Engine class Ok1-266 at last in Skierniewice

In the early Monday morning, 29th September, the last part of the engine class Ok1-266 reached our Shed. This concludes our 10-years long endeavor to salvage this rare engine. The transport of such a large and neglected vehicle required plenty of time, resources and preparations.

Our engine finished its duty more than 30 years ago in Ostrołęka Engine Shed as the last of its class. It spend the end of its laborious life at the marshalling yard of the local power plant. An unfortunate accident shortened its duty before the expiration of the boiler certificate. After several years, the local railwaymen put the engine near the Ostrołęka’s Shed as a technical monument. In 1996, thanks to the suggestion of PARE, the engine was relocated to the newly created railway museum in Ełk. The engine was joined by another one of its class – № 258. During the turbulent history of Ełk’s museum, this second engine was donated to the Transport Museum in Warsaw and it was not heard of any more.


As time showed, the Ełk’s museum failed to serve its proper role and due to the lack of responsible caretaker the exhibits and the roundhouse in Ełk fell into negligence. The state of Ok1-266, at that time the property of Polish Railways, slowly deteriorated. The engine waited for a better future.

Ełk - lato Ełk - zima

The turn of years 2003 and 2004 brought a change – Polish State Railways made it possible for railway-heritage conserving organizations to buy its historical rolling stock. For a symbolic fee we became the owners of the Ok1-266, after unsuccessful attempt to buy another engine.

Right away, we began the preparations to relocate the engine to Skierniewice’s Shed. We didn’t expect that the first obstacle will be… a bunch of “activists”, trying to prevent moving the locomotive. Behind our backs, possible sponsors and volunteers were put off helping us. Eventually, those discouraging attempts appeared futile but significantly delayed further relocation works.

Unfortunately, also many technical issues resurfaced. It appeared that during the transport in 1996, engine’s coupling rod’s bearings become seized. From unknown reasons, the engine-tender coupling was cut and damaged beyond repairs. Damages after the accident in Ostrołęka also appeared larger than we thought. dsc_7132 What is more, driving axle’s spring was improperly regulated resulting in uneven load on the axles.  Let’s add to this many lacking parts in brake and a lack of floor inside the drivers cab, so there was no possibility for the escort to control the vehicle during the transport on the rails. It was impossible to carry even the partial repairs due to the lack of any railway workshop in the liquidated Ełk’s shed. We realized that transport on rails is connected with a great risk. This was confirmed by a railway inspector who was reluctant to let the engine be hauled by a salvage train with a speed not exceeding 20 km/h (or 5 km/h on points). Therefore, with regret we had to exclude the Ok1-266 from a salvage train which pulled two other engines (class Ol49-4 and Ty2-1407) to Skierniewice. Aware of the lack of supervision in now abandoned Ełk’s museum, we had to strip the engine from any easily-removable parts, which took the trip in the tenders of Ol49 and Ty2. The lone Ok1 stuck in Ełk for long years. The lack of cash for a proper means of transport was the main reason.

In this year’s spring, our appeal to gether resources to salvage this unique vehicle was responded by Freighliner Poland. The company sponsored the specialist heavy-freight transport and cranes. From now on we could begin the serious preparations for Ok1’s final departure.

Oczekiwanie Ełk Przygotowania Ełk

First of all, we had to shunt the engine to the loading site (courtesy of PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A.) with a proper access for heavy-freight trailer.  With the beginning of August we inspected the undercarriage and lubricated all bearings and suspension parts. It appeared that earlier lubrication during the visit in 2006, prevented any rust to attack the bearings. The shunting was done by the diesel engine from Lotos, which was not an easy task as the Ok1 was the last in a row of steam engines left on the Ełk’s shed sidings.

imgp3761k dsc_0041

At the loading site we prepared the engine for a road transport. Frist of all we had to disassembly the engine-tender coupling without inflicting any more damage to it. This seemingly easy task took us “only” three hours. kociol-rzut Much more work had to be done by the boiler. Each and every screw joining it to the undercarriage was rusted solid and had to be heated up to get loose.  Lack of access to the ash pan made its disassembly a nightmare. So was the removal of expansion sliders which rusted solid both to the boiler and the undercarriage and the only successful tool here was the welding torch. The driver’s cab was attached sturdily than we expected. The years of sloppy repairs of its clampings had to be grinded of to let it free.

To sum up, it took five days to a couple of groups of PARE volunteers to divide the engine into transportable parts (not to count the hours spend on studying the original blueprints). We were quite impressed by the ingenuity of the engine’s design by Robert Garbe. However, even this great engineer could not foresee, that someone will try to remove the boiler without the overhead crane and without disassembling of undercarriage internals – all remaining pipes and levers made it quite hard to free the boiler.

Rzut boczny

To transport the engine, we employed the company “Panas Transport” experienced in delivering railway vehicles by road, which helped us by several other salvaging actions. The company owns low-floor trailers with special ramps, which allow pulling the rolling stock from track straight onto the trailer. The transport had to be divided into two stages – first the undercarriage and on separate trailer the boiler and the cab, the next stage was the tender.

  Ełk - jezdnia na lawetę Zdejmowanie budki Ełk

The loading of the engine was also quite tricky. As the removal of the cab went straight, the boiler got stuck after lifting it by a couple of centimeters. The lifting had to be carried in small steps, each time securing it with a wooden blocks. The boiler, weighting itself 23 tonnes, resisted the crane’s lifting force of 25 tonnes. It appeared that a drainage valve got stuck between the inner frame’s crossbars and had to be welded of (thanks to the help of the staff from the Municipal Services Company.

Nocny demontaż Ełk Cięcie gazami

At last, all the parts of the engine, secured on the trailers made their trip to Skienirewice.

Podwozie na lawecie - przód Podwozie na lawecie - bok

The unloading of the engine in Skierniewice’s Shed was quite straightforward. Only the boiler required some more precision in placing it back on the undercarriage, but quick cleaning and lubrication of the attachment points made it much easier. The tender reached the shed on the following day. This way the neglected but still beautiful class Ok1 found at last its home.

Kocioł na lawecie Ustawianie kotła

For nearly 100 years, Skierniewice were connected with class Ok1. During the I World War, as a Prussian class P8 from MGD Warschau, those engines stationed in now non-existent temporary shed. After the end of war, the same engines found their place in the rebuilt engine shed – the sight recorded on many vintage photographs. Many documents and freight letters from early 50’s to mid-70’s proves the successful duty of the Ok1 class in Skierniewice even after the Second World War.

Manewry Skierniewice

We would like to thank to all the parties employed in salvaging of the engine class Ok1-266:


Lotos Kolej panas PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe SA pukelk

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