The firm of Lima Locomotive Works was an American company that manufactured railroad locomotives from the 1870s through to the 1950s and also built Steam shovels. The company took the most distinctive part of its name from its main shops location in Lima, Ohio. The shops were located between the Baltimore & Ohio's Cincinnati-Toledo main line and the Nickel Plate Road main line and shops. The company is best known by railway enthusiast for producing the Shay geared logging steam locomotive, and for being the home of William E. Woodard's "Super Power" advanced steam locomotive concept - exemplified by the prototype 2-8-4 Berkshire, Lima demonstrator A-1. In the construction & mining world they are known for the Lima Stream shovels and draglines.

History Edit

In 1878 James Alley contracted the Lima Machine Works to build a steam locomotive that Ephraim Shay had designed. In April 1880, Lima rebuilt Ephraim Shay's original design, using vertically side-mounted pistons mounted on the right, connected to a drive line on the outside of the trucks. The Shay was geared down to provide more slow-moving pulling ability for use in the lumber industry. The first Shay locomotive was built in 1880 and was such a success that many people in the lumber industry wanted one. To accommodate the new demand for the locomotive Shay licensed the right to build his locomotive to the Lima Machine Works, which expanded and began to ship Shay locomotives to lumbermen across the frontier states. Two years later, locomotives were the main product being produced by the Lima Machine Works, which would produce over 300 locomotives during the next ten years.

After a serious fire, a new shop was opened in 1902 and Shay production continued. However, as railroads began to recognize that speed was as important as efficiency in freight service, the Shay was rendered obsolete. With no option, Lima began constructing conventional steam locomotives, and also began producing other heavy machinery such as steam cranes and railroad rotary snow plows.

Mineing machinesEdit

Decline Edit

In 1947, the firm merged with General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton, Ohio, to form Lima-Hamilton.

Lima's last steam locomotive was Nickel Plate Road No. 779, a 2-8-4 "Berkshire", which left the erecting halls in 1949. That same year Lima promoted a new wheel arrangement, the 4-8-6. This would have allowed an even larger firebox than the 4-8-4. No example of the type was built, however.

From 1949 to 1951 Lima-Hamilton produced a total of 174 Diesel Locomotives, in 6 different models.

In 1951, Lima-Hamilton merged with Baldwin Locomotive Works to form Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton (BLH). The Lima-Hamilton line of Diesels was discontinued, in favour of Baldwin's existing line. Though Lima and Baldwin had been known for high-quality steam locomotives, their line of diesel-electric locomotives was unable to compete with EMD, Alco, and GE. BLH left the locomotive business in 1956.

For a time, Clark Equipment Company manufactured Lima-brand construction cranes in the old plant. Most of the company's records and builder's drawings are now housed in the California State Railroad Museum's library in Sacramento, California.


  • 1877: Lima Machine Works is established to produce agricultural and sawmill equipment.
  • 1878: Lima Machine Works builds the first Shay type locomotive.
  • 1892: Lima Machine Works reorganizes and emerges as Lima Locomotive & Machine Company.
  • 1911: Lima begins manufacturing locomotives for Class I railroads.
  • 1912: Another reorganization and Lima emerges as Lima Locomotive Corporation.
  • 1916: Joel Coffin purchases Lima; the company is renamed Lima Locomotive Works.
  • 1922: Woodard's 2-8-2 NYC 8000, ancestor of "Super Power", is delivered.
  • 1925: Woodard's A-1, the prototype "Super Power" Berkshire type, takes to the rails.
  • 1947: Lima is merged with General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton, Ohio. The new company 1s named Lima-Hamilton.
  • 1949: Lima's last steam locomotive is built. Lima-Hamilton begins production of Diesel locomotives. Unsuccessful promotion of the 4-8-6. Production of Cranes and other construction equipment continues at the Lima plant.
  • 1951: Lima-Hamilton is merged with Baldwin Locomotive Works. The new company is named Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.
  • 1956: Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton exits the locomotive market.
  • 1981: Manufacture of Clark-Lima lines dropped.
  • 1980: Production of cranes and construction equipment ends, Lima factory closed and sold.
  • 1998: The former Lima erecting shed and heavy Shay shops are torn down and broken up.
  •  ? : The manufacture & supply of parts for Clark-Lima products transferred to MinnPar Inc, of Minneapolis.

Product rangeEdit


See alsoEdit

References / sources Edit

Based on extract of Wikipedia article.

External linksEdit

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