Steamranger RollingstockComrails Logo

Steamranger Rollingstock

Note: This article was written in 1988. Some of the rollingstock mentioned has since passed into the ownership of other organisations.

Steel passenger carriages

During the 30's, the South Australian Railway's began an extensive program of upgrading passenger accommodation. Part of this program involved the construction of "all steel" first and second class passenger carriages. The first of these new carriages entered in service 1936, painted in the new SAR colours of green and gold and classified as 500 and 600 class "main line corridor passenger cars". Built completely at the Islington workshops, each car measured 21.875m (71ft.9in.) long and 2.890m (9ft.6in.) wide, with a height of 4.025m (13ft.2in.) above the rail.

The 4 x first class cars were numbered 500-503 and had seating accommodation for 42 passengers in 7 compartments. The 8 x second class cars were numbered 600-608 and accommodated 64 passengers in 8 compartments. Toilets and vestibules were located at each end, with all compartments leading off a full length side corridor. The interior of each car was fitted out with polished timber panelling, chrome fittings. First class compartments additionally being fitted with mirrors and arm rests between each seat. Each compartment had a single external window and twin wooden sliding doors fitted with large etched glass panels. All windows were originally designed to drop down into the body of the car, but later, due to maintenance problems, these were replaced by half drop windows.

Steamranger has cars 503 (entered service 12/1937), 602 (3/1937 - which has been rebuilt as Tavern car "Bowmans") and 606 (10/1937).

Following excellent public reaction to the new 500 and 600 class cars, the South Australian Railways commenced construction of a modified design, which became the 700, 750 and 780 class. These cars externally were of similar appearance, except for modified window spacings and being only 19.120m (62ft.9in.) in length. The interior design called for a centre aisle with an open plan of passenger seating. Toilets were located in the centre of the carriage, dividing it into a smoking and non-smoking compartment.

The 700 class (700-715) were issued to service as second class cars seating 56 passengers, arranged in groups of 4 (twin seats facing each other). As with the earlier cars, the interiors were panelled in fine timbers with chrome fittings. During the late 1940's, several of the 700 class cars were upgraded for first class service, being fitted with carpet and higher quality seating.

The 750 and 780 class were identical to the 700 class except that the 750 class were composite first/second class cars accommodating 46 passengers (22 first, 24 second), and the 780 class were all first class seating 38 passengers. The first class compartments had 2 seats facing each other to one side of the aisle and 4 in two pairs on the other. The advantage of this arrangement was, a first class passenger travelling alone, did not have to sit along side someone they did not know. At the ends of each compartment, a single seat was provided either side of the doorway, facing a twin seat one side and a single the other. The second class seating arrangement was identical to the 700 class. The 750 class were numbered 750-753 and 780 class 780-783.

Steamranger has the following cars 701 (entered service 7/1940), 704 (10/1940), 706 (12/1940), 710 (6/1941), 712 (8/1941), 715 (10/1941) and 783 (3/1942).

Car 783 was converted to a "Departmental car" in 1973. This involved fitting the vehicle out with a kitchen and sleeping compartments for up to 8 people. During refitting a 3-phase power generator was fitted under the car which was used to supply power to the "Commissioners Train" when in railway service. Once modified, the car was painted red and coded "DC 783".

Sleeping carriages

Steamranger has four sleeping cars, either in service or in various states of restoration. The first of these cars is "DC 783", which has already been mentioned in Part 1, being converted in 1971 from a first class steel mainline passenger car originally built in 1942. The other three sleeping cars are all ex "Overland", (originally Adelaide to Melbourne express), Victorian and South Australian Railways Joint Stock, built between 1907 and 1923.

These cars are 22.8m (75ft.) long wooden cars mount on a steel underframe with 6 wheel bogies. The cars that entered service in 1907 were initially named after stopping points along the train route, these being, "Melbourne", "Ballarat", "Wolsely" and "Adelaide". These names were changed to identify rivers, in the two states, around 1910 becoming "Lodden", "Glenelg", "Finniss" and "Torrens". In 1911, "Onkaparinga" and "Barwon" were built, to be followed by "Baderloo", "Dargo", "Pekina" and "Tambo" in 1919. In 1923, the last four cars entered service, named "Angas", "Coliban", "Acheron" and "Inman".

Externally the cars have clerestory roofs, vertically boarded sides, paired wooden windows and side doors at either end, being based on North American designs. As built this stock was lavishly decorated with elaborate gilt lettering, scroll work and decorative bevel edged mirrors above each window, removed or painted over in later years. Painted VR red-brown with "VICTORIAN AND SOUTH AUSTRALIAN RAILWAYS" centrally on the letterboard above each window, each carriage carried its name centrally beneath the windows. The exterior was finished with polished door knobs, hand rails and coloured leadlight above a clear glass panel in each door.

