Southern Pacific SE-1 Class 0-8-0 1300 at Oakland, California, May 30, 1934. Photographer: Stan Kistler.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,



Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-8-0 represents the wheel arrangement of no leading wheels, eight powered and coupled driving wheels on four axles and no trailing wheels. Locomotives of this type are also referred to as eight coupled.


The 0-8-0 Wheel Arrangement. Front of locomotive on left.

(Gwernol, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Examples of the 0-8-0 wheel arrangement were constructed both as tender and tank locomotives. The earliest locomotives were built for mainline haulage, particularly for freight, but the configuration was later also often used for large switcher locomotives (shunter locomotives).

The wheel arrangement provided a powerful layout with all engine weight as adhesive weight, which maximized the tractive effort and factor of adhesion. The layout was generally too large for smaller and lighter railways, where the more popular 0-6-0 wheel arrangement would often be found performing similar duties.


Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe, Locomotive No. 753 with Tender at Temple, Texas, 1946.

(DeGolyer, Everett L., 1923-1977SMU Central University Libraries, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped)


Usage in the United States

The 0-8-0 wheel arrangement appeared early in locomotive development in the United States, during the mid-1840s. The configuration became popular and was more commonly constructed as a tender locomotive. It saw extensive use as a heavy switcher and freight engine.

Beginning in 1844, Ross Winans developed a series of 0-8-0 types for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), starting with a vertical-boiler design where the crankshaft was directly above and geared to the rear driving wheel. With a horizontal boiler, this became the Mud Digger class of engines on the B&O, of which twelve were built. In late 1847, the B&O moved to abandon geared drives and, in 1848, Baldwin delivered the first of a series of 0-8-0 freight engines.

The USRA 0-8-0 was a USRA standard class, designed by the United States Railroad Administration during World War I. This was the standard heavy switcher locomotive of the USRA types, of which 175 examples were built by ALCO, Baldwin and Lima for many different railroads in the United States. After the dissolution of the USRA in 1920, an additional 1,200 examples of the USRA 0-8-0 were built.

In the 1920s, the Pennsylvania Railroad wanted the best motive power possible to handle the switching chores at their yards and interchanges. Built in its own Juniata Shops, the Pennsylvania Railroad class C1, at 278,000 lb, was the heaviest two-cylinder 0-8-0 switcher ever produced. The calculated tractive effort was 76,154 lb.

The last steam locomotive to be built in the United States for a Class I railroad was 0-8-0 no. 244, a Class S1 switch engine erected by the Norfolk and Western's Roanoke Shops in December 1953. It was retired in March 1958.


St. Louis Southwestern G2 Class 0-8-0 500 at Madison, Illinois, March, 1953. Photographer John B Allen. Built by Baldwin in 1906.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,


0-8-0 (Eight-coupled) Overview

Equivalent classifications

  • UIC class D
  • French class 040
  • Turkish class 44
  • Swiss class 4/4
  • Russian class 0-4-0

First known tank engine version
First use: 1866
Country: United Kingdom
Railway: Great Northern Railway
Designer: Archibald Sturrock
Builder: Great Northern Railway
Benefits: Total mass as adhesive weight
Drawbacks: Instability at speed
First known tender engine version
First use 1844
Country: United States of America
Locomotive: Mud Digger class
Railway: Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Designer: Ross Winans
Builder: Ross Winans
Benefits: Total engine mass as adhesive weight
Drawbacks: Instability at speed


Southern Pacific SE-4 Class 0-8-0 1404 at Los Angeles, California, April 7, 1938. Photographer: Stan Kistler. 

SP 1404 was built as SP 1309 in July, 1930, using the boiler from A-3 class 3056. It was renumbered SP 1404 at Los Angeles on March 15, 1938.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,


Baldwin builder's portrait of the Belt Railway of Chicago's 0-8-0 No. 136, November 1907.
(Baldwin Locomotive Works, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)