5920

Stored by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum

 

5920 stored at Glenreagh in September 1985 following earlier rail-haulage from Rhondda Colliery.

The connecting rod can be seen lashed to the running board for transport and storage.

 

Builder

Baldwin Lima Hamilton

 

 

Builder’s Number & Year

75583 of 1953

 

 

Wheel Arrangement

2-8-2

 

 

No. in class

20

 

5920 was the final member of the 20-strong (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 50’ 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 1953, with preserved loco 5920 notable as the last of the many and varied Baldwin-built steam locomotive delivered to Australian customers over preceding decades.

From a locomotive design perspective, the (D)59 class were repeats 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!

The (D)59 class were well regarded by the NSWGR, with their power, acceleration and speed providing operational flexibility.  These attributes led to them often being 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  Most class members were converted to coal firing between 1962 and 1966, excepting 5918 (withdrawn following accident damage to its tender and progressively cannibalised for parts), 5908 & 5916.  Most 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, while oil burners 5908 & 5916 found further use as stationary boilers in railway workshops until 1977.

The authorative ‘Steam Locomotive Data’ (July 1974 edition) provides the following milestones for 5920:

In Service:

31 March 1953

Converted from Oil to Coal firing:

November 1962

Withdrawn:

August 1972

Distance Travelled:

772,498km

5920 languished among the rusting steam locomotives at Enfield Loco Depot until rail enthusiasts raised sufficient funds for the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum (DSR&M) to purchase it for $3,100s in 1974 (a considerable sum of money in those days; for comparison, a new car would have cost about that much).  It was transferred to Rhondda Colliery near Newcastle for safe storage prior to being towed to Glenreagh during late 1983.  After a few years at Glenreagh, 5920 and other DSR&M exhibits were progressively rail-hauled to Dorrigo over the reopened branch line around 1986.  5920 has since remained in open storage in the Dorrigo station yard, regularly receiving a coating of black-oil and lubrication and accordingly it remains much as it was when first withdrawn from NSWGR service.

Unfortunately the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum (DSR&M) is not open to the public and hence access to 5920 and the rest of this collection is restricted.  However there can be no doubt that 5920 and the rest of the collection would have been scrapped by the mid-1970’s had they not been saved, and hence perhaps the DSR&M could be considered as having purchased an option for the future.  While the DSR&M locomotive exhibits have been well cared for in the heavy rainfall of the Dorrigo Plateau by protective black-oil and lubrication, the decision to also move antique timber carriages and freight wagons into this high-rainfall environment has certainly taken its toll on much of the wooden rolling-stock collection.

The 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.

The fate that awaited so many steam locomotives at the end of steam:

Sister loco 5914 being reduced to scrap metal at Sims Metal, Mascot during April 1973.

Deadly asbestos lagging has fallen like snow around the carcass; I pity the workers on this task.

This photo is courtesy of John Hurst from his album of digitised slide images.

5920 slowly rusting at Enfield and awaiting its fate in October 1973.

Sisters 5905 and 5915 were also around at this time but proved not so lucky, being scrapped in early 1975.

This photo is courtesy of John Hurst from his collection of railway images.

Another John Hurst view of a (D)59 class loco on rotten row at Enfield Loco Depot during October 1973.

This one is missing its headlight, so it may be 5905 or 5915 rather than 5920.

A creative photo showing the view forward through the cab window as 5920 rests on Rotten Row at Enfield.

This photo is courtesy of John Hurst and dated October 1973.

 

References

a

‘The 59 Class’ by Harry Wright,

Published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, 1996.

b

‘A Compendium of New South Wales Steam Locomotives’ compiled by Alex Grunbach,

published by the Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, 1989.

c

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

published by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum, 1987.

d

‘Steam Locomotive Data’ July 1974 edition, compiled by J. H. Forsyth for the

Public Transport Commission of NSW.

e

Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR (D)59 class, retrieved 9 February 2016

f

Webmaster's observation or comment

 

Page updated: 3 March 2016

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