...of the oil-burning steam locomotive
I like to think that steam locomotives evolved the way they did for a reason... and when it comes to cab placement, that reason was fuel. The firebox and cab were always placed to the rear of a locomotive not for inherent convenience, but so that the crew could communicate while coal was being loaded by hand from a tender that was pulled behind the locomotive for safetys sake. Thus, the crew had to perpetually peer around a huge boiler just to see ahead down the tracks... a significant nuisance that designers were quick to undo at the dawn of the diesel era.
So, my question of the day: why werent oil-burning locomotives built as cab-forwards as soon as oil-burning technology was developed, and a human stoker was no longer required to man the tender?
Well, the North Pacific Coast Railroad must have been thinking the same thing in 1901, because in that year they cobbled together a cab forward design out of a wrecked 4-4-0 by mounting a new oil-burning boiler backwards on the original chassis, putting the cab and firebox in front while preserving the stable 4-4-0 wheel arrangement. But engines arent really meant to be cobbled, and the resultantly awkward design, with the cylinders under the firebox, apparently didnt perform very well and was shortly abandoned. But if the NPC had pursued the cab forward idea, they might have come up with a design like my first one up there... a Forney-like machine with a proper 4-4-0 wheel arrangement and a conventional engine-to-boiler layout. No complicated steam pipe plumbing to maintain, for starters...
The second design in my fictional cab forward history is the logical next step from the cab forward 4-4-0... the cab forward 4-6-0. This engine has a narrow-firebox boiler of nearly identical size to its coal-burning 4-6-0 counterparts of the era...
Finally, the third design is a cab forward Pacific... in quotes because it is merely a rough counterpart to the true coal-burning Pacifics of the 1910s and 20s, and its 4-6-2 wheel arrangement is actually rather coincidental. The firebox doesnt need a four-wheel truck to support it... the four-wheel truck on this design, like on the previous two designs, is necessary for speed, and is indeed designed more like a conventional lead truck than a conventional trailing truck (which is sort of the key to all cab forward designs, here and in real life). The two-wheel trailing truck on this design is arguably not necessary at all... I included it merely to stabilize the hunting motion of the rear-facing cylinders, and perhaps to better distribute the engines total weight.
So there you have it... an alternate evolution of the oil-burning steam locomotive. I suppose if I had to play devils advocate to myself, Id point out that these machines would most certainly not be easily convertible to coal... unlike most real-life oil-burning engines. In real life, of course, the Southern Pacific was the only railroad to operate a successful fleet of cab-forward oil-burners... they being the exception, rather than the rule, as they might
have been had I been a turn-of-the-century locomotive designer.
On the art itself: not the finest line art job, and I might have stuck this in scraps if the coloring job hadnt saved it, which I think it did.
Note too: the paint schemes are fictitious.