C17 No. 934

Zig Zag Railway


C17 No.934 and BB18 No.1072 on a photo run-past at Mt Sinai on 28 September 2007.

No.934 is wearing "Hogwarts Express" livery in support of the Zig Zag Railway’s occasional Harry Potter theme days.



The Clyde Engineering Co Ltd,

Granville NSW



Builder’s Number & Year

501 of 1949



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



No.934 is one of Queensland Railways’ highly successful C17 class 4-8-0 locomotives, of which 227 units were constructed by a variety of builders between 1920 and 1953.  The C17 class were a “maid of all work” type that were powerful enough for main line duties, yet with a low axle load which permitted wide deployment and accordingly they could be found on everything from suburban and express passenger trains to main, secondary and branch line work, although the type are perhaps best associated with the long routes through Queensland Railways (QR) Northern and Central Divisions.  The final C17 class members were retired from service at the very end of QR revenue steam operations in August 1970.

No 934 is one of the “1938 design” C17 variants which were improved over the original 1920 design by use of piston valves, Laird crossheads, a wider, taller Sedan cab sporting sliding windows, and a slender stovepipe chimney with a capuchion lip.

No.934 was one of 20 additional C17’s ordered from Clyde Engineering, Sydney in response to post-war motive power demands and delivered between 1948 & 1950.  It was placed in QR service in October 1949 and written off 20 years later in October 1969.  It appears to have spent some years in storage after this time.

In 1975, QR offered to sell No. 934 and BB18 ¼ No.1072 to the Zig Zag Railway Coop, together with a spare boiler for each.  Fortunately the young Zig Zag Railway Coop was able to raise sufficient funds to purchase these locomotives and transport them to their Lithgow, NSW base, where they had recently established a tourist railway on the “Great Zig Zag”, built in 1869 as the original alignment of the Great Western Railway as it descended the rugged Blue Mountains to the west.

If I recall correctly, No.934 was returned to service by Zig Zag Railway volunteers in the early 1980’s and has since been a regular performer on the Zig Zag, excepting periods of maintenance and overhaul.  The webmaster has many fine memories of No.934 working on the Zig Zag; it is a capable and sure-footed locomotive which handles the 1:42 grades with ease.  No.934 seems to spring forward with anticipation as the driver eases the regulator open on the upgrade run from Top Points, quickly settling into a throaty blast before crossing No.1 Viaduct; a fine steam performance on a magnificent heritage railway.

No.934 was wearing “Brown Bomber” livery when I first spied it in storage at the Bottom Points workshops around 1980.  The loco wore attractive black livery with red lining and polished boiler crinolines through the 1990’s, but in more recent years it has carried "Hogwarts Express" red livery in support of the Zig Zag Railway’s occasional Harry Potter theme days.

Alas the Zig Zag Railway is not currently operational, following setbacks including bushfire destruction of some historic rolling stock and damage to the workshops.  Although nominally operable, No.934 is currently stored pending restart of operations; No.934 would presumably require full assessment, repairs / overhaul and certification prior to its return to service.

As a point of interest, the Zig Zag Railway later acquired sister C17 No.966 and two additional C17 boilers are kept as spares.

For further information about the Queensland Railways’ C17 class locomotives, refer to the page for C17 No.2.

No.934's Clyde Engineering builder's plate with the distinctive Phoenix rising from the flames; very Harry Potter indeed!


The walking track from Clarence provides good views of Bottom Points and adjacent main line to the West.

These two views of No.934 were taken from a suitable vantage point along the walking track during April 1996.

The train can be heard long before it comes into sight, with chuffs, clanks and whistles reverberating through the valley to herald its approach.

No.934 prepares to recouple to its train at Bottom Points prior to a tender-first ascent of the Zig Zag’s Middle Road.

Another reverse at Top Points will see the engine chimney first for the longer run up the Top Road to Clarence.

No. 934 in black livery with polished boiler crinolines, running around its train at Top Points during 2001.

The Zig Zag Railway also has a number of spare C17 boilers in store, such as this example seen on 29 March 2015.



"Locomotives of Australia" by Leon Oberg,

published by J. W. Books Pty Ltd


Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 2

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.


‘The Lithgow Zig Zag Railway’, 3rd Edition,

Published 1976 by The Zig Zag Trust and

The Zig Zag Railway Coop Ltd


Webmaster's observation or comment

Page updated:  17 November 2015

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