BHP / Onesteel / Arrium Whyalla Diesel Locomotives

From the start of the diesel era, BHP owned its own locomotives. This changed in 1993 when a deal was struck with Morrison Knudsen which involved M-K purchasing BHP's Clyde-built locos, remanufacturing them and leasing them back to BHP. Other lease units (the MK2000C type) also followed. This arrangement lasted until 1 Dec 1999 when BHP contracted Australia Southern Railroad to operate BHP's Whyalla network. The new arrangement included transfer of ownership of the rebuilt DE locos, DE5, and all rolling stock to ASR. Since then, ASR (then Australian Railroad Group, Genesee & Wyoming Australia and now OneRail Australia) have done some reshuffling of locos between their various operating divisions. BHP's Whyalla operations became part of Onesteel (then Arrium, now GFG Alliance) in 2000.

Transfers between the narrow and standard gauge (internal steelworks) networks at Whyalla are common.

Loco Details
DE(1) Class
Clyde-GM model G-8B Bo-Bo diesel-electric, 875 HP
DE01 In service 25 Oct 1956, built for use in Iron Knob quarry. Fitted with dynamic brakes 1958. Converted to standard gauge and transferred to Port Lincoln Aug 1968. Returned to Whyalla late 1975. Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen as 'new' DE1, returned to service Feb 1994.
DE01 (and DH2) on standard gauge at Whyalla, 19 Aug 1978.
Photo: Peter Knife
DE02 In service 6 Nov 1956, built for use in Iron Knob quarry. Fitted with dynamic brakes 1958. Converted to standard gauge and transferred to Port Lincoln Jul 1968. Returned to Whyalla 1993, sold to Morrison-Knudsen for rebuilding as a G-14M, but this never took place. Moved to Islington for storage, Mar 2003. Rebuilt 2006 with a chopped-nose cab to match the later series VR T class, sold to SCT as T414. Now shunts for SCT at Parkes.
DE02 shunting the quarry at Iron Knob in January 1963. Note that the lettering on the cab side is just '2'.
Photo: Peter Bruce
DE(3) Class
Clyde-GM model G-12B Bo-Bo diesel-electric, 1310 HP
DE03 In service 21 Nov 1956. Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen as 'new' DE3 (see below), returned to service Sep 1994.
DE03 and DE09 arriving at Whyalla, 19 Aug 1978. Note the large silencer assemblies developed by BHP's own people.
Photo: Peter Knife
DE04 In service 5 Dec 1956. Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen as 'new' DE4, returned to service Mar 1995.
DE04 (and DE07) near Middleback Junction with outbound empties, 19 Aug 1978.
Photo: Peter Knife
In service 14 May 1957. Was the only remaining unrebuilt DE still at Whyalla. Renumbered 1251 in the new ARG series early 2003. Transferred to Western Australia late Jan 2004.
DE05 on the pellet shuttle, 19 Aug 1978.
Photo: Peter Knife
DE06 In service 7 Aug 1957. Scrapped Nov 1996.
DE06 and DE05 head an empty ore train.
Photo: Greg O'Brien
DE07 In service 27 Jun 1961. Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen as 'new' DE7, returned to service Mar 1994.
DE07 and DE05 outbound for Iron Monarch, 1 Sep 1970.
Photo: Peter Knife
DE08 Built for BHP's Coffin Bay line. In service 25 Nov 1965 on narrow gauge at Whyalla, transferred to Port Lincoln (standard gauge) 12 Jan 1966. Returned to Whyalla (narrow gauge) 8 Nov 1968. On standard gauge at Whyalla for a period in 1978-79. Withdrawn 1984. Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen as 'new' DE8, returned to service May 1994.
DE08 and train under the loaders at Coffin Bay, 1966 (hand coloured photo).
Reproduced courtesy 'Railway Transportation' magazine
DE09 Built for BHP's Coffin Bay line, but never ran there. In service 6 Dec 1965 on narrow gauge at Whyalla. Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen as 'new' DE9, returned to service May 1993.
DE09 at Whyalla showing various modifications made prior to its remanufacturing. 20 Mar 1991.
Photo: Peter Knife
DH Class
Walkers Ltd (Maryborough, Qld) model CV1 B-B diesel-hydraulic, 573 HP.
Built for the steelworks internal standard gauge network (DH1-5), with DH6 a subsequent order for the narrow gauge pellet shuttle. In service 11 Apr 1962 (DH1), 25 Apr 1962 (DH2, 3), 24 Aug 1962 (DH3), 24 Aug 1965(DH4), 6 Sep 1965 (DH5) and 7 Mar 1968 (DH6). DH1 had cutaway pilots similar to DH6, and it often substituted for DH6 on the narrow gauge. All repowered 1976-1980.
DH2 scrapped Feb 1994, DH4-6 all scrapped Sep 1997 and DH3 followed Oct 1997. DH1 scrapped late 2004.

