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Narrow Gauge NM

NM 15 to 28, 31 to 38

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NM 15 to 18 NM 19 to 22 NM 23 to 26
NM 27 to 28 NM 31 to 34 NM 35 to 38

When the Commonwealth Railways decided to take over the Central Australia Railway operation from the South Australian Railways (SAR) they identified the need to purchase additional rollingstock, including locomotives. As the South Australian Railways would not sell the Commonwealth any of the existing locomotives being used on the line they had to look elsewhere. Originally it was thought that the "C16" design of the Queensland Railways would be suitable, but further investigation identified the "C17" as being a better purchase. A report by the South Australian Railways Engineer was favourable to the bridges on the line being able to take the additional axle load. Work on strengthening bridges had been planned since 1917, with the intention of using the South Australian Railways "T" class, but not yet carried out.

Ghan Heavitree Gap Alice Springs

Following rapid approval tenders were called in December 1923 for 14 locomotives. Twenty overseas and 3 Australian replies were received, with "Sir W.G.Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. Ltd." of England being the cheapest at £106,381. The next nearest tender was received from "Thompson Engineering and Pipe Co Ltd" of Castlemaine, Victoria at £136,400. As the overseas tender was not suitable, due to variances from the original specification, Thomson's got he order. The Government also hoped that by awarding a local contract it would foster the establishment and expansion of the local manufacturing industry.

The order progressed well with the first locos being available for delivery, via Terowie, from May 1925. The Commonwealth was so satisfied with the delivery date and quality that an additional 8 engines were purchased for use on the new line extension being constructed from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. This second order was expected to commence delivery in December 1926 but due to an extended British Coal strike, which closed all the British Steel Mills and force the purchase of boiler plate from America, delivery did not start until April 1927. No major problems were experienced with either order of locos and only minor alterations were requested by the union, including the provision of a screw for reversing gear in place of reversing lever due to restricted space in the cab, lids for ventilator opening in the roofs of cabs, cab lookout protection from weather, drive seat alterations and screw hand brakes on tenders in place of chains. The requested modifications were included by Thomson's in the second order. The remaining locos were fitted with these features between 1926 and 1929. Instead of using the last loco, NM38, on the Central Australia Railway it was dispatched to Darwin to assist with the extension works being undertaken from Katherine to Daly Waters. When the withdrawal of funds forced termination of construction at Birdum, instead of Daly Waters, NM38 was placed in storage pending its return to Port Augusta. Owing to difficulty in returning the locomotive south, and an unsuccessful attempt at offering it to the Queensland Railways in exchange for two lighter B15 class engines, it remained for an extended period. As it was considered far too heavy for the light track around Darwin it was only used in emergencies when no other locomotives were available. It is known to have worked a mixed train from Katherine to Birdum on at least one occasion, but seems to have never entered general service. After being stored for many years it eventually returned in September 1941 to help with the increased war traffic on the Central Australia Railway

Throughout their working life the engines remained basically unaltered apart from the provision of back bunker boards and boarding the front of the tenders. In 1927 these modifications, including a 4 in. raising of the tender sides increased coal capacity to 6½ tons. When the coaling depot at Edward's Creek was abandoned in 1943, it was necessary to increase the coal capacity to 8 tons by raising the tender sides. This work was carried out at South Australian Railways's Peterborough and Islington workshops. The only other major visible change was the provision of back cab curtains in 1932.

Note: The above text was based on the Rollingstock Files of the Commonwealth Railways and should be read in conjunction with the following comments from John Lyas who was involved in the rebuilding of NM 25.

Note on Alternations to Commonwealth Railways NM Class Engines by John Lyas"

During the rebuilding of NM 25 during 2001-2003 numerous changes to the original design were noted. It should also be mentioned that no evidence exists to support the statements above concerning the change to screw reverse equipment. The many changes encountered have been detailed below; some of these alterations are quite evident, some are not. Study of the numerous photographs that exist of the NM's will show the external changes readily when looking for them. Obviously not all engines received all the alterations.

