anm document

Bois de chauffage des locomotives
des chemins de fer de l'AOF (1921)
in ANM 3 R 20 fonds recents

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Inspecteur General des Ponts et Chaussées Ficatier to Gouverneur Général de l'AOF, "Lettre n°34 au sujet de chauffage des locomotives de chemins de fer" (Paris, 26 February 1921)

This report recommends substituting wood for coal to fire locomotive boilers. Four to five stères of wood replaced one ton of coal and weighed 2-2.5 tons. Wood cost less than coal, especially as one moved further away from the coast. Thus, the use of wood in place of coal would reduce the amount of goods imported into the colony, keeping money within the colony. This report also recommended that vegetable oil be used as a fuel wherever possible.

The last shipment of coal for the Chemin de Fer Kayes- Niger reached Kayes via Conakry, Kouroussa and Bamako.

Wood had disadvantages. It was much bulkier than coal. It required a greater effort by railroad administrators to organize its acquisition than a simple order for coal delivery. Locomotives had to be adapted, especially smokestacks and fireboxes. Wood produced less steam pressure, especially in heavily loaded trains on inclines. The Compagnie du Chemin de Fer de Dahomey used wood extensively ever since WWI. The Chemin de Fer Abidjan-Niger used a lot of wood as well. The Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger used some wood, but it was hard to find decent supplies near the railroad line, and serious conversion to wood would required the exploitation of wood resources on an industrial scale using a Decauville railroad, plantations, improved saws, and so on. The Chemin de Fer de Guinée used almost all wood.