Mount Lyell No.5

(Abt No.5)

Workhorse of the West Coast Wilderness Railway


Abt N.5 displayed with an Abt brake van on an inclined section of rack railway at the Puffing Billy Museum, Menzies Creek.

This scanned photo view dates from 1996.


This locomotive was built by the North British Locomotive Co Ltd in 1938 (builder's number 24418) (a) as a very late repeat order of the earlier four locomotives built by Dubs & Co in the 1890's. (North British Locomotive Co was created by the amalgamation of a number of Glasgow builders, including Dubs & Co.)  It was provided with the nameplate "Mount Lyell No.5" but was more commonly known as Abt No.5.


Abt No.5 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.5 was purchased by the ARHS Victoria Division after closure of the Mt Lyell railway in 1963 and sent to the Puffing Billy Museum at Menzies Creek, as it was felt it was more appropriate in that collection than at the ARHS North Williamstown museum(c)  Here it was displayed on an inclined section of rack railway, together with an Abt-rack brake van, with a walkway under the locomotive giving viewing access to the Abt rack-and-pinion mechanism. The original 'O class' passenger carriages of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company were also preserved by the Puffing Billy Railway, where they were regauged from 3' 6" to 2' 6" and remain in regular use. (c)


Following the rebuilding of the old Mount Lyell railway for tourism, Abt No.5 have since been acquired by the West Coast Wilderness Railway and was placed on a low loader for the start of its journey back to Tasmania on 19 November 2003.  It was overhauled under contract by Saunders & Ward, Hobart  (who had also overhauled Abt No.1 & Abt No.3) and entered service on the West Coast Wilderness Railway in June 2006.  The Abt brake van has also returned to Tasmania and been restored to operation on the West Coast Wilderness Railway.


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" (a) which gives an excellent account of the building and operations of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company, together with competing interests.




a L. Oberg, 'Locomotives of Australia', published by J. W. Books Pty Ltd, Brookvale NSW. 1982 reprint. (pp.260)
b Information provided by Melanie Dennis via email dated 14 July 2004.
c Personal comment or observation.


Page updated:  25 March 2011

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