The prototype tractor No. 204 from Saône-et-Loire

The prototype tractor No. 204 from Saône-et-Loire

The transformation of a locomotive into a thermal engine

The services rendered by the Crochat tractor from Saint-Jean-d'Angély encouraged the C.F.D. to carry out traction tests using thermal engines in 1936. The equipment on the market was very expensive and no model was suitable for the Company, which turned to the transformation of an old steam locomotive (No. 204).

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The use of Tractor 11 in the Charentes having produced excellent results, the C.F.D. considered upgrading to higher power by converting a locomotive to a thermal engine. This decision was prompted by the particular case of the Saône-et-Loire network, where the most important traffic was confined to the 10 km section between Digoin and Gueugnon, from where the Forges shipped a very important tonnage to this transhipment point. The short distance and the special reduced rates applied militated in favour of using a more economical traction system. The Charente example naturally paved the way for this operation. Mr. Strobino, Head of the Toulon-sur-Arroux depot was therefore asked to present a project and to choose a locomotive for which the scale of the work involved in its refurbishment would be an inconsiderate expense. Machine 204 was chosen and dismantled, the chassis shortened and the front bissel removed. These operations were carried out in 1936.

Description of the prototype tractor No. 204 from Saône-et-Loire

The layout of this tractor was identical to that of the 11 tractor, i.e. engine hood at the front, central cab and fuel tank and auxiliaries at the rear, the principle adopted for the entire construction of the C.F.D. workshops.

Tractor n° 204 of the C.F.D. under construction (Collection P. BREGERIE)
Tractor n° 204 of the C.F.D. under construction (Collection P. BREGERIE)

The engine chosen was a special type manufactured by the C.L.M. Of the DV 85 Diesel type with 6 cylinders of 150 HP, it was delivered with an important delay delaying the exit of the machine until 1939. The transmission, of the MINERVA type, controlled the central axle, connected by connecting rods to the two others, through a drive axle and a 6-speed gearbox with reverser.

The cab was larger than that of the 11th and had a set of 10 bays (3 on the front and rear sides and 2 on the sides, including one on the swing door) allowing a very wide vision.

The larger engine space did not permit the cabin access doors to be located on the front face, and they were located aft of the side faces. Handrails and a handrail at the front protected the access platform to the engine cowling access doors. The engine hood had a right grille.

Tractor n° 204 of the C.F.D. in Toulon-sur-Arroux station. (collection J.C. RIFFAUD)
Tractor n° 204 of the C.F.D. in Toulon-sur-Arroux station. (collection J.C. RIFFAUD)

The decoration was identical to that of Tractor 11 and the licence plates and sleeper markings of the original locomotive had been retained. The company monogram had been placed at the top of the grille.

Delivery and assignment of the prototype tractor No. 204 from Saône-et-Loire

Finished under the directives of Mr. Petolon, new Depot Chief at Toulon-sur-Arroux, tractor 204 was tested between Toulon-sur-Arroux and Gueugnon on December 30, 1939, but the engine was considered too weak and had to be replaced by a 6-cylinder Willème 316 with 150 HP in April 1940. After many tests on the tracks of Toulon-sur-Aroux station where it was used for three months without failure, it was accepted on line on April 15, 1940. The journey from Toulon-sur-Arroux to Gueugnon was made at a speed of 38 km/h with a load of 105 t on an average gradient of 12.5°/°°.

Front view of tractor n° 204, in the shed of Toulon-sur-Arroux (Photo M. RIFAULT)
Front view of tractor n° 204, in the shed of Toulon-sur-Arroux (Photo M. RIFAULT)

Put into regular service on 13th May 1940, it provided freight train traffic from the Forges de Gueugnon. Due to lack of fuel, it was parked from 1941 to 1946. At that time it was fitted with a new 4-cylinder Willème F4M 517 engine. It only provided a shunting service in Toulon- sur-Arroux and a reserve of steam locomotives. When the tractors from Indre-et-Loire arrived, he was assigned to pull the emergency train.

Tractor n° 204, when it left the workshops of Toulon-sur-Arroux, shortly before its on-line tests. (Collection P. BREGERIE)
Tractor n° 204, when it left the workshops of Toulon-sur-Arroux, shortly before its on-line tests. (Collection P. BREGERIE)

When the network was closed, he was transferred to Egreville on 26 October 1954 for demonstration to potential buyers. Finally, it was sold to the Stephos factory in La Goulette (Tunisia) on 13 December 1954.

source : MTVS 1989-1

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