The Section Car Pages

SAR "S" class


South Australian Railways (SAR) "S" class S65 - Victor Harbor, SA,1986.

I thought that these were an Islington creation with two variations, The "S" class above and an "SD". Information to hand suggests that the SAR built them, for both its gauges, the narrow 42", and broad 63".


The "S" was fitted with a flat opposed two cylinder four stroke motor with a magneto ignition, simple pressure clutch then a drive shaft and bevel gear transfer at the back driving the rear axle. A rather heavy and cumbersome car, but one that ran well.

The "SD" was powered by a large single cylinder diesel engine, producing 6BHP.

I found a drawing by the SAR of a "BUDA" design, dated 1932, that is almost identical to these cars, in particular the controls, motor and general layout. The drawing shows a twin opposed petrol engine, with open valve actuators, and an air cooling system. The only obvious mechanical difference being that the SAR cars had a clutch system, whereas the BUDA drawing has a friction wheel with chain drive. See below for info - it appears to be a BUDA 119H.

I would not be surprised if the SAR bought one, and then knocked out copies.

One of each at Port Adelaide, Several privately owned.

Update - I was talking to an engine enthusiast who owns an engine from one of these. He suggests that the design of the motor is almost identical to that of a Douglas twin - just a knock out from Islington Workshops.

Another Update -Another Opinion: I was talking to another engine enthusiast who has suggested that the motor is an SAR knock out of a Sheffield motor - have a look here - and make up your own mind!

Yet more information. - I was at the National Railway Museum today looking at their collection of section cars, and was talking to one of their managers abou the S class motor. We were doing some work in collating a history, when I looked at one of the SAR motor quads. These were fitted with a "Minerva" Motor, which NSW Section Car Guru Ken McCawley notes as of Swiss origin.

There is a distinct likeness in the head and valve gear operating the "S" class motor, and that of the "Minerva" powering the motor quad.

Whilst the general arrangement of the S class motor is similar to the Sheffield, it appears that the SAR may have refined the motor, creating its own design and used common parts between the "Minerva" and the twin opposed powering the "S" Class!

A series of Emails has identified just what drives the SAR S Class - Here it is!

The Buda Drawings

Plan layout

Side Elevation

The Results of the Dig.

It turns out that the above drawing is that of a BUDA 119H motor car. Digging through my collection, I found a reference to the BUDA two cylinder motor, which very much matches that of the S class two cylinder.

I was also provided information on the above drawing to the effect that there are still a few BUDA cars in the States powered by the original motor, and the drive train as above.

It would therefore appear that the SAR did buy an example of the BUDA, modified the drive train, and then built its own version of the car.

Joe Nemer advises this is a Buda model 119H. "The "H" designating the engine as a 4.25"x4.25" bore and stroke. Buda designated the "light" car as a 19, the 119, 219 and 319 successively heavier. It was touted as "easily handled by two men". The US Army bought the final production run in 1942 before the plant retooled."

Thanks also to Al Elliot and Wayne Parsons for their feedback.

The Silverton Tramway Co Ltd ran a number of SAR S class cars on its railway between Cockburn and Broken Hill.

Advice from the National Railway Museum confirms these were ordered from the SAR and built at Islington.

This car is preserved in the Sulphide Street Railway Museum

Section Car Page

Uploaded August 2, 2003; Updated January 17, 2016

© Nic Doncaster