Victorian Government Rlys 4-6-4 Locomotives in Australia

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class R (Locobase 2393)

Data from "4-6-4 Locomotives for the Victorian Railways", Engineer, Volume 192 (24 August 1951), pp. 249- H LeFleming (in Ransome-Wallis, 1959), who noted that they were designed for easy conversion to standard gauge. [], accessed 6 September 2006 for firebox area. See also Roger G Blocks (ed), "R Class 4-6-4: Peter's Views", Three Lakes Model Railroad Club, Volume 2, Number 12 (December 2011), pp. 1-4. Photos by Peter Sweetten.

Express passenger locomotives, but with 72" drivers and a max speed limit of 70 mph.

They showed an interesting blend of European, British, American, and Australian practice. The slotted pilot is Australian, the long sand dome American, the Belpaire firebox and cab British, and the mid-line smoke lifters ("elephant ears") European. Peter Sweetten's 2011 photographs convey to Locobase at least a strong resemblance to the Pennsylvania K-4 4-6-2s in the R's long firebox and full, rounded cab.

OS Nock (RWC VI, pl 104) states that these were the high-end engines procured under VR's post-World War II "Operation Phoenix" rehabilitation program. He notes that they featured many modern elements including self-aligning roller bearings, frames of 5" (127 mm) bar, cast steel fittings,and 11" (279 mm) piston valves. As Wikipedia notes, installation of a mechanical stoker to feed such a small grate indicates the high rate of steam production expected of these engines. Water range was 100-120 miles, coal range was 230-250 miles.

[], linking to a museum site in Australia (but no longer active), says the design was to be produced in Australia, but was contracted out to North British at a cost of 36,187 pounds each. Steamrail adds that when many of these engines arrived from North British Locomotive in 1951-1953, they had significant corrosion damage from their sea voyage on deck. Repairs at the Newport shops required between 10 and 300 days before they were pronounced fit for use.

The Rs lived up to their promise of "sustainability of speed", notes Block: "The reason was R Class engines had automated stokers capable of feeding 10,000 pounds [4,536 kg)] of coal per hour. Thus, the fireman was not a limiting factor. Further, the railroad could use lower BTU coal than when a man was doing the stoking and every BTU / pound was required."

Although they were gradually supplanted by B-class diesels, some Rs remained in service as long as 17 years, the last engine retiring on 25 November 1968. The class rang up 12,000,000 service miles (19,320,000 km).

Wikipedia's reported on the 21st-Century modifications made by the Warrnambool Railway to R711 and R766 to fit them for regular mainline operations on lines that used diesel locomotives as well. The updates included a diesel control stand to permit MU opration with diesels, the dual Lempor exhaust, power reverse, conversion to oil firing. Alas, Warrnambool failed to earn enough on its investment and in 2004 the locomotives were transferred to Steamrail Australia.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID2393
RailroadVictorian Government Rlys
Number in Class70
Road NumbersR700-R769
Number Built70
BuilderNorth British
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)12.83 / 3.91
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)36.25 / 11.05
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.35
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)67 / 20.42
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)43,680 / 19,813
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)131,040 / 59,439
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)240,016 / 108,870
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)178,528 / 80,979
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)418,544 / 189,849
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)10,800 / 40.91
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT) 6.70 / 6
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)73 / 36.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)73 / 1854
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)214.70 / 14.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)21.25" x 28" / 540x711
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)31,609 / 14337.62
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.15
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)155 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)30 - 5.25" / 133
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)16 / 4.88
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)285 / 26.48
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)42 / 3.90
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2243 / 208.38
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)462 / 42.92
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2705 / 251.30
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume195.15
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation9017
Same as above plus superheater percentage10,550
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area71,592
Power L117,787
Power MT897.75

All material Copyright ©
Wes Barris