DD17 No.1046

Stored dismantled at the Zig Zag Railway


The frames and replacement bunker of DD17 No.1046 stored at Edgecombe Siding on the Zig Zag Railway in 2002.

If I recall correctly, the flat car is the frame of an ex-Brisbane suburban slam-door carriage destroyed in the 1997 bushfire.

Comparison with the earlier 1998 views at Top Points (below) show the boiler has been removed and the frames repositioned on the flatcar.

The old bunker has also disappeared.



Ipswich Railway Workshops



Builder’s Number & Year

205 of 1950



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



The DD17 class locomotives were the final development of Queensland Railways (QR) steam power for Brisbane suburban workings; this successful design benefitted from the early lessons from the 6D16 class 4-6-2T locos (later converted to 4-6-4T) and experience with the later D17 class 4-6-4T locos. The 4-6-4T configuration was popular around the world for suburban passenger traffic, key features being a symmetrical wheel arrangement that was equally suited to forward or reverse travel at speed, good adhesion from the mass of water tanks over the driving wheels, and good visibility in both directions. The DD17’s were modern locomotives, featuring extensive use of welded components, superheated boilers, electric lighting, mechanical lubricators and roller bearings on all axles. Twelve DD17 class locomotives were built at Ipswich Railway Workshops, the first six (949 - 954) in 1948-49 and the final six (1046 – 1051) between 1950 and 1952. The class featured an attractive blue livery, a stark contrast to the black livery worn by the earlier D17 and 6D16 class locomotives. I believe the class were known as ‘Blue Babies’ by railwaymen and Brisbane residents.

No.1046 entered service in August 1950 and was the last of the class to be written off when condemned in October 1969. Apparently it performed some enthusiast tour train duties around Brisbane until late 1971. Fortunately No.1046 together with sisters No.1047 and 1049 were saved from the Ipswich Workshops scrap line by the Zig Zag Railway Preservation Society Co-Operative Ltd. for use on their formative heritage railway based on the Great Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow, NSW. (Presumably these three DD17’s were judged to be the best candidates among the steam locos on the Ipswich scrap line at that time; records show they were the last three DD17’s to be condemned, together with their modern design and suitability for operation in either direction as required by the Zig Zag reversals. Other candidates on the Ipswich scrap line at the time included several PB15 class 4-6-0 locos.) The three DD17’s were delivered to the Zig Zag Railway’s newly created Bottom Points depot on 16 March 1975 via standard-gauge flatcars; interestingly, a temporary slew was made to the adjacent Great Western Railway main line to allow the locos (and some NSWGR passenger cars) to be reversed into the depot, which is in an otherwise inaccessible location.

On 29 August 1975, DD17 No.1046 became the first steam loco to work on the Great Zig Zag at Lithgow since 1910 when it successfully traversed the newly laid 3’ 6” gauge track from Bottom Points to Top Points reversing station. Shakedown trials were held on the weekend of 18 & 19 October 1975, commemorating the 106th anniversary of the original opening of the Zig Zag on 18 October 1869 and its closure 65 years later on 16 October 1910. The Zig Zag Railway subsequently opened for business as a tourist railway, with rails later extended along Top Road to the Chifley Road in 1987 and then through the Mt Sinai cutting and Clarence Tunnel to Clarence Station in 1988. A further extension along the Dargan’s Creek Deviation to Newnes Junction was under construction during the mid-2000’s, but alas the Zig Zag Railway has not been operational since 2011 due to accreditation issues, compounded by bushfire damage and a significant embankment slip near Clarence.

The webmaster has many fond memories of family weekend visits to the Zig Zag Railway in the 1970’s, with the railway in those days only operating on the Middle Road; visitors would drive along Top Road and across the No.1 viaduct to reach a small car park at Top Points. No.1046 operated in a very handsome sky blue livery in Zig Zag Railway service; I recall sisters 1047 and 1049 (stored at Bottom Points in the 1970’s) wore the same livery which suggests it was close to the original QR ‘Blue Baby’ livery worn in Brisbane suburban service.

Alas No.1046 was withdrawn from service in the early 1980’s due to frame cracking and deteriorating mechanical condition. (I recall an article in the Zig Zag Railway members’ magazine ‘Switchback’ which suggested the vertical curve where the Middle Road 1:42 gradient transitioned to level track at Top Points was thought to be to blame for the frame cracking, and this section of track was fully relayed and re-profiled as a result.)

Overhaul of No.1046 commenced in the mid-1990’s as an outsourced project by ‘Skills West’, Penrith, an apprentice training school that had recently completed the restoration to service of sister No.1049 after many years of storage. No.1046 was stripped to the frames, with the frame cracks repaired by specialist welding. In addition, a replacement bunker was fabricated. Unfortunately the overhaul was cancelled prior to completion, presumably due to financial constraints, with the dismantled components of No.1046 returned to the Zig Zag Railway for storage. Alas there hasn’t been any progress since then, with the components stored away from sight, initially in the dead-end siding at Top Points and more recently at Edgecombe Siding on the Top Road. Hopefully the parts remain in safe storage and one day there might be a change of fortunes for No.1046.

Further information regarding DD17 No.1046 and the Zig Zag Railway can be found on their web site.

I would greatly appreciate the contribution of colour photos showing No.1046 (& No.1047) operating on the Zig Zag Railway in the 1970’s and 1980’s to add to this page. Colour photos of DD17’s at work on Brisbane suburban services are also welcome.

No.1046 stored on a flat car at Top Points station circa 1998, together with the original (blue) and replacement (oxide undercoat) bunker.

A second view of No.1046 (engine frames, boiler and original and replacement bunkers) stored in the turn back siding at Top Points.

If I remember correctly, the two shipping containers held the various other parts of No.1046.

The eucalyptus trees in the background can be seen sprouting in recovery from the 1997 bushfires;
the Zig Zag Railway has been impacted by bushfire at least two more times since then.



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

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.


Cargill, A & O’Neill, S. ‘The Lithgow Zig Zag Railway’
published by The Zig Zag Trust and
The Zig Zag Railway Co-Op Ltd, 1976 (3rd Edition)

Page updated: 11 April 2020

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