South African Class 6E 4-6-0

The South African Railways Class 6E 4-6-0 of 1898 was a steam locomotive from the pre-Union era in the Orange Free State.

OVGS 6th Class L3 4-6-0
CSAR Class 6-L3 4-6-0
South African Class 6E 4-6-0
SAR Class 6E (4-6-0) ex OVGS-CSAR 6L-3.jpg
OVGS 6th Class L3, CSAR Class 6-L3, SAR Class 6E
Type and origin
♠ - Original locomotive, as built
- Locomotive rebuilt with Belpaire firebox
Power typeSteam
DesignerCape Government Railways
(H.M. Beatty)
BuilderSharp, Stewart and Company
Serial number4464-4469
ModelCGR 6th Class
Build date1898
Total produced6
 • Whyte4-6-0 (Tenwheeler)
 • UIC2'Cn2
Driver2nd coupled axle
Gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Leading dia.28+12 in (724 mm)
Coupled dia.54 in (1,372 mm)
Tender wheels33+12 in (851 mm) as built
34 in (864 mm) retyred
Wheelbase46 ft 11 in (14,300 mm)
 • Engine20 ft 3+34 in (6,191 mm)
 • Leading5 ft 5+12 in (1,664 mm)
 • Coupled11 ft 4 in (3,454 mm)
 • Tender16 ft 1 in (4,902 mm)
 • Tender bogie4 ft 7 in (1,397 mm)
Wheel spacing
1-2: 4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
2-3: 6 ft 3 in (1,905 mm)
 • Over couplers54 ft 5+14 in (16,593 mm)
Height♠ 12 ft 10 in (3,912 mm)
12 ft 10+38 in (3,921 mm)
Frame typePlate
Axle load♠ 11 LT 17 cwt (12,040 kg)
13 LT 8 cwt (13,620 kg)
 • Leading♠ 11 LT 8 cwt (11,580 kg)
10 LT 17 cwt 2 qtr (11,050 kg)
 • Coupled 13 LT 8 cwt (13,620 kg)
 • 1st coupled♠ 11 LT 15 cwt (11,940 kg)
 • 2nd coupled♠ 11 LT 17 cwt (12,040 kg)
 • 3rd coupled♠ 11 LT 15 cwt 2 qtr (11,960 kg)
 • Tender bogieBogie 1: 16 LT 12 cwt (16,870 kg)
Bogie 2: 17 LT 13 cwt (17,930 kg)
 • Tender axle8 LT 16 cwt 2 qtr (8,967 kg)
Adhesive weight♠ 35 LT 7 cwt 2 qtr (35,940 kg)
40 LT 4 cwt (40,850 kg)
Loco weight♠ 46 LT 15 cwt 2 qtr (47,530 kg)
51 LT 1 cwt 2 qtr (51,890 kg)
Tender weight34 LT 5 cwt (34,800 kg)
Total weight♠ 81 LT 0 cwt 2 qtr (82,330 kg)
85 LT 6 cwt 2 qtr (86,690 kg)
Tender typeXC1 (2-axle bogies)
XC, XC1, XD, XE, XE1, XF, XF1, XF2, XJ, XM, XM1, XM2, XM3 permitted
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity5 LT 10 cwt (5.6 t)
Water cap2,600 imp gal (11,820 l)
Firebox type♠ Round-top - Belpaire
 • Firegrate area 16.6 sq ft (1.54 m2)
 • Pitch♠ 6 ft 8 in (2,032 mm)
7 ft (2,134 mm)
 • Diameter♠ 4 ft 4 in (1,321 mm)
4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
 • Tube plates 11 ft 2+18 in (3,407 mm)
 • Small tubes185: 1+78 in (48 mm)
220: 2 in (51 mm)
Boiler pressure♠ 160 psi (1,103 kPa)
180 psi (1,241 kPa)
Safety valveRamsbottom
Heating surface♠ 1,116 sq ft (103.7 m2)
1,398.5 sq ft (129.92 m2)
 • Tubes♠ 1,015 sq ft (94.3 m2)
1,287.5 sq ft (119.61 m2)
 • Firebox♠ 101 sq ft (9.4 m2)
111 sq ft (10.3 m2)
Cylinder size17 in (432 mm) bore
26 in (660 mm) stroke
Valve gearStephenson
Valve typeSlide
CouplersJohnston link-and-pin
AAR knuckle (1930s)
Performance figures
Tractive effort♠ 16,690 lbf (74.2 kN) @ 75%
18,780 lbf (83.5 kN) @ 75%
Imperial Military Railways
Central South African Railways
South African Railways
ClassOVGS & IMR 6th Class L3
CSAR Class 6-L3
SAR Class 6E
Number in class6
NumbersOVGS 96-98, IMR 370-372, CSAR 333-335 & 370-372, SAR 598-603
First run1898

