Chapelon – by Col. Rogers

Chapelon – Genius of French Steam

Rogers Col. H.B.C., Chapelon – Genius of French Steam, published by Ian Allan Ltd London, 1972, SBN 7110 0281 9, 170 pages 230 x 150mm.

This book is no longer published but it is a valuable asset for students of modern steam, being a biography of the man who first applied the theories of science and thermodynamics to steam locomotive design.

The book is aimed at the general reader and is therefore not hightly technical, but it contains useful background information on Chapelon’s work and the technical advances that he initiated, starting with his initial 1929 experiments on Nord Pacific No 3566 that so dramatically demonstrated what could be achieved through the application of scientific principles.

The book catalogues in fascinating detail the amazing variety of machines that Chapelon rebuilt and recreated, including his amazing (and complex) six cylinder compound 2-12-0 No 160A1 (pictured on the book cover at right); his renown 4-8-4 rebuild 242A1 which was capable of delivering 4000 hp to the drawbar; and his most celebrated design – the super-efficient Class 240P 4-8-0s.

The book also describes in some detail the fleet of “standard” locomotives that Chapelon designed after WW2 but which were never built, including a streamlined 4-6-0 design for very high speed operation of 125 mph (200 km/h) or greater – in many respects the precursor of the 5AT.

This book is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the history of steam traction, and especially those with an interest in “modern steam”.