The Crochat prototype tractor n° 11 des Charentes

The Crochat prototype tractor n° 11 des Charentes

C.F.D.'s first tractor.

This was the first tractor entirely designed by the C.F.D. Company. It was designed to transport goods that were not subject to any delays, such as the production of branched dairies. This service was normally performed by a series 11- light steam locomotive

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History of the prototype tractor Crochat n° 11 des Charentes

This tractor was born from the imagination of Mr. Esbelin, then Depot Manager at Saint-Jean- d'Angely, who was faced with the difficulties of transporting goods that were not suffering any delays, such as the traffic of milk from the branch cooperatives. Until then, machine 12 from the Ferrière- d'Aunis depot was used, but the expenses incurred did not cover the revenue generated by these shipments. This head of department therefore proposed to the Central Administration of the C.F.D. the construction of a small tractor using the motor bogie and the generator from the self-propelled Crochat n° Ae 51, which had been involved in an accident in Corsica and whose network had become a beneficiary. After a favourable response this machine was undertaken in 1935.

Description of the prototype tractor Crochat n° 11 des Charentes

This tractor consisted of two superimposed frames, the first mounted by means of springs and mounting plates on the second bogie. The generator set and the bodywork were mounted on the first one.

The generator type L6 GD was driven by a 95 x 140 cylinder De Dion engine with 60 HP. It powered the two electric motors type L5 MVF connected in series, each driving one axle. Later, the original engine of the group was replaced by a CLM 85 LC3 of 75 HP, significantly more powerful.

Locotracteur Crochat des C.F.D. n° 11 (Collection J.C. RIFFAUD)
Locotracteur Crochat des C.F.D. n° 11 (Collection J.C. RIFFAUD)

The central cabin, quite large, contained a compressor unit for the brakes, a reversing combiner for speed control and a control panel for the electrical and braking equipment. This cabin was accessible through two hinged glass doors in the front, on either side of the engine cowling, which was topped by a bay window. The driver also had at his disposal the same assembly on the rear face as well as a skylight placed at the front on each side face.

Driver's cab of the Crochat locotractor (Collection B. ROZE)
Driver's cab of the Crochat locotractor (Collection B. ROZE)

The generator assembly was protected by a small hood at the front, and the auxiliaries and fuel tank were located at the rear under a full width cut-away hood. A guardrail had been placed around the forward platform and two handrails provided easy access to the driver's compartment. This tractor weighed 8.5 t unladen.

The crate was painted light grey. The front and rear crossmembers, painted in vermilion red, had the initials C.F.D. and the number painted in yellow. An oval plate, taken from the reformed engine 11, had been fixed on each side of the cabin on the removable walls supporting the electrical panel and the various accessories. The company monogram had been placed on the radiator grille.

Prototype locotractor No. 11 of the Charentes, during its line tests. Here in Fontenay-Varaize station. (Collection J.-C. RIFFAUD)
Prototype locotractor No. 11 of the Charentes, during its line tests. Here in Fontenay-Varaize station. (Collection J.-C. RIFFAUD)

Delivery and assignment of the prototype tractor Crochat n° 11 des Charentes

Delivered by the workshops of Saint-Jean- d'Angely on July 8, 1936, it was tested on the section from Saint-Jean-d'Angély to Matha, where it towed a 30-ton convoy in level at a speed of 25 km/h. Its consumption was 20 I per 100 km, justifying the economic use for which it was intended.

PE 5 locotractor manoeuvring in the Cheylard station.
PE 5 locotractor manoeuvring in the Cheylard station.

Mainly employed on the lines from Marans to Surgères and Epannes, it towed the white wagon specially assigned to serve the cooperative dairies of the region. Its home depot was Surgères until 1939, when it was repatriated to Saint-Jean-d'Angély to tow cattle cars between Matha and Saint-Jean-d'Angély.

PE 5 locotractor, rear view in front of the Cheylard workshops. (Photo B:ROZE)
PE 5 locotractor, rear view in front of the Cheylard workshops. (Photo B:ROZE)

Requisitioned by the Germans in 1941, it was sent to the Ile de Ré and Le Verdon to take part in the construction of the Atlantic Wall. Returned to its original network in 1944, it was seriously damaged during its unloading by a bombing in Saintes station. Sent to Saint-Jean-d'Angély, it was not repaired, due to the entry into service of tractor No. 50, considerably more powerful, which had just come out of construction. Parked at Saint-Julien-de-l'Escap in December 1944, it was reformed and sold for scrap when the network closed six years later.

Plan of the prototype tractor n° 11 of the Charentes. (Scale 1/43,5°)
Plan of the prototype tractor n° 11 of the Charentes. (Scale 1/43,5°)

source : MTVS 1989-1

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