A train is the assembly of different vehicles, to begin of course with a locomotive, then various carriages. This assembly is made by hitches that must be compatible, and it is not always the case.
Les premiers constructeurs de matériel ferroviaire n'avaient pas vraiment le souci de cette compatibilité: ils fournissaient une gamme complète et la question de pouvoir utiliser du matériel d'un autre constructeur ne se posait pas encore vraiment.
Ou plutôt, cette question était volontairement réglée de sorte à éviter la compatibilité. En effet, la voie étroite à usage militaire étant susceptible de tomber aux mains de l'ennemi, il s'agissait de ne pas faciliter la tâche à cet ennemi.
The first manufacturers of railway equipment did not really have to worry about this compatibility: they provided a full range and the question of using some equipment from an other manufacturer did not arise yet.
Or rather this question was solved in a way to avoid such compatibility. Indeed, the narrow gauge for the military could fall into ennemy hands, so it was preferable not to ease the job of this ennemy.
|Un attelage Péchot complet
A complete Péchot hitch
The french and german 14-18 equipments are thus incompatible on several aspects for obvious reasons, but it is lso tha case between the french equipments of various manufacturers. Commercially speaking, it was not beneficial to allow the customers to buy wagons and track elsewhere and only to buy the loco (or the opposite). Competition is not the only reason, there are also technical considerations, preferences of engineers that favor a characteristic more than an other. This phenomenon of standards war is known, there are famous examples as the currents war (direct vs alternating), the video formats war (VHS-Betamax-V2000) or the memory cards war (SecureDigital, SmartMedia, MemoryStick, CompactFlash). But when one wins, the others already sold don't cease to exist, and for long life equipments, we can still meet them for... quite some times ! Here are some seen at Rillé, it is only a small sample of what could exist worldwide.
|Gauche/left: Cogema - Droite/right: Decauville
To add to the difficulty, the catalog of a manufacturer could offer different types of hitches, depending on the use planned for the equipment. It goes from the hitch on dampening spring to the pure and simple absence of it for manual push, through the simple bumpers and simple hooks.
|Avant de la DFB: le crochet de traction est cassé !
Front of the Brigadelok: the traction hook is broken !
|Gauche/left: Billard, Droite/right: Brigadelok.
Problème de hauteur ! A problem of height !
|L'arrière de notre loco
The rear end of our loco
This voluntary incompatibility could be a different gauge of the rails, but also the use of different hitches, forcing the ennemy to alter the equipment, spending time and ressources. When the diversity of equipment is significant, the shunting agents must have an arsenal of straight or crossed links, as well as rings, bars and manilas. If it allows to hook up a wagon for an occasional use, it is more complicated as soon as several are concerned with a limited amount of accessories.
|Echantillon d'accessoires de jonction
Sample of connection accessories
Généralement, tirer les wagons ne pose pas de problème particulier, mais refouler une rame hétéroclite cause souvent des soucis car les attelages différents ne réagissent pas toujours bien à l'action des efforts. En effet, certains attelages peuvent se mettre de travers et causer un effort latéral pouvant aller jusqu'au déraillement. Pour éviter cela, la confection d'un adaptateur permet de limiter les efforts latéraux.
Genarally, towing wagons is not problematic, but to push an heterogenous train often causes trouble because the different hitches seldom react well to the action of efforts. Indeed, some hitches can set askew and cause a lateral effort, sometimes until derailment. To avoid that, making an adaptor allows to limit the lateral efforts.
Our locomotive has hitch bumpers incompatible with those of Rillé, they are not even original ones and will require yet an other alteration. We will describe this operation in a next article, but in the meantime, a video to show you the constitution of these new bumpers:
Cliquez ce lien pour regarder directement depuis Youtube:
Click on this link to watch directly on Youtube: