Unusual Locomotives In Belgium

Updated: 27 May 2003
For more Belgian locos see:
Smashing The (Whyte) System
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Belgium is a small country, but has had more than its share of innovative and thoroughly competent engineers.
Egide Walschaerts, (1820 - 1901) inventor of the famous valvegear, is one. Alfred Belpaire, of firebox fame, is another.

It also seems to have had more than its share of very peculiar locomotives. Here are some joys to treasure.



The Brotan boiler was originated by Johann Brotan, chief of the Gmünd Workshop of the Austrian StEG (the Staatseisenbahn Gesellschaft or State Railway Company); he invented and patented this form of boiler in 1902. It was widely used in Hungary, but only in small numbers in other countries.


Maintenance would have been somewhat greater, and I should think any leaks of steam from the cylinders would have been likely to obscure the driver's view.

For more lever-drive locomotives, see Russian Reforms

No 761 was retired in 1901. Since it gave more than 25 years service, it can't have been too bad.


If she looks right she is right. But does she look right? This strange machine must be a prime candidate for the title of "Ugliest Locomotive". It is not exactly obvious, but 1452 was a cabforward design. The rectangular water tanks are at the rear, either side of the smokebox. The unusual boiler had a figure-of-8 section, the top cylinder being 0.7m in diameter and the bottom 1,05m.

In May 1880 the Minister of the Interior granted Belpaire a patent for "A light locomotive of special construction". It was built at the arsenal at Malines in the same year.

This was the last single-driver loco built for the Belgian State.

Wheel configuration
1A1 (2-2-2)
Driver diam
1.30 m
Safety valves


Egide Walschaerts. (1820 - 1901)
Born at Malines, Belgium. He studied at Liège, and in 1842 entered the state railway workshops, working as a mechanical engineer. He invented his valve gear in 1844,and introduced several other improvements to steam engine design. He was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1878.

This stamp is the only portrait I have found. They value their engineers in Belgium.

Alfred Belpaire. (1820 - 1893)
Born at Ostend. Assistant engineer at l'Atelier des voitures de Malines. He finished his career as administrator of the State Railways of Belgium. By 1898, the majority of the Belgian engines were of the Belpaire type, which efficiently burnt small coals that could be obtained cheaply. His rectangular firebox was adopted in Belgium, France, England and the USA.

For more biographical info see:
http://belpaire.uni.be/stamboom/DOC/ALFRED/alfredbelpdoc6.htm (external link)

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