A2 steam locos
Wheel arrangement 4-6-0

Stephenson A2 75? in as built condition in Canadian Red livery circa 1910

A true icon of the Victorian Railways, the A2 class would become VR's standard mainline passenger loco from their introduction in Dec. 1907, through both World Wars, until the arrival of the R class in 1951, an amazing span of 44 years. Their versatility also saw them in goods service all over the state. There were two major variants: the first 125 were built with Stephenson valve gear, the final 60 locos were equipped with the more accesible Walschaert's valve gear. Due to administrative madness many A2's were renumbered, some up to 4 times, during their career. Class numbers dwindled rapidly beginning in the early 1950's due to the arrival of the R class steam and B class diesel locos as a result of Operation Phoenix.
  • Prior to 1921 all locos were painted in some variant of Canadian red, after this solid black became the standard scheme.
  • All received modified front ends in the 1930's which improved loco efficiency by reducing cylinder back pressure. Enginemen called the modified locos "Basher engines" to distinguish them from non-modified A2's. This modification caused visiblity problems due to drifting smoke which resulted in the fitting of large smoke deflectors.
  • Electric headlights began to be fitted from 1926
  • Staff exchangers also fitted from 1926
  • All Walschaert locos 940 - 999 (except 956 & 958) were equipped as oil burners beginning 1946
  • From 1954, 6 Stephenson locos were altered for service as yard pilots by fitting shunters steps/protective sideboards and the removal of smoke deflectors.
  • Brake equipment comprised No 4 automatic and engine/tender retaining valves. In the 1920's 911 & 951 were fitted with straight air brakes in lieu of the retainers.
  • Between 1923 and 1949 remaining non superheated Stephenson locos were reclassified/renumbered as A1 class. Upon superheating these locos were reclassified/renumbered as A2's.
  • At least 5 A2's were retrofitted with Boxpok solid driving wheels.
Number in Class 185
Number group 816 - 999
Construction period 1907 - 1922
In service 1907 - 1963
Where built Newport, Ballarat & Bendigo workshops
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Walschaert A2 in as built condition in black livery circa 1920's

Walschaert A2 989 equipped with electric headlight and staff exchanger, circa 1932.

Walschaert A2 998 with modified front end and experimental bucket style funnel, 1935.

The A2 that most people were familiar with was in its later guise with modified front end, plain funnel and smoke deflectors, Stephenson A2 817 above and a Walschaert A2 below.

BELOW: Walschaert A2 944 in its later form with deflectors.

About as modified as an A2 could get: oil burning, deflectors, Boxpok drivers, A2 986 at Spencer St circa 1960.
Photo courtesy Peter Bruce

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page last modified9/11/12