Ceylon Government Railway 4-8-0 Locomotives in Ceylon


Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class A1/A2 (Locobase 20605)

Data from "4-8-0 Superheater Engines for the Kadugannawa Incline, Ceylon", Locomotive Magazine, Volume XXIV [24] (15 February 1918), p. 26-27. See also Eng. Udaya Peeligama, "A Concise History Of Motive Power Development On Sri Lankan Railways" on the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka - New South Wales Chapter website at [], posted 7 September 2018, last accessed 20 July 2019; and D[ennis] Rock Carling, 4-8-0 Tender Locomotives (New York: Drake Publishers, Inc, 1972), pp. 91-92 and "Asia", Table XV [15], entry 277, pp. 108-109.

Their dimensions tell the story of this low-drivered design with sizable boiler and Belpaire firebox from consulting engineers "Messrs." Gregory, Eyles & Waring. Two 1911 locomotives (originally numbered 155-156) arrived with saturated boilers followed by the trio in this entry. Superheating the steam led to adoption of piston valves to supply steam to the cylinders. The 155-156 were updated with superheaters and renumbered 16-17; they were placed in class A2.

A 12-mile [19.3 km) adverse grade between Rubkkana and Kadugannawa climbed at a steady 1 in 45 (2.2%) and curled around tight 10-chain curves. It was on this service, writes Eng. Peeligama, that the engines earned their "Big Bank" nicknames. The photo accompanying Peeligama's account show the A2's impressive bulk and a rake of passenger coaches coupled to the tender.

LM gave contradicting load descriptions in the same paragraph. As many as 21 8-ton wagons comprised the 168 ton load one of the engines would take up this challenging incline at an average 12 mph (19.3 kph). A few sentences later, the article observed that the 4-8-0 would head up the train while a smaller engine would push on the rear, "the big engine in the front taking 2/3 of the load, which would comprise 350 tons." (Locobase's math equates 2/3 of 350 as 233 tons.)


Class A3 (Locobase 20925)

Data from D[ennis] Rock Carling, 4-8-0 Tender Locomotives (New York: Drake Publishers, Inc, 1972), pp. 91-92 and "Asia", Table XV [15], entry 278, pp. 108-109. See also Eng. Udaya Peeligama, "A Concise History Of Motive Power Development On Sri Lankan Railways" on the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka - New South Wales Chapter website at [], posted 7 September 2018, last accessed 20 July 2019. Hunslet supplied two each in 1928, 1929, and 1930. Bagnalls delivered three more in 1939.

Carling explained that the "Big Bank" Mastodons described in Locobase 20605 were too heavy for the lighter, 45 lb/yard (22.5 kg/metre) rail on lines "more like narrow-gauge than broad gauge". These ran North and East to Batticaloa and Trincomalee. So the CGR selected a Hunslet Locomotive Company design to work that traffic. Eng Peeligama reports that the result was "highly successful", a conclusion supported by the continued purchases over the years.

Since the Batticaloa and Trincomalee sections weren't upgraded to 80 lb/yard (40 kg/metre) rail until the 1960s, this class served for decades.


Class A3 (Locobase 20926)

Data from D[ennis] Rock Carling, 4-8-0 Tender Locomotives (New York: Drake Publishers, Inc, 1972), pp. 91-92 and "Asia", Table XV [15], entry 278, pp. 108-109. See also Eng. Udaya Peeligama, "A Concise History Of Motive Power Development On Sri Lankan Railways" on the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka - New South Wales Chapter website at [], posted 7 September 2018, last accessed 20 July 2019

Locobase 20925 describes the first of these light-footed Twelve-wheelers to operate on the Batticaloa and Trincomalee lines, which had 45 lb/yd (22.5 kg/metre) rail and required axle loadings no higher than 9 long tons. Needing more motive power after World War II, the CGR ordered this sextet, which repeated many of the same specifications, but presented a modified firebox, increased boiler pressure, and shaved a few pounds off the adhesion and engines weights.

Eng Peeligama described the 9-ton 4-8-0s as "highly successful", but noted that this last batch "had relatively short working lives when steam working ceased by 1969."

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Middle Run Media

ClassA1/A2A3A3
Locobase ID20605 20925 20926
RailroadCeylon Government RailwayCeylon Government RailwayCeylon Government Railway
CountryCeylonCeylonCeylon
Whyte4-8-04-8-04-8-0
Number in Class696
Road NumbersR-18, R-19, R41-R42, R-16, R-17275-578, 296-297, 334-336357-362
Gauge5'6"5'6"5'6"
Number Built496
BuilderKitson & CoseveralWG Bagnall
Year191319281951
Valve GearWalschaertWalschaertWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)12 / 3.6614 / 4.2714 / 4.27
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)22 / 6.7123.71 / 7.2323.71 / 7.23
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.55 0.59 0.59
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)49.83 / 15.1948.29 / 14.7248.17 / 14.68
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)34,720 / 15,74920,160 / 914420,160 / 9144
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)138,880 / 62,99580,640 / 36,57880,080 / 36,324
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)171,472 / 77,778110,656 / 50,193109,760 / 49,786
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)40,496 / 18,36979,408 / 36,01981,984 / 37,187
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)211,968 / 96,147190,064 / 86,212191,744 / 86,973
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)3600 / 13.643240 / 12.273240 / 12.27
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT) 5.50 / 5 4.40 / 4 4.40 / 4
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)58 / 2934 / 1733 / 16.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)43 / 109248 / 109248 / 1219
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)160 / 11170 / 11180 / 12.40
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)21" x 24" / 533x61017" x 22" / 533x61017" x 22" / 533x610
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)33,475 / 15184.0219,140 / 8681.7720,266 / 9192.51
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.15 4.21 3.95
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)173 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)27 - 5.25" / 133
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)14.25 / 4.34
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)188 / 17.47117.50 / 10.92126 / 11.71
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)42.50 / 3.9523.50 / 2.1823.50 / 2.18
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2012 / 186.92977 / 90.77980 / 91.05
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)201 / 18.67201 / 18.67
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2012 / 186.921178 / 109.441181 / 109.72
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume209.12169.04169.56
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation680039954230
Same as above plus superheater percentage680046744949
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area30,08023,37126,536
Power L1351879388519
Power MT223.38868.07938.12

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