating Surface: 5,391 sq. ft

See also:

Streamlined Steam Locomotives

Steam Locomotives

Canadian National

Montreal Locomotive Works

Locomotives