Number 4, in service, approaches the upper end of the line at Dahuichang with a train of empties.
|Built by||Harbin Locomotive Works, Manchuria|
|2007||Arrived on FR|
Dahuichang 4 is a modern Chinese-built locomotive that arrived on the Ffestniog for assessment on 16 January 2007. Built at the Harbin Locomotive Works in Manchuria (builder's number 221 of 1988), it is an 0-8-0 tender design. Originally 762mm gauge, it has been acquired by a group of Ffestiniog footplate volunteers who are regauging and rebuilding it.
The locomotive left Minffordd for display at Shildon in mid-August 2008. It has sinced returned to Boston Lodge, where it is being rebuilt in a specially built shed.
CHINESE NARROW GAUGE STEAM LOCOMOTIVE ARRIVES IN UK
What may prove to be the world's last commercially built narrow gauge steam locomotive for industrial use has been secured for preservation in the UK.
With the invaluable assistance of Andrew Fisher of Tag Models and FarRail Tours and his wife Dandan, a group of five Ffestiniog Railway footplate volunteers have recently completed an ambitious and exciting project to purchase and import a Chinese narrow gauge steam locomotive. The arrival of the locomotive at the port of Liverpool aboard the M/V Enforcer on 4th January 2007 has been the culmination of a year of hard work.
The project was conceived during a visit to China in September 2005, when 3 members of the group visited a recently closed mineral railway at Dahuichang on the outskirts of Beijing.
The railway, operated by The Beijing Capital Steel and Chemical Factory, was approximately 1 mile long and was built to carry limestone from a quarry in the hills down to a crusher serving a cement factory. The double track line was worked intensively with at least two locomotives in steam daily hauling rakes of 30 four-wheeled wagons from loader to tippler. In recent years, the railway was operated by a fleet of four identical tender locomotives until the quarry and railway closed in early 2005.
Although the railway had recently closed it was possible to arrange, for a small fee, for an engine to be steamed and for it to be operated up to a level crossing approximately half way along the railway. The members all took a turn on the regulator and were immediately impressed by the power and responsive performance and its ability to make steam burning poor quality slack coal. The local staff were naturally very welcoming, enthusiastic and helpful. Impressed by the reactions of the group Mr Shang, the driver, mischievously suggested that they might like to buy a locomotive, an idea they initially laughed off. That evening, over several beers on a train from Beijing, the possibility was discussed and what started off being a crazy idea gradually formulated into a plan. Back in the UK, the group floated the idea amongst friends and colleagues, gained 2 more members and set about turning the dream into reality.
Negotiations between China and the UK continued by telephone for several months and after a couple of false starts, a visit was made by some group members in August 2006. They carried out a detailed examination of the locomotive, both cold and in steam. Inspection of the boiler and firebox showed that it was in surprisingly good condition and the dirty appearance of the locomotive belied its sound mechanical state. Negotiations continued with Mr Wu, the Facilities Manager of the factory until a price was agreed, a contract signed and a deposit paid.
A subsequent visit in late October 2006 finalised the purchase and witnessed the loading of the locomotive onto a lorry and its removal from the railway at the start of its long journey. It was finally loaded onboard the vessel Genoa Bridge at Tianjin port and sailed on 19th November 2006.
The locomotive is Dahuichang number 4, a 762mm gauge C2 class 0-8-0 tender locomotive, built to a design that originated in Eastern Europe in the late 1940s. Over 5000 of this family of locomotive types were built in various countries, including approximately 500 built in China, making it surely the most prolific narrow gauge design. The locomotive secured is Harbin Works number 221 of January 1988, and is one of the last built. In their book, Steam on 4 Continents, Günter Haslbeck and David Wardale wrote, "The C2's display some good features such as a well-formed diffusing chimney and, on later examples, roller bearing crankpins and "package" type roller bearings on the tender axles. With 100% use of the engine weight for adhesion, they could perhaps rank as one of steams most effective ever designs"
The locomotive will initially be taken to the Ffestiniog Railway where it will be thoroughly surveyed and its condition evaluated. A detailed plan for the overhaul and certification of the locomotive will be prepared, which may include re-gauging the loco to 600mm gauge. Whatever the outcome of the survey, it is expected that the restoration process will take several years.
The group would not have been able to complete the purchase and import of the loco without the advice and assistance of a great number of people and special thanks are due to Andy and Dandan Fisher, Mr Wu and Mr Shang at Dahuichang, Mr Jiang, Mr Li and Mr Sun of Sinotrans the Chinese shipping company, Bernard Fairclough of Cory Brothers Limited the import agents, the staff of the Seaforth Container Terminal at the Port of Liverpool, Duncan Milner for collecting the loco in the UK and Paul Lewin and the Ffestiniog Railway for permitting the loco to be based there for evaluation.
- http://www.c2project.org/ C2 project website
- http://www.narrow-gauge.co.uk/gallery/images/311/1813.jpeg here]. More photographs of the loco in service.