Above right: DH5 at the loco maintenance shed, 19 Aug 1978.

Below right: Narrow gauge DH6 on the pellet shuttle, 19 Mar 1991.
Both photos: Peter Knife

DE (Davenport) Class
DE10 Built by Davenport as petrol-electric locomotive, in service 20 Sep 1928. Repowered with diesel engines and renumbered DE10, 31 Aug 1966. Regauged to standard gauge 30 Apr 1968. Withdrawn 1977, sold to Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn, 1984.
DE10 at Whyalla.
Photo: David Griffiths
MKA Class
Morrison Knudsen (Whyalla) model MK-2000C Co-Co diesel-electric, 1795 HP
'Remanufactured' by Morrison Knudsen from AN Tasrail ZC class locos which were originally QR 1300 class. MKA5 was originally QR 1325, then Tasrail ZC26. MKA6 was 1332 but never received a Tasrail number. MKA7 was 1330, then ZC31. MKA6 was the first to be leased to BHP, in Dec 1996. Returned to M-K after the ASR takeover.
Please note that the derivation of the specific locomotives in the MKA class is a "best guess". No official records are available, and there are conflicting versions of which ZC locos became which MKAs.
MKA5 shunting at Whyalla, 20 Jun 1999.
Photo: Trevor Powell
'New' DE Class
Morrison Knudsen (Whyalla) model G-14M Bo-Bo diesel-electric, 1500 HP
Remanufactured by Morrison Knudsen from the earlier Clyde-built locos with the same numbers, but with EMD 12-645C engines and new cabs and bodies. Entered service in May 1993 (DE9), Feb 1994 (DE1), Mar 1994 (DE7), May 1994 (DE8), Sep 1994 (DE3) and Mar 1994 (DE4). DE8 named Angelo P. Savaidis.
DE8 and DE9 were badly damaged in a collision 28 Apr 2002, and were scrapped Oct 2002.
All remaining locos were renumbered into the new ARG series in early 2003: DE1 to 1301, DE3 to 1302, DE4 to 1303 and DE7 to 1304.
1304 seriously damaged in collision in Whyalla yard 17 Oct 2008, stored. Moved to Port Augusta Apr 2009 for rebuilding, returned to service late Dec 2009.

Above right: DE8 and DE4 arriving Whyalla, 20 Jun 1999. Both are painted in the final BHP colour scheme.
Photo: Trevor Powell

Below right: 1303 and 1304 in ARG colours lead an ore train, 2 Sep 2004.
Photo: Martin Thobaven

CK Class
Clyde-GM model G-18B Bo-Bo diesel-electric, 1000 HP
Originally Victorian Railways' T401, T405, T406 and T407, entering service in Apr 1967, Jul 1967, Jul 1967 and Sep 1968 respectively (broad gauge). Sold to Australian National as their CK class in 1993. CK1 transferred to Whyalla (narrow gauge) Feb 2000, followed by CK3 13 Jun 2000 and CK5 at the end of Jan 2001. CK5 returned to broad gauge duties (Adelaide) by Dec 2001 but came back to Whyalla 14 Aug 2002 for narrow gauge use again following the demise of DE8 and DE9.
CK4 and CK5 were sent to the EDI workshops at Port Lincoln in late May 2008 for rebuilding. On completion of this work they were transferred to Whyalla (narrow gauge) - CK5 on 15 Nov 2008 and CK4 on 23 Dec 2008.

