Running behind Europe's biggest active steam engine

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- International' started by RailRon, May 16, 2005.

  1. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    On May 1st I rode an excursion train with the biggest active steam engine at the point. It was a great day, and I'd like to share a bunch of photos with you.

    The locomotive is the ex-French Mountain engine (4-8-2), class 241A. She was built in 1931. It is a four cylinder compound engine, with the high pressure cylinders inboard. Weight 200 tons (with tender topped off), 76" (1950 mm) drivers, and top speed 70 mph (110 km/h). Today the engine is the property of a professionally organized association - something more than a fan club, the Club 241-A-65 .

    In the last few months she underwent a thorough revision in Meiningen, Germay - one of the very last professional steam repair facilities in Europe.

    And here she is...

    Attached Files:

  2. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Here are a few pics of her running gear - poetry in motion! :D :D :D

    Imagine hearing the hiss of steam and smelling the hot lube oil...

    Attached Files:

  3. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    The fireman looks exactly the same like the original French firemen might have looked 50 years ago.

    (Yes, it is the fireman, not the engineer - on French engines the engineer is on the left side!)

    Attached Files:

  4. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    And then we were off...

    Attached Files:

  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    From time to time we had to stop at a red signal.

    In this case this was fun, because each time we could listen to the stack talk when the 241A started the train again... :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

    Attached Files:

  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Every beautiful day comes to an end... :( :cry:

    Here we are finally crossing the Emme river. You know Emmental (= Emme valley) cheese, don't you? :D
    Just beyond that double track truss we are entering Burgdorf, now the home of the 241A.
    Unfortunately, immediately after arrival I had to board another (electric) train to get back home again, so I couln'd shoot a few parting pics when she returned to her stall.

    I hope you enjoyed the ride, too!


    Attached Files:

  7. ross31r

    ross31r Member

    when you say active do you mean in mainline terms because im pretty sure the 9F 2-10-0`s in the UK are bigger and i think the German 4-6-2 is larger and faster as well
  8. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Ross, sorry for being not clear enough:

    'Active' is meant in the sense of pure excursion train service. The 241A society runs about 3 to 5 special trains per year - mainly in Switzerland, but the engine is also cleared to run on the German rail net. However there is no more any regular steam on mainlines.

    Three years ago I made a three day trip with the 241A to Nürnberg in Germany. The second day there was a big gathering of European steam locomotives in Neuenmarkt, at the lower end of the 'Schiefe Ebene (= 'Inclined plane'), one of the steepest lines in Germany (2.53 % grade). There were about 25 (!) steam engines, showing their power on this 5 mile ramp.
    And yes, the 241A was the biggest engine around. The German class 01 has larger drivers (78" - 2000 mm), and she is faster (80 mph - 130 km/h), BUT she is shorter and lighter ('only' 170 tons). The British 9F 'Evening Star' is both smaller and lighter (about 155 tons, 60" drivers) - but she surely was one of the most handsome freight locos ever built.

    BTW: The 241A didn't only make friends that day in Neuenmarkt. While doing some switching she split and wrecked a crucial turnout in the yard. As a result only one track of the double track line could be used - and the whole program of the day went down the drain. Some of the steam locos couldn't even do one single run on the line! :( :mad: :mad: :curse: :curse:
    And on the way back to Switzerland, on the following day, she developed a hotbox, which got worse and worse. Finally the smoking driver axle bearing meant the end of the trip for the 241A. About 20 miles from the Swiss border she was uncoupled from the train and limped onto a siding. Our train was finally brought home with a German diesel on the point... :oops: :cry: :cry:
    (As it turned out later, somebody had made a kink into a lubrication pipe, so the bearing didn't get enough oil.)

  9. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    great photos, thank you for sharing
  10. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Poetry in motion Ron. The photos and closeups are awesome. Thanks very much for sharing your enjoyment with us.
  11. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Real Cool! Wish I was there.

    TrainClown ;)
  12. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
    Thanks a bunch for taking us along Ron :wave:

    Really great shots, I love the track work as you pulled into the station. :D :D

    The smells and sounds are a real treat eh!
  13. grumbeast

    grumbeast Member

    That was beautiful Ron, thanks for sharing

  14. S 3/6

    S 3/6 Member

    Great photo's thanks... were you able to find out if this was a captured loc from Germany after the War (reparations)? It looks an lot like either a BR01 or Br03.
  15. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Great Pictures. Thanks for sharing them with us. :wave: :wave: :thumb: :thumb:
  16. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Sam (S 3/6):
    No, the 241A is a genuine French engine. The prototype was built by the locomotive shops of the French Eastern Railway in Epernay (which is also famous for its wine! :cool: )
    All in all 90 engines were built - all in France! - and used on several French railway systems. 1938 all these company were merged into the 'National French Railway Society'. (I read somewhere, that in fact quite a few of them were 'borrowed' by the Germans when they partially occupied France during WW II.)

    While the Germans also had beautiful locos, they never constructed engines which were so energy-efficient like several French types. Among them, the 241A was one of the best. As I said before, she had four cylinders and therefore could use the whole energy capacity of the steam. Therefore they were like by the firemen (no stokers on these engines! :( )

    Also the Germans had very few Mountain types (4-8-2), and the BR 01 and 03 both were Pacifics (4-6-2) - just like the Bavarian S 3/6 in your handle! :thumb:


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