There are two reasons to put a lot of drivers under a locomotive. One, obviously, is to increase pulling power. The other is to spread out the engine's weight, allowing it to operate on lighter-duty track and rail. The "Russian" Decapods were an example of the latter.
During World War I, the Imperial Russian State Railways ordered 1230 locomotives of the 2-10-0 wheel arrangement from Alco and Baldwin. With light axle loading and tiny 52" drivers - about the same size as a typical switcher - these Decapods were designed for moderate speeds on light and often poorly maintained track. When the Bolshevik Revolution overthrew the czar, the final 200 engines in the order were stranded in the U.S. Desperately in need of wartime motive power, the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) had the Decapods regauged from five feet to standard gauge and allocated them to railroads, mainly in the east, in early 1918.
While the 2-10-0 wheel arrangement was not especially popular in North America, the light-footed, nimble, yet strong Russian Decapods proved ideal for service on branch lines and smaller railroads. As on our model, some drivers on the prototype were blind (unflanged) to allow it to negotiate tighter curves.
Although originally allocated mainly to larger Class 1 roads including the Pennsy, Erie, Western Maryland, Southern, New Haven, and Seaboard Air Line, many Russian Decapods were later sold to smaller railroads where they became the largest motive power on the road. Our Santa Fe model depicts an engine bought in 1918 by the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad, which was acquired a decade later by the Santa Fe. A number of Russian Decapods served to the end of steam, and six are preserved today.
For a lot of action in a small steamer, add this vest-pocket Decapod to your own railroad. Our model features the extraordinary detail you've come to expect in a Premier steamer, plus all the features that make Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotives more fun to operate than any other engines in model railroading - including synchronized, puffing smoke with variable intensity; crystal-clear digital sound; and Proto-Speed control for smooth pulling power at any speed from 3 mph to full throttle.