Herge wrote his first book, “Tintin in the Land of Soviets” in 1930 and the last book “Tintin and the Picaros” in 1976. In this period, the modes of transportation underwent a revolution. While the main means of long distance travel in the 1930s were the railways on land and ships at sea, by the 1970s, the aircraft replaced both. Tintin, due to the nature of his job – as a reporter – had to travel to distant lands. There is hardly any continent that he did not travel to. In “Tintin in the Land of Soviets” he travelled across Europe into the civil war torn Moscow. He took a train from Brussels to Moscow via Germany and the locomotive that hauled his train was a Prussian 8, the standard express train locomotive in Germany at the time.
The next adventure was into Africa when Tintin travelled to Congo. Once in Africa, his transport into the interiors was a Ford Model T. On his way Tintin’s car met with an accident when it collided with a rickety narrow gauge steam train. The the locomotive in the book resembles a Barclay 0-4-0 WT the closest.
The Barclay 0-4-0 WT was a British made narrow gauge steam locomotive used mainly for hauling coal and other such minerals in mines. These locomotives were built by Andrew Barclay Sons and Co. It was founded in 1840 in Scotland at a place called Kilmarnock. Andrew Barclay Sons and Co started with building steam locomotives and then moved on to build “fireless” and diesel shunting locomotives. In its present form, the company provides rail engineering services as “Wabtec Rail Scotland”.
Fireless locomotives had reciprocating engines which used either compressed air or steam as the motive power. They did not have a boiler and the steam had to be loaded into the reservoir from an external source. Similarly, compressed air had to be charged and stored in reservoirs using external compressors. As a result these locomotives had limited range and they could be used only for industrial purposes.
Coming back to the Barclay 0-4-0 WT. These locomotives ran on a 2′-3″ (686 mm) gauge. They had a wheel base of 2′ – 11.25″ (1,200 mm). They were as long as a modern SUV at 15′ – 6″ (4,720 mm). These locomotives weighed in at 17,900 lbs (8,100 Kgs) and had a tractive power of 3,290 lb-f (14,63 KN). The boiler on these locomotives generated steam at 160 psi (1,100 KPa) which expanded in two external cylinders of size 6-7/8″ X 10-3/4″ (175 mm X 273 mm), here the first number gives the bore of the cylinder and the second the stroke.