Rhaetian Railway G 4/5
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G 4/5 No. 104, SLM builders' photo from 1904
The class was named G 4/5 under the Swiss locomotive and railcar classification system. According to that system, G 4/5 denotes a narrow gauge steam locomotive with a total of five axles, four of which are drive axles.
The Rhaetian Railway procured a total of 29 examples of the G 4/5 class between 1904 and 1915. Built as tender locomotives by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works (SLM) in Winterthur, the G 4/5s were used mainly on the Albula Railway until that line was electrified in 1919. Two preserved examples of the class are still in service on the Rhaetian Railway network today.
As early as 1902, the SLM manufactured two four-coupled saturated steam locomotives for the Imperial Railway Company of Ethiopia. In the same year, trial runs using one of these locomotives were carried out on the Rhaetian Railway. The positive results of these tests led the Board of the Rhaetian Railway to order four largely identical machines, at a price of 61,500 Swiss Francs per unit. These G 4/5 class locomotives arrived in Graubünden between June and August 1904, and were given the operating numbers 101 to 104.
The performance specifications for the G 4/5s stipulated that they be able to haul a trailing load of 90 tonnes (89 long tons; 99 short tons) at a speed of 18 kilometres per hour (11 mph) on a gradient of 3.5%, while on level sections a speed of 45 kilometres per hour (28 mph) should be reached. Trial runs showed, however, that the machines were powerful enough to move the required load at as fast as 22 kilometres per hour (14 mph) on gradients, while on level sections a top speed of 52 kilometres per hour (32 mph) could be achieved.
The continuing rise in traffic on the Rhaetian Railway soon required more powerful locomotives. The company therefore decided in 1906 to purchase four further G 4/5s of higher performance than the initial batch. Train loads of 95 tonnes (93 long tons; 105 short tons) were now required to be hauled up gradients of 3.5% at a top speed of 32 kilometres per hour (20 mph). While the new G 4/5s nos 105 and 106 were manufactured in the traditional saturated steam configuration, nos 107 and 108 used superheated steam for the first time on the Rhaetian Railway. The performance of the two new sub-types was similar. With each producing nearly 600 kilowatts (800 hp), they were regarded as the world's most powerful narrow gauge locomotives.
As the superheated configuration for the class was now proven, all subsequently ordered G 4/5s were equipped with superheaters. To 1915, a total of 21 further locomotives, in five separate orders, were so obtained. The last locomotive, no 129, also received a preheater. With a total of 29 examples, the G 4/5 also eventually became the largest single class of locomotives on the Rhaetian Railway to this day.
In the meantime, coal shortages during World War I had called into question the further use of steam locomotives. The Rhaetian Railway had therefore decided to electrify all of its lines on the model of the Engadine Railway, opened in 1913. The electrification project was able to be completed in 1922. In 1920, the now surplus locomotives nos. 109, 110 and 111 were sold to the Ferrocarril de la Robla in Spain, and in 1949 those locomotives were followed by nos 102 and 104 to 106. In Spain, the G 4/5s remained in service until about 1970. Meanwhile, in 1924, locomotives 101 and 103 went to Brazil.
Locomotives 112 to 129 went in 1926 and 1927 to the Royal State Railways of Siam (now Thailand), where a few examples were in use up to the 1960s. Locomotive 118 has since been preserved in Chiang Mai as a monument, and locomotive 123 has been kept for display in a railway museum.
Only locomotives 107 and 108 remained at the Rhaetian Railway as non-catenary dependent reserves for snow removal, building work and goods trains. Since the 1960s, they have also worked increasingly on special trains for railway enthusiasts. Locomotive 107 is presently stationed in Landquart, while no 108 is based in Samedan. On the occasion of the Graubünden Steam Festival 2006 and the simultaneous 100th anniversary of the Albula Railway, both locomotives were given names. Since then, no 107 has carried the name Albula, and no 108 the name Engiadina.
The G 4/5 was a four coupled tender locomotive with a leading axle in a swivelling pony truck. Whereas the first six examples were delivered as saturated steam compound locomotives, all of the remaining examples came into service as superheated machines with single stage steam expansion.
The coupled wheels, with a diameter of 1,050 millimetres (41 in), were mounted in a 30 millimetres (1.2 in) thick inside plate frame. To increase manoeuvreability on curves, the second and fourth coupled axles could each swing 30 millimetres (1.2 in) radially in both directions. Drive was to the third coupled axle. The outside cylinders were inclined at 1 in 20 on the saturated steam engines, and on the superheated engines the incline was 1 in 40. On the saturated steam engines, the high-pressure cylinder was on the right hand side of the locomotive, and the low-pressure cylinder on the left hand side.
The two-stage cylindrical boiler had over 176 tubes on locomotives 101 to 104, and on locomotives 105 and 106 the number was increased to 196. The superheated machines 107 to 129 each had more than 112 heating and 18 smoke tubes, and a Schmidt type superheater. Boiler pressure of the G 4/5s was originally 13 standard atmospheres (1.32 MPa; 191 psi), and was increased to 14 standard atmospheres (1.42 MPa; 206 psi) for locomotives 105 and 106. In the case of the superheated locomotives, this value could ultimately be lowered again to 12 standard atmospheres (1.22 MPa; 176 psi). The boiler itself was connected with a smokebox set on a cast-iron saddle attached firmly to the frames, while the steel firebox rest upon the frames and moves freely to compensate for temperature induced elongation. On both sides of the boiler are flanked with a high-level frame. As a unique example, locomotive No. 129 was fitted with a preheater. This was mounted on the right side of the locomotive, below the high-level frame.
