Y 109

Known as ‘The Thing’


The frame & cabin of diesel conversion Y 109 ‘The Thing’ stored at Ballarat East Depot on 29 March 2005.
The wheels, side rods and some other fittings were stored nearby.
Better times were ahead for this intriguing relic, which is now reassembled at displayed at Millewa Pioneer Park.


Phoenix Foundry, Ballarat

Builder’s Number & Year

235 of 1889

(Rebuilt to diesel-mechanical in 1956)

Wheel Arrangement


No. in class



Y 109 was built by the Phoenix Foundry, Ballarat as one of Victorian Railways’ successful Y-class 0-6-0 freight locomotives, originally carrying the number Y 413. (For further information about the Y-class, refer to preserved sister loco Y 112.)

Following the end of its working life with the Victorian Railways, Y 109 was sold to an industrial concern, Brunswick Plaster Mills, who employed the old loco hauling gypsum from the Raak Plain to the VR interchange siding at Nowingi, in the Murray Mallee district of North-West Victoria. In 1956 it was converted to a diesel-mechanical locomotive by removing the boiler and mounting a diesel engine and transmission on the frames. A rudimentary 'shed' was erected over the frames to provide a cabin; while providing much-needed shelter from the sun, this arrangement must have created baking conditions inside! In this form Y 109 was an intriguing but functional oddity and earned the nickname ‘The Thing’.

Upon retirement, the remnants of Y 109 ‘The Thing’ were eventually acquired by Steamrail Victoria and relocated to their Ballarat East Depot site. I believe one wheelset was swapped with sister locomotive Y 112 during that loco’s restoration to operation during the late 1980’s – early 90’s. My visit to Ballarat East in March 2005 found the remaining components of Y 109 in storage, with the frame, cabin and miscellaneous bits in the depot grounds and the wheelsets nearby; several photos on this page date from that visit.

Fortunately better days were ahead for this intriguing relic, with Y 109 returned to the Murray Mallee district for display at the Millewa Pioneer Park. Here it was restored to display by volunteers, following the Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division) handing the loco over to the Millewa Pioneer Park in a ceremony on 15 March 2008. Several photos below show the reassembled Y 109 ‘The Thing’ under restoration and displayed at Millewa Pioneer Park.

This view within Y 109's cabin shows the area between the frames.

The original steam locomotive cylinder block and sandboxes can be seen, together with the mechanical transmission and driver's seat.

The diesel engine has been removed.

The reassembled Y 109 under restoration at Millewa on 27 March 2008.

Another view of Y 109 at Millewa as static restoration proceeded, with steps attached for inspection by visitors (14 May 2008).

This plaque was attached on the engine to commemorate the handover ceremony. (24 May 2008)





Information provided by David Mehlman
via email dated 7September 2017.


Page updated: 6 November 2017

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