In 1898, the Oranje-Vrijstaat Gouwerment-Spoorwegen ordered its final six new Cape 6th Class locomotives. When British forces invaded the Orange Free State during the Second Boer War, these locomotives were taken over by the Imperial Military Railways. After the war, they were renumbered into the Central South African Railways roster. In 1912, when they were assimilated into the South African Railways, they were renumbered and designated Class 6E.[1][2][3][4]


The original 6th Class 4-6-0 passenger steam locomotive was designed at the Salt River works of the Cape Government Railways (CGR) at the same time as the 7th Class, both according to the specifications of Michael Stephens, then the Chief Locomotive Superintendent of the CGR, and under the supervision of H.M. Beatty, then the Locomotive Superintendent of the Cape Western System.[1]

H.M. Beatty

The first ten 6th Class L locomotives of the Oranje-Vrijstaat Gouwerment-Spoorwegen (OVGS) were purchased second-hand from the CGR. These were followed by orders for 24 new 6th Class L2 locomotives, directly from the manufacturers, which were delivered between 1895 and 1898.[1]

A final order for six more locomotives was placed with Sharp, Stewart and Company in 1898. Three of these engines, designated 6th Class L3, had been delivered and numbered in the range from 96 to 98 on the OVGS roster, when British forces invaded the Orange Free State during the Second Boer War and the OVGS was taken over by the Imperial Military Railways (IMR). When the other three locomotives arrived, they were therefore numbered in the range from 370 to 372 on the IMR roster.[1]

These six locomotives were delivered with larger cabs than their predecessors and with Type XC1 bogie-wheeled tenders. The first three engines retained their OVGS numbers until the war ended in 1902, when they were renumbered onto the Central South African Railways (CSAR) roster. The other three locomotives retained their IMR running numbers on the CSAR and all six were designated CSAR Class 6-L3.[1][3]

Class 6 sub-classesEdit

When the Union of South Africa was established on 31 May 1910, the three Colonial government railways (CGR, Natal Government Railways and CSAR) were united under a single administration to control and administer the railways, ports and harbours of the Union. Although the South African Railways and Harbours came into existence in 1910, the actual classification and renumbering of all the rolling stock of the three constituent railways were only implemented with effect from 1 January 1912.[2][5]

When these six locomotives were assimilated into the South African Railways (SAR) in 1912, they were designated Class 6E and renumbered in the range from 598 to 603. These engines, together with the CGR's fleet of various types of 6th Class locomotives and the Class 6-L1 and 6-L2 locomotives which had been inherited by the CSAR from the OVGS via the IMR, were grouped into altogether fourteen sub-classes by the SAR. The 4-6-0 locomotives became SAR Classes 6, 6A to 6H and 6J to 6L, the 2-6-2 locomotives became Class 6Y and the 2-6-4 locomotives became Class 6Z.[2][6][7]


P.A. Hyde, the Chief Locomotive Superintendent of the CSAR from 1902 to 1904, considered the 6th Class as "about the best design for their weight ever made". Several of the CSAR's Classes 6-L1 to 6-L3 locomotives were modified by Hyde by having their round-topped fireboxes replaced with larger boilers and Belpaire fireboxes. This conversion improved their performance tremendously, to the extent that they could be used in place of the 8th Class where they were formerly outclassed by load. This represented an increase in hauling capacity of some 12%, while their coal consumption was reduced by some 5%. The three Class 6E locomotives which were renumbered in the SAR range from 601 to 603, had undergone this modification.[2][3][8]

During the 1930s, many of them were modified once again, when the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the SAR at the time, A.G. Watson, embarked on his program of standardisation and reboilered them with round-topped fireboxes once again, but without changing their classification.[3][6]


The Class 6E locomotives were renumbered twice, first from the OVGS and IMR rosters onto the CSAR roster and, in 1912, onto the SAR roster. The table lists their renumbering as well as their builder's works numbers.[1][2][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Holland, D.F. (1971). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 1: 1859–1910 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, England: David & Charles. pp. 107–108, 126. ISBN 978-0-7153-5382-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e Classification of S.A.R. Engines with Renumbering Lists, issued by the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Office, Pretoria, January 1912, pp. 8, 12, 14, 32 (Reprinted in April 1987 by SATS Museum, R.3125-6/9/11-1000)
  3. ^ a b c d Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 41–44. ISBN 0869772112.
  4. ^ Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1944). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter V - Other Transvaal and O.F.S. Railways. South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, December 1944. p. 928.
  5. ^ The South African Railways - Historical Survey. Editor George Hart, Publisher Bill Hart, Sponsored by Dorbyl Ltd., Published c. 1978, p. 25.
  6. ^ a b South African Railways and Harbours Locomotive Diagram Book, 2'0" & 3'6" Gauge Steam Locomotives, 15 August 1941, as amended
  7. ^ a b Holland, D. F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, England: David & Charles. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8.
  8. ^ Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1945). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter VI - Imperial Military Railways and C.S.A.R. (Continued). South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, January 1945. p. 15.