The Timken "Four Aces" was built by the American Locomotive Co. in 1930 under the auspices of the Timken Corporation for the purpose of demonstrating the importance and use of roller bearings on all axle journals of steam locomotives. Rather than rebuild an existing engine, a new one was built so that it could be impartially tested by any interested railroads. Fifty manufacturers of locomotive appliances co-operated with Timken in the project, with a 4-8-4 type being chosen, this to have a top speed of 85 miles an hour.
Upon completion the 1111 was first operated in freight service on the New York Central. From there it was tried in both passenger and freight service on thirteen other roads. In these trials some well-known trains such as the C. & O.'s Sportsman and the New Haven's Merchants Limited were hauled by the 1111. On the Pennsylvania it handled twelve passenger cars up the Allegheny mountain grade without a helper and even saved three minutes on the standard schedule. It fully justified the claims for roller bearings and after these service tests totaling 88,992 miles were completed by August, 1931, it was delivered to the Northern Pacific. After this road had tried it, the Four Aces was purchased by them in February, 1933. Renumbered the 2626, it was used for passenger traffic on Trains 1 and 2 between Seattle and Yakima and later between Seattle and Missoula, Montana.
|Photo credit Edwin P. Alexander, American Locomotives Bonanza Books 1950|