Compound locomotives; type 250

Compound locomotives; type 250

Manufactured by Fives-Lille in 1906, this machine comes from a competition launched by the C.F.D. to French manufacturers for the manufacture of a series of fast machines for the service of the Vivarais network.

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History of the locomotive type 250

Since July 1903, the Vivarais network had received its final form and all the isolated lines had been connected together. As a result, some trains making several connections during their journey had a route traced at the limit of the locomotives' possibilities. When at the departure station, the P.L.M. train, whose C.F.D. had to wait for its arrival to be able to use the common trunk, either at La Voulte-sur-Rhône or Tournon, with delay, the locomotive engineers, in order to ensure the planned connection to the other stations, were obliged to reach exaggerated speeds, which the machines were not able to support, even at a reduced load, because of the exiguity of their heating surface. This was a common occurrence with train No. 24 leaving La Voulte-sur-Rhône at 8.00 am and arriving at Dunières at 1.45 pm.

Locomotive n° 251 at the head of a passenger train on a viaduct of the Lozere line
Locomotive n° 251 at the head of a passenger train on a viaduct of the Lozere line

These tense steps brought to the fore the notion of speed which, until then, had remained relatively rare in the eyes of the Company. The C.F.D. therefore planned to have their engineers build a new type of machine. To this end, they looked for a suitable model among the locomotives in service on the French networks. The type in use on the Alpes network of the Compagnie du Sud-France seemed to be able to give them satisfaction. Also built by the S.A.C.M., under reference 144, it was proposed to the Railway Commission of the Ministry of Public Works, after modification by adaptation of the Compound system. After approval dated 5 December 1904, a detailed study of the type chosen was carried out and it was found that this new machine would not be sufficiently stable, because of the irrational distribution of the load between the power train and the bogie and the fact that it would require considerable lateral displacement of the bogie to be included in curves with a radius of 100 m. Consequently, the C.F.D. turned to a model with a front bissel and rear carrying axle. This new proposal was accepted by the Minister on November 27, 1905.

Locomotive no. 251 towing in mixed train in Rouve-Jalereste station, on the Lozère line.
Locomotive no. 251 towing in mixed train in Rouve-Jalereste station, on the Lozère line.

An invitation to tender issued in December 1905 for the supply of a prototype, with an option to purchase two other units if the tests were successful, did not obtain the expected result and only the Fives-Lille Company agreed to supply such a machine , listed by it under the type number 118. The C.F.D. named it type 250, whose series was to include locomotives no. 251 to 253.

Description of locomotive type 250

This locomotive was equipped with a boiler with 144 finned tubes Serve of diameter 0.045 met long of 3.60 m bringing the heating surface to 105.50 m1. The Grate surface was 1.564 m2 and the stamp was 13 kg. The direct load safety relief valves were placed on the steam dome, located on the first shell. This engine had been fitted with the larger two-cylinder compound operating system, with the H.P. cylinder on the right side and the B.P. on the left. The diameter of the drive wheels was increased to 1.10 m and the rigid wheelbase was increased to 2.80 m. As a result, this machine had a tractive effort of 9376 kg, which was very important, but its weight reached 40 t when laden.

Locomotive n° 251 on the Meusien during the 1914-1918 war
Locomotive n° 251 on the Meusien during the 1914-1918 war

At the rear, the shelter, closed on all four sides, was extended by a fuel bunker with a cut-away section that could hold 1,000 kg of coal. This shelter had two elliptical-shaped portholes on its front side. On the aft side, the same portholes framed a large opening for access to the fuel bunker.

The water tanks, cylinders and shelter were painted olive green with red threads, the boiler and chassis in black, the front and rear crossbeams in vermilion red. The number of the machine was marked on the chimney and on the water boxes with raised numbers. The rectangular builder's plate was attached to the water boxes at the front of the shelter. On the front and rear crossbeams, the initials of the Company to the left and the number to the right of the central stamp were painted yellow.

The forward sloping deck in front of the boiler and the elongated shape of the machine had led to its mechanics calling it "The Torpedo".

Delivery and assignment of locomotive type 250

Delivered in Tournon on April 1st, 1906, it was developed by a worker of the Fives-Lille Company and tested on the depot's tracks It ensured a reception run between Tournon and Lamastre on June 20th, 1906, in the presence of the Engineer of the Mines of Lyon. The results having appeared satisfactory, the 251 was authorized to run on June 25, 1906 and transferred on that date to the Cheylard depot. Assigned to the service of direct trains on the line from Voulte-sur-Rhône to Dunières it was tested there by integration into the daily running of trains 24-25.

Locomotive 131 Fives-Lilles n° 251 elevation view at the Florac depot
Locomotive 131 Fives-Lilles n° 251 elevation view at the Florac depot

An unappreciated machine

Despite her qualities as a "good runner", she did not succeed in fulfilling the conditions imposed by the Company. Indeed, the very delicate conduct of the fire, and its difficult inscription in the tight curves of the network did not militate in favour of its reception. These defects, which were not disputed by the manufacturer, were at the origin of the cancellation of the contract, and the 251 remained the only one of its kind in the C.F.D. park.

However, the Company agreed to keep it as a reserve machine. It was hardly appreciated by the locomotive engineers at the Cheylard depot, as the skill required for starting and heating this type of machine at low speed was not appreciated by the driving staff, who had little experience in this field. Finally, on March 12, 1907, the C.F.D. decided to remove it from the Vivarais park to reserve it for the equipment of the Lozere line, then under construction.

Plan of locomotive 131 type 250
Plan of locomotive 131 type 250

It was transferred to the Florac depot at the beginning of 1909. There, it seems that it did not pose any problem, that the Lozerian tractionists knew how to use it in the best way and that it honourably ensured its service.

It was requisitioned by the 10th Section of the Chemins de Fer de Campagne from 21 February 1916 to 24 May 1919, to be used on the Meusien Network for the traction of the front supply convoys. It was also chosen by the Sequestre des Chemins de Fer de la Provence on January 19, 1944, to support the Alps network, but curiously, this machine did not reach its destination, probably blocked during transport. Until June 12, 1945, date of its return to Florac, it was not possible for us to find its destination. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to inform us and lift the veil on this enigma.

Garée, from 1947, pending from R.G., it was not restored, was reformed then sold in 1949, to Ets Dufour in Portes-lès-Valence.

DELIVERY TABLE FOR LOCOMOTIVES TYPE 250 AND 320
No. C.F.D. No. of construction Builder Year of construction Delivery date Date of commissioningObservations
2513272Fives-Lille190601.04.0612.06.06Réforme 1949
3215820SACM Belfort190818.08.0821.11.08Réforme 1964
3225821190818.08.0821.11.08Réforme 1956
3235822190807.09.0821.11.08Réforme 1956
3245823190918.03.0921.03.09Réforme 1964
3255824190918.03.0921.03.09Réforme 1964

source : MTVS 1989-1

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