Cab-forward cab interiors

Ask Trains from March 2011

Q In a Southern Pacific cab-forward steam locomotive, is the engineer on the right side of the cab? If so, does he have to reach back to man the throttle, reverse gear, air brakes, etc.?
— Ralph Podas, Columbus, Ohio

A Builders of these locomotives redesigned the cabs entirely so that crews would face the correct direction for relatively comfortable operation. Kyle K. Wyatt, curator of history & technology at California State Railroad Museum took and supplied these photos to illustrate the arrangement.
— Kathi Kube

In a cab-forward locomotive, the engineer still sits on the right-hand side, and the boiler is behind him.


This is the engineer’s view from his seat. The controls are to his left, the front window directly ahead, and an exit door ahead and to his right. Southern Pacific 4294, the last of its kind, resides at the California State Railroad Museum.


This is the interior center view of Southern Pacific cab-forward No. 4294 (the photographer’s back is toward the track ahead). From this perspective, the engineer would sit to the left of the boiler, and the fireman to the right.


The fireman’s seat, on the left-hand side of the cab, provided easy access to the lever to adjust the flow of oil.

This is what you’d see if you were sitting in the fireman’s chair looking out the front windows. Five photos, Kyle K. Wyatt, California State Railroad Museum
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