Tintin!, my favourite character ever. I have to return to him because Herge not only drew real cars in his books but real everything transport. So after finishing my series on “Cars of Tintin” I decided to do some find out about other vehicles in Tintin. What next topic to choose than my second love in things that move? Yes, trains. I have been fascinated by them always, especially the huge hulks of smoke belching steam locomotives. I still remember the drama and the spectacle they made as they entered into stations. Sound of steam expelled from the cylinders and the clanking of the connecting rods turning the huge iron wheels. What a sight? In fact in India, most kids called a train a “Chhuk Chhuk Gaadi” roughly translated into English as the vehicle which makes a Chhuk Chhuk sound.
The first book of Tintin, discovered very late, was “The Adventures of Tintin Reporter for Le Petit Vingtieme in the Land of the Soviets”. Whew! some name, sounds more like a report. The book starts with Tintin boarding a train on a journey to Moscow. There was a bomb explosion on the train and Tintin was arrested on charges of detonating a bomb in Berlin. He somehow escaped from custody in a Mercedes 15/70/100 PS. He was attacked by bombers but somehow managed to survive the attack. Driving at a breakneck speed and looking skywards for more bombers, he did not hear the approaching train at an unmanned crossing and crashed into it, landing on the locomotive. The train was on its way to Moscow; and that’s how he reached Soviet Russia. Some adventure.
The locomotive hauling this particular train was a Prussian P8. These locomotives were called the P8 on the Prussian Railway and the DRG Class 38.10-40 on the Deutsche Reichsbahn. I will stick to P8. They were manufactured by Berliner Maschinenbau and 12 other factories from 1908 to 1926. These locomotives employed the latest technology of the time which included the recently developed super-heated steam producing boilers. The super heated steam generates more power as it expands in the cylinder because of the increased difference in the initial and final temperature of the steam in the cycle. It had two cylinder driving gear. The boiler produced steam at 12 bar (170 psi).
A little abut the steam engine. In a steam locomotive, steam is generated in the boiler using water which is heated by burning a fuel. It is an external combustion engine as the fuel is burnt outside the engine unlike a gasoline or diesel engine where the fuel is burnt inside the engine. The steam thus produced is then led to a cylinder where it is allowed to expand. The expanding steam pushed the piton in the cylinder and this then moves a connecting rod which in turn turns the driving wheels to move the locomotive. The P8 was a 4-6-0 locomotives which means 4 wheels on a leading bogie followed by six powered wheels and no trailing wheels.
The P8 was initially designed as an express train locomotive and had low wind resistance fitted on the locomotive along with a tapered cab. Though designed for 110 km/h (68 mph) these locomotives could achieve 100 km/h (60 mph) because of the loosely coupled tender which affected the ride, especially when going in reverse. They were used with different tenders by the Prussian Railway and the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The Prussian Railway tender could carry 21.5 tons of water and 7 tons of coal. These locomotives were built for a number of gauges that included, Standard Gauge (1435 mm or 4 ‘ 8-1/2″) and Russian Gauge (1,542 mm or 5 ft).
The P8 was 18,585 mm (60′ 11-3/4″) long and weighed 69 to 76.69 tons. They had an adhesive weight of 50.60 tons. These behemoths produced 1,164 BHP. The maximum speeds were 110 km/h (60 mph) in forward direction and 50 km/h (31 mph) in reverse. If they used a tub-tender, they could go faster in reverse achieving speeds of 85 km/h (53 mph). The P8 could haul 300 tons at 100 km/h (60 mph) and 400 tons at 90 km/h (56 mph). To stop this giant, automatic Knorr single chamber compressed air brakes were used. They worked on both sides of the working wheels. Later, the leading bogie brakes were also provided with brakes.
500 of these locomotives pulled express trains for up to 50 years by the time they were retired in Germany by 1974. They were deployed extensively around Europe as freight locomotives also. They were deployed in Poland, Romania, Belgium, Italy, France, Lithuania, Greece etc.