NB30 shunting CR passenger carriages in Quorn, 1949. Photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. SLSA: B 42528/89

The story of NB30 goes back to Wilkes Barre in Pennsylvania, USA. In 1916 four small saddle tank shunting engines were built by the Vulcan Iron Works for use in the construction of the Henderson Naval Base in Western Australia. In 1925 two of these were taken over by the Commonwealth Railways and transferred to Quorn as NB29 and NB30. The other two went to the Australian Portland Cement Co. at Fyansford, Victoria, and eventually one of them found its way to a nearby railway preservation group, the Bellarine Peninsula Railway.

Meanwhile, the two NBs at Quorn were used for shunting around loco and the station yard where they were known as 'pugs'. They were both laid aside in the late 1940s, and in 1957 the remains of NB30 were removed to Port Augusta and the frame and wheels were used to build up a small diesel-hydraulic locomotive, also known as NB30. In its new guise NB30 was initially used to assist with the recovery of rails from the Brachina Hawker section of line, and it was then re-assigned to Quorn for shunting work. In 1971 it was transferred to Port Augusta for use as a workshops shunter. It was superseded by another small locomotive, NC1, in these duties during 1972 and set aside as a 'standby' unit.

NB30 dwelt out of use in an open part of the Commonwealth Railway Workshops at Port Augusta.  Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society (PRRPS) made a representation to the Australian National Railways (ANR) and arrangements were made to transfer this locomotive to Quorn in May 1979.  Mr K.A. Smith, then Chairman of ANR, may have had a soft spot for this engine as he was the Chief Mechanical Engineer at the time of its creation.

NB30 at Quorn in the 1950s. Photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. SLSA: B 50356

Technical specifications

Wheel arrangement C
Engine General Motors 6/71
  4.5 in bore x 5 in stroke, 6 in-line, 2 stroke
Transmission Allison 600 series  
Final Drive David Brown  
Weight 18 tons 18.3 t
Length 18 ft 10 in 5.74 m
Power 140 hp @ 2100rpm 105 kW
Max Axle Load 6 tons 6.1 t
Max Speed 20 mph 32 km/h

Representatives in the Pichi Richi Railway collection


Builder Vulcan Iron Works (steam)
Commonwealth Railways, Port Augsuta workshops (diesel)
Entered service 1916 (steam), 1925 (with Commonwealth Railways), 1958 (as diesel)
Builder’s number Vulcan Iron Works 2533
Withdrawn from service 1972
Distance travelled in service
Acquired by PRRPS May 1979
Notes Converted to a diesel-hydraulic locomotive by Commonwealth Railways in 1957.
Used in the dismantling of Brachina-Hawker narrow gauge.
PRRPS operational status Operational
NB30 stored at Quorn, 29 December 1953. (Photo: Doug Colquhoun)
Pichi Richi Railway's NB30 at Quorn, Easter 1981 (Photo: Jeremy Browne)

Article text adapted from: Babbage, J & Barrington, R: "The History of Pichi Richi Railway"