AC16 No.218A

No.218A is a 2-8-2 freight locomotive supplied to the Queensland Railways during World War 2 as one of 20 'AC16 class' locomotives. It was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the USA during 1943 to a standard US wartime design and made available under 'lend-lease' finance.  These wartime locomotive were known as 'MacArthurs' and identical engines were supplied to metre and 1067mm-gauge lines in India, Greece, Malaya and Thailand as part of the war effort, where some remained at work until the late 1980's.

The 'A' in both the class designation (AC16) and the number (218A) stands for 'American'.  'AC16 class' thus differentiated these locomotives from the earlier C16 class, and since the engines retained their original US Army numbers, '218A' differentiated the engine from another Queensland Railways locomotive already carrying the number 218.

218A received a new boiler in 1960 together with the tender from C-17 No.718 during an overhaul in 1960.  218A spent most of its working life at Rockhampton and was the last of the Queensland Railways AC16 class in operation when withdrawn from regular service in May 1969.  It was subsequently purchased for preservation and arrived at the Zig Zag Railway in 1975.

218A is yet to work on the Zig Zag Railway but has been intermittently under restoration in the depot, with work completed to date including re-tubing the boiler and a new tender tank constructed and fitted. This photo show 218A outside the Bottom Points depot in 1986, stripped down and painted in primer during the early stages of its restoration.

In August 2006 the Zig Zag Railway launched the 218A Restoration Appeal. Rather than use my own words, here is are two excerpts from David Potter's article in Railway Digest for September 2006 announcing the 218A Restoration Appeal (used with David's permission):

"This is not your normal Restoration Appeal.  It is an appeal to restore a locomotive to fulfil a dream of a 21 year old Zig Zag member who tragically lost his life in a terrible accident in 2005. It is an appeal to provide a lasting and fitting tribute to this dedicated young man, who was described by all who knew him as one of nature's gentlemen.  The young man was Brian Rieseberg."

Following a successful fundraising and restoration program, 218A returned to operation on 3 September 2008 when it ran its first trip to Top Points & return. The restored 218A carries special significance to Zig Zag Railway members and friends in memory of Brian.


My visit to the Zig Zag Railway on Saturday 28 August found 218A as the service loco, and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon bushwalking and photographing her as she very capably handled 4 cars up the 1:42 grades.

Here is a link to the official Zig Zag Railway site including the contacts page.



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