Class 864A 2-8-2+2-8-2 (1938)

Class 864A 6-Cylinder Compound Express Passenger Locomotive
Designed by Frihdrik Tešlov
Built in 1938 by Beyer, Peacock & Co., Manchester, England

The idea of an express Garratt was by no means new in the late 1930's. The P.L.M. machines that were operating in Algeria were inspiration enough, although there was no perceived need for such an engine on the RSR. However in 1935 when the project was first mooted, the storm clouds of the Second World War had not yet darkened and Frihdrik Tešlov was looking ahead to the 1960's and beyond. The success of André Chapelon's locomotives on the P.O.-Midi in France was not to be overlooked and although Tešlov seemed to have rejected compound expansion (only one of his designs, 344D 4-6-4, was a compound) the 864A is a clear sign that he could be swayed to return to the fold. The external appearance of the 864A was clearly influenced by the P.L.M. engines, but otherwise the RSR design was quite orthodox. An order was placed for one locomotive only, with an option for 29 more, on Beyer Peacock in 1937 and delivered in early 1938. By this time, of course, the political climate in Europe had worsened severely and the Manchester firm never got their follow-on order.

The Garratt was tried out on various heavy express services, both passenger and goods, on most of the RSR's routes, sharing the rosters of the 344D and 344DD 4-6-4s and the 433C and 433CC 2-8-4s, and never had difficulty in keeping time. The locomotive was hand-fired with an auxiliary mechanical stoker to cope with periods of hard steaming. The boiler, as always on a Garratt, was an excellent steam generator and the water was easy to keep well up in the glass, even when working with long cut-off for extended periods of time. Before the results of all these trials could be analysed, the Second World War had started and Nazi forces had overrun the country. In 1941 the 864A was seized and taken to Germany "for further evaluation". It never returned.

Text and graphics © Norman Clubb 2012