434A 3-Cylinder Compound Experimental Locomotive
Designed by Bela Šahlmeti
Built in 1928 by Henschel & Sohn, Kassel, Germany
During his short career with the RSR, Bela Šahlmeti had, with his iconoclastic attitude to many of the company's traditions, made a number of enemies in the upper echelons of the management. What with the abolition of the elegant forest green livery of his predecessor and the completely new organisational structure he more or less forced on running sheds and civil engineers alike, by the late 1920s things in Šahlmeti's department had come nicely to a head. On hearing of the new high-pressure engines being built for the LMS in England and other railways, Šahlmeti decided to try one out for himself. Of course, somebody else's design would never be good enough, and so he had drawn up and presented to Henschel of Kassel the Brotan-boilered design shown here. In fact, the 434A was not a true high-pressure engine like the LMS's, the boiler being pressed to only 30 atmospheres. Nevertheless, it was not long before expensive problems arose.
Against this background, the internal politics of the RSR management was already conspiring to remove Šahlmeti from his post. Although the order to Henschel had been approved, strict protocol had not been adhered to, enabling Šahlmeti's enemies to accuse him of overstepping his authority and call for his dismissal. In the ensuing dispute, Šahlmeti stuck bravely to his guns, with the support of those board members who were on his side, but in the end he had to accept that he had lost his job. In the event, Henschel also stuck to their guns, refusing to take the engine back or return a penny of the RSR's money.
Text and graphics © Norman Clubb 2012