Internal layout comprised nine compartment, each with two fold up lateral sleeping berths, a folding wash basin, clothing cupboard etc. A small smoking saloon at one end of the car, in which two more berths could be made if needed, was known as the Gentlemen's lounge. This area was provided with four loose, leather covered, cane arm chairs and a fixed transverse seat for three. The fixed seat is converted into two additional berths by curtaining it off from the rest of the smoking saloon. Toilets and conductor's compartments are located at each end of the carriage.

Finished in Art-Nouveau style, the carved panelling, pressed metal ceilings, frosted glass and lamp pendants are all ornately decorated. Displayed on compartment walls and entry vestibule are photographs of scenic South Australia and Victoria.

Steamranger has the following cars


Built at the Victorian Railways Newport workshops in October 1907, it was originally named "Wolseley", but changed to "Finniss" in 1910. Lighting was provided by large ornate brass gas lights, which were later converted to electricity. In 1953 the SAR rebuilt the carriage for use on its night service to Mt Gambier. This refurbishing included replacing all wooden windows with steel half drop ones, exterior metal clading, revarnishing, new upholstery and chrome plating of all the brass fittings.

"Finniss" was withdrawn from service in August 1976 after the fire in sleeping car "Angas". Written off between September and October 1978, it was purchased by ARHS SA Div and is still regularly used on trips.


Built at the Victorian Railways Newport workshops, "Angas" was the last wooden Joint Stock sleeping car, entering service in September 1923. It was rebuilt similar to "Finniss" in 1953 and used on the Mt Gambier trains. Whilst on that service, in August 1976, a fire started in the smoking lounge, and destroyed that end of the carriage. Withdrawn and later written off between September and October 1978, it was purchased by ARHS SA Div. Currently "Angas" is undergoing extensive restoration at "Steamrangers" Dry Creek depot. As the smoking lounge was completely destroyed by fire, plans have been drawn up to rebuild "Angas" as sleeping compartments with an observation lounge leading to an open end deck.


Built at the Victorian Railways Newport workshops in 1919, to the same design as earlier cars, "Tambo" was in the first series of "Overland" cars to be built with electric light fittings rather than the large gas lights of earlier cars. In later years, "Tambo" with "Dargo" was used on the Mt Gambier trains, but neither was refurbished, receiving only routine maintenance and regular revarnishing. Condemned in 1975, "Tambo" was to be used by "Pichi Richi Railway", but after several years stored at "Peterborough", it was obtained by "Steamranger" in 1980. Currently it is awaiting restoration at Steamranger's Depot Dry Creek.

Wooden passenger carriages (Suburban and Centenary)

The South Australian Railways purchased the Glenelg railway line in December 1899 and identified a need for more rollingstock for holidays, racedays etc. This lead to the approval for the building of new cars similar to a number of old cars taken over with the Glenelg line. Ten cars (260-267) entered service December 1908 with two baggage car (268-269) in January 1909.

More cars were required for suburban lines. Originally to have been the same as 260-269, but altered because of wider platforms on suburban lines. Length was also increased to include a centre vestibule. Building began in 1910 with numbers allotted in the range 314-363. The first 4 cars entered service 31/5/1912. 15 more Glenelg cars (364-378) were constructed during 1913-14 at "A Pengelly and Coy" on underframes supplied by Islington. 80 more suburban cars were constructed between 1914 and 1924. With Islington producing both bodies and underframes for 260-269 and 314-363.

Glenelg cars 260-267 and 364-374 originally were painted brown, with a gold lettered "SAR" centrally above the windows, and the car number done in a "floral" alphabet. These cars also featured end windows and Ratten cane seating for 76 passengers. Baggage cars 268-269 and 375-378 were done similar, except capacity was reduced to 56 passengers.

Suburban cars had "SAR" and Car number centrally below windows on the exterior of each compartment in a "floral" alphabet. For each compartment above the windows was "FIRST" and "SECOND".

The cars remained basically unaltered throughout the 1920's, except in July 1927, 13 Glenelg cars were fitted with lavatories (baggage cars 269 and 378 unaltered).

On 1/6/1929, W.A.Webb reclassified all suburban cars as one class, with lettering in silver block, applied to the cars a reduced the number of times. The cars now only had "Smoking", "Non-smoking" and car numbers on end panels.

Car 373 (Glenelg) was placed outside the CME's office on 22/3/1935 for inspection by the Railways Commissioner. It had been fitted out with an "improved interior", including moquette cloth seating. The Railway Commisioner gave approval for a further 12 cars to be altered. The second car completed was 367 in May. As the year progressed, approval was given to increase the number of cars to 23. Once again 269 and 378 were left unaltered.

