Felin Hen

Marc André Dubout - Patrick Mourot
Translation Hazel Brewer - MAD

Interview with Patrick Mourot (Tacot des Lacs) - May 22, 2011


Baldwin no. 5104 is a 2-6-2T Prairie class locomotive that was built in 1917, one of 250 sent for use by the United States Army Transport Corps (USARC) and the French Army in France in 1918. After the war, when it was no longer required by military nor industry it was sold to the Penrhyn Slate Quarries in Wales to pull slate trains on the line between the quarry and Port Penrhyn 1. 1It was here that it was named “Felin Hen” 2. Little used, it was shipped to Brisbane in Australia in 1940 while its sister locomotives, “Llandegai” and “Tregarth”, were scrapped. In Australia it hauled sugar cane wagons and was given no.4 at Fairymead Mill near Bundeberg. 3 As its leading pony truck was the cause of numerous derailments it was converted to 0-6-2T in 1956. At the same time new side tanks were made and 1965 it was sent to Fairymead Gardens at Bundaberg 3. Here it was acquired by the BSTPS for restoration and thus taken apart. In view of the work that still needed to be carried out it was passed on to Patrick Mourot in 2002 and soon arrived at Tacot des Lacs.  

Felin Hen in Australia with spark arresting chimney..
(Photo http://www.australiansteam.com)
Felin Hen 21st May 2011 ready to be put into official service, just before lighting.
¾ view along the platform near the depot.

Patrick makes no secret of the fact that he has a “soft spot” for Baldwins. To him this locomotive was the most beautiful thing on 60cm and it was something he did not have yet in his collection. For a long time he longed to have this type of locomotive running on the Tacot des Lacs. Unfortunately, only one existed on this planet, it belonged to a society and was in pieces. One day, he decided to make contact with the owner that he was told about by an English family, the Brewer’s, who had travelled to Australia. “If you want this locomotive, you write to this address”. Thus began the venture in earnest.Without having seen it first except in photographs taken by friends, Patrick purchased what was left of the locomotive, in other words the chassis, driving wheels, some cab parts and backsheet. He told the sugar mill that he intended to put life back into this engine and as a result the mill generously assisted with its transportation to Seine-et-Marne, where it arrived in 2002 at Tacot des Lacs.

felin33.jpg (43389 octets) Felin Hen arriving at Tacot des Lacs.
This is far from the final result. The front end had been cut off, the smoke-box door had been taken off and it had to be re-riveted back in the hinge. After that, more metalwork! 
(Photo © Hazel Brewer with her kind authorization)

Thus began restoration, mostly reconstitution work as about 2/3 of the locomotive was missing. To start with the leading pony truck had to be replaced to as it was before it was removed. As the rear pony truck was the same as the front pony truck Patrick was able to make a pattern using the rear set as a template. To do that he had to make castings which used about 900kg of scrap metal.What is more, as documentation was scarce he had to do his own research. In this quest Richard Dunn 5, who had already done some work on this topic, sent Patrick a plan and some photos giving vital details. This information enabled him to reconstruct the chassis and the pony-truck and suspension.Next he tackled the boiler whose tube plate had been removed and information lacking. He had to learn how to rivet as he could not find a single business capable of carrying out the work. 22 rivets were required to attach the plate to the pivot and a friend managed to source some suitable rivets in England. The boiler itself was in perfect condition as it had been made as new in Australia. He then riveted the front plate, replaced the levers and the front tubes.For documentation purposes he had to write his own notes, do his own calculations, analyse the materials himself, measure the thicknesses, etc.From that moment on work was well underway in the hope that Felin Hen would be seen to run again.
Next was the reconstruction of the pipe-work, the water level gauges, the cab and rear bunker. He also had to remake the chimney and smoke-box door – American style – as they had been converted from the original. Then there were more bits missing – front and rear crossbars, anti-derailers, couplings, plenty of things to do but nonetheless time-consuming. Having begun in 2002 with the view of being completed by 2010 it was quite a feat considering Patrick was also working on other projects at the same time.Luckily, a friend found him a tender – a water wagon – on which he could also load wood or coal that he could couple to the rear of the engine to increase the range. It was a WW1 1914 water wagon, a rarity, mounted on a Pershing chassis, a universal chassis that could be put to many uses. This tender was found in someone’s garden where it was being used for irrigation. To complete things he also found a covered closed wagon near Pithiviers which made up his historic train, along with a flat wagon that a Spanish friend gave him. Thus a complete rake of stock to accompany the locomotive which is now classed as “Monument Historique”. If you put an original Baldwin next to Felin Hen you will see that Patrick has used the same method of construction in its preservation. He has riveted where the rivets are supposed to have been, bent metal where it was meant to be bent. Even the screws that are seen on the exterior are in the style of those made at the time which were found in a dismantled carpenter’s workshop.

