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Monday Train Blogging: Crocodiles

by DoDo Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 10:00:36 AM EST

Every new technological platform first mimics older technologies, then designers try out all kinds of modifications which seem outlandish with hindsight, and then things settle down to a refined standard design.

In the case of electric locomotives, it started with steam locomotive-ish looks, and ended in the standard form of a box with driver's cabin at both ends riding two bogies with two axles each. Here I'll show a solution that appeared in-between: the crocodiles.

DB [class] 194 [no.] 038 at Geislingen (Steige) in 1980. Photo by Uwe Johannsen from EisenbahnPhotographie.de

Update [2006-3-7 4:33:45 by DoDo]: I added one photograph and some more details in the text.


In the first mainline electrics of Europe, one giant electric engine drove a so-called "blind axle", which in turn drove the locomotive wheels with coupling rods, just like on a steam locomotive. But soon designers realised that it is much easier to build multiple drive units (i.e. wheels driven by the same engine, or at least wheels in the same frame) into an electric locomotive than a steamer.

This came handy in the design of heavy mountain locomotives. The latter faced two opposing requirements: they had to take curves easily, and had to have as many driven wheels as possible.

One solution is: take a locomotive with two drive units, add more wheels to those, and put extra machinery boxes atop the protruding ends in front of the drivers' cabins, and these protrusions can be articulated. And thus the crocodile was born.


The pioneers from Switzerland

The drive units of the first crocodiles still had blind axles. I'll show two.

The first, made for the state railway SBB to run trains across the Gotthard pass (electrified in response to the coal shortages during WWI), actually had two variants (class Ce 6/8 II1: 1655 kW/2120 HP2, 1919–1922, from 1941 rebuilt into 2688 kW/3605 HP class Be 6/8 II; class Ce 6/8 III: stronger at 1809 kW/2426 HP, also fitted with different coupling rods, 1925–1926, later re-classified Be 6/8 III).

Preserved unit SBB Ce 6/8 II [no.] 14253 (in original livery) with special train at the lower part of the Wassen double loop. From RailFanEurope

Between 1923–1927, SBB crocodiles of both variants were also delivered to Austria as class 1100.0 and 1100.1 (later ÖBB class 1089/1189), but with a different (lower) nose design.

Preserved unit ÖBB 1189.02, here with old numberplate as 1100.102 (an example of the second version of the SBB crocodile) at Semmering station. Photo by Christian Beckers from RailFanEurope

Rhätische Bahn (RhB), which runs a large narrow-gauge (1 m) network and is kind of the state railway of Graubünden canton, built its Ge 6/6 I crocodiles 1921–1929 already without the non-driving front/end wheels (which steam locos need for stable running at higher speeds, i.e. staying in the tracks). Their one-hour power rating of 940 kW/1261 HP was significant for a small narrow-gauge loco.

Preserved unit RhB Ge 6/6 I [no.] 414 with nostalgic train near Bonaduz. From Markus' Steam Pages


Made In Germany

On steep mountain mainlines, the normal locomotive of longer trains wasn't enough – so-called pusher locomotives were called for help, locomotives that pulled up from behind in the valley station, and without being coupled to the train, helped pushing up the slope. The first German crocodile was made exclusively for this purpose: the eighteen members of class E93 (later West German 193), built 1933–1939. They already had one motor per axle, and had a one-hour power rating of 2501 kW/3303 HP.

DB 193 [no.] 007 in unusual line service with freight train in Heidelberg, 1977. Photo by Roland Linke from IG Deutsches Krokodil

The most famous crocodile was a stronger (3240 kW/4345 HP), longer, faster version developed from the E93: the heavy freight locomotive E94. A solid construction: first built in 1940, last (200th) in 1954 in West Germany (where it was later class 194). The updated design of the last batch (later subclass 194.5) already foreshadowed post-war locomotive designs, and was even stronger (4680 kW/6276 HP).

The locos that ended up in East Germany (later East German class 254) were subject to an odyssey: they were carted off by the Soviet Union as reparation for WWII, only they weren't really fit for the Russian broad-gauge network – so they stood around for a few years before being returned.

A third break-up product of the Nazi Reich, Austria, also kept a number of the machines – they became class 1020 there, and survived into the late nineties in regular service.

Two ÖBB 1020 crocodiles (and a 1044.1) disappear into a tunnel in the big horseshoe curve at Matrei on the Brenner line. Photo by Manfred Weinhandl from Bahnbilder.de

The crocodile nose was dropped in later designs as unnecessary and uneconomic – by then mainlines had enough clearance for longer single-box locomotive bodies in curves. But I note there was one big advantage of the crocodiles over modern units: their 'snout' could act as a 'crash zone' during collisions, protecting the locomotive driver.

