Class C14 4-6-2 (1919)

Class C14 4-Cylinder Compound Express Passenger Locomotive
Designed by Karel Belčamin
Built in 1919 by Cail, Paris, France

Karel Belčamin's last-but-one design, the class D6A 4-8-0, was certainly one of his finest but could not rob his swansong, the C14 Pacific, of its mystique. As is well known, Belčamin was an avid emulator of English practice and the elegant combination of Doncaster and Swindon influence on the engine's appearance is unmistakable. Technically, the C14, like her predecessors, was much more a product of the South German and Austrian school and was a logical successor to her designer's earlier class C13 4-6-0 of 1915. Whether the RSR really needed a Pacific just after the First World War is debatable - goods engines would certainly have been more useful. The order was placed in April 1919 and Cail delivered the first C14 in late October, after Belčamin's death, the other two following in December. It is impossible to escape the feeling that despite the impression of a compact, integrated design, the engine was specified and the drawings produced in too much of a hurry. Certainly Belčamin and his team only had five months after the end of the war.

The first C14 was put through her paces in late 1919 and soon showed her weak points. Despite the size of her boiler, the C14 was almost always shy of steam. The exhaust system, with its too-narrow blastpipe orifice, didn't help. The inside steamchests were too small and the receiver was convoluted, which made the locomotive sluggish. The outside valve gear had too little lead and hindered expansive working. The consequence of all these faults, which could not be corrected by tinkering, was high coal and water consumption and difficulty in keeping time, even with trains that a B15 or C13 would have sailed along with. By the time the second and third examples were delivered, Bela Šahlmeti had taken over as Chief Engineer and was not about to spend the necessary time and money on a mere three compound express engines that were not really needed anyway. All three C14s were allocated to Tupfdu Rulauriku and hauled semifast passenger trains on the Northern Circle, the last one, C14.02 (by then 344D.02), surviving until 1927.

Text and graphics © Norman Clubb 2012