Southern Pacific's 4300 4-8-2's, Revised Edition

by Robert J. Church

Reviews of the Revised Edition of The 4300 4-8-2's

Review from Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, March, 1997

"First published in 1980, Bob Church's landmark book on the Southern Pacific's Mt-class Mountain type locomotives was, in its original edition, one of the first major books devoted to a single class type of locomotive. This detailed study of the SP's handsome and versatile 4-8-2's, favorites of Southern Pacific railfans and engine crews alike, has been out of print for several years. Since the book is an essential reference work for steam era SP historians and modelers, as well as a fascinating and generously illustrated volume for steam locomotive enthusiasts in general, prices of secondhand copies have soared in recent years, so a second printing was overdue.

"The new edition is far more than being merely a reprint of the original, however. It has been extensively revised and augmented, with 24 new pages, many additional photographs (including some vintage color views), and much new information that has come to light since the book was first published more than fifteen years ago. With these enhancements, The 4300 4-8-2's deserves even more of the praise it received when it first appeared. Church's research is as thorough and well-organized as ever, and the second edition is more comprehensive and better illustrated than the first.

"What's more, the new edition has been completely redesigned. The type faces, layout, covers, and dust jacket are all new and much improved. Photo reproduction is first rate, and the text is easier to read. The result is a volume that's a pleasure to look at and hold, as well as a treasure trove of photos and information. In fact, both content and presentation have been enhanced to the point where many owners of the original edition may well want the new edition as well.

"Church begins by tracing the development of the SP's 4-8-2's from conception to completion and provides a highly detailed description of their design and construction. Each Mt-class is then surveyed in separate chapters, including the Mt-2's acquired when the Southern Pacific purchased the El Paso & Southwestern in 1924. Maintenance and modifications are thoroughly covered, followed by a chapter on operations which details where and when the various Mt-classes were used on the SP system and in what types of service.

"The final chapter is an exhaustive account of the tenders assigned to the 4-8-2's written by SP tender authority Arnold Menke. Several pages of tabular material, a list of references, an index, and fold-out general arrangement drawings of the Mt-1, Mt-2 and Mt-5 classes round out the book. It is, in short, the definitive history of these great locomotives.

"Though The 4300 4-8-2's isn't primarily a modeling book, it was obviously written with modelers in mind. If you want to detail, paint and letter a model of a Southern Pacific Mountain type locomotive, you will find in this volume all of the information you need to choose and accurately represent a specific prototype locomotive and tender at a specific time and place.

"Church's book is fascinating reading for anyone with more than a casual interest in the legacy of steam on North American railroads."

-- Richard H. Hendrickson


Review from Trains magazine, November, 1996.

"In the galaxy of Southern Pacific steam locomotives, the colorful Daylight 4-8-4's and unique cab-forward 4-8-8-2's are the stars that shine the brightest. SP locomotive historian Bob Church tackled those two types with a pair of landmark books in the mid-1960s. It's a measure of the standing SP's dual-service 4-8-2's enjoyed that Church's next book, first published in 1980 and now a collectors' item, covered their 83-member family.

"Now there is available a revised edition of the Mt-class book. Relative to the first edition, it has 24 more pages, 40 more photos (for a total of 253, 10 in color), an expanded chapter on tenders, an index, a bibliography, and numerous text enhancements. The 10 chapters consist of a bit about the Atlantics and Pacifics that preceded the Mountains on SP's roster; a discussion of all major components of the 4-8-2's; an examination of each subclass, Mt-l through Mt-5; a look at maintenance of and modifications made to the engines over the years; a rundown of the jobs the Mountains did around the system; and a wealth of text, photos, and drawings of the various tenders that trailed the Mt's. An appendix gives a unit-by-unit listing of date built and date and location scrapped--alas, there's an entry in the latter column for every one of the Mt's.

"In its first form, Church's book was an invaluable compendium of data and photographs on an important engine class. Revised, it's even better."

-- Robert S. McGonigal


Review from Railroad History, No. 176, Spring, 1997

"Robert Church's book is an encyclopedia of the Southern Pacific's 4-8-2 locomotives, telling in considerable detail of their origin, design, and construction. There are sections based on each of the five subclasses, each of which receives detailed treatment regarding mechanical details and appliances. The excellent photos from many different sources enable one to see the modifications made after delivery. A builder' s broadside photo plus considerable dimensional data appear at the head of each of the five sections. Maintenance and modifications are covered in a separate chapter.

"All this information occupies half of the book. The next quarter is devoted to operations on five of the SP's major routes, and to the finale of the 4-8-2s in commute service at San Francisco. Each of these sections provides a brief history of passenger trains, schedules, and consists as well as detailed profiles, so that the reader can appreciate the enormous range of territory over which these engines were operated, some of them for thirty-six years. Again, each section is well illustrated.

"The last quarter of the book includes a description of tenders, a usually neglected subject, complete with excellent scale drawings and special photos. At the end there are two side-elevation drawings in half-inch-to the-foot scale, roster drawings for all classes, and construction and scrapping dates for each of the eighty-three engines. Ten fine color photos enhance the great variety of black and white photos, but there is only one map, of the Rio Grande Division.

"Although the SP was relatively late in adopting the 4-8-2 wheel arrangement, it bought twenty-eight and built fifty-five remarkably well designed locomotives, as author Church demonstrates through text, photos, tables, and drawings, all excellently reproduced."

-- Robert LeMassena


Review from Model Railroader magazine, January, 1997

"This is a revised edition of a long-out-of-print classic detailing the history of the Southern Pacific RR's Mountain-type locomotives.

"The first edition now fetches collector prices as do the author's two other works on SP locomotives, Those Daylight 4-8-4's and Cab-Forward, so this release should be warmly received.

"The new edition is an 8.5" x 11" hard cover volume with 176 pages. The book features 40 drawings and 243 black-and-white and 10 color photographs. Nine of the color and 31 of the black-and-white photographs are new, as are 24 pages of text. These changes reflect the author's latest research on these engines.

"The 4-8-2s comprised five classes built between 1923 and 1930 as heavy passenger power. Builder's erection drawings of Mt-1, -2 and -5 class locomotives are included on foldout sheets stitched into the back cover [actually, bound into the text block]. Each class is covered in a separate chapter.

"Subsequent chapters chronicle modifications to the engines, types of tenders, and how the locomotives were used on the SP system In conjunction with the chapter on operations, car diagrams and rosters for the Forty-Niner are included.

"Fans of big steam and especially SP fans will find this book a treat."

-- George Sebastian-Coleman,