Historical information

Climax geared locomotive No. 1694 in active service on special occasions - stored at Emerald Station

A Miraculous Survivor
Climax locomotive No.1694 is a miraculous survivor of a rare breed of steam locomotive.

For about 100 years from the mid-1850s sawn timber was carted from Victorian sawmills to the nearest railway station by timber tramway. These tramways were generally very rough, steeply graded, sharply curved, and of narrow gauge. Many had wooden rails, and horses provided haulage.
The better ones used steam locomotives. In all about fifty steam locomotives are known to have worked on Victorian timber tramways. These locomotives were usually somewhat peculiar - made to cope with arduous, rough conditions, rather than speed.
Climax locomotive No.1694 is the only one of these locomotives to survive intact. It was built in 1928 by the Climax Manufacturing Company, Corry, Pennsylvania, USA, for the Forests Commission of Victoria.
The distinctive feature of the Climax locomotive is that the cylinders do not directly connect to the driving wheels. Instead they drive a cross shaft near the centre of the locomotive. From there the drive is transmitted to the small driving wheels through rotating shafts, universal joints, and bevel gears. The driving wheels are mounted in two four-wheel bogies so that they can easily follow sharp curves in the track. None of these features are found in normal steam locomotives.

The result is a locomotive that is extremely powerful for its size, and that will cope with sharp curves and steep grades with ease. But this is at the cost of speed, Climax locomotive No.1694 is just about flat-out at 13 km/h (8 mph).

Climax Locomotive
Built in 1928 for the Forests Commission of Victoria and painted all-over black with the name CLIMAX painted on the sides of the cab in white block letters, this locomotive was issued to the Tyers Valley tramway which branched off the Moe to Walhalla line at Collins Siding. This locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1949 following the closure of the tramway and in 1950 it travelled from Tyers Junction to Collins Siding to Erica where it remained stored until 1965. Loaned to the Puffing Billy Preservation Society for its Steam Museum, it was taken to Menzies Creek in 1965 where it remained until 1982 when the Emerald Tourist Railway Board bought it and transferred it to Belgrave for restoration. It was returned to service for special use on the Belgrave to Gembrook line in 1988 painted in its original all-over black livery, except that the word “Climax” on the sides of the cab was now painted in the style of the Climax Manufacturing Co., a style that this locomotive had never carried.


Historical - Industrial railway - Forests Commission of Victoria, Timber Logging Climax Locomotive

Physical description

Climax geared Steam locomotive made of steel and wrought iron

Inscriptions & markings