After a business trip to Sinsheim Germany, I stayed the following weekend at a friend's place just north of Stuttgart.
On Saturday we ventured into France to visit the French National Railway museum in Mulhouse.
1 The museum has several huge halls to display its wealth of exhibits and dare say: a most impressive collection it is!. The brightly coloured hal, at the south-eastern end of this Googlaerial, contains the "adventure" part. The other halls contain row after row of jewels of railway history. For railgeeks like me this is the most interesting part. The most north western hall was not open to the public and probably contains the museum's workshop as the traverser railbridge has access to it. In view is also the outside yard with the turntable
3 One of the halls is dedicated to a so called "Spectacle Course" which makes you fear the worst. Well, it is not so bad as with the Dutch Railway Museum where the precious few remaining Dutch steam locomotives are mortared rock solid into inaccessible buildings for the next 25 years. The French made a reasonable depiction of reality in the time frame they wanted to capture. Ligthingwise maybe a disaster for photographers iit is a nice setup in general.
4 This Micheline is captured in a seaside scene with crying seagulls and children's voices in the background.
The Micheline itself was built in 1936 and reached top speeds of 105 km/h. It was Michelin's contribution to the various attempts to revolutionise and revive the suffering local rail transport. Fitted with rubber tires to reduce noise they were popular with the general public, press and travellers alike, but alas soon proved cumbersome in maintenance. About design, well I think it looks odd, that is: unlike other rail cars of the time, but this one certainly has nice and agreeable lines. So, yes I like it.
5 This 1883 built 2-4-2 engine reached speeds of 100 km/h, not bad for the time.
The odd blue sheen is caused by LED spot lights that seem to be intended to fancy up the display. It didn't help :-)
6 The Stephenson's valve gear keeps intrigueing me.
8 The 4-8-2 class 241A1 was delivered in 1927. It was built for express trains between Paris and Belfort. Designed by André Chapelon in a time when the minds of railway directors were turning to other traction forms this engine can only be described in superlatives. Producing 4000 horsepower continuously they nevertheless were very economical on coal and water. Considered in terms of power/weight ratio this engine maybe among the finest ever built. Even in terms of aesthetics Chapelon’s engines are the most beautiful engines ever made. This engine has been described as the raiwayman’s Concorde.
An elderley Frenchman addressed me and proudly proclaimed that his father had driven this locomotive. Much to my regret, I failed to recognize the opportunity to have a good conversation with him about the subject (my French has worn out of disuse but is not too bad).
9 Foget the blue sheen, forget the bad light and awe at this amazing powerhouse
11 One of the few surviving Atlantics (4-4-2) in the world. In Europe I know of only two, this one and the magnificent Class 12 in Belgium.
12 The Atlantic type was intended for light high-speed trains and had a brief but intense popularity shortly before WWI.
Stored in a very inaccessible corner of the Spetacle Course it is next to impossible to get a good shot from this locomotive. Its main feature, the just two driving axles was hidden by fencing.
13 One theme on the Spectacle Course was War. Here an unnamed and undocumented shunting loco in camouflage outfit.
14 One scene depicted a locomotive derailed by the glorious Résistance.
15 Although I felt appalled by the way this locomotive was abused (hey, this is preservation age, be careful with what little is left), it gave a rare and fine full view on the underside
16 Brake rigging and the air intakes for the firebox
17 The leading carrying axle is leading the first driver axle (Bissel bogie)
18 Now what is this?
19 It is the business end of a Leslie rotary steam snow plough.
20 The rotary wheel is powered by a steam engine. The entire plough needs a locomotive, it is not self-propelling.
22 Made in U.S.A.
23 The steam engine powers a small gear which in turn powers the larger coned gear attached to the main shaft of the rotary wheel
24 The powering steam locomotive
25 The plough's tender was not on display, no doubt out of space considerations. It makes a bad display though as this combination could not have worked this way. Hm. I guess I must be content it was there at all. The good thing of this setup was that you could get a good impression of the working conditions of the fireman, being scorched on side and freezing on the other.
27 A rather voluminous pump. I suspect it to be the air pump as the factory plate says
Compagnie des Freins Westinghouse
28 There was a substantial display of coaches, with various scenes of everyday life in France in the twenties and thirties. I will skip them. I'm mainly interested in steam and I already have so many photos to show you.
29 A Kraus-Helmholtz bogie. The leading unpowered axle steered the locomotive into curves and forced the first powered axle to move outward sideways. This way the entrance into curves was eased substantially and it gave the locomotive smoother riding characteristics.
32 Landmark for modern French steam locomotive construction was the cast steel main frame, based on American practise. A cast iron frame delivers a superior stiffness to weight ratio and is more easily repeatable when produced in larger volumes.
33 The other end of the scala: this Stephenson locomotive dates from 1847 and shows all the landmarks of early locomotive design, the lack of comfort of any sort being one them. The Sézanne is reputedly the first locomotive in France on which oil firing was attempted.
34 A typical early locomotive feature: a water pump powered by the drive of the locomotive. Logical, you'd say: if a locomotive runs it needs water to fill the boiler. Yep, logical. But, what if the locomotive is on stand by, e.g. during station halts. It uses water even if it stands still. So if the water level in the boiler gets low you have to run the engine up and down the station's tracks to top her boiler up. It is uneconomical, as running up and down attracts no paying customers, and with increasing traffic in the station the process became more and more cumbersome. So eventually separate pumps were developed powered by a small one cylinder steam engine.
37 This Hudson (4-6-4) class 232 (polish up your French) is one of a class of just eight experimental engines built in 1941-42. Follow up orders never materialized because of the war. This locomotive featured a four cylinder compound engine, not unusual in France, and delivered a substantial 3300 horsepower.
Everybody imagines steam locomotives to choo-choo slowly. Let me help you out of that dream. At its top speed the 2 metre wheels revolved at a stunning 6,2 times per second. It has four cylinders which work both ways, which means you have eight exhaust beats per revolution. You hear only half of them as it is a compound engine, but that still means this engine produces about 25 beats per second when running at top speed. That is not Choo-Choo, that is a machinegun!
39 Look at that impressive cast radius link.
42 The axles of the rear bogie are tightly squeezed together
44 Personally I find this locomotive the top exhibit of the museum's collection. The Chapelon rebuilt Pacific
46 André Chapelon rebuilt many existing locomotives with the adoption of the most recent acknowledments of steam science and technology. Rather than try and see empirical methods, Chapelon laid a thorough theoretical foundation under his designs putting for instance the gas theory, that calculates and predicts the behaviour of gases, to good use. His rebuilt locomotives generally produced 40% more power for usually 20% less coal. This particular Pacific could sustain 2700 horsepower (not peak) output.
47 Where most designers focused on a good fire (airflow in the firebed, a good grate to evaporative surface ratio etc). Chapelon recognised that the internal losses within the engine after steam had been produced from the boiler were a far greater source of inefficiency.
One hallmark of Chapelons were wide steam tubes with only mild curves to reduce the resistance of the hot and fast flowing gases to a minimum.
48 The double exhaust fitted with kylchap ejectors gave the locomotive liberal space to breathe with a minimum of backpressure on the cylinders. Most designers failed to see that the backpressure of spent steam caused huge losses in overall efficiency of the steam locomotive. Chapelon recognized this and with astounding success. It was too late to save the day for steam traction though.
50 Another rather simple Chapelon knack. It is for anyone easy to see that oil on the rails will not help locomotive traction. Yet in many cases this was exactly what most cylinder cocks did. While heating the cylinders at start-up the cylinders cocks sprayed access water and steam mixed with cylinder oil all around. This simple device lets the oil precipitate and than drip out harmlessly into the trackbed.
51 Grease pump
52 This brass plate tells were the grease pipes are going
54 Let's take a closer look at the motion
63 The traditional piston valve was replaced by Lentz Dabeg cam valve gear. The generous steam ports that it allowed would create far less energy losses than the traditional piston valves. They were also far better suited for running at high because of the more accurate valve timings.
69 The locomotive is displayed over an inspection pit and this gives you the opportunity to see the locomotive form underneath.
72 The two inner cylinders. Again this engine is a four cylinder compound engine. The fresh steam straight from the boiler is used in the two smaller inner cylinders and then redirected to the bigger outer cylinders to be used again at the remaining lower pressure. It will save on coal and water consumption given sufficient running distances. The setback is that it also complicates the design and the operation, reasons why this design was not very popular in most other countries in the world. France however used this concept very succesfully.
His life was entirely devoted to the steam locomotive and it is his personal tragedy that he had to suffice spending his genious on redesigning existing locomotives. The opportunity to design and build an all new locomotive from scratch never came. I think displaying this stunning Pacific in the National Museum is a fitting memorial to this man.
80 Coffee pot?
81 Nope a steam locomotive in a row which is a catalog of early days steam
82 1844 is the year of building. Again one can see a water pump powered directly by the drive of the locomotive
85 In the early days of steam wood planking was used for insulation of the boiler. Though heavy on maintenance I like the appearance of it.
91 Well this is the one I was looking for, one of the few surviving Cramptons. A Crampton, after its namesake engineer, was designed to wring every possible km of speed out of a steam locomotive with the knowledge of the day.
92 At the time Thomas Russell Crampton designed his locomotive there was the common understanding that a fast locomotive needed to have foremost a low center of gravity lest it topple over. Crampton heeded that and slung the boiler ALAP (as low as possible) between the axles.
93 But a high speed also requires large driver wheels, in fact no 80 has 2300mm diameter wheels. In orde to accomodate the low boiler Crampton drew the driving wheels far back, even behind the firebox. Consequently every Crampton locomotive always had only one driving wheelset with usually two, some times three leading carrying axles.
