South African Class 6C 4-6-0

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South African Class 6C 4-6-0
ex OVGS 6th Class 4-6-0
Class 6C 553 (4-6-0) ex OVGS 88-CSAR 364.jpg
Ex OVGS 6th Class no. 88, ex CSAR Class 6-L2 no. 364, SAR Class 6C no. 553
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer Cape Government Railways
Builder Dübs and Company
Sharp, Stewart and Company
Neilson and Company
Serial number Dübs 3331, 3336, 3343-3344, 3440, 3448, 3457-3459
SS 4120-4121, 4140-4143 [1]
Neilson 5126-5127, 5130, 5182-5187 [2]
Model CGR 6th Class
Build date 1895-1898 [1]
Total produced 24
Configuration 4-6-0 "Tenwheeler" (USA)
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Leading wheel
28.5 in (724 mm)
Driver diameter 54 in (1,370 mm)
Wheelbase Total: 42 ft 0.625 in (12.817 m)
5 ft 5.5 in (1.664 m) bogie
11 ft (3.353 m) coupled
20 ft 3.75 in (6.191 m) total
10 ft (3.048 m)
Length 51 ft 7.25 in (15.729 m)
Height 12 ft 10 in (3.912 m) as built
12 ft 10.375 in (3.921 m) Belpaire
Frame Plate frame
Axle load 11.85 long tons (12.0 t) on 3rd driver as built
13.4 long tons (13.6 t) per driver, Belpaire
Weight on drivers 35.4 long tons (36.0 t) as built
40.2 long tons (40.8 t) Belpaire
Locomotive weight 46.8 long tons (47.6 t) as built
51.075 long tons (51.9 t) Belpaire
Tender weight 33,056 lb (15.0 t) empty
33.2 long tons (33.7 t) w/o
Locomotive and tender
combined weight
95,368 lb (43.3 t) empty
82.225 long tons (83.5 t) w/o
Tender type YC - YB, YC, YE, YE1 permitted
* 3 axle tender
* 37 in (940 mm) wheels
* Length 21 ft 2.875 in (6.474 m)
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 7.5 long tons (7.6 t)
Water capacity 2,600 imp gal (12,000 l)
Boiler As built:
4 ft 4 in (1.321 m) inside diameter
11 ft 2.125 in (3.407 m) inside length
6 ft 8 in (2.032 m) pitch
4 ft 9 in (1.448 m) inside diameter
11 ft 2.125 in (3.407 m) inside length
7 ft (2.134 m) pitch
Boiler pressure 180 psi (1,240 kPa)
Firegrate area 17 sq ft (1.579 m2) as built
16.6 sq ft (1.542 m2) Belpaire
Heating surface:
– Tubes
As built:
185 tubes 1.875 in (47.6 mm) diameter
1,015 sq ft (94.297 m2)
220 tubes 2 in (50.8 mm) diameter
1,287.5 sq ft (119.613 m2)
– Firebox 101 sq ft (9.383 m2) as built
111 sq ft (10.312 m2) Belpaire
– Total 1,116 sq ft (103.680 m2) as built
1,398.5 sq ft (129.925 m2) Belpaire
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 17 in (432 mm) bore
26 in (660 mm) stroke
Valve gear Stephenson
Performance figures
Tractive effort 18,780 lbf (83.5 kN) at 75% pressure [3]
Operator(s) OVGS
Imperial Military Railways
Central South African Railways
South African Railways
Sudan Railways
Class OVGS 6th Class
CSAR Class 6-L2
SAR Class 6C
Number in class 24
Number(s) OVGS 70-93
CSAR 346-369
SAR 541-559, 561-564 [1][4][5]
Sudan M713
Delivered 1896-1898
First run 1896
Withdrawn 1973 [6]

The South African Class 6C 4-6-0 of 1896 is a South African steam locomotive from the pre-Union era in the Orange Free State.

Between 1896 and 1898 the Oranje-Vrijstaat Gouwerment-Spoorwegen placed twenty-four new Cape 6th Class steam locomotives with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement in service. When British forces invaded the Orange Free State during the Second Boer War, these locomotives were taken over by the Imperial Military Railways and after the war they were renumbered into the Central South African Railways roster. In 1912, when the remaining twenty-three locomotives were assimilated into the South African Railways, they were renumbered and reclassified to Class 6C.[1][4][6]


The 6th Class 4-6-0 passenger steam locomotive was designed at the Salt River works of the Cape Government Railways (CGR) at the same time as the 7th Class, both according to the specifications of Michael Stephens, then Chief Locomotive Superintendent of the CGR, and under the supervision of H.M. Beatty, then Locomotive Superintendent of the Cape Western System. Whereas the 7th Class was conceived primarily as a goods locomotive, the 6th Class was intended to be its fast passenger service counterpart.[1]

