View Full Version : Lithuanian Locomotive

09-05-2012, 08:39 AM
I spent the entire month of August away from the heat of Phoenix. The first three days of the trip, in muggy Manhattan, were hardly an improvement in comfort, but I enjoyed exploring the world's greatest city. I then flew to Norway to attend a nephew's wedding, on the island of Smøla in the fjords north of Ålesund. Cool, at last.

After the family reunion I did a backpacking trip through the Baltic countries. I got an outside cabin on the overnight ferry from Sweden to Lithuania. The ship docked at the industrial city of Klaipėda. Stretching along the shore for miles, cranes of all shapes rose over wharves devoted to handling bulk cargo. Not a container terminal in sight. I felt like I had stepped back a few decades in time.


The train station displayed this locomotive. There was no plaque, but I found this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_locomotive_class_Ye. It is a Baldwin 2-10-0, designed in Russia but made in Pennsylvania and shipped to the USSR during WWII. I was surprised by the amount of daylight between the boiler and the chassis –– is this an uncommon design?


Next I went to Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia. No passenger trains run between the countries, and there are no through buses. I took a bus to a Zarasai, a town near the border. After learning that the bus to Latvia would not leave for six hours, I asked the station mistress to call for a taxi. She demurred –– "Too much money," she said. I showed her the contents of my wallet, which had four 50-litas notes, each worth about $18. One of those notes would be sufficient, she said. I waited five minutes, but instead of a taxi two guys in track suits showed up in a beat up old VW Polo. They didn't look too threatening, so I squeezed into the back seat with my pack.

Daugavpils is still stuck in the Soviet era. I found it totally fascinating. There was no old train, but the RR yards are extensive. I found this level crossing on a footpath between my hotel and the city center. This is two locomotives connected back-to-back.


The only train I actually traveled on went from Cēsis, Latvia, to Valga, Estonia. Valga had this locomotive on display, with a plaque explaining that it had been built in 1949 at the shipyards of Shormovo, Russia. To my uneducated eye it looked a lot older than that.


09-05-2012, 09:14 AM
Very nice trip, thanks for posting the pictures. One question, are you multi-lingual or did you get by with English during the trip?

09-05-2012, 09:18 AM
Very nice trip!!! Had to be fun. Do you have any other pics of that Baldwin? Would love to see the whole thing.


09-05-2012, 09:40 AM

Thanks, fascinating account and pictures. Had some Latvian friends in college with some nostalgia for the home country, but too much history and too much change.

I'm curious about the cranes in the first picture. I'm no expert on either cranes or engineering but they are an interesting design. While I don't doubt the rationale and sound engineering, they seem oddly constructed at first glance. The main boom lift appears to be handled by the shorter counterbalanced arm at the top of the column, attached as a third class lever relatively close to the base. Do I recall correctly that your field is engineering and can you comment on the design choices there?

09-05-2012, 12:10 PM
Very nice trip, thanks for posting the pictures. One question, are you multi-lingual or did you get by with English during the trip?

I regret that I am not multi-lingual. But even if I was it would not have served any purpose in Lithuania or Latvia, the sole survivors of the Baltic language family. But learning those languages would be relatively easy compared to learning Estonian or Finnish which are not even in the Indo-European language group. I got by fine with English, since I was only in the cities and staying in hotels or guest houses where the receptionist was fluent.

The only exception was in the train station in Cēsis, Latvia, where I asked for the location of the toilet, or WC. I had to resort to sign language, instinctively settling upon a motion of turning a flushing handle. That worked, since they have apparently abandoned the pull cord decades ago.

I had a bad experience on my first long bus trip, from Kaunas to Vilnius. The bus had a WC, but it was locked. I arrived in Vilnius literally doubled over, sitting on the step next to the driver (who had refused my plea to let me off the bus). Somehow I managed to avoid the ultimate embarrassment. After that I always started my bus rides without having drunk any morning coffee, in fact nearly dehydrated.

09-05-2012, 12:17 PM
I'm curious about the cranes in the first picture ..

Now you've got me curious. As often happens on trips like these I was so overwhelmed by the sight of so many new things that I didn't stop to reflect on the design of those cranes. Here is another photo which shows some more detail. It does appear to be a counterbalanced linkage, as you observed. I took a course in four-bar linkage synthesis when I was at Stanford; the professor would have loved this.


Here is a crop. Now I wish I had bothered to mount my 80-300mm (equiv) telephoto on the Nikon 1 V1, to get more detail.


09-05-2012, 12:33 PM
Do you have any other pics of that Baldwin? Would love to see the whole thing.



I was hoping somebody would ask. Here is the locomotive and tender.


I erred in saying there was no plaque. Here it is, but there was no translation into English.


Here is a closer look at a cylinder:


This crew car was a few feet away, busy in its task of shuttling yard workers.


09-05-2012, 12:58 PM
Thank you for the pictures Allan! You are right, those drives seem awlfully small. I wonder why it's like that....

Thanks Again,

09-05-2012, 01:00 PM
Just a quick thought, do you suppose it is like that because of shipping it from PA to there? Hmmm

john hobdeclipe
09-05-2012, 01:40 PM
The small drivers on the locomotive indicate low speed and heavy pulling power.

09-05-2012, 01:56 PM
The boiler is high above the frame to allow for a larger firebox which can burn low grade coal. These are known as Russian decapods. I have never seen a picture of one with Boxspok drivers so the wheels may have been replaced at some time. The Soviets ran these into the 70s at least so it may have been modified at some point.

09-05-2012, 02:07 PM
Thank you guys for the info. I have alot to learn about locos.


Paul Alciatore
09-05-2012, 03:11 PM
Great post Allen. I just love the photos of the locomotives. And the cranes are quite interesting too. From the looks of them, they must have at least a 5:1 advantage of force needed at the cables(?) that raise the crane to load lifted. I would love to see a graph of the counterbalance vs load forces for that linkage.

09-05-2012, 03:47 PM
Below the counterweight link you can see what I believe is a rack for boom elevation. It runs through a motor/gearbox/pinion assembly visible on the mast. I think the counter weight balances the boom, but not the payload.(compared to a tower crane with traveling counterweight.)

Rationale for overall design must be ability to reach waaay out but still tuck in tight while swinging past other cranes crowding the dock.

09-05-2012, 05:44 PM
The Klaipėda estuary had miles of cranes of many sizes and shapes. Here is another photo, showing a swiveling dredge loading the barge ship Jan Leeghwater.


09-05-2012, 09:41 PM
Thank you for sharing your trip. I'd love to see that part of the world some day.

Dr Stan
09-05-2012, 11:30 PM
Great pics. I too hope to travel to that section of the world, during the summer of course. :)

Peter S
09-06-2012, 10:40 AM
Great photos thanks. I have been on a Decapod "Frisco" 1630 at the Illinois Railway Museum. I too noticed the daylight under the boiler! I think 1630 was built for the Russians, but not sent due to Bolshevik takeover.

Peter S
09-07-2012, 08:56 AM
Here is the locomotive mentioned in my previous post, maybe not as much daylight under the boiler as the loco in Lithuania, but still a fair bit!



09-07-2012, 10:49 AM
Here is the locomotive mentioned in my previous post, maybe not as much daylight under the boiler as the loco in Lithuania, but still a fair bit!


Nice photos. It's good to see a Decapod under steam, and not marooned off the tracks with a flashy paint job.