NSW Rail Museum, Thirlmere


Coal Grab 1064 awaiting its next duties at Thirlmere on 28 May 2011, with some afternoon light helping to pick-out the details.

Rather than a builder’s plate, ‘Alfred Harman Port Melbourne Engr. Works’ is cast in raised letters on the 4-wheel chassis (highlighted in white paint).



Alfred Harman Works, Port Melbourne



Builder’s Number & Year

? of 1918



Wheel Arrangement



1064 is a 4-wheel self-propelled vertical-boiler coal grab and was designed for coaling steam locomotives in smaller country locomotive depots which lacked more formal servicing facilities. It was constructed by the Austral Otis Engineering Company at their Alfred Harman Works, Port Melbourne in 1918 as one of an order for 8 coal grabs for the NSW Government Railways (NSWGR). These machines originally received LO numbers between 34-39 and 45-46, later becoming 1057 - 1064 in the X-10 class of miscellaneous and obsolete machines under the NSWGR's August 1924 renumbering scheme.

As LO 39, this interesting machine entered service with the NSWGR in August 1918. As 1064, it finished its NSWGR career in June 1971 when withdrawn from Eveleigh Depot. It was transferred to the NSW Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) Enfield collection in working order, but later dismantled for rail transport to the new Thirlmere museum site in 1975. Here 1064's dismantled components were unloaded into the locomotive workshop open stores area - where they remained for the next 33 years, in company with an array of locomotive spares including tyres, fire bricks, chimneys and several boilers. (I recall a wander through these stores in the early-90’s revealed some unexpected finds, such as the cast cylinder-blocks for a D58-class 4-8-2 loco and a D57-class headlight!)

A small group of volunteers decided 1064 would make a good restoration project and began the reassembly of this interesting exhibit in 2008, completing the work in time for an operational debut at the Thirlmere Steam Spectacular on 6 March 2010. The reassembly and repair of this machine after 33 years of open storage is a great example of the high-quality restoration work the NSW Rail Museum is capable of. 1064 can now be seen pottering around the new semi-roundhouse, performing coaling and ash removal jobs much as it was originally built for.

Sister 1059 is also preserved by the Lachlan Valley Railway, Cowra and apparently occasionally used, while 1061 is among the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection.

Shed plate detail. 28 May 2011

A person standing next to a machine

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Coal Grab 1064 provided a running demonstration of its capabilities at the NSW Rail Museum on 25 June 2022.

The little crane shuffled up and down the yard while the gib arm was raised and lowered within a limited range.

A crane on the tracks

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A second view of Coal Grab 1064 in steam at Thirlmere on 25 June 2022.



‘Steam Locomotive Data’ July 1974 edition,

compiled by J. H. Forsyth

for the Public Transport Commission of NSW.


Kramer, J. 'The Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum - an Illustrated Guide',

published by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum, 1987.


Information provided by Sam Wyatt via email,

26 February 2010.

Page updated: 15 February 2024

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