one of twenty (D)59 class goods locomotives ordered by the New South Wales
Government Railways (NSWGR) from Baldwin Lima Hamilton Corp, the famous
American locomotive builders Baldwin having merged with Lima-Hamilton in
December 1950. The (D)59’s were ordered at a turbulent time in the history of Australian
labour relations, with the 1949 coal strikes crippling the railways and
hence the broader economy. In
response, the NSWGR specified the (D)59 class as oil-burners, while
significant numbers of the earlier (D)55 class Standard Goods Engines were also
converted to oil firing. The NSWGR
also specified short ‘bobtail’ tenders so the (D)59’s could be turned on 60’
turntables, but the design and manufacture of these tenders delayed the
normally speedy delivery by Baldwin.
The class was placed in service between 30 August 1952 and 31 March
(D)59 class display typical American locomotive features such as running
plates located high above the driving wheels, a generous cab and external
pipe runs, providing easy access during maintenance but at the expense of
aesthetics. The (D)59 design was a
repeat of the United States Army Transport Corp (USATC) S200
type, designed and built for Second World War service in the Middle-East
and deployed to Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon. A number of S200 type locomotives ended
up with the Italian Railways (FS Class 747), others in Iran (Trans-Iranian Railway class 42) and two batches were
purchased by the Turkish Railways, where at least two survive including 46244 at Camlik Museum.
The similarity of these USATC S200 war locomotives to the NSWGR
(D)59 class is immediately apparent from photographs, excepting the much
shorter NSWGR bobtail tenders!
Perhaps larger tenders of the Turkish design would otherwise have
(D)59 class were well regarded by the NSWGR, with their power, acceleration
and speed providing operational flexibility. Due to these attributes they were often
assigned to pick-up goods duties, particularly on the ‘short north’ main
line from Sydney to Newcastle. Most
class members were converted to coal firing between 1962 and 1966, excepting
5918 (withdrawn following accident damage to its tender and progressively
cannibalised for parts), 5908 & 5916.
The two surviving oil-burning locos 5908 & 5916 remain largely
in their original configuration as first delivered by Baldwin Lima Hamilton;
oil burning (D)59’s are easily distinguishable from the coal-fired
conversions by the smaller smokebox door, which is made airtight by
numerous ‘dogs’ around the circumference, together with the oil tank
sitting high in tender.
(D)59 class members survived until very late in the steam era, with 5910
being the last in revenue traffic when condemned on 11 August 1972. Some inactive (D)59’s survived a few more
years, with 5905, 5915 and 5920 stored at Enfield Loco Depot until the
final clear-out of that site in early 1975.
authorative ‘Steam Locomotive Data’ (July 1974 edition) provides the
following milestones for 5916:
5 March 1953
remaining oil burners 5908 & 5916 last worked as shunters in Grafton
and dodged the scrap heap by finding further use as stationary boilers at
Broadmeadow Loco Depot, Newcastle from 1970. 5916 was transferred to Eveleigh Carriage
Workshops in August 1974 for further stationary boiler use, with both 5908
& 5916 lasting in this capacity until 1977.
already derelict, rust streaked and missing some parts when it arrived at
the NSWRTM Thirlmere around 1980. It
was relegated to the long-term storage sidings in 1983, where it remained
largely out of sight to the general public.
An interesting feature in 5916’s cab was a large information board
with firing and water treatment instructions for use as a stationary
boiler. 5916 was occasionally used
as a donor of motion parts for sister 5910 when that locomotive had been
operational in the NSWRTM fleet. It
received some black-oil and lubrication in 1989 to help arrest
old boiler lagging was removed by specialist contractors during 2008,
during which time the corroded boiler clothing sheets were removed. This conservation treatment helps prevent
pitting corrosion on the external surface of the boiler, while also
removing dangerous insulation material.
The boiler clothing and related fittings were not replaced after
preparation for the redevelopment of the NSWRTM Thirlmere to the new
‘Trainworks’ museum, a number of exhibits were relocated to other
sites. 5916, 5908 and 3085 were
among this number, being moved to the Goulburn Rail Heritage
Centre (within the historic Goulburn Roundhouse) on 27 November 2009,
where they are now displayed on roundhouse roads. Here it remains in unrestored condition,
however at least it is in secure undercover storage in an appropriate
one day funds can be found to restore either 5916 or 5908, either
statically or – preferably - as an operable exhibit. I believe it would be a wonderful
operating exhibit which would reflect some significant themes in period
Australian history, including (as a USATC war locomotive design) the
contribution America made to the region in World War Two and afterwards,
and as an oil-burner, the 1949 coal strikes and following labour relations
& political developments.
definite history for the NSWGR (D)59 class can be found in the excellent
book ‘The 59 Class’ by Harry Wright, published by the New South Wales Rail
Transport Museum in 1996 and which also features many fine colour and
B&W photographs. Some further
technical details can also be found on the Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR (D)59 class.
would appreciate the contribution of any photographs of 5908 &/or 5916
in stationary boiler use for inclusion on this website.