PL2 Vital Statistics

PL2 Class 2-6-2s

pl2_96-20-01Anshan's PL2 234 with combined dome / sandbox and handrails which don't extend beyond the smokebox, features that indicate it's a "real" PL2 built in Japan or in China during the Japanese occupation.

In 1935 a batch of 20 2-6-2s were built in Japan for use in Manchuria as Pu Re Ni class. The design had much in common with the Mi Ka Ro class mikados which were later reclassified JF6 and, apart from the shorter boiler and frames, most components were thought to be interchangeable. Under the 1951 renumbering scheme the Pu Re Ni were classified PL2 and given the numbers 31 to 50, following on from the earlier American 2-6-2s which became PL1 1 to 30 and preceding the PL3 class which started at 51.

Over the past 2 decades, visitors have reported around 30 different PL2s with numbers ranging from PL2 14 to PL2 535. Not bad for a class of 20 engines! Further PL2s appear to have been built in China during WWII but there is no mention of them in the available Chinese literature. A Japanese book does contain a picture of a Dalian 1941 worksplate, probably on one of Anshan's PL2s. It was also thought that a further batch of PL2s were built in China at the end of the 1950s but little is known about the circumstances and again the Chinese literature doesn't mention them at all. Worksplates examined on three locos indicate that they were built in China in 1958 and 1959. One example carried Tangshan plates and another Jinan. During the same period Tangshan and Jinan were building the virtually identical YJ class, so why weren't all these locos classed as YJs? One theory is that the later PL2 were in fact rebuilds of JF6 class locos. Another is that the additional locos were built as YJs but renumbered locally as PL2 because both classes were used interchangeably. The writer favours the latter explanation. Unless more information comes to light, we may never know the true origin of many of these engines.

pl2_92-32-15Benxi's PL2 49 with separate dome and sandbox, handrails which extend to the bufferbeam and Tangshan 1959 plate (inset). This loco is most likely a YJ class engine reclassified and renumbered locally.

According to Chinese publications, the original PL2s worked around Dalian and locos numbered PL2 32/3/4/7 were reported in the docks there during the 1970s and 1980s. These were almost certainly from the original batch. The 1935 built locos may have been ordered specifically to cope with tight radius curves in the docks area. PL2 41, seen at Capital I & S in 1982 also appears to be an original. Of the other locos, At least 3 of Anshan's locos (PL2 230, 234 & 248 - see top photo above) have the same combined dome/sandbox and short handrails shown in the builder's photograph and may well be renumbered originals or new locos built during the occupation. Benxi's PL2 49 (see lower photo above) has separate dome and sandbox, handrails extending to the bufferbeam and Tangshan 1959 builder's plate. Apart from the slope backed tender, the writer can find nothing about this loco to distinguish it from a YJ. Stored PL2 50 appears to be the same except for it's Jinan plate. At least one PL2 at Benxi appeared to have the combined dome/sandbox and longer handrails.

The last PL2 in service was thought to be Anshan Steelworks' PL2 244 which was displaced by diesels in February 2000. Anshan's PL2 248, said to be Japanese built, is preserved in a park in Ina, Japan and Benxi's PL2 50 is preserved at the steelworks site.