C2 Project News

September 2018

The Eastern Bloc Connection

You may know that the design of our Chinese C2 loco originated in Russia, and that many were built in Eastern Europe. If you didn't know, have a read about it on our Locomotive History pages. Many similar locos survive in former Eastern Bloc countries, and some have been restored to working order. This month has seen two events to build closer links between our project and others abroad.
In early September we welcomed five Russian guests to the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, as part of a fact-finding visit. They came from the Pereslavl Railway Museum and the Ekaterinburg Railway Museum, which is part of the main-line Sverdlovsk Railway. Both museums have a collection of 28 tonne locos that are predecessors of the C2, ranging from one of the original 1941 batch of P24 locos, to the final Soviet development of the VP-4 class.
The Russian delegation in the C2 shed at Boston Lodge
Paul (left) and Sergei Dorozhkov (centre) discuss some technical points of the C2
The group spent an hour in the C2 shed looking at our progress and very interested by the design changes introduced by the Chinese and by the way we have re-gauged our loco. We also spent several hours in Spooners that evening comparing photos and technical information. An immediate benefit of this is that we now have a second full pack of manufacturing drawings, this time for the Czech Kch-4. These complement our existing drawings for the Polish Kp-4, and fill a few gaps where we were missing pages.

Paul presented the Russian delegation with one of our replica forestry railway plates.
Cover page of the drawings for the Kch-4, built in Czechoslovakia by Skoda.
A new injector body cast by Sergey Danilov of Ekaterinburg. (Photo: Sergey Danilov)
We also learnt that Sergey Danilov of Ekaterinburg is working to make a new batch of injectors to the standard pattern used on these locos because many of theirs are worn out or missing. They have already successfully cast new injector bodies; probably the hardest part. This may give us an opportunity to buy a spare injector while supporting their work too. With all our locomotives being of near-identical design, there are other possibilities for working together. They can provide knowhow and spares for our damaged turbogenerator, while our Chinese maintenance documentation fills some gaps in their archives. We may also be able to collaborate on ordering components such as superheater elements.
The Russian delegation were also able to share a collection of photos of the locomotives that they have restored, and historic photos of other locos of the classes.

Their story of collecting two locos from a very remote region of Russia would have made a great episode of 'Ice Road Truckers'! The locos were VP-4-1337 and VP-4-2097, and had been abandoned in Puksinka. They were rescued in January 2014 in an operation organised by Sverdlovsk Rly and the Narrow Gauge Preservation Group of the North-West. In bitterly cold conditions, the locos had to be dismantled so that the components were light enough to be transported on the ice road formed by a frozen river.
An abandoned VP-4 at Puksinka in a remote region of Russia, waiting to be rescued. The move had to be done in winter as the only access was by using a frozen river as an ice road. (Photo: Narrow Gauge Preservation Group of the North-West (St. Petersburg))
After meeting the Russian delegation, Paul set off in the opposite direction for a trip to the Baltic states to visit some of the surviving 28 tonne locos in that region. The trip encompassed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, together with part of Poland. As well as viewing the 28 tonne locos, Paul travelled on several surviving 750mm gauge lines on this tour organised by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain.
Paul saw a total of nine 28 tonne locos, built in four different countries. The photos below show some of the variety of these locos which are all nominally similar.
PT-4 153 is a Finnish loco, built at Tampella in 1948. It is now preserved at Šiauliai in Lithuania.
The cab interior of this Scandinavian-built loco is reminiscent of a sauna, even with no steam pressure in the boiler...
Kch-4 017 is an early Czech loco, built by Skoda in 1949. It is now preserved at Anykščiai in Lithuania, on the surviving narrow gauge line there.
Many of the 28t locos built in Europe have their identity stamped into components such as the radius rod and front bufferbeam.
Kch-4 100 is another Czech loco, built by Skoda in 1949. It is now preserved in the grounds of a school in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo: Allan Baker)
Sister Czech loco Kch-4 110 is also preserved at nearby Turi, Estonia. It is paired with a Polish tender.
The Skoda Kch-4 locos originally carried their manufacturer's logo on the cylinders, and some still have these emblems.
Kch-4 332 was built in 1950, and is basically a 'runner' though it is currently out of service having new tubes fitted. It has been updated with all 'mod cons' including air braking, speedometer and data recorder! It is based at the Lavassaare Railway Museum, Estonia.
Kp-4-708 is a Polish loco built in 1957. It is currently being restored to working order at Panevezys for operation on the narrow gauge railway there.
The workshop facilities at Panevezys, Lithuania, are impressive - this is just one of many sheds and workshops. This was once the hub of a massive 750mm gauge railway network.
The narrow gauge railway museum at Sochaczew, Poland, has a huge collection of steam locomotives, including two Kp-4s that somehow avoided being exported to Russia. Here Chrzanow 3760 of 1957 stands next to a Px48, illustrating the size difference between the classes. At some stage it has acquired some enormous headlamps!
Sister loco Chrzanow 3761 of 1957 is also at Sochaczew. Its tender is spaced further from the loco, and the cab has been fitted with enclosed rear doors and a handbrake. Both these locos retain their original spark-arresting chimneys.
This is a rare survivor: VP-1-899 built at Votkinsk in Russia. Note the separate dome and sandbox casings which are characterisic of the Russian locos. It spent its entire life in Estonia and has run in preservation, but is now a static exhibit at Lavassaare railway museum.
A peek inside the firebox of the VP-1 shows the corrugated firebox crown that was a feature of the later production in Russia. The early Chinese locos built at Shijiazhuang also had this type of firebox.
The Soviets sent the PT-4 drawings to Germany after WWII and there were plans to have some built there. Instead, the Germans built a larger class of 0-8-0 for the USSR, which was designated Gr (German reparations). The locos were about 10 tonnes heavier than a C2, with larger boiler and wheels. Here, preserved Gr-319 hauls a short passenger train on the narrow-gauge railway at Gulbene in Latvia. This railway retains a daily diesel-hauled passenger service for locals, but steam is used on summer weekends.
This week, Paul is presenting a talk about the C2 Project, to the Ffestiniog Railway Society Gwynedd Area Group. Hopefully it will provoke some more interest in the project.
Physical work on the loco continues too, as we work on coupling and connecting rods, together with finishing off the brake gear. We'll provide more of an update on that next month.
September 2018 (again)