Abt Locomotive No. 2 Restoration Project - Rebuilding an Abt steam engine

January 18, 2021
As we restore Abt Locomotive No. 2 to her former glory, follow along in a series of blog posts

With Locomotive No. 2’s skeleton taking shape under the watchful eyes of The Engineering Company and Emu Bay Engineering, planning was also being undertaken to commence the repair, prefabrication and restoration of other elements of the locomotive.

The rack engine powers the cog (pinion) that travels along the rack, propelling the train forward; a system known as the rack and pinion, more often used in the northern hemisphere to assist trains traversing steep terrain. The rack and pinion system was pioneered by Dr Roman Abt and resembles a large clock, which is not a coincidence as he was once a clock maker!

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is the southern hemisphere’s steepest gradient climbed by a regular train and so, the rack and pinion system is necessary to assist the train’s journey – and keep our passengers from rolling backwards from Rinadeena Saddle!

Surfaces and clearances for the rack engine have been restored as part of Locomotive No. 2’s restoration and the rack engine frame was also repaired. Four of the locomotive’s cylinders that contain the piston were removed and sent to Victoria for metal stitching and cast iron was drilled and peened before being heat treated.

Rack engine saddle break

Rack crankshafts were also modified, along with brake hangers and brackets while adhesion and rack cylinders were further refurbished back in Burnie, bored and honed from scratch where needed, while others were repaired where they could be.

A crack identified on the rack cylinder
Adhesion cylinder after repair





Driving Distance
Cradle Mountain to Queenstown

110km | 1hr 30 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)

Driving Distance
Devonport to Queenstown

181km | 2hrs 35 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)

Driving Distance
Hobart to Queenstown

260km | 3hrs 40 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)

Driving Distance
Launceston to Queenstown

296km | 3hrs 30 mins

(Queenstown to Strahan 41km | 45 mins)