South African Class K 4-6-4T

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South African Class K 4-6-4T
Class K Manila.jpg
Manila Railroad Company no. 161,
possibly Class K no. 347, c. 1914
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer North British Locomotive Company
Builder North British Locomotive Company
Serial number 20854-20860
Model Manila Railroad Company 4-6-4T
Build date 1914
Total produced 7
 • Whyte 4-6-4T (Baltic)
 • UIC 2'C2'h2t
Driver 2nd coupled axle
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Leading dia. 31 12 in (800 mm)
Coupled dia. 48 in (1,219 mm)
Trailing dia. 31 12 in (800 mm)
Wheelbase 32 ft 10 12 in (10,020 mm)
 • Leading 5 ft (1,524 mm)
 • Coupled 12 ft 3 in (3,734 mm)
 • Trailing 5 ft (1,524 mm)
Wheel spacing
1-2: 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
2-3: 7 ft (2,134 mm)
 • Over couplers 41 ft 7 12 in (12,687 mm)
Height 12 ft 6 in (3,810 mm)
Frame type Plate
Axle load 12 LT (12,190 kg)
 • Leading 15 LT 14 cwt (15,950 kg)
 • Coupled 12 LT (12,190 kg)
 • Trailing 19 LT 4 cwt (19,510 kg)
Adhesive weight 36 LT (36,580 kg)
Loco weight 70 LT 18 cwt (72,040 kg)
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 4 LT (4.1 t)
Water cap 2,350 imp gal (10,700 l)
Firebox type Round-top
 • Firegrate area 18.4 sq ft (1.71 m2)
 • Pitch 7 ft 3 in (2,210 mm)
 • Diameter 4 ft 1 12 in (1,257 mm)
 • Tube plates 12 ft (3,658 mm)
 • Small tubes 85: 1 78 in (48 mm)
 • Large tubes 21: 5 14 in (133 mm)
Boiler pressure 160 psi (1,103 kPa)
Safety valve Pop
Heating surface 962 sq ft (89.4 m2)
 • Tubes 844 sq ft (78.4 m2)
 • Firebox 118 sq ft (11.0 m2)
 • Heating area 257 sq ft (23.9 m2)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 17 in (432 mm) bore
24 in (610 mm) stroke
Valve gear Walschaerts
Valve type Piston
Couplers Johnston link-and-pin
Performance figures
Tractive effort 17,340 lbf (77.1 kN) @ 75%
Operators South African Railways
Class Class K
Number in class 7
Numbers 347-353
Nicknames Manila
Delivered 1917
First run 1917
Withdrawn 1938

The South African Railways Class K 4-6-4T of 1917 was a steam locomotive.

In 1917, the South African Railways placed seven Class K tank steam locomotives with a 4-6-4 Baltic type wheel arrangement in service. They had been built for the Philippines but could not be delivered due to wartime disruption.[1][2]


Seven 4-6-4 side-tank steam locomotives were built for the Manila Railroad Company in the Philippine Islands by the North British Locomotive Company (NBL) in 1914. Because of difficulties experienced in delivering them to the Philippines during the First World War as well as a critical wartime shortage of locomotives on the South African Railways (SAR), NBL eventually offered the seven locomotives for sale to the SAR. They were purchased and delivered in 1917, designated Class K and numbered in the range from 347 to 353.[1][2][3][4]


The locomotives had inclined cylinders, arranged outside the plate frames. The piston valves were actuated by Walschaerts valve gear, while the reversing gear was controlled by a combination of hand and steam mechanism. The locomotives were superheated and their smokeboxes were equipped with Stone's Patent louvre spark arrestors. Their coupled wheel axleboxes were provided with mechanical force-feed lubrication. They were the first locomotives in South Africa to be equipped with exhaust steam injectors, which were of the Davies and Metcalfe pattern.[1][2][3]

The only modifications required to these locomotives for them to be put to work on the SAR were to the buffing and drawgear. As built, they had 12 inches (305 millimetres) diameter "bull's eyes" acetylene gas headlamps, powered from a generator affixed to the running board on the right hand side adjoining the smokebox. The same medium was used for the cab lighting, but these lights were removed and smaller headlamps were installed.[1][2]

The original works photographs showed a hand-operated bell on top of the boiler, but there is no record that the bells were still on the engines when they reached South Africa.[1][2]


The locomotives proved to be extremely useful. They were placed in service on the Reef's suburban services, shedded at Braamfontein and working between Randfontein and Springs. They were well suited for suburban service since they were free-steaming, had rapid acceleration and were capable of relatively high speeds, even though they lacked power and speed compared with the Class 16. They remained in this service until the last of them were withdrawn and scrapped in 1938.[1][2][3]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Holland, D. F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. p. 33-34. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1945). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter VII - South African Railways (Continued). South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, August 1945. p. 596.
  3. ^ a b c Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 33. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ North British Locomotive Company works list, compiled by Austrian locomotive historian Bernhard Schmeiser