amici della Ferrovia Genova - Casella

FGC Gmeinder D1

As we receive a lot of information request about this new FGC diesel locomotive from people who live in other Countries, we decided to write this small note about this equipment.

FGC D1 belongs to the DB Class V52.

The DB Class V 51 (from 1968: DB Class 251) and DB Class V 52 (from 1968: DB Class 252) are classes of almost identical narrow gauge 4 axle diesel hydraulic locomotives built in 1964 for the Deutsche Bundesbahn, being built for 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge lines respectively.

Both are outwardly similar to the standard gauge DB Class V 100 and were built to replace steam locomotives on the narrow gauge lines in Baden-Württemberg.

In fact, in the early 1960s the narrow gauge railways of Baden-Württemberg were still operated by 13 outdated steam locomotives. To enable their withdrawal, and to continue operations on the 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge railways the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg subsidized the production of diesel locomotives by the Deutsche Bundesbahn.

Thus the Deutsche Bundesbahn was asked to provide locomotives with suitably low axle load, suitable for both freight and passenger work, and which were suitable for use on small radius curves. High speed was not a primary requirement, more so on ease of maintenance and a reliable design.

The Gmeinder company in Mosbach / Baden put forward a design for a 4 axle, twin bogied machine, which was similar to the MaK 400 BB machines made in 1959 for the Alsen´sche Portland-Cementfabrik KG in Itzehoe which had a gauge of 860 mm (2 ft 9 7⁄8 in) - having similar power transmission via a hydraulic gearbox.

Both classes shared the same design: a four axle narrow-gauge diesel locomotive with two two axle bogies which was at the time a modern design. All machines had two MWM diesels each with an output of 270 hp (200 kW) @ 1600 rpm. located in the longer end, with the shorter end containing the auxiliary diesel engine, the batteries, the compressor and the diesel tanks.

The transmission was via a torque converter type "TwinDisc 11500 MS450" with a MaK produced final drive of the type MaK 3.162.04. The locomotive's maximum service speed was 40 km/h (25 mph) thought the actual top speed was around 65 km/h (40 mph).

The starting tractive effort is 132 kN (30,000 lbf) - remarkable for such a small locomotive. The Sifa safety system was fitted but not Indusi because of the slow speeds the trains used on the branch lines.

In 1963 Gmeinder was given a license to build the locomotives and the construction went smoothly, with the three V 51, and the two V 52 locomotives being delivered in 1964, both being identical in all but the wheelsets. Both classes were numbered from 900 onwards - narrow gauge steam engines had class numbers 900 upwards.


The two V 52 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge locomotives were delivered in 1964 to the narrow gauge Schmalspurbahn Mosbach-Mudau (Mosbach-Mudau) line (the Odenwaldexpreß) to replace the 4 steam locomotives that were working there.

Despite working well the new diesels could not stop the decline of the minor routes of the state of Baden-Württemberg: The line from Mosbach to Mudau still had good levels of freight traffic, but passenger use was not so good; consequently the use of the V 52s on its single track did not last as long as was originally intended.

The two locomotives remained on the Mosbach-Mudau; being suited to freight work; and because of five manufacturing companies using the line at Sattelbach and Krumbach Limbach. Roll-blocks were used to transport standard gauge freight wagons on the meter gauge track. Additionally both were still used for passenger trains, which were worked with four passenger cars procured with state funds in 1965.

From 1968 the locomotives were reclassified as DB Class 252

Nevertheless, despite the freight work and dieselization in 1973 the line closed. Both units rebuilt to standard (1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)) gauge and sold to local private rail companies to recover the state grant which was used in their purchase.

As part of the rebuilding at Gmeinder the cab of 252 901 was broadened giving an unusual and unharmonic appearance. It went as '62' to the Albtalbahn in Karlsruhe.

In 1974 the second locomotive 252 902 (ex V 52 902) became "VL 46-01" on the Südwestdeutsche Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft mbH (SWEG) (Southwest German railway company) (since 1984: Southwest Deutsche Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft) and worked on the Kaiserstuhlbahn.

In 1985, both engines were sold via the handling company NEWAG in Oberhausen to the Italian company Gleismac Italiana SpA in Gazzo di Bigarello (Mantua). From there, in 1987, 252 901 went without any structural changes to the construction company Francesco Ventura SrL in Paola (southern Italy) where it was numbered as "7152 T".

252 902 was converted back to meter gauge (in which the original appearance was restored) and sold to the narrow-gauge Ferrovia Genova-Casella (FGC) (Genoa) in 1986.  It started its service on Genoa-Casella railway on 21 June 1987 as “D1” but, because of its hydrodynamic Voith transmission, experimented several troubles e it has been set aside since 1993.

In 2008 the railway owner decided to put back in service the loco and a complete rebuild was planned. Tesmec Tesmec Srl in Monopoli (Bari), a society of Tesmec Group Spa specialized in designing and manufacturing railway vehicles and special equipment for operations on railway lines, refurbished Gmeinder D1.

They installed a new diesel and replaced the original hydrodynamic Voith transmission with a more useful hydrostatic transmission. Additional, they set up a new hydraulic system to feed other external systems and they completely rebuilt the pneumatic and electrical systems. They did the same with deteriorated structural parts and they restored the control panels on the driver's desk. Original commands has been integrated with new devices like accelerator, lights, etc..

Particularly, they installed a single diesel engine Iveco Cursor C13 in-line 6-cylinder, calibrated to the power of 375 kW at 2100 rpm / min, connected to the coupler where are flanged the variable displacement pumps for the traction and the additional hydraulic pumps. The hydraulic power generated by the pump is sent to the two variable displacement hydraulic motors, each on a flanged gearbox with two transmission ratios (Fast / slow drive), centrally housed under the chassis in order to replace the old grouper / inverter. The kinematic chain of transmission, starting from the two gearboxes continues with the reducers / distributors of trucks and from these to the two-wheel cart of salt, through cardan shafts.

From the aesthetic point of view, we note the presence of a single exhaust pipe and a new aeration grill on the forepart that houses the motor. The loco was finally colored in blue and white livery in use on “Ferrovia Genova Casella”.

The loco has official come back in service on 23 November 2015 after the official test run.

FGC, which totally borrows to “Regione Liguria” (Italian local government), is still the D1’s owner and payed for the restoration work.

FGC has been closed to regular service since November 2013 due to important work on the line, like the rebuilt of Fontanassa and Crocetta bridges. Unfortunately, the railway was also several damaged during the great storm that hit Genoa in October 2014. Therefore, nowadays several work are going on the line in order to re-open it as soon as possible. D1 is currently employ in maintenance train that refurbish these yards.

Line opening to regular service is scheduled in May 2016.  After that date, D1 would be used as recovery loco or for special services included charter train.




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