As the original injectors had disappeared similar ones have been fitted. The safety valves are new and conform to modern guidelines.The boiler has been stamped with its original pressure limit of 12.5 bars.In working order the engine weighs 16 tonnes.

On the smokebox the constructor number plate 5104 in American characters and around it the inscription “The Baldwin Locomotive Works – Philadelphia U.S.A.”
The front pony-truck pivot fabricated as the original.
The left cylinder mounted on its valve gear. A well-known distribution.
The crossbar, solidly anchored one end to the cylinder, the other end to the chassis. 
The distribution section
The driving rod which is attached to the rear driving axle and the coupling rod which transmits the effort to the other axles. 
In the spacious cab all the pipework is new. Here you can see the gauge and behind it, the injector and whistle pipes. Below the gauge is the horizontal regulator lever, definitely American… elegance in the making!
The left injector looks French… from a Decauville 0-6-0T ?
The direction change lever painted majestically in red… a master touch
The regulator as seen from underneath. To the right the pipe leading to the right injector.
The array of water gauges surround the works plate and stamp (12.5 bars). Below firebox door.
In this photo it seems you only have to pull the regulator !

The fire and after

Patrick in the cab and Philippe who is about to crack the match
That done, one must wait 3 hours before working pressure is reached.
felin23.jpg (72354 octets) During this time I play with the vertical boiler engine. First of all, the boiler has to be filled with water as it has not been lit since winter. No need to rake out as it is a wood burner and there are no cinders.has not been lit since this winter. Not bother to scrape the grid as it burns only wood there is no slag.
felin25.jpg (68960 octets) And I am not alone. My apprentices, Timothee and Alexis, are here to help me. A wild bunch! 
felin26.jpg (51616 octets) With a well-managed fire it is ready in half an hour.
felin24.jpg (80626 octets) When 120 PSI has been reached it is ready to set off on a new adventure.
felin27.jpg (77038 octets) Now there’s a friend ! It no longer works as is missing a driving rod. No risk of fire there !
felin28.jpg (74278 octets) On the bridge over the river Loing. Stephane and Veronique are ahead on the walking boards for filming purposes.
felin29.jpg (1091258 octets) And then a little family photo before returning to the station.
felin30.avi (13281482 octets) Where it intersects guess who? Felin Hen, the only ride in France ... What do I say ... on the planet.
There was only one He found ... Respect!


  • 262.jpg (22893 octets)1 In 1924 Penrhyn (Wales) bought 3 2-6-2T Baldwins for use on the main line. However, they were put aside in favour of the Hunslet locomotives. These three locomotives, Llandegai, Tregarth and Felin Hen were retired after three years’ service. Tregarth was scrapped in 1940 whereas Llandegai served as stationary boiler.
    Hazel Brewer’s note: - The Baldwin’s were purchased to update the tractive power provided by the Hunslets “Linda”, “Blanche” and “Charles” that served the mainline from the quarry at Bethesda to Port Penrhyn (near Bangor), hoping that the Baldwin’s, being a larger locomotive, would be more suitable. In the event, the Baldwins proved more difficult to manage as they required a full-time fireman n addition to the driver and only performed well on the best steam coal, whereas the Hunslets could be managed by a single crew member. Today “Linda” and “Blanche” can be seen working on the Festiniog Railway. “Charles” is in the museum at Penrhyn Castle.
  • 2 Felin Hen = Old Mill, NOT Felin the chicken

    3 Bundaberg Sugar
    Sugar has a vast rail network of about 950Km. No fewer than 40 cane trains work 24/24 during cane harvesting season which normally lasts from May to November. This network is still in operation to this day and is a major employer in the surrounding 
  • 4 Baldwin Locomotive Works  was an American locomotive constructor situated at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although this company produced a lot of steam locomotives, the move over to produce diesel locomotives was less successful.The company cased locomotive construction in 1956 and finally closed its doors in 1972.Its founder, Matthias W. Baldwin, began in 1932 by building small steam engines. It was not until the 1920’s that his company became the biggest constructor of locomotives in the world.

     steam engines but his firm became in the 1920s the world's largest manufacturer of locomotives.

  • 5 Narrow gauge to no Man's land - US Army 60 cm gauge railway of the first world war in France - Richard Dunn - 1990

Websites :

Si une image de cette page vous paraissait non libre de droits, merci de m'en faire part