95 The gigantic wheels sped the engine up to 127 km/h. Enormous at the time.
96 This reminds me more of a paddle steamer than of steam locomotive
105 Simply fascinating, this loco
117 Another special. An Engerth locomotive. This one that belongs to my area of special interest: articulated locomotives. Wiki says: The Engerth design articulated the tender with the main locomotive frame, allowing some of the weight of the fuel and water to be carried on the driving wheels to improve adhesion. Because the tender was articulated, rather than directly attached to the frame, the locomotive could traverse relatively sharp curves, while still enjoying the advantage of the additional adhesive weight gain. The original design also included an indirect drive by chains from the main driving wheels to the wheels under the tender. This arrangement proved too complex to maintain and was dropped from the design. So in the end of the day an Engerth ended up as being non-articulated.
131 This is a De Glehn four cylinder compound.
138 Kind of ugly, this early streamliner.
150 This engine is used to explain the inner workings of a steam locomotive. Personally I hate seeing them cut open like this.
152 This SNCF Calss 241P was a very late development in French steam. Wide spread electrification was already underway but motive power was so short in the years after the war that the SNCF board decided to order new steam locomotives as well. 35 examples of this class were built between 1948 and 1953. They were the last new class of passenger steam locomotives in France. Withdrawal already set in from 1965 and the last regular work was done in 1970.
158 I just could not resist trying my artistic knack on the play of light on the bare metal of the drive gear.
175 This is an interesting machine. WWII has spurred a flurry of locomotive types purpose built for war duty. The German BR52 is probably the most known among them. It was the German version of the Liberty ship: build them faster than they are destroyed.
176 The French 141R is in a certain way a war locomotive although, unlike the BR52, it did not see actual combat.
By the end of World War II it became clear that the Allies would find a devastated railsystem devoid of servicable motive power. In order to quickly obtain the large number of needed locomotives orders were issued to the main American and Canadian locomotive builders based on existing designs modified to meet the SNCF loading gauge. No less than 1340 engines were built in two almost equally large batches between 1945 and 1947.
177 Easy to drive, they offered relatively modern comfort for both drivers and firemen. The cabs were fully enclosed, comfort and ergonomy so far unknown to SNCF crews. Driving and firing controls were within reach while seated, coal was fed through a mechanical stoker. The oil-firing version was even easier. The last revenue earning service took place in 1975 and twelve engines have been preserved.
3. Small rear carrying axle giving as much clearance for the firebox and ashpan as possible
4. A sizable, that is low, wide and deep firebox with a drop grate
5. Automated greasing all around
6. Non-lifting injectors
7. a fully closed cab to protect the crew from the elements, here seen in the upper left corner of this photo
185 My friend demonstrates the size of the driver wheels, 65 inch or 1650 mm which is fairly large for a freight locomotive by European standards. By comparison: the BR 52 had only 1400 mm drivers. Large drivers were common in the US after the idea had caught on that you could not only increase capacitiy by lengthening trains but also by speeding them up. Consequently speeds up over 100 km/h were not uncommon for freight trains. By European standards it made the 141R suitable for both freight and not too fast passenger service.
186 These rods transmit no less than almost 3000 hp.
192 Outside there was little to see
193 Well, except for this the beautifully lined steamer
203 Another one, but to my taste not so beautiful. Um, rather ungainly actually
205 I came here for the steam locomotives. But admittedly I could not resist taking notice of some other traction forms as well.
This must be the smallest locomotive in the collection, a very early electric locomotive
206 This impressive 2'D2' electric 5500 class was built from 1933 through 1943 and ran until 1980. Delivering some 3,800 hp it could compete with the heavy steam engines of the day. 50 were built in various batches. Four motors transferred power via a Buchli transmission. Its entire build and appearance bear great reminiscence to the Swiss Ae4/7
207 A Buchli transmission. It looks deceptively simple but is extremely hard to imagine the way it moves while working. The trick is that the gear rotates but does not move in any other direction, but the wheel that it drives not only rotates but also moves up-down and left-right!
The Swiss Museum of Transport shows a working version. Watch on this video how the meshed quarter gears near the axle compensate for the out of center wheel.
208 The uncovered Buchli drive demonstrates how it is fitted in the locomotive.
209 This loco has the fascinating wheel arrangement of 2-2-4+4-2-2 or (1A)'B+B(A1)'. 10 were built in 1927 for the PLM and had a commendable service life until 1973.
214 A trainset created by Bugatti, aimed for the speed and comfort of his cars. In practise they were not up to the ruggedness of everyday train operation and their inflexibility to carry more than just themselves made them very impractical. Nice though.
215 The driver was situated on top in a cabin that must have been unbearibly hot in the summer. It would allow the passengers full view of the track.
223 I could not resist the beautiful colours and lines of this loco. Ugly as many electric locomotive generally may be, this one is the exception to the rule.
230 And that concluded our visit. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are in the area, go see it!