1. Home

Consolidation (2-8-0) - A Locomotive Profile


Spectrum Consolidation

The Spectrum Consolidation set new standards for scale steam.

©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

More steam locomotives were built to this wheel arrangement than any other. From the Nineteenth to mid-Twentieth Century, the Consolidation provided reliable power for freight trains world wide.

Prototype History

Builder: multiple >
Whyte Classification: 2-8-0
Dates Built: 1866 - 1920s
Number Built: 35,000+

Designed by engineers on the Lehigh and Mahanoy, the first new 2-8-0 emerged from the Baldwin Locomotive works in 1866. Arriving in the same year as the railroad's merger with the Beaver Meadow, Penn Haven and White Haven, the class became known as Consolidation and the railroad became the Lehigh Valley. It was the custom for the first railroad to use a new wheel arrangement to provide its name.

Experimental 2-8-0s built by the addition of a two-wheel pilot truck to an 0-8-0 had been created in the previous year on the Lehigh and Mahanoy and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Use of a rigid pilot truck did not produce encouraging results.

The Lehigh Valley quickly ordered fourteen copies for service on their mountain grades. Other railroads throughout the northeastern United States followed.

The Consolidation, with a pivoting pilot truck, proved to be a well-balanced and powerful locomotive. The locomotives were twice as strong as the 4-4-0 and 2-6-0 locomotives then in common use. By the mid 1870s, the Consolidation had emerged as the standard freight locomotive on American rails.

With its smaller driving wheels, the Consolidation wasn't a very fast locomotive. And with the firebox centered over and often between the drivers, its ability to generate steam was also limited. By the 1910s, these issues would push engineers to design the 2-8-2 which could pull heavy loads at greater speeds and for longer runs.

The Consolidation remained a popular locomotive however, with new orders continuing to come in through the 1920s. With more than 23,000 built for North America and another 12,000 built there for export, the 2-8-0 was easily the most popular locomotive model of all time. Older locomotives found work in yards, local freights and branchlines where speed was not as important.

Many Consolidations stayed in service until the end of steam in the 1950s. Today more than 100 are preserved, many in operating condition.


Over more than fifty years of production, the Consolidation underwent many changes. Models of many different Consolidations have been produced in multiple scales over the years. Some are modeled on specific prototypes while others are more generic.

All of the models here represent recent production. Additional models may have been produced in the past and might be found at swap meets and online auctions. In addition, many railroad-specific models have been produced in limited runs in brass.

The list of models below includes all known models with a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement. Where a specific prototype is known, it is included. Some models are more toy-like, others beautiful scale renditions, and everything in between. If you know of any that have been left off the list, please send me an email!

N Scale: Athearn (MDC), Bachmann,
HO Scale: AHM (Also built under the Mehano and IHC names), Bachmann (Reading I-10 Prototype), Bachmann Spectrum (generic Baldwin), Bowser (PRR H-9, kit), Broadway Limited (PRR-H10), MDC (Roundhouse) - kit, Model Power (early, generic), Varney (out of production)
HOn3 Narrow Gauge: Blackstone Models (D&RGW C-19), MDC (Roundhouse)
S Scale: BTS (shell only)
O Gauge: MTH (Premier - PRR H3, H10 and Railking PRR H10), Lionel, Williams (now Bachmann)
On30 Narrow Gauge: Bachmann
G Gauge: Aristo Craft (D&RGW C-19), Bachmann

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Model Railroad Trains
  4. Real Railroads
  5. Locomotive Prototypes
  6. Consolidation (2-8-0) Steam Locmotive Prototype and Model Overview

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.