Meiningen steam locomotive maintenance depot breathes new life into technologically oldest Czech steam locomotive

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Article: Meiningen steam locomotive maintenance depot breathes new life into technologically oldest Czech steam locomotive

A special piece of technical history left the Meiningen steam locomotive maintenance depot on 13 October: The Czech Republic's technologically oldest steam locomotive 365.024 made its way back to its home country on a low-loader.

The experts in Meiningen renewed the running gear with wheel sets and the complete inner and outer steering. Furthermore, the steam engine was restored (including the production of a new right steam cylinder), the boiler was installed and a rolling test was carried out. The final work was carried out by the client, Czech Railways České dráhy (ČD). The locomotive should then be able to run again for its centenary in 2023.

Parked under the open sky for 50 years

The locomotive came to Meiningen in a poor and rusty condition. After all, the Czech rail classic had been parked outdoors in various places for over 50 years and was deteriorating due to the weather. "Thanks to our decades of experience in diagnosing and then repairing components, we know exactly what needs to be replaced, what can only be cleaned and reused, for example, and what needs to be made new. Nevertheless, this project has always presented us with new challenges. It fills us with great pride that we were able to make a significant contribution so that this unique technical monument can roll over the tracks in our neighbouring country again next year," says Stefan Ley, head of the Meiningen steam locomotive manitenance depot.

The experts in Meiningen faced the following challenges:

  • Manufacture of a new ash box with new grate bars, grate rods and tilting grate shaft
  • Crack in the frame, resulting in the need for frame renovation including the manufacture of new frame belts
  • Right steam cylinder leaking through a hole, which led to new design and manufacture of the complete steam cylinder using the welding process
  • Complete renewal of the wheelset group (driving wheel diameter of 1780 mm and running wheel diameter of 994 mm) with new tyres, manufacture of new ball pivots, driving pivots and coupling axle bearings.
  • Repair and straightening of driving and coupling rods with manufacture of new bearings
  • New production of various small parts such as cylinder covers, piston support bushings, entire control block, slide valve body
  • Difficult assignment of assemblies, as the Meiningen works did not dismantle the locomotive itself; this necessitated a visit to the museum depot in Chomutov to inspect the sister locomotive 365.020

The cooperation will continue

The restoration project was originally divided into three sections: Frame with running gear, superstructure with brake and boiler connection, assembly and commissioning. After the initial findings and during the processing of sections one and two, it became immediately apparent that some assemblies were either missing or would have to be completely rebuilt. Therefore, the delivery date had to be adjusted at an early stage. Due to the economic situation during the Corona pandemic and thus limited financial resources, ČD 2020 expressed the wish to realise only a part of the ordered services and to carry out the finishing work themselves. Therefore, the locomotive will leave the factory in a partially restored state.

"We very much appreciate the professional qualities and the overall cooperation with the colleagues in Meiningen. I am pleased that thanks to their help the restoration of the locomotive has already progressed so far and that they helped us to repair the most important parts, such as the frame or the production of a new steam cylinder. The cooperation will continue even after the locomotive is transferred to our centre for historical vehicles in Lužná near Rakovník. I believe that together we will be able to complete the entire project on schedule in 2023, when the locomotive celebrates its 100th anniversary," says Marek Plochý, director of the Railway Museum of Czech Railways.