South Australian Railways 500 class (steam)

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South Australian Railways 500 Class
South Australian Railways 500 Class Locomotive No. 502 "James McGuire". Approximately 1926. State Library of South Australia B 3994.png
South Australian Railways 500 Class Locomotive No. 502 "James McGuire", c. 1926
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerFred Shea
BuilderArmstrong Whitworth
Serial number633-642
Build date1926
Total produced10
RebuilderIslington Railway Workshops
Rebuild date1929-1936
Number rebuilt10
 • Whyte4-8-2 2′D1′ 2′2′ (as built)
4-8-4 2′D2′ 2′2′ (rebuilt)
Gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Driver dia.63 in (1,600 mm)
Length83 ft 11 in (25,578 mm) (as built)
84 ft 11 in (25,883 mm) (rebuilt)
Height4.2545 metres (13 ft 11 12 in)
Axle load22 ton 7 cwt 2 qtr (as built)
22 ton 3 cwt (rebuilt)
Adhesive weight88.85 tons (as built)
87.20 tons (rebuilt)
Loco weight135.80 tons (as built)
143.80 tons (rebuilt)
Tender weight85.15 tons (as built)
78.80 tons (rebuilt)
Total weight218 ton 13 cwt (as built)
222 ton 6 cwt (rebuilt)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity12 tons[which?] (as built)
11 tons (rebuilt)
Water cap8,300 gallons[which?] as built (Water capacity reduced to 7,100 gallons in 1930)
7,000 gallons (rebuilt)
 • Firegrate area
66.6 sq ft (6.19 m2)
Boiler pressure200 psi (1,379 kPa)
Heating surface:
 • Firebox
395 sq ft (36.7 m2)
 • Heating area835 sq ft (77.6 m2)
Cylinder size26 in × 28 in (660 mm × 711 mm)
Valve gearWalschaerts valve gear
Performance figures
Tractive effort51,000 lb (23,000 kg) (as built)
59,000 lb (27,000 kg) (rebuilt)
OperatorsSouth Australian Railways
First run22/5/1926
Last run11/5/1963
Disposition1 preserved, 9 scrapped

The South Australian Railways 500 class was a class of 4-8-2 steam locomotives operated by the South Australian Railways. They were rebuilt as 4-8-4s.


The 500 class were part of larger order for 30 steam locomotives placed with Armstrong Whitworth, England, in 1924, as part of the rehabilitation of the state's rail system being overseen by Railways Commissioner William Webb. They replaced the Rx and S class locomotives, many dating back to 1894, that were still performing mainline duties, meaning that double and even triple heading was common. All ten 500-class locomotives arrived in Adelaide in 1926, and entered service on the Adelaide to Wolseley line as far as Tailem Bend. All were named after notable South Australians.[1]


In May 1928, 506 was experimentally fitted with a booster, included in a newly created four wheel trailing truck. This American-inspired modification proved highly successful, increasing the locomotive's tractive effort from 51,000 pounds-force (230 kN) to 59,000 pounds-force (260 kN). This modification was subsequently fitted to the nine remaining locomotives, resulting in the class becoming the 4-8-4 class 500B.

Throughout the mid-1930s all but two of the locomotives in the class were semi-streamlined and had valances fitted. The first two 500-class locomotives were withdrawn from service in 1955 and the last was withdrawn in 1962.[1]

504 is preserved as a static exhibit at the National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide.[2]

Class list[edit]

Number Date in Service Date Condemned Name
500 4 June 1926 May 1963 James McGuire
501 2 July 1926 September 1958 Sir Henry Barwell
502 22 May 1926 July 1961 John Gunn
503 23 July 1926 July 1962 RL Butler
504 18 October 1926 July 1962 Tom Barr-Smith
505 28 October 1926 July 1962 Sir Tom Bridges
506 25 October 1926 July 1962 Sir George Murray
507 12 October 1926 March 1958 Margaret Murray
508 14 September 1926 July 1962 Sir Lancelot Stirling
509 24 August 1926 July 1961 WA Webb


  1. ^ a b Oberg, Leon (1984). Locomotives of Australia 1850s-1980s. Frenchs Forest: Reed Books. p. 147. ISBN 0 7301 0005 7.
  2. ^ "Tom Barr Smith". National Railway Museum. Retrieved 31 October 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Douglas Colquhoun; Ronald Stewien; Adrian Thomas (1969). 500 The 4-8-2 and 4-8-4 Locomotives of The South Australian Railways. Australian Railway Historical Society, SA.
  • David Burke (2000). Giants of Steam. Australian Railway Historical Society, NSW.
  • Leon Oberg (2007). Locomotives of Australia. Rosenberg Publishing, NSW.
  • Ron Stewien (2011). A History of the South Australian Railways, Volume 5: Controversy and Mr Webb. Eveleigh Press, NSW.
  • Ron Stewien (2010). A History of the South Australian Railways, Volume 6: Mountains, Mikados and Pacifics. Eveleigh Press, NSW.
  • Drymalik, Chris. "Broad Gauge 500-class 4-8-2 (later 500B-class 4-8-4) locomotives". Retrieved 19 March 2013.