The NZR J Class Steam Locomotives were one of NZR's best engines.

Key Facts
Fuel - Coal / Jb's Oil
Weight - 108.9 Tons
Wheel Arrangement - 4-8-2
Running Numbers - 1200 to 1239
J's Left
One at Steam Incorporated Paekakariki
Two at Mainline Steam Auckland - Wellington - Christchurch / One is a Jb

The NZR J class steam locomotives were a class of locomotive used in New Zealand. Following the success of the K class on NZR main lines, there was an urgent need for a modern, powerful locomotive capable of running over secondary lines laid with lighter rails. Thus a new "Mountain" 4-8-2 type locomotive was designed and classified by NZGR as the new class J. The 40 locomotives were all built by North British Locomotive Works, Scotland. They should not be confused with the members of 1874's J class, the first tender locomotives to operate in New Zealand. 30 J's were initially allocated to the North Island, the other 10 to the hilly Dunedin-Oamaru section in the South Island where with Wab tank banker engines they provided extra power for wartime freight and passenger loads. By 1950 with a large number of Hillside JA in service the South Island allocation of J and Wab tanks had been returned to Auckland.

The class had a notable appearance with the boiler being partly streamlined after the style of the New Haven Railroad's J400 class, and was also similar to the Norfolk and Western Railway class J and the NSWGR 38 class. The J class incorporated all the latest ideas of the KA class but a noteworthy departure was the use of the Baker valve gear. The tender was of the Vanderbilt type.

Twelve J class locomotives were converted to oil burning and reclassified as JB class, and the bullet nose streamlining was gradually removed. In 1962 ten J were transferred back to the South Island to replace the A class on the steep Greymouth-Otira section and another 6 J's were transferred in the mid 1960's to the SIMT. Some J class locomotives were reboilered with boilers transferred from the first North Island JA withdrawals in 1964-66 and others from the remainder of 12 JA boilers supplied by North British in 1954 for the construction of the last ten Hillside JA. The first reboilered J was used on the Otira route while the rest were reboilered in 1967. The three J engines that were used with the JA class on the South Island Limited in its last years in 1969-70 and later preserved were effectively a new 'JC' class with JA boilers and North Island JA tenders, reconstructed for coal rather than oil supply and had North Island JA trailing trucks, under the cab. The original J had been mainly freight and banking engines on the NIMT and had only powered a few provincial passenger trains, the Opua Express, the Auckland- New Plymouth night express and the Tanetua express. J 1211 and J1234 with JA 1267 were the usual engines on the fast South Island Limited on the Christchurch-Oamaru section, in its last year, their 'JC' conversion having made them NZR's final mainline steam flyers.


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