In the second half of the 70s the evolution in power electronics made possible the drawing of a completely new project.
FS was in need of substitute the older classes and at the same time increasing power and speed, and the answer has been classes E 632/633. These locomotives, differing between them only in gearing, have three two axle trucks under a rigid body, each truck being driven by a single motor, feeded through a chopper column; during electric braking the generated energy is dissipated by a rheostat on the roof. Turning of the truck is not given by a central hub but by deformation of four spiral springs that guarantee the return to the right position too. The hourly rating is 4700 kW, approx. the same of an E 656 but far more exploitable because of the fault of motors combination and the extremely fine power regulation, and maximum speed is 160 km/h for the E 632 and 130 km/h for the freight version E 633 (100 and 81mph).
Around 1980 industry provided five prototypes that were extensively tested and showed various defects but before these were solved series production was ordered. This implied that the so called "tigers" had a very low reliability and needed some years to become good machines. Finally, after various changes of components, the two classes became useful for service and in total were produced 66 E 632 and 151 E 633, the last series of the latters with multiple working device. When in service, the passenger units were mainly used for express or direct trains (I remember a ride at 160 km/h on the Turin-Milan line) also in push-pull mode, but the freight ones, being alike equipped for push-pull service, were mostly dedicated to commuters traffic.
It had to wait until the rolling stock division between the FS sectors to see E 633s at the head of freight trains.
For many years tigers worked hard but now, after new regulations about one man driving and doors opening, class E 632 has been stopped; class E 633 is still soldiering on but, with the enormous crisis of the FS freight sector, they became uneconomic so general overhauls were suspended and, at the end of mileage, locomotives are dumped.
E 632.051 pushing a direct Milan-Verona service made by rake of MDVE coaches through Sommacampagna station on February 1997. Photo by S. Paolini courtesy of Photorail
A freight from the austrian border to Turin at the hook of E 633.234 has been shooted near Castelfranco Veneto on June 22, 2016. A clean loco is now very rare. Photo by M. Cantini
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