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2-8-8-8-2 Triplex Articulated Steam Locomotives
2-8-8-8-4 Triplex Articulated Steam Locomotives

Mallet locomotives were articulated; that is, they had at least two sets of drivers, one of which could swing free of the boiler, allowing a very long and powerful locomotive to make its way around fairly tight curves with the boiler overhanging the curve.  They also reused steam from one set of cylinders to another.  The version of the Mallet on this page, the Triplex had THREE separate steam chests and drivers, on the theory that if two were good, three would be better.  The Erie had three that were 2-8-8-8-2 models, the Virginian had one which was a 2-8-8-8-4 model.  The theory did not long survive the reality, as the boiler was unable to produce enough steam to power all six cylinders and after going only a relatively short way, the locomotive slowed down and came to as stop as it ran out of steam and then had to sit and wait until it built up a head of pressure again.

In early 2002, MTH brought out a superb premier model of the Erie Triplex.  The detail is exquisite, down to a second smoke unit in the tender to simulate the steam exhaust out of the stack at the rear of the tender.  Here are some photos of the model, with a photo of one of the prototypes following.  The first photo shows the face of the locomotive.

MTH Premier Triplex

The next photo is a long side shot, showing all three sets of drivers.

MTH Premier Triplex

The third photo shows the detail of the smokebox and the front set of drivers.  Note the exquisite blue color, simulating the Russian Iron used in the prototype.

MTH Premier Triplex

The next photo shows detail of the cab (with sliding windows) and still more driver detail.

MTH Premier Triplex

The fifth photo shows the top view of the locomotive, showing the many domes and other details.

The next photo shows the detail on the smokebox, including the antique-appearing marker lights and headlight, befitting a locomotive made during the early part of the 20th century.  Note the very clear builder's plates.

MTH Premier Triplex

The next photo shows the locomotive in a classic pose!

MTH Premier Triplex

The last photo shows the steam exhaust at the rear of the tender.

MTH Premier Triplex

Here's a photo of one of the Erie's prototypes, named the Matt H. Shay after one of their locomotive engineers.

Erie mallet

This is a photo of the Virginian #700, the only 2-8-8-8-4 ever built.

Virginian #700

MTH also brought out a model of the Virginian Triplex.  While it was essentially a repainted Erie Triplex (it's a 2-8-8-8-2 rather than a 2-8-8-8-4 and has the Erie style tender), I enjoy having it and playing with it nonetheless.  Here are a few photos.  All in all, not a bad job!

Last updated: 22 Jan 2020

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