New South Wales C36 class locomotive

New South Wales C36 class locomotive
New South Wales C36 class
Preserved 3642 at Central railway station, Sydney, 12 September 2009
Power type Steam
Builder NSWGR Eveleigh (10)
Clyde Engineering (65)
Build date 1925
Configuration 4-6-0
UIC classification 2'Ch
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver diameter 69 in (1.753 m)
Axle load original: 20.8 long tons (21.1 t)
later: 21 long tons (21.3 t)
Locomotive & tender
combined weight
original: 159.4 long tons (162.0 t)
later: 160 long tons (162.6 t)
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 14 long tons (14.2 t)
Water capacity 6,250 imp gal (28,400 l)
Boiler pressure original: 180 psi (1.24 MPa)
later: 200 psi (1.38 MPa)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 23×26 in (584×660 mm)
Valve gear Walschaerts
Top speed 93 miles per hour (150 km/h)
Tractive effort original: 30,500 lbf (135.67 kN)
later: 33,890 lbf (150.75 kN)
Career NSWGR
Class 36 class
Number in class 75
Number 3601–3675
First run 1925
Preserved 3609, 3616, 3642

The New South Wales C36 class was a class of steam locomotive operated by the New South Wales Government Railways in Australia. On introduction from 1925, the 75 locomotives of the class became the principal motive power for all major expresses, and accelerated long distance passenger timetables leading to new levels of service in the pre World War II period. They were the mainstay of passenger expresses for over 20 years before the advent of the C38 Class. The class was used extensively for performance testing, and thus the development and trial of a number of technical improvements.


Origins and development

The C36 Class was a relatively minor development of the C35 (originally NN) Class express passenger locomotives, introduced from 1914. Ten of the class (Nos. 3601 to 3610) were built by the NSW Railway Workshops at Eveleigh, the remaining 65 by Clyde Engineering.

The design was a response to the increased loading of express trains and public demand for shorter journey times, as well as to the need for reduced servicing and lower maintenance costs. The addition to the fleet of a substantial number of large express passenger locomotives with higher availability, enabled older classes to be retired or relegated to lesser trains.

The whole class of 75 locomotives were superheated from the outset. The 36 Class in original form had a round-top boiler rather than the Belpaire type. In the early to mid-1950s, the majority of the C36 Class locomotives were rebuilt with new, all-steel Belpaire boilers and re-designed cabs. Typical of the technology of the day, the riveted steel boilers originally fitted to the class had copper inner fireboxes, fire-tubes and superheater flues. The replacement Belpaire boilers fitted in the 1950s had steel fireboxes, tubes and flues, in line with US practice and later NSWGR policy. Although copper provides superior heat transfer, it promotes a galvanic reaction resulting in the 'wasting' by corrosion of some steel boiler components such as crown stays and front tubeplates. A noteworthy feature of the class was their outside Walschaerts valve gear, by then well-established in Britain and Australia and valued for its ease of lubrication and maintenance. The C36 Class was the first mainline locomotive design in NSW to be so fitted, and all subsequent steam classes followed suit.

Many of the old southern drivers claimed the C36 Class were faster than the crack C38 Class Pacifics which arrived in later years, and were reputed to have reached speeds of over 150 kilometres per hour.[1]

In service

3626 with original round top boiler

A lot of C36 Class locomotives were placed in express passenger service, initially on the premier Sydney-Newcastle trains, then later on Southern and Northern expresses and mail trains. The much-increased range of the class was trialled early on, with through trips from Sydney to Albury, a distance of some 400 miles, without changing the locomotive. By the late 1920s, the class were in regular use on the Melbourne Limited and Melbourne Express, generally with only four servicing stops en-route.

On the Main North, they worked trains as far as Armidale, and on the North Coast, to South Grafton. Following the opening of the bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton, the class worked all the way to South Brisbane. By the late 1930s, the C36 Class had displaced the C35 Class on most expresses, including on the Western line - and on prestige trains such as the Caves Express and The Fish, as well as on mail and express trains generally. When the Riverina Express and the Northern Tablelands Express were introduced in 1941, the C36 Class was rostered. Even after the introduction of the more powerful C38 Class in 1943, C36 Class locomotives were still used on the Newcastle Express, until circa 1945 when enough 38s had entered service to cope with the traffic. By the 1950s, the C38 class had taken over all major expresses, and the C36 Class were generally used on slower passenger services and mail trains, including to Albury, Narrandera, Dubbo, Parkes, Thirroul, Armidale and South Brisbane and local stopping trains on the 'Short North' to Newcastle. On all the lengthy runs to the extremities of the system, the engines were 'relayed' at specific locations.

Following electrification of the Western line to Lithgow in 1957, C36 Class locomotives were based at Lithgow, Bathurst and Parkes, and with the introduction of diesel-electric locomotives, were beginning to be used on goods trains as the diesels took over the more important passenger trains. As well as providing a faster service, useful for more perishable goods, the rostering of the C36 Class on freight workings allowed the withdrawal of numbers of Standard Goods locomotives. By the 1960s, withdrawal of the C36 Class (along with other steam loco classes) had begun as more diesels became available, but a number were temporarily returned to traffic in late 1966, to work wheat trains after a record harvest. The class was progressively withdrawn in the late 1960s.

When delivered, all of the class were painted in standard NSWGR unlined black. However for the 1927 Royal Tour of the Duke and Duchess of York, 3602, 3615, 3616 & 3617 were painted Royal Blue, with yellow and black lining. The first 36 Class locomotive (apart from the Royal Train engines) to be painted in a colour other than black was 3633. It appeared in green livery on the Southern Highlands Express in 1934. Subsequently, another 28 members of the class was painted green.

The intervention of World War II meant that no more steam locomotives were painted in colours other than black, and as the C36 Class became due for overhaul and re-paint, they reverted to plain black. After the war, no C36 Class locomotives in normal service were coloured.

In 1957, locomotive 3616 was fitted with Giesl Oblong Ejector equipment, replacing the blast-pipe and chimney.[2]


Only 3 locomotives remain. 3609 and 3616 are preserved in static order, and 3642 is in running order and used a lot on steam excursions. They are all with the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum.


  1. ^ Locomotives of Australia - Leon Oberg 1996, ISBN 0 86417 779 8
  2. ^ Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, January, 1959 pp7-9

Further reading

Grunbach, Alex. (1989), A Compendium of New South Wales Steam Locomotives, Australian Railway Historical Society NSW Division, ISBN 0-909650 27 6 

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