During 1935, the Governor of SA suggested running a special train for SA's Centenary (1936). It was decided to use several improved Glenelg cars. These cars were repainted from Regal Red to the State Centenary colours of Hawthorn Green and Cream. The colour scheme included Gold Block lettering "1836 CENTENARY 1936" on the letterboard and the SA state badge "The Piping Shrike" centrally below the windows. Baggage car 268 was fitted out as a buffet car. The "Centenary Limited" as the train was called, first operated on 7/3/1936 to Victor Harbor. Baggage car 377 was included in April 1936, increasing passenger capacity and replacing 2 x 60ft. brakevans (276 and 306) which were originally used on the train. The Centenary colour scheme became popular with the public and eventually the remaining Glenelg cars, except 269 and 378, were painted Green and Cream.

In 1937-38, the SAR fitted 19 Suburban End and Centre loader, and 5 Suburban End loading Baggage cars with the semi partitioned seating. No lavatories were fitted and the cars remained Red. They became known in railway circles as "Blue Day Cars" (269 and 378 also fitted). During 1939-40, a handbrake was fitted to the centre vestibule of selected Suburban and Blue Day cars.

The railways received complaints about the lack of lavatory cars on long distance country trains, so in 1947-48, the 19 Blue Day cars were fitted with lavatories and washrooms in the centre vestibules and the colour scheme was altered from Red to Green and Cream. 269 and 378 also fitted and colours altered. They became part of the country car fleet. Those cars which had handbrakes fitted to the centre vestibule, had the brake gear removed to the end platform.

During the 1950's the SAR fitted select numbers of cars, of all types, with flush exterior panelling. 11 Suburban Baggage cars were also fitted with Perambulator Compartment for pushers.

In 1961, 13 of the Suburban End loading Baggages were converted for railcar operation. This involved altering the brakes and fitting cold cathode fluorescent lighting, for use as trailer cars between a pair of "Red Hen" power cars. These cars were numbered 820-832 and retained the Red colour scheme.

During the late 1960's several Blue Days car interiors were painted white, and mass condemning of all cars began.

A total of 103 Suburban Centre and End loading carriages were built, plus 27 Suburban End loading Baggage cars. 19 of these cars were converted to the "Blue Day" configuration. Of the Glenelg cars, 19 End loaders were built and 6 Baggage cars, all of which were given "Improved Interiors".

Steamranger cars

The fields in the following table are original SAR number, Steamranger number, date entered service, and feature codes.

Glenelg Centenary CarsSuburban End/Centre Loaders
267(52)12/1908434(71)6/1918 V
364(53)11/1912 F446(72)6/1919
366(54)11/1912484(73)6/1923 F
"Blue Day" carsSuburban (Perambulator)
317(60)5/1912 HF412(81)6/1915
326(61)12/1912 H426(82)7/1917
338(62)8/1912 HW428(83)10/1917
345(63)9/1913 W   
433(65)2/1918 W   
462(66)2/1923 H   
Suburban Railcar Trailer 
824 12/1912   
W=Painted interior, F =Flush panelling, H=Handbrake - end platform, V=Handbrake - centre vestibule

Victorian carriages

Steamranger has three carriages obtained from VLINE in 1985, they are "16BE", "18BE" and "24BE". These carriages represent the type of wooden rollingstock used on the "Overland", being of identical design, except for minor interior fitting modifications. These cars were built between 1907 and 1910 for the Victorian Railways and classified as "Second class side corridor compartment cars". Originally coded as "BVE", the "V" was dropped in 1914 as part of a major reclassification.

The design was of a wooden side corridor coach, with vestibule end, clerestory roof, borne on 6 wheel bogies and a steel underframe with paired truss rods. As built this stock was lavishly decorated with elaborate gilt lettering, scroll work and decorative bevel edged mirrors above each window. Painted VR red-brown with "VICTORIAN RAILWAYS" centrally on the letterboard above each window. "SECOND CLASS" flanked the doors at each end with the coach classification centrally beneath the windows. The exterior was finished with polished door knobs and hand rails. Originally the cars were lit by Pintsch gas, and latter converted to electrical, retaining the original fittings.

Originally the "BE" class consisted of 33 members, but this was later expanded by the conversion of first class cars to second class. The cars are 22.48m (73ft.8in.) long, 2.9m (9ft.6in.) wide and 4.19m (13ft.8in.) in height. They hold 72 passengers in nine compartments, arranged as two ladies compartments at one end, five central non smoking and two smoking compartments at the other end. Each group of compartments was separated by a swing door in the corridor.

31 cars were built at Newport for VR service (1-4 and 11-39 between 1906-1910), 10 Joint Stock at Islington (5-10 between 1906-1907 and 40-43 in 1922).

"16BE", "18BE" and "24BE" were all removed from VLINE's rollingstock register on 6/2/1985. "18BE" was damaged by fire at the "Dudley St" car sidings on 13/12/1952, repaired and returned to service.


Steamranger has the following collection of brakevans in service.


