Locomotive F255

South Australian Railways

Broad Gauge



Class operators                                                   South Australian Railways

Condition                                                             Excellent

Ownership                                                           History Trust of South Australia

Provenance                                                         South Australian Railways

Class                                                                   F

Class Builders                                                     S.A.R. Islington Workshops (21), James Martin & Co. Gawler (12), Perry Engineering Mile End (10)

Number in class                                                  43

Number series                                                    167 - 189, 236 - 255

Designer                                                            T. S. Roberts

Built by                                                               Perry Engineering Mile End

Entered service                                                  6th October 1922

Condemned                                                       21st August 1969

Entered the museum                                         19th April 1967

Length (over coupling points)                            40’ 7.25’’ (12.376 metres)

Total Weight                                                      59 Tons (59,000 kilograms)

Maximum Speed                                                60 mph (96 km/h)

Wheel Arrangement                                          4-6-2

Driving Wheels Diameter                                  63’’ (1600mm)

Maximum Axle Load                                          12 tons 6 cwt (12,304 kilograms)

Boiler Pressure                                                185 lbs psi

Cylinders                                                          2x outside - 17.5’’ x 24’’ (444mm x 609mm)

Valve Gear                                                       Stephenson

Tractive Effort                                                   18,335 lbs

Coal Capacity                                                   2.25 Tons (2250 kilograms)

Grate Area                                                       18 square feet (1.67 square metres)

Water Capacity                                                 1,160 gallons (5273 litres)

Mileage                                                            905,627 miles (1,457,465 kilometres)


For over 50 years the majority of Adelaide’s suburban trains were hauled by the F-class 4-6-2 tank locomotives and though in later years they became an anachronism, quaintly old-fashioned in appearance in the diesel age, they were still quite capable of a good turn of speed on express run.

At the beginning of the 20th Century the P-class 2-4-0 tanks were the standard suburban passenger engine, but were underpowered for the increasing loads then offered. A more powerful locomotive was necessary. The Chief Mechanical Engineer, Thomas Roberts, who had recently begun the rebuilding of the R-class into the more powerful Rx-class, produced a design for a 4-6-2 tank locomotive, to be known as the F-class.

The first, No.167 was constructed by the Islington Works and placed in service in April 1902. Eventually, 43 were built, the last being No.255, built by the Perry Engineering Company and placed in service 6th October 1922. Known as Dolly Grays (after a song popular at the time of their introduction), later shortened do Dolly, the nickname stayed with them all of their lives.

The F-class worked all suburban lines from Gawler to Noarlunga and from Outer Harbor to Belair. One even worked the old South Terrace to Glenelg railway for a short time in the 1920s, but was found to be unsuited because of the sharp curves existing at Miller’s Corner and St Leonards.

Though somewhat slow in accelerating away from stations they were capable of speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour, even with quite heavy loads. The only serious restriction placed on them was on the Belair line where they were limited to three cars. The late 1940s saw 25 of them converted to oil-burning, with the appendage of an ugly square tank on top of the coal bunker. No.255 was one of those converted, but had been returned to coal burning before it was written off.

During the 1930s and 1940s lighter patronised services were worked increasingly by the 55 and 75 class railcars and in the mid-1950s the Red Hen railcars began making further inroads into steam-hauled services. By the early 1960s the remaining F-class had been reduced to shunting duties at Mile End and Port Adelaide. No.255 was written off on 21st August 1969, after being placed in the Mile End Railway Museum on 19th April 1967. It was placed at the Port Dock Museum on 2nd October 1988.

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76 Lipson Street
Port Adelaide
South Australia  5015
Open Daily / 10am – 4:30pm





5-15 yrs & with an adult


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Phone: 8341 1690

The National Railway Museum acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country. We aim to respect the cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.

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