The locomotive tenders for the first four engines each held 2 tonnes (2.0 long tons; 2.2 short tons) of coal and 5,000 litres (1,100 imp gal; 1,300 US gal) of water. To reduce the travel times of fast trains between Chur and St Moritz, locomotives nos 105 onwards were given larger tenders. These held 2.5 tonnes (2.5 long tons; 2.8 short tons) of coal and 9,800 litres (2,200 imp gal; 2,600 US gal) of water, and made it possible to delete the majority of the intermediate coaling and watering stops. Only in Thusis was it still necessary for locomotives with the larger tenders to take on coal and water. From locomotive No. 123, the tenders were increased in size again. The further enlarged tenders had an unaltered coal capacity, but held 10,000 litres (2,200 imp gal; 2,600 US gal) of water.
Illumination of the initial batch of locomotives was by means of kerosene lanterns. By contrast, the locomotives delivered from 1906 onwards were fitted with electric lights. These were powered by an accumulator, which was charged by a generator attached to one of the rear axles of the tender. Locomotives nos 102 and 104, which remained with the Rhaetian Railway after 1924, were retrofitted during their service life with electric lights powered by a battery with no generator.
The braking system consisted of a hand-powered spindle brake operating on the tender axles, and a Hardy-type vacuum brake operating on the first and third coupled axles and both tender axles. For service on the inclined sections, a supplementary counter-pressure brake of Riggenbach type was fitted.
List of locomotives
|List of G 4/5 locomotives of the Rhaetian Railway|
|No.||Builders no.||Commissioning||Withdrawal||Purchase price (SFr.)||Current whereabouts|
|101||1582||18.06.1904||1924||61,500||Sold in 1924 to Estrada de Ferro Maricá, state of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil;
in 1943 at CB (Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil), there renumbered #1230; in 1963 at EFL (Estrada de Ferro Leopoldina), withdrawn shortly after.
|102||1583||28.06.1904||1949||61,500||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there no. 102 Ceferino de Urien, withdrawn around 1970.|
|103||1584||06.07.1904||1924||61,500||Sold in 1924 to Estrada de Ferro Maricá, state of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil;
in 1943 at CB (Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil), there renumbered #1231; in 1963 at EFL (Estrada de Ferro Leopoldina), withdrawn shortly after.
|104||1587||12.08.1904||1950||61,500||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there no. 104 José de Aresti, withdrawn around 1970.|
|105||1707||25.04.1906||1951||74,000||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there no. 105 Guillermo Baraudiaran, withdrawn around 1970.|
|106||1708||30.04.1906||1952||74,000||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there no. 106 Manuel Oraa, withdrawn around 1970.|
|107||1709||16.05.1906||-||77,500||Operational preserved locomotive, since 2006 named Albula.|
|108||1710||07.06.1906||-||77,500||Operational preserved locomotive, since 2006 named Engiadina.|
|109||1813||16.04.1907||1920||77,500||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there no. 109 José Ignacio Ustara, withdrawn around 1970.|
|110||1814||24.04.1907||1920||77,500||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there no. 110 José Maria San Martin, withdrawn around 1970.|
|111||1815||03.05.1907||1920||77,500||To Ferrocarril de la Robla, there Nr. 111 Victoriano Garay, withdrawn around 1970.|
|112||1816||18.05.1907||1927||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 343, withdrawn 1956.|
|113||1817||27.05.1907||1927||77.500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 344, withdrawn 1954.|
|114||1818||04.06.1907||1927||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 345, withdrawn 1950.|
|115||1987||23.04.1909||1927||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 346, withdrawn 1950.|
|116||1988||30.04.1909||1927||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 347, withdrawn 1953.|
|117||1989||07.05.1909||1927||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 348, withdrawn 1950.|
|118||2208||23.03.1912||1926||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 340, now a memorial in Chiang Mai.|
|119||2209||03.04.1912||1926||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 342, withdrawn 1954.|
|120||2329||28.06.1913||1926||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 341, withdrawn 1954.|
|121||2330||04.07.1913||1926||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 339, withdrawn 1959.|
|122||2331||21.07.1913||1926||77,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 338, withdrawn 1965.|
|123||2331||29.01.1914||1926||83,300||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 336, intended for display in railway museum.|
|124||2510||06.05.1915||1926||83,300||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 337, withdrawn 1964.|
|125||2511||10.05.1915||1926||83,300||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 335, withdrawn 1953.|
|126||2512||17.05.1915||1926||83,300||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 331, withdrawn 1956.|
|127||2513||31.05.1915||1926||83,300||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 332, withdrawn 1961.|
|128||2514||08.06.1915||1926||83,300||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 333, withdrawn 1958.|
|129||2515||12.07.1915||1926||86,500||To Royal State Railways of Siam, there no. 334, withdrawn 1950.|
- Schönborn, Hans-Bernhard (2009). Die Rhätische Bahn, Geschichte und Gegenwart. GeraMond. ISBN 978-3-7654-7162-9.
- Finke, Wolfgang; Schweers, Hans (1998). Die Fahrzeuge der Rhätischen Bahn. Band 3 Lokomotiven, Triebwagen, Traktoren 1889-1998. Aachen (now Köln): Verlag Schweers+Wall. ISBN 3-89494-105-7.
- Verein Dampffreunde der Rhätischen Bahn
- Photo of the memorial locomotive G 4/5 No. 118 in Chiang Mai, Thailand
This article is based upon a translation of the German language version as at December 2009.