NZR R class

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NZR R class
NZR R Class, Jervois Quay, Wellington, NZ.jpg
NZR R class on Jervois Quay, Wellington
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Avonside Engine Co., England
Build date 1878-79
Specifications
Configuration 0-6-4T
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Driver diameter 36.5 in (0.927 m)
Wheelbase 21 ft 10 in (6.65 m)
Weight on drivers 20 long tons (20 t; 22 short tons)
Locomotive weight 33 long tons (33.5 tonnes; 37.0 short tons)
Boiler pressure 160 lbf/in2 (1,103 kPa)
Firegrate area 11.8 sq ft (1.10 m2)
Heating surface:
– Total
556 sq ft (51.7 m2)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 12.25 in × 16 in (311 mm × 406 mm)
Performance figures
Maximum speed 53 mph (85 km/h)
Tractive effort 8,420 lbf (37.45 kN)
Career
Operator(s) New Zealand Railways Department
Number in class 18
Disposition 1 preserved

The NZR R class was a class of early 0-6-4T single Fairlie steam locomotives operated by New Zealand's Railways Department (NZR) between 1879 and 1936.

Introduction[edit]

In the 1870s New Zealand's railway network was a small, fragmented system of light railway lines built in rough country where short, steep grades and tight curves were common. The Fairlie type of steam locomotive was well-suited to working in such conditions. In 1872, the first Fairlie locomotives arrived from England, the E class. Gradually the number of these double-ended engines (known as Double Fairlies) grew to 10, and came to include the B class of 1874. There was still a need for orthodox engines with Fairlie manoeuvrability. The Avonside Engine Company of Bristol, England solved the problem by providing both the R and S classes of Single Fairlie engines; 18 of the former in 1878-79 and 7 of the latter in 1880-81.[1] The R class locomotives were built at Avonside's Bristol factory and then shipped to New Zealand, with all entering service by early March 1880.[2]

The locomotives quickly earned a good reputation for speed and manoeuvrability. On a trial run, Charles Rous-Marten timed one as running from Upper Hutt to Wellington, a distance of 20 miles, in 32.5 minutes despite a number of short delays amounting to three minutes; one section of two miles was covered at a maximum speed of 53 miles per hour. They were allocated to depots across the country, and during their working life operated almost all types of services from premier passenger trains to shunting tasks. As built, they could carry 716 gallons of water, but to allow them to operate over extended distances, some were later fitted with 900 gallon side tanks. All were reboilered during their lives to raise the boiler pressure from 130 to 160 pounds per square inch.[1]

Accidents[edit]

R 28 overhanging Lyttelton wharf on 23 March 1907.

The locomotives were involved in a number of accidents. On 23 March 1907, R 28 was running the Boat Train to the wharf at Lyttelton to connect with the Wellington ferry when it ran the stop-block. The driving frame, wheels and engine took a dive into Lyttelton harbour, but because of the design, the rest of the locomotive remained on the wharf.

Class Roster[edit]

Key: In service Out of service Auckland Transport service Preserved Overhaul/Repair Scrapped
Road
number
Builder Builders
number
In
service
Written
off
Comments
22 Avonside 1233 1880 11-1932
28 Avonside 1217 5-1879 1934 Sold to Timaru Harbour Board 1934. Sold Burkes Creek Colliery 1944. Preserved at Reefton
29 Avonside 1218 5-1879 7-1933 Used by NZR Stores Branch 1933-1944. In use on Sanson Tramway 1944-1946
32 Avonside 1229 8-1879 3-1932
33 Avonside 1232 1879 8-1917 Sold to Public Works Department. In use as PWD 516, 1917-1932.
112 Avonside 1234 1880 11-1932
153 Avonside 1225 1880 1-1924
187 Avonside 1224 6-1879 2-1924
188 Avonside 1227 7-1879 6-1927
189 Avonside 1228 8-1879 3-1922
190 Avonside 1230 9-1879 3-1922
191 Avonside 1231 1-1880 1-1924
209 Avonside 1221 7-1879 1927
210 Avonside 1226 3-1880 3-1927
211 Avonside 1223 7-1879 12-1926 Sold for use on Sanson Tramway 1926-1933
271 Avonside 1219 7-1879 3-1936
272 Avonside 1220 7-1879 3-1928
273 Avonside 1222 7-1879 2-1927 Nicknamed "The Governor" whilst in service

[3]

Retirement[edit]

The R class were gradually withdrawn from NZR service between 1919 and 1936. In July 1919, R 29 was sold to the Manawatu County Council and it worked on the Sanson Tramway through to its 1946 closure. Three more Rs went to the Manawatu County Council for use on the Sanson Tramway, two of which were given away free by NZR for use as spares. Another branch of government, the Public Works Department, acquired R 33 in August 1919. Five more were withdrawn in March 1922, and withdrawals continued throughout the 1920s, with only three surviving in NZR ownership into the 1930s. The last, R 271, was retired in March 1936 and dumped at Oamaru at the forshore. A number, however, operated into the middle of the 20th century in private industrial use. Ironically due to its 1907 wharf accident, R 28 was sold to the Timaru Harbour Board in 1934. Until 1940, it was for shunting the Timaru wharves. It was later sold to Burkes Creek Colliery, Reefton for use on their mining railway. Laid up in 1948, R 28 was later placed in Reefton's town park for static preservation. In 2000 a working group took over care for the locomotive, where it will be moved into the restored Reefton engine shed for ultimate restoration to working order.[2] It is the only original single Fairlie left anywhere in the world.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b T. A. McGavin, Steam Locomotives of New Zealand, Part One: 1863 to 1900 (Wellington: New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society, 1987), 34-5.
  2. ^ a b New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives, "R Class 0-6-4T Register", accessed 9 December 2007.
  3. ^ Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863-1971 ISBN 0-9582072-1-6

External links[edit]