  1. The old Swiss numbering system: 6/8 stands for 6 driven axles out of 8; the lower-case e stands for electric, the upper-case letters correspond to power classes (for locomotives in increasing order: G-E-D-C-B-A-R); the Latin number is to differentiate different types that fall into the same categories in the previous four, and is assigned chronologically.
  2. HP is the English horsepower (c. 0.7457 kW) for our American readers; not to be confused with German Pferdestärke (c 0.7355 kW). All power ratings in the diary are one-hour ratings (maximum sustained power is usually about 10% lower).


Previous Monday Train Bloggings:

  1. (Premiere/ modern Austrian trains & locos)
  2. Adventure
  3. Fast Steam
  4. Heavy Haul
  5. Forgotten Colorado
  6. The Hardest Job
  7. Blowback
  8. Highest Speed
  9. New England Autumn
  10. Trainwreck
  11. Bigger Than Big Boy
  12. Tunnels
  13. Failed Designs
  14. Demarcations
  15. Crazed Designs
  16. Trains In The Arts
  17. Railway Cathedrals
  18. Design Dictators
  19. Slippery Slope
  20. Alta Velocità
  21. Winter In Bulgaria
  22. Nice Station
  23. Field Railways

Display:
BTW, this is my parting shot in the regular Monday Train Blogging series - I'll do more irregularly as inspiration or current events prod me.

I'll start the regular astonomy series Alex and Migeru asked me for in a few weeks.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 07:28:14 PM EST
Well, Dodo, let me be the first to thank you for this great series!

THANKS!!!

And hopefully there will be more inspired diaries, even if irregular.

by PeWi on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 07:39:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for all the photos - and diaries...I've learned a lot

"now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." W. Churchill
by Thor Heyerdahl (thor.heyerdahl@NOSPAMgmail.com) on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 01:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 09:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the appreciation!

Do you have some photographs of similar-looking old American electrics? Anything ran by Pennsy or Milwaukee?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 11:00:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So I can't help with photos.  

Most of the US is not electrified, and I believe it came late, so that locomotive designs borrow more from diesels, though double-ended.  The noses are not as low as the crocodiles, and are more rounded--part of the streamlining that came in in the 1930's.  

The main electrified line is the Northeast Corridor--the former Pennsylvania Railroad running from Washington DC to New York City and now extended toward Boston.  As I understand it, electrification was chosen to avoid a stop for changing of engines at the tunnel under the Hudson River (to New York).  Having trains able to run straight through gave the Pennsy RR a decided edge.  

The topography of New York is a little strange.  Coming from the southwest, something like ten miles of swampy land lies between the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers (in New Jersey).  The skyscrapers of New York are visible, but as the Hudson River is approached, a ridge of hills right alongside the river partly screens them.  The tunnel plunges into the side of the hill and then under the river.  

There are electrified commuter lines radiating about New York City(the former New York, New Haven & Hartford; the Harlem & Hudson; New Jersey Transit; and the Long Island Railroad--the names are still used to distinguish branches), but they follow the design of motors in each car.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 11:36:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I changed some confusing words/sentences and added two footnotes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 10:10:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I love crocodiles! We used to have one at home....

Yes, a miniature railway crocodile. (H0) Which makes me think, that your third image, might be from a miniature image series, since the line does not seem to be electrified also the wagons seem so random... But then which serious miniature set builder would make such a glaring mistake, so maybe it is a proper image....

by PeWi on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 07:45:53 PM EST
You can see the catenary above (to the left) the third and fourth cars, of the train, in the curve.

Yes, a miniature railway crocodile. (H0)

Which type? The German one? (The one on the third picture, RhB's narrow-gauge crocodile, is one of the most popular narrow-gauge models, e.g. for example in H0m.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 07:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...but whichever model you had, I envy you :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 07:56:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it was my father who bought it, so it must have been in the late sixties or early 70ies, because it was always there as far back as I can remember. I recently saw the loco at my little brothers, and yes it was the German one in the third image.

We did not quite tread them with the necessary respect, however...

by PeWi on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 08:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes it was the German one in the third image.

Now I am really confused :-) The original third image (I inserted  another photo in the meantime) was the looks-like-a-model narrow-gauge Swiss crocodile; the standard German crocodile can be seen on the first and last images (but in the Austrian painting scheme on the last image).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 06:22:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for the confusion, it was defentiely the loco in the "former" third image, and therefore it must have been a swiss. I haven't seen it in ages, but I can remember the short schnout and the two charge pickups (or what ever the terms might be....)

I just looked at the Maerklin website, they have some exciting stuff!!!

Once I am older and have children, i will get back into miniature railways. "digitally controlled delayed acceleraion" Yeah!

by PeWi on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 11:01:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean pantographs. Two pantographs and a short snout aren't enough for distinguishing them from the German version - but colour is: the Germans could come in colors green, maybe silver, and maybe beige/blue; but only the RhB crocodile could have been brown (or red).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 11:14:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which other colour but green!
That was the colour it had.
by PeWi on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 01:06:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but I am also fairly certain, the snout was narrower than the cabin part of the loco.

However I will ask my brother for his comment, I am sure he remembers better.

by PeWi on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 01:08:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but I am also fairly certain, the snout was narrower than the cabin part of the loco.

Well, that almost settles it, though it could still have been a Seetal crocodile (see comment with images at bottom).

However I will ask my brother for his comment, I am sure he remembers better.

Oh, some good comes out of my pointless nitpicking - a family communication! :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 03:11:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he actually has more important things to do, since he became a father again on Saturday...
by PeWi on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 06:16:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Congrats to him!

Now he has an easy excuse to buy model trains :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 06:33:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the new born is a girl, but the other one is a son, and he already showed me a new crocodile when I last visited...
by PeWi on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 10:24:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
:-)))

...and in the name of gender equality, why not give the girl one, too?

Especially considering that one of the preserved German crocodiles, 194 158, belongs to one Frau Barbara Pirch, who is also a locomotive driver!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 10:37:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saving the 194 158 short story.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 10:38:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
true, true.... (-: with that father...
by PeWi on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 03:47:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"You can see the catenary above"

o.k

by PeWi on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 08:02:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooh, my favorite electrolocos! I think I saw one once somewhere near Gotthard Tunnel. Hmm, come to think of it, that must've been on the Wassen loop also? Been thinking of buying a Märklin one but haven't had the extra euros yet.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 08:21:55 PM EST
I found this in western Japan ca 1960. The loco was dedicated to port operations, and was not used for long haul.


(Source: Mo-yan's Album)

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 10:14:20 AM EST
Wow... can you find any data on that machine? Build when and by whom? Is its nose articulated or rigid-frame (as it seems from the photo)?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 10:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This one (model ED30) appears was experimental.

  • Built in 1943 in Japan by Toyokawa Railways
  • Power: 1500V DC
  • Axels: B-B
  • Weight: 40t
  • Output (/h): 500kW
  • 4 Motors

Japan didn't have the mechanical ability to achieve 3-dimentional curves then. So this must be rigid-frame.

Again, thank you always for your great train robber... ah blogging. ('_>`)

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 12:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This is the SBB De 6/6, or "Seetal-Krokodil", a normal gauge version of the RhB crocodile. Three were built in 1926 for the Seetal line, which has a special, narrow clearance (it runs just beside a road and thus can't be widened)

This is the "BVZ-Krokodil", or class HGe 4/4 I of the Brig-Visp-Zermatt railway from 1929-1930. I'm not sure whether it was articulated when built, it isn't now - not a 'true' crocodile. It has only four axles, but it is also a rack railway locomotive.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 10:58:54 AM EST
Finally, here is the Bernina crocodile - a single machine built for a railway later incorporated into RhB. It originally had giant snowplows at both ends.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 11:09:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another great train bloggery, DoDo. I don't comment on them, (I don't know enough), but I enjoy them. Thanks!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 04:07:34 PM EST
I don't comment either, just enjoy the pictures (part of my training to gather experience for the laziness diary <s>).
Photography is art indeed.  

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 10:21:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Photography can be art. Cue long diary entry by somebody who isn't me.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 10:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Best wishes to you, Daniel, and I will miss your regular railroading content. For the moment, a follow-up on electric locomotives of a crocodilian nature in North America, both at the Tribune and at Cold Spring Shops

Stephen Karlson ATTITUDE is a nine letter word. BOATSPEED.
by SHKarlson (shkarlson at frontier dot com) on Mon Mar 13th, 2006 at 08:15:21 PM EST
Thanks for the wonderful diary!

The Illinois Terminal CLass D crocodile has to be re-posted here:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 14th, 2006 at 10:38:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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