V-class Steel 4-wheel Louvred Van No.1990

South Australian Railways

Narrow Gauge


Class operators                                                   South Australian Railways

Condition                                                             Good

Entered service                                                   October 1899

Entered the museum                                           23rd September 1988.

Length (over coupling points)                             19’ 10’’ (6.05m)

Load Weight                                                       6 tons (6000kg)

Number in class                                                  60

Ownership                                                          Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Provenance                                                        South Australian Railways

Tare Weight                                                        6 tons 13 cwt (6660kg)

Withdrawn                                                          10th October 1979


At a time when covered freight vans had wholly wooden bodies and passenger cars had wooden framed bodies (although almost invariably on the South Australian Railways with protective steel sheathing panels), the narrow ‘V’ class louvre cars were unusual in having steel bodies, including louvres and doors. Concurrently with the construction of the first narrow gauge ‘W’ vans, similar but larger ‘A’ vans (later classified ‘DA’) were constructed. Utilising the same principles of construction for bodies, louvres and doors, the broad gauge ‘A’ vans were big brothers to the narrow gauge ‘V’ vans and the initial vehicles of both classes were described as being for the ‘carriage of dead rabbits’.

Constructed to five separate orders, nine vans were constructed at Islington Workshops during 1899 and 1900, to be followed by 11 and 10 in two orders from Islington between 1906 and 1908. J. Martin and Co. Gawler, built a further 15 in 1911 and the final 15 followed in 1923 from the Perry Engineering Co., Gawler, giving a total of 60 vans. The first nine vans were placed in service on the northern and south-east narrow gauge systems, while in June 1916 the first ‘W’ van was transferred to the Eyre Peninsula lines. In 1921, the 45 vans then in service were distributed - 36 to the northern lines, eight in the south-east and one on Eyre Peninsula. By 1946 a total of 41 were in service on the Peterborough Division. With the broadening of the south-east lines, the 10 vans there were transferred to Port Lincoln in November 1952. During 1953 four Peterborough vans were fitted with internal padding for explosives traffic and classified ‘EFN’, later being reclassified ‘MFN’ when used as ordinary covered vans.

No. 1990 was one of the first ordered and was placed in service in October 1899 on the northern lines, where it spent all its working life. With the standardisation of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line in 1970 and the isolation of the Quorn and Wilmington lines, V1990 was located on the Wilmington line. An early alteration was in 1905 when axles of larger capacity were provided and the pay load increased from the low figure of 4 tons to 6 tons, this still being less than the tare weight. In July 1917 air brakes were fitted to V 1990.

After being in service nearly 80 years, V1990 was written off on 10th October 1979, after purchase by the Museum. It was transferred to the Museum on 23rd September 1988.

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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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