D17 No. 268

A tank locomotive... with no tanks!


The webmaster enjoyed a visit to RAILCO Ravenshoe in July 1996.

This old scanned photo dates from that visit and shows No.268 backing away from her train at Ravenshoe after a run to Tumoulin.

A suburban destination board ‘Ravenshoe’ is mounted above the buffers.

The lined blue livery probably owes more to ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ than the sky blue worn by later DD17 locos in Brisbane suburban service.



Ipswich Railway Workshops


Builder’s Number & Year

112 of 1925


Wheel Arrangement

4-6-4T (preserved as 4-6-4)


No. in class


The D17 class locomotives were designed for Brisbane suburban passenger working, with thirty locomotives built in three batches of 10 each. The first batch was constructed in 1924 by Walkers Limited, Maryborough, followed by the second batch built by Ipswich Railway Workshops in 1925. The third batch was also built by Ipswich Railway Workshops but came 12 years later, between 1937 and 1942. The D17 class locomotives were confined to Brisbane metropolitan lines and became known as ‘Black Tanks’ following the later introduction of the improved DD17 class, which conversely wore a sky blue livery. The D17’s featured a superheated boiler and used the same 17” cylinders as the 4-8-0 C17 class, but with the cylinders aligned horizontally rather than inclined. D17 No.268 was one of the second batch, entering service in April 1926 and withdrawn in October 1968 after a working life of 42 years hauling Brisbane suburban trains.

Apparently there was a plan to preserve one of the D17 ‘Black Tanks’ in Brisbane but that plan never eventuated. Two were spared from scrapping; No.268 was plinthed in a park at Capella in Central Queensland, while No.855 was similarly placed at Murgon, both far removed from their home territory in the Brisbane suburbs.

No.268 was later restored to operation by RAILCO and employed on their tourist railway on the Atherton Tableland from Ravenshoe to Tumoulin. At RAILCO Ravenshoe, No.268 has been named ‘Capella’ in honour of the town in which it was first displayed. It wears a lined blue livery probably inspired by ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ but perhaps also reflecting the sky blue livery applied to the later DD17 class, rather than its original black livery with red buffer and silver handrails.

As a tank loco No. 268 would have been too heavy for the Ravenshoe branch line, and thus it was restored to operation minus side tanks to reduce the axle load. (The old side tanks are stored at Ravenshoe for possible future use.) More recent photos show dummy side-tanks had been fitted to No.268 by 2013.

Alas I understand the RAILCO Ravenshoe operations are currently suspended, pending track and bridge upgrades, with No.268 and rollingstock stored at their Ravenshoe station depot in the interim.

Ken McHugh has provided this photo showing No.268 being prepared for duty on 26 November 2006.

My thanks to Joel Turner for contributing this view of No.268 at the Ravenshoe depot in May 2013.
Dummy side tanks have been fabricated and fitted by this time.

‘Capella’ nameplate and builder’s plate affixed to the cabside, as photographed in July 1996.

D17 No.268 and train, intercepted at a bush track crossing while returning to Ravenshoe from Tumoulin during my July 1996 visit.

D17 No.268’s original side tanks in storage at Ravenshoe on 22 August 2004.

The black livery worn by D17’s is evident.



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

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.




Page updated: 19 January 2020

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