Above right: CK3 and CK5 leaving Whyalla, 22 Feb 2001.
Photo: Peter Knife

Below right: CK4 (with 903) on a ballast train between Middleback Junction and Iron Baron, 14 Jan 2009. Visible features of its rebuilding at EDI Port Lincoln include a double-skin cab roof, aluminium-framed side windows, full handrails and repainting into GWA colours.
Photo: Geoff Hann

NJ Class
Clyde-GM model JL-22C Co-Co diesel-electric, 1500 HP
NJ2 Built for the Commonwealth Railways' Marree - Alice Springs line, entering service 22 Jun 1971. Transferred to the ex-SAR Port Lincoln Division 21 Oct 1981 following the opening of the Tarcoola - Alice Springs line. Transferred to Whyalla 26 Feb 2003 to release the DE class locos for heavy overhauls at Port Augusta Workshops. Transferred to Western Australia in late Jul 2004.
NJ2 leading 1304 on empties, July 2003.
Photo: Martin Thobaven
DB Class
Clyde-GM (Rosewater, SA) model G-26C-2 Co-Co diesel-electric, 2000 HP.
2313 Built for the Western Australian Government Railways as DB1593 Shire of Northam, entering service in WA in May 1983. Renumbered 2313 and renamed Iron Duke when transferred to Whyalla. Entered service at Whyalla 29 May 2003.

During the sale process of ARG in 2005/6 it was discovered that 2313's lease conditions precluded it from operating outside of Western Australia. Cousin 1907 was sent from WA to replace 2313, which left Whyalla in late Jun 2006 for return to WA.

