F 255
South Australian Railways - Broad Gauge

Class operators South Australian Railways
Condition Excellent
Ownership History Trust of South Australia
Provenance South Australian Railways
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
Withdrawn 21st August 1969
Entered the museum 19th April 1967
Length (over coupling points) 40´ 7.25" (12.376 metres)
Total Weight 59 Tons (59,944 kilograms)
Maximum Speed 60 mph (96.54 km/h)
Wheel Arrangement 4-6-2
Driving Wheels Diameter 63" (1600mm)
Maximum Axle Load 12 tons 6 cwt (12,496 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 (2286 kilograms)
Grate Area 18 sq ft
Water Capacity 1,160 gallons (5273 litres)
Mileage 905,627 miles (1,457,153 kilometres)

For over fifty 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 turn of the century the P-class 2-4-0 tanks were the standard suburban passenger engine, but were underpowered for the increasing loads then offering. A more powerful locomotive was obviously necessary. The Chief Mechanical Engineer, Thomas Roberts, who had recently began the rebuilding of the R-class into the more powerful Rx-class, produced a design for a most handsome 4-6-2 tank locomotive to be known as the F-class.

The first, No.167 was outshopped by the Islington Works and placed in service in April 1902. Eventually, forty-three 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 Harbour 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 m.p.h., 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 twenty-five 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 museum on 2nd October 1988.