Published: 21-01-2018 photo #28012 0 comments 0 votes
Reproduced by kind permission of my good friend Amer Tabies, the photographer. Photographed at Christmas 2017 in the Arsenal Park, Havana, Cuba. Works no. 3356, built in 1905. Operated in a sugar mill in Cuba. Steam locomotive activity in Cuba was mainly to be found on the railways belonging to MINAZ, the government's 'Ministry Of The Sugar Industry”.
H. K. Porter Company was the leading exclusive builder of light locomotives in the USA. However it is a little known name among steam enthusiasts, so here is a brief extract from “The Catskill Archive” describing the company:
“The history of Porter of Pittsburgh as a locomotive builder spans a period of 83 years, from construction number 1 in 1867 (a 42-inch-gauge 0-4-0T for New Castle R.R. & Mining Co., New Castle, Pa.) to number 8275 in 1950 (recorded, appropriately enough, as steam—a meter-gauge 0-4-0 for a plantation in Brazil). In the years between—allowing for missing numbers—Porter delivered at least 7807 locomotives, of which most were steam, 284 were internal-combustion designs and at least 274 were compressed-air locomotives. Outside the main series of construction numbers, Porter either built or contracted for the building of electric mine locomotives.
Porter began as Smith & Porter in 1866. Smith & Porter and the lesser-known Pittsburgh firm of David Bell & Co. (of whose locomotive production, if any, there seems to be no record) preceded Porter, Bell & Co., which was organized in 1871. Porter, Bell was succeeded by H. K. Porter & Co. in 1878. The name was changed in 1899 to H. K. Porter Co., a new incorporation with a capital stock of $1.6 million. After President H. K. Porter himself, Hobart B. Ayers, the single-minded works manager in charge of Porter's quality production for many years, is best remembered as a major figure in company affairs.
Porter locomotives had some notable general characteristics besides the famous medallion plate and cylinders cast with the Porter name. Dome cover rings were discontinued at an early date in favor of smooth domes which resembled nothing so much as beehives. During the same era—and before the time of steel cabs—most cabs were built of wood, with vertical tongue-and-groove bottom panels like those of another Smoky City builder, the Pittsburgh Works. Later the beehive steam dome covers and sandboxes gave way to more prosaic designs.”