TENDER

ENGINE

Class:NM
Builder:Thompson, Castlemaine Victoria
Introduced:1925
Number in Class:22
Wheel Arrangement:4-8-0
Driving Wheel Diameter:3 ft. 9 in.
Cylinders:Number:2
-Position on frame:Outside
-Diameter x stroke:17 in. x 22 in.
Valve Gear:Walschaert
Heating Surface:Tubes:647.4 square feet
-Superheater:177.2 square feet
-Firebox:116 square feet
-Grate Area:18.5 square feet
Boiler Pressure:160 lbs p.s.i.
Tractive Effort:19,200 lbs
Coal Capacity:6.5 tons (8 tons with sideboards) (NM38: 4 tons 10 cwt)
Water Capacity:3,000 gallons
Weight in Working Order:80 tons 19 cwt (NM38: 78 tons 5 cwt)
Overall Length53 ft. ½ in.

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NM 15

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
15.6.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.41.
8.1956Written off.
12.1957Derelict, Quorn.

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NM 16

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
22.6.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.42.
5.1954Written off.

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NM 17

NM 17

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
20.7.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.43.
9.1955Written off.
6.1958Recorded as Serviceable.
1964Reported derelict.

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NM 18

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
1.8.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.44.
6.1958Serviceable.
1964Derelict.

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NM 19

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
7.9.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.45.
1.1955Written off.
12.1957Derelict, Quorn.

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NM 20

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
28.9.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.46.
12.1957Serviceable.

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NM21

NM 21

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
12.10.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.47.
6.1958Serviceable on standby.

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NM22 NM22

NM 22

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
31.10.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.48.
10.1956Withdrawn.
22.10.1958Scrapped.

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NM23 NM23 and banker on wheat train approximately 2 miles from Quorn - early 1930s

NM 23

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
16.11.1925.Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.49.
1.1954Written off.
12.1957Derelict, Quorn.

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NM24 Port Augusta January 1950 NM24

NM 24

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
30.11.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.50.
11.5.1944Involved in Puttapa accident.
11.1955Written off.
22.10.1958Scrapped.

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NM 25 at Ewaninga

NM 25

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
14.12.1925Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.51.
29.3.1964Last mainline use.
-To Homestead park Port Augusta.
1991To Pichi Richi Railway at Quorn.

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NM26 NM26

NM 26

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
4.1.1926Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.52.
6.1958Serviceable, standby.

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NM 27

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
21.1.1926Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.53.
9.1955Written off.
12.1957Derelict, Quorn.

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NM28

NM 28

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
6.3.1926Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.54.
8.1956Written off.
22.10.1958Scrapped.

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NM 31

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
28.4.1927Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.55.
12.1957Serviceable.

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NM 32

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
27.5.1927Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.56.
6.1955Written off.
12.1957Derelict, Quorn.

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NM33

NM 33

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
13.6.1927Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.57.
12.1954Written off.
12.1957Derelict, Quorn.

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NM 34

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
2.7.1927Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.58.
8.10.1967Last run through Pichi Richi Pass.
30.10.1967To Mile End Railway Museum.
1988To Port Dock Station Railway Museum.

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NM 35

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
6.1927Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.59.
1964Derelict.

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NM 36

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
7.1927Entered service Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.60.
6.1956Written off.
1964Derelict.

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NM37 on Ghan at Port Augusta 13.3.1952

NM 37

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
1927Entered service on the Central Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.61.
10.1954Written off.
22.10.1958Scrapped.

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NM 38

Steam locomotive with 4-8-0 wheel arrangement, built by Thompson of Castlemaine Victoria.
12.1927Entered service on the North Australia Railway. Built by "Thompson and Co", Castlemaine, Victoria, builder No.62. It was too heavy for general traffic work on the North Australia Railway line and had only been sent for use during the construction of the Katherine to Birdum extension.
1929Following completion of construction the engine was stored awaiting approval for the extension of the North Australia Railway to continue.
1930Following a decision not to continue with the line extension, the Commissioner wrote to the Queensland Railways asking if they were interrested in exchanging "NM 38" for two "B15" class engines, rather than returning the engine to the Central Australia Railway. If appears that despite the Queensland Railways not taking up the offer the engine remained on the North Australia Railway and is thought to have been used a couple of times after being stored when no other locomotives were available.
30.9.1941Left North Australia Railway for Central Australia Railway.
7.1949Converted to oil burner.
6.1956Written off.
1957Derelict.

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