2313 prior to its first test run at Whyalla.
Photo: Martin Thobaven
DA Class
Clyde-GM model G-26C Co-Co diesel-electric, 1200 HP
1907 Built for the Western Australian Government Railways as DA1577, entering service in Oct 1972. Rebuilt with 'chopped nose' and renumbered 1907 by ARG in Dec 2003. Arrived in Whyalla 5 May 2006.
To EDI Port Lincoln 9 Feb 2009 for overhaul and replacement of Davies & Metcalfe brake gear with Westinghouse equipment. Returned to Whyalla 29 Jun 2009.
1907 (with 1304) at Whyalla on 15 Sep 2007.
Photo: Peter Knife
830 Class
Goodwin-Alco Model DL531 Co-Co diesel-electric, 900 HP
Built for the South Australian Railways.
844 entered service on broad gauge 25 Oct 1962. 847 built for the Port Pirie - Broken Hill standardisation project, entered service initially on broad gauge 25 Jun 1969. Both in service on narrow gauge at Whyalla, May 2006. 844 seriously damaged in collision in Whyalla yard 17 Oct 2008, stored. Repaired at Port Aufusta and returned to service in Adelaide Jan 2010.
846 and 848 have identical backgrounds to 844 and 847, entering service in Oct 1962 and Jul 1969 respectively. They joined their siblings on narrow gauge at Whyalla by early Jun 2008. 848 transferred to Port Lincoln 11 Dec 2008, displaced at Whyalla by the 900 class.
844 and 847 are approaching Middleback Siding with an empty ore train on 31 December 2006.
Photo: Peter Knife
900 Class (formerly DA Class)
Rebuilt Goodwin-Alco Model DL531 Co-Co diesel-electric, 900 HP
These are former SAR 830 class, rebuilt by AN and ASR/ARG with 'chopped noses' for driver-only operation. They have been allocated to the narrow gauge at Whyalla to replace the 830 class, which require two-man crews.
901 and 903 had been used for some time as standard gauge shunters at Whyalla. On 4 Sep 2008 they ran to Dry Creek for modifications and repairs, then were returned to Whyalla on 26 Oct 2008 and transferred to narrow gauge. 901 suffered engine room fire at Iron Baron 8 Mar 2009, stored at Port Augusta from 19 Apr 2009. Sent to EDI workshops at Port Lincoln 22 Apr 2010.
902 and 904 were sent to EDI Port Lincoln in Jun 2008 for overhaul. 904 entered service on the narrow gauge at Whyalla on 30 Sep 2008, and 902 followed in mid Dec 2008.
906 transferred from Port Lincoln to Whyalla 25 Jun 2009, returned to Port Lincoln 26 Oct 2009.
907 in use on standard gauge at Whyalla by Oct 2008.
903 and 1303 (reminiscent of David and Goliath) are seen running around their train at Whyalla, 12 Jun 2009.
Photo: Peter Knife
GWN Class
Downer-EMD Model GT42CU-ACe, 2260 kW (3000 HP)
Built for GWA's Whyalla lines, delivered March-May 2013.
Replaced by 2250 Class, all GWNs transferred to Queensland 2020.
GWN001 and GWN002 at Whyalla, April 2013
Photo: Peter Knife
2250 Class
Clyde-EMD Model GT22C-3, 1697 kW (2276 HP)
Built as 1550, 2130 and 2200 Classes for QR. Rebuilt 2006-2009 by Redbank Workshops as GT22C-3.
2260 built 1976 as 1572 (GL22C), rebuilt 2006 as 2260.
2261 built 1975 as 2138 (GL26C), rebuilt 2006 as 2261.
2262 built 1975 as 2140 (GL26C), rebuilt 2006 as 2262.
2269 built 1976 as 1573 (GL22C), rebuilt 2006 as 2269.
2275 built 1973 as 2203 (GL26C), renumbered 2144. Rebuilt 2009 as 2275.
Sold and exported to South Africa. Repurchased by GWA and returned to Australia in 2020 for use at Whyalla.
2261-CK4-2260 on a loaded ore near the 18km, 4 Mar 2020.
Photo: Peter Knife

Other Locomotives of Interest
532 Transferred to Whyalla as a standard gauge shunter, but put to little (if any) use. Known locally as 'Little Toot'.
532 out of use at Whyalla in 2006.
Photo: Jason Lloyd
852 Built in 1963 for the South Australian Railways, 852 spent the first 22 years of its life on the Port Lincoln Division. It was transferred to Tasmania in 1985, and lasted to become one of the final pair of 830s working in that State (the other was 875). Returned to South Australia and placed on the broad gauge in December 1993. Worked behind GM42/843/705 on the last broad gauge freight from Adelaide to Melbourne on 27 Apr 1995. Working on standard gauge by late 1995. Became a regular standard gauge shunter at Whyalla. Transferred to Western Australia in March 2006 (as part of the QRN/GWA split-up of the old ARG) for shunting duties. In 2007 it was transferred again to New South Wales, but was set aside at Junee in 2008.
852 in its role as standard gauge shunter at Whyalla is seen preparing 1251 (ex DE05) for movement to Western Australia in Jan 2004. Two years later, 852 followed 1251 west.
Photo: Martin Thobaven


These details were collated from various sources, including in particular BHP Tramways Centenary History by David Griffiths (Mile End Railway Museum, 1985), John Clevedon's Locopage web site, John Beckhaus' Rolling Stock News in the ARHS Bulletin, Mar 1997, and many issues of Catchpoint (National Railway Museum) and Motive Power magazines. Acknowledgement is gratefully made.