"GB40" is a composite brakevan with second class accommodation for 20 passengers. It entered service 29/5/1919, with road number "4074", as one of 62 similar brakevans for use on goods trains. It was later reclassified "GB40" by Steamranger. Passenger compartments are located either end of the vehicle, with two bench seats in each compartment. Luggage racks are provided above each seat. Entry into compartments is by an outward opening side loading door, with no access to the goods area located between the passenger compartments. The goods area is divided evenly by a central guards compartment fitted with an observation lookout. The brakevan was never fitted with a toilet or washroom.


Composite brakevan and passenger car "4420", was built at the South Australian Railway's Islington Workshops and entered service October 1955. It was one of 22 similar broad gauge brakevans built during 1954-55 and numbered in the range 4400 to 4421. A wooden body was built on a steel underframe, providing accommodation for 10 passengers, a guard, baggage and toilet facilities. Passengers are seated in two longitudinal seats and have access to an end platform, fitted with full handrails similar to that used in narrow gauge cars. The opposite end of the vehicle is the goods compartment, fitted with a guards seat and lookout.

AVAY 5, 7 and 10

The "AVAY" brakevans are steel goods brakevans built by the South Australian Railways as "8300" type brakevans, numbered from 8300 to 8394. The first brakevan (8300) entered service in February 1947 and the last (8394) entered service December 1971.

The first order of 14 brakevan was built in 1947, being all steel with wooden doors. Two goods compartments are located either side of central guards compartment, fitted with seat, desk, toilet and observation viewing ports. To one side of the guards compartment is a small passenger compartment. AVAY 5, 7 and 10 all entered service during June 1947.

In 1961 the SAR commenced building the remainder of the class numbered 8314 to 8394. The design was modified slightly, producing a narrower vehicle that could run in Victoria. The brakevans lack end communication doors, preventing their use on passenger trains. Brakevans 8364 to 8374 and 8393 to 8394 were built for standard gauge, with the rest being issued on broad gauge.

Ballast Train

Steamranger has a former SAR ballast train, obtained from the State Transport Authority (STA) of South Australia consisting of the following rollingstock.

Z 2694
Ballast hopper class Z wagon, 4 wheel, 15 ton, entered service 18/7/1911.
Z 3199
Ballast hopper class Z wagon, 4 wheel, 15 ton, entered service 19/5/1915.
Z 3209
Ballast hopper class Z wagon, 4 wheel, 15 ton, entered service 29/6/1915.
Z 3211
Ballast hopper class Z wagon, 4 wheel, 15 ton, entered service 29/6/1915.
Z 3239
Ballast hopper class Z wagon, 4 wheel, 15 ton, entered service 18/10/1915.
Z 4121
Ballast Plough class Z wagon, 4 wheel, entered service 25/7/1921. Converted from a Z class hopper to plough 7/1959.

NoteZ 3236. Ballast hopper class Z wagon, 4 wheel, 15 ton, entered service 15/9/1915, which was originally part of this train is at the Port Dock museum.

Camp Train Equipment

Steamranger has the following camp train equipment for use on the Victor Harbor Tourist Railway.

Permanent way ablution cars

Each of the PWA cars were converted from a suburban end and centre loader. One end of the car was removed and fitted with a lowerable water tower, the other was fitted with four showers, wash basins and a wood fired water heater.
Entered service 21/8/1923 as 1st class end and centre loader "486", built by Holden Motor Body Co. Converted to "PWA" February 1969.
Entered service 27/2/1923 as 2nd class end and centre loader "472", built by Holden Motor Body Co. Converted to "PWA" August 1970.

Permanent way kitchen car (PWK 9)

"PWK 9" was built at Islington and entered service 31/3/1914 as 1st class suburban end and centre loader "357". Improved seating was fitted in May 1937 and in December 1947 the centre walkway was converted into a lavatory area. Conversion to a Kitchen car was completed in April 1970. It is fitted with a large dining area in one compartment, the other contains a large wood stove, fridge and food preparation area, with a small sleeping compartment provided at one end for the use of the cook. The lavatory compart was removed and replaced by a walkway.

Employees sleeping vans.

Steamranger has two different class of Employees sleeping vans. The first type were built by placing new bodies on underframes recovered from condemned suburban cars. Each car has beds, wardrobes, shower, heater and kitchen located at one end and a versatile workshop and storage area at the other.

ESV 8137
Built on the underframe of end and centre loader "340" and issued to service 11/1963.
ESV 8144
Built on the underframe of end and centre loader "342" and issued to service 1/1964.
ESV 8168
Built on the underframe of end loader baggage "423" and issued to service 5/1968.

The remaining sleeping vans are fitted out internally similar to the above except they have no workshop and are built on a smaller 4 wheel underframe.

ESV 8210
Built 9/1938.
ESV 8218
Built 12/1948.