The reference for locomotives and railcars


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Cape Government Railways class 6 (1893)
South African class 6
South Africa | 1893 | 40 produced
SAR No. 432 in Nigel, Gauteng
SAR No. 432 in Nigel, Gauteng
Col André Kritzinger

In order to expand the capacity for hauling heavy passenger trains in the western and central parts of the Cape Colony, H.M. Beatty developed the first Class 6 locomotives to the specifications of Superintendent Michael Stephens. With a driver diameter of 54 inches, they were quite suitable for faster trains for the proportions of cape-gauge locomotives of the 1890s. The 40 examples were supplied by Dübs in Glasgow and introduced a new three-axle tender carrying 5 and a half tons of coal and 2,846 gallons of water.

The locomotives fully met the expectations placed on them and proved to be extremely inexpensive to maintain. In 1897, ten units were sold to the Oranje Free State Railways and operated there as Class 6-L. When the Orange Free State fell to British troops after the Second Boer War, they came to the Central South African Railways as Class 6-L1s. Their manager even suggested using the locomotives to set up a 48-hour connection for the 870 mile route from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

With the formation of the South African Railways they continued to be listed simply as Class 6 because they were the first of their kind. As the Class 6 was gradually replaced by more powerful locomotives in the role of fast passenger trains, it developed a reputation as the „jack of all trades”. They were to be found in front of almost all types of trains for several decades, and seven were even delivered to Sudan during World War II. The last examples were not retired until 1973, when they had been in service for 79 and 80 years respectively. Three examples remain today, one of which is operational and used intermittently by Rovos Rail to power the Pride of Africa luxury train.

Variantas builtrebuilt belpaire
ManufacturerDübs & Co.
Axle config4-6-0 (Ten-wheeler) 
Gauge3 ft 6 in (Cape gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length50 ft 8 1/2 in51 ft 7 1/4 in
Wheelbase20 ft 3 1/4 in
Fixed wheelbase11 ft
Total wheelbase41 ft 9 1/8 in
Service weight99,792 lbs114,408 lbs
Adhesive weight77,896 lbs89,712 lbs
Total weight165,984 lbs180,600 lbs
Axle load26,824 lbs30,016 lbs
Water capacity2,846 us gal
Fuel capacity12,320 lbs (coal)
Power sourcesteam
Estimated power525 hp (391 kW)650 hp (485 kW)
Optimal speed18 mph19 mph
Starting effort18,924 lbf21,290 lbf
Power Plant
Driver diameter54 in
Boiler pressure160 psi180 psi
Expansion typesimple
Cylinderstwo, 17 x 26 in
Grate area16.8 sq ft16.6 sq ft
Firebox area95 sq ft111 sq ft
Tube heating area946 sq ft1,287.5 sq ft
Evaporative heating area1,041 sq ft1,398.5 sq ft
Total heating area1,041 sq ft1,398.5 sq ft
Calculated Values
steam locomotive
H.M. Beatty
last changed: 05/2022

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