Harry Cupper’s Steam Engine of the Week: Maine Central Railroad 470

By | May 3, 2015

Pictures provided by New England Steam Corporation.

Pictures provided by New England Steam Corporation.

Main Central 470 much like Gordon the Big Engine was a heavy 4-6-2 “Pacific” express locomotive. Locomotives in those days were designed and budgeted around their intended needs. A 4-6-2 has 4 wheels leading for cornering and stability. 6 driving wheels for tractive effort and a 2 wheel trailer truck to balance the heavy back end. 470 was a passenger engine with 73 in driving wheel built for speed.

470 and her twin sister 469 built in 1924 were the last two to arrive in a batch of Pacifics ordered by Maine Central from Alco-Schenectady. In 1933, Maine Central rebuilt these Class C3 Pacifics into the C-3Bs making adjustments, improving steam production, and furthering efficiency by adding Coffin feedwater heaters. On these engines, the Coffin feedwater heater was inside the smokebox sparing the engine a strange lidded appearance.

Picture Provided by New England Steam Corporation.

Picture Provided by New England Steam Corporation.

470 changed quite a bit in appearance during her service. She arrived with a cast steel pilot like a NYC Hudson which was replaced with her boiler tube pilot with cowcatcher. Her bell was also moved from the first boiler course to the front of her smokebox. She received a steam booster on her trailer truck, a device to give more power when starting heavy trains. 470 wore several whistles during service. A power stoker was fitted to make the fireman’s life easier.

470 was perfect for passenger service on the Main Central Railroad. She was built to handle 19-12 heavy passenger cars between Portland and Bangor Maine. But it was not uncommon to see her pulling trains out of Boston’s North Station. She pulled trains like the “Flying Yankee”, “The Pine Tree Limited”, “The Bar Harbor Express, “The State of Maine Express” and the “Gull”. MCR 470 is today a rare surviving example of the quintessential American passenger locomotive.

Today the New England Steam Corp seeks to purchase, move and restore 470 to operational condition. Work is already underway pressure washing, inspecting, and fixing up parts of the engine. A new headlamp was donated for the engine. The group seeks to reach the City of Waterville, Maine’s purchase price of $25,000 and needs to raise an additional $75,000 to move and restore the engine. Follow progress and help return the engine to operation visit the group’s website http://www.newenglandsteam.org/.


Picture provide by New England Steam Corporation, special thanks to president Richard Glueck for his assistance in preparing this week’s Harry Cupper’s Steam Engine of the Week.


Leave a Reply