The first ten 6th Class locomotives of the Oranje-Vrijstaat Gouwerment-Spoorwegen (OVGS) were purchased from the CGR and were soon followed by orders for new 6th Class locomotives directly from the manufacturers. The twenty-four locomotives in the first group to be built new for the OVGS were manufactured between 1895 and 1898 by Sharp, Stewart and Company, Dübs and Company and Neilson and Company, and delivered between 1896 and 1898. Six of these locomotives were built by Sharp Stewart, numbered in the range from 70 to 75, nine by Dübs, numbered in the range from 76 to 84, and nine by Neilson, numbered in the range from 85 to 93. All these locomotives were delivered with Type YC six wheeled tenders.[1]

Class 6 sub-classes[edit]

The Union of South Africa was established on 31 May 1910, in terms of the South Africa Act. One of the clauses in the Act required that the three Colonial Government railways, the Cape Government Railways, the Natal Government Railways and the CSAR, also be united under one single administration to control and administer the railways, ports and harbours of the Union. While the South African Railways (SAR) came into existence in 1910, the actual classification and renumbering of all the rolling stock of the three constituent railways required careful planning and was only implemented with effect from 1 January 1912.[4][7]

When all but one of these twenty-four locomotives were assimilated into the SAR in 1912, they were reclassified to Class 6C and renumbered in the ranges from 541 to 559 and 561 to 564. The fate of the one locomotive that did not enter SAR service, OVGS 89, later CSAR 365, is not known, although number SAR 560 appears to have been reserved for it.[3][4][5]

These locomotives, together with the CGR’s 6th Class locomotives and the Class 6-L1 and 6-L3 locomotives inherited by the CSAR from the OVGS via the IMR, were grouped into altogether fourteen sub-classes by the SAR. The 4-6-0 locomotives became SAR Classes 6, 6A, 6B, 6D to 6H and 6J to 6L, the 2-6-2 locomotives became Class 6Y and the 2-6-4 locomotives became Class 6Z.[3][5]


South Africa[edit]

When British forces invaded the Orange Free State during the Second Freedom War, all these OVGS locomotives were taken over by the Imperial Military Railways (IMR), but not renumbered. They were only renumbered after the war when they were included in the Central South African Railways (CSAR) roster in 1902 and reclassified to CSAR Class 6-L2.[1]

Several of the CSAR’s Class 6-L1 to 6-L3 locomotives, including ten of these ex OVGS locomotives, had been modified by P.A Hyde, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the CSAR, by having their round-topped fireboxes replaced with larger Belpaire fireboxes and by having larger, more sheltered cabs installed. The ten locomotives that were later renumbered in the ranges from 554 to 559 and 561 to 564 on the SAR had undergone this modification. This conversion enhanced their performance, enabling them to handle 12% heavier loads while reducing their coal consumption by 5%.[1][4][6]

During the 1930s many of them were modified once again, when the CME of the SAR at the time, A.G. Watson, displayed his aversion to Belpaire fireboxes and reboilered them with round-topped fireboxes again, but retaining the larger cabs and without changing their classifications.[3][6]

The Class 6 series of locomotives were introduced primarily as passenger locomotives, but when the class became displaced by larger and more powerful locomotive classes, it literally became a Jack-of-all-trades that proved itself as one of the most useful and successful locomotive classes ever to be designed at the Salt River shops. It went on to see service in all parts of the country except Natal and was used on all types of traffic.[1]


During World War II sixteen of the Classes 6 to 6D were transferred to the Middle East to assist with the war effort during the North African Campaign. The sole Class 6C locomotive in this group was number 548. It was sold to the Sudan Railways Corporation in 1942 and renumbered M713.[1][6][8]


The Class 6C locomotives were renumbered twice, first from the OVGS to the CSAR roster and in 1912 into the SAR roster. The table reflects these renumberings as well as their builders and works numbers.[1][2][4][5]

Sides illustrated[edit]

The main picture shows a right side view of SAR Class 6C no. 553, while the following shows the left side of CSAR Class 6-L2 no. 349 as depicted on a SAR Museum playing card.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Holland, D.F. (1971). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways, Volume 1: 1859-1910 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 57, 108, 126, 133. ISBN 978-0-7153-5382-0. 
  2. ^ a b Neilson, Reid works list, compiled by Austrian locomotive historian Bernhard Schmeiser
  3. ^ a b c d South African Railways and Harbours Locomotive Diagram Book, 2’0” & 3’6” Gauge Steam Locomotives, 15 August 1941, as amended
  4. ^ a b c d e f Classification of S.A.R. Engines with Renumbering Lists, issued by the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s Office, Pretoria, January 1912, pp. 8, 12, 14, 31 (Reprinted in April 1987 by SATS Museum, R.3125-6/9/11-1000)
  5. ^ a b c d Holland, D.F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways, Volume 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 41–44. ISBN 0869772112. 
  7. ^ The South African Railways - Historical Survey. Editor George Hart, Publisher Bill Hart, Sponsored by Dorbyl Ltd., Published c. 1978, p. 25.
  8. ^ Class 6 to 6D sold to Sudan Railways during the WWII North African Campaign, list compiled by Austrian locomotive historian Reimar Holzinger