Mount Lyell No.3

(Abt No.3)

Workhorse of the West Coast Wilderness Railway


Abt No.3 resting in the West Coast Wilderness Railway running shed / workshop on 6 May 2003.

(A new carriage is under construction in the adjacent bay; stainless steel framing is evident.)


This locomotive was built by Dubs & Co, Glasgow in 1898 as their builder's number 3730 a for use on the Abt-rack railway linking the rich mining town of Queenstown with the port of Strahan.  It carries the nameplate "Mount Lyell No.3" but was more commonly known as Abt No.3.


Abt No.3 and its four sister locomotives settled in to a life of hauling copper concentrates, mine supplies and general traffic over the My Lyell rack railway, supported by conventional locomotives on the non-rack sections of the route.  The five Abt locos were originally coal burners but were converted to oil firing late in their working lives.


Abt No.3 was initially preserved in working order at Queenstown after closure of the railway in 1963.  It was kept in an open cage on a short length of track in a grass reserve adjacent to the old station yard, and was still there in the early 1970's. Abt No.3 was subsequently plinthed near this location, which became known as 'Miners Siding', on an elaborate plinth which replicated a timber bridge on the inclined Abt-rack section of the railway, and under a weather roof to protect the locomotive from the wet Tasmanian west coast climate.


Following the allocation of Federal Government funding, the Mt Lyell railway from Strahan to Queenstown was totally rebuilt as a major tourist initiative for the Tasmanian West Coast. The bridges we rebuilt, rails relaid and new Abt-rack sections fabricated and installed. The railway was officially reopened over the entire route as a tourist railway on 3 April 2003, becoming the West Coast Wilderness Railway.  A number of the original locomotives were also acquired for refurbishment and operation on the rebuilt railway, including Abt No.3 which was removed from the Miners Siding display in approximately 1998.  The locomotive was extensively rebuilt and refurbished by under contract by Saunders & Ward, Hobart, including the fitting of a new welded boiler. By 2000 the locomotive was ready for operation and has become one of the regular service engines for the West Coast Wilderness Railway. c


Light Railways magazine of February 2011 (Number 217) included a photograph and report of Abt No.3 having been recently overhauled and outshopped in black livery with red lining.


Lou Rae has written a number of excellent books on the railways of Tasmania's West Coast, including "The Abt Railway & Railways of the Lyell region" which gives an excellent account of the building and operations of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company, together with competing interests.


Abt No.3 is seen here in May 1993 on its former plinth in the old Queenstown rail yard site.

This interesting plinth was a replica of a timber bridge on the inclined Abt railway section, under a weather roof, and showing the Abt rack & pinion gear.

Today the railway has again reclaimed this site and Abt No.3 is back at work on the old Mount Lyell railway route.




a L. Rae, 'The Abt Railway & Railways of the Lyell region', published by Lou Rae, PO Box 508, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, 7006. (pp.36)
b Information provided by Melanie Dennis via email dated 14 July 2004.
c Webmaster's observation or comment.


Page updated:  13 June 2013

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