2014-04-05 Mulhouse

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.
Aerial  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 DSC00874b DSC00878  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. DSC00879  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.
DSC00881  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 :-) DSC00882  The Stephenson's valve gear keeps intrigueing me. DSC00883 DSC00889  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).
DSC00888  Foget the blue sheen, forget the bad light and awe at this amazing powerhouse DSC00937 DSC00890  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. DSC00936  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.
DSC00894  One theme on the Spectacle Course was War. Here an unnamed and undocumented shunting loco in camouflage outfit. DSC00900  One scene depicted a locomotive derailed by the glorious Résistance. DSC00896  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 DSC00897  Brake rigging and the air intakes for the firebox
DSC00914  The leading carrying axle is leading the first driver axle (Bissel bogie) DSC00904  Now what is this? DSC00906  It is the business end of a Leslie rotary steam snow plough. DSC00907  The rotary wheel is powered by a steam engine. The entire plough needs a locomotive, it is not self-propelling.
DSC00916 DSC00923  Made in U.S.A. DSC00919  The steam engine powers a small gear which in turn powers the larger coned gear attached to the main shaft of the rotary wheel DSC00911  The powering steam locomotive
DSC00912  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. DSC00913 DSC00924  A rather voluminous pump. I suspect it to be the air pump as the factory plate says   Compagnie des Freins Westinghouse DSC00892  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.
DSC00938  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. DSC00939 DSC00940 DSC00941  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.
DSC00942  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. DSC00943  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. DSC00953 DSC00944
DSC00945  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! DSC00946 DSC00947  Look at that impressive cast radius link. DSC00948
DSC00949 DSC00951  The axles of the rear bogie are tightly squeezed together DSC00954 DSC00955  Personally I find this locomotive the top exhibit of the museum's collection. The Chapelon rebuilt Pacific
DSC00974 DSC00973  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. DSC00956  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. DSC00958  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.
DSC00960 DSC00963  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. DSC00966  Grease pump DSC00967  This brass plate tells were the grease pipes are going
DSC00971b DSC00980  Let's take a closer look at the motion DSC00981 DSC00982
DSC00983 DSC00984 DSC00985 DSC00968
DSC00969 DSC00964 DSC00978  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. DSC00961
DSC00965 DSC00972 DSC00970 DSC00977
DSC00975  The locomotive is displayed over an inspection pit and this gives you the opportunity to see the locomotive form underneath. DSC00986 DSC00987 DSC00988  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.
DSC00992  The cranked driving axle DSC00999 DSC00995  - DSC00996  -
DSC00997  The ash pan DSC00998  Brake cylinders AC   André Chapelon  (1892-1978) was a true genious.  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. DSC01005  Coffee pot?
DSC01001  Nope a steam locomotive in a row which is a catalog of early days steam DSC01003  1844 is the year of building. Again one can see a water pump powered directly by the drive of the locomotive DSC01006 DSC01007
DSC01009  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. DSC01010 DSC01011 DSC01012
DSC01013 DSC01014 DSC01015  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. DSC01017  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.
DSC01018  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. DSC01019 DSC01020  The gigantic wheels sped the engine up to 127 km/h. Enormous at the time. DSC01021  This reminds me more of a paddle steamer than of steam locomotive
DSC01022 DSC01023 DSC01025 DSC01053
DSC01052 DSC01031 DSC01034 DSC01036
DSC01038  Simply fascinating, this loco DSC01041 DSC01042 DSC01043
DSC01051 DSC01047 DSC01049 DSC01044
DSC01048 DSC01055 DSC01054 DSC01046
DSC01058  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. DSC01060 DSC01061 DSC01062
DSC01064 DSC01065 DSC01066 DSC01073
DSC01075 DSC01076 DSC01085 DSC01086
DSC01079 DSC01071 DSC01087  This is a De Glehn four cylinder compound. DSC01088
DSC01089 DSC01090 DSC01091 DSC01092
DSC01093 DSC01094  Kind of ugly, this early streamliner. DSC01095 DSC01096
DSC01099 DSC01100 DSC01101 DSC01102
DSC01103 DSC01104 DSC01105 DSC01106
DSC01108 DSC01109  This engine is used to explain the inner workings of a steam locomotive. Personally I hate seeing them cut open like this. DSC01110 DSC01111  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.
DSC01112 DSC01115 DSC01117 DSC01120
DSC01122 DSC01130  I just could not resist trying my artistic knack on the play of light on the bare metal of the drive gear. DSC01244 DSC01245
DSC01246 DSC01247 DSC01249 DSC01251
DSC01144 DSC01145 DSC01146 DSC01148
DSC01149 DSC01150 DSC01151 DSC01153
DSC01154 DSC01156 DSC01202  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. DSC01204  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.  See them in action in this  nice time document .
DSC01205  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. DSC01206  The 141R was the only class in France with  boxpok wheels DSC01207 DSC01208
DSC01209   Typical American practises:  1. Cast steel locomotive frame  2. Cast steel trailing bogie with outer bearings  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 DSC01210   and   7. a fully closed cab to protect the crew from the elements, here seen in the upper left corner of this photo DSC01219 DSC01221
DSC01212  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. DSC01215  These rods transmit no less than almost 3000 hp. DSC01214 DSC01223
DSC01225 DSC01216 DSC01224 DSC01159  Outside there was little to see
DSC01160  Well, except for this the beautifully lined steamer DSC01161 DSC01162 DSC01163
DSC01164 DSC01169 DSC01170 DSC01171
DSC01172 DSC01178 DSC01179  Another one, but to my taste not so beautiful. Um, rather ungainly actually DSC01182
DSC01107  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 DSC01133  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 DSC01137  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. DSC01138  The uncovered Buchli drive demonstrates how it is fitted in the locomotive.
DSC01143  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. DSC01142 DSC01190  A coach? DSC01191  No, a motor coach!
DSC01134  A precursor of the  Dutch 1100 class DSC01131  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. DSC01196  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. DSC01193
DSC01197 DSC01124 DSC01230 DSC01125
DSC01126 DSC01128 DSC01217  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. DSC01228
DSC01229 DSC01233b DSC01234 DSC01236
DSC01239 DSC01241  And that concluded our visit. I thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you are in the area, go see it!