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William Rufus Deeble

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William Rufus Deeble (1856-1936)

1936 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM RUFUS DEEBLE was for many years chief mechanical engineer of the Tasmanian Government Railways.

He was born near Plymouth, England, in 1856, but in the following year he was taken by his parents to Victoria, Australia. From 1868 to 1875 he served an articled apprenticeship at the Phoenix Foundry, Ballarat, and he received his technical education at the Ballarat School of Mines. He accepted an appointment on the Tasmanian Main Line Railway in 1876, and held various positions in the locomotive workshops.

In 1890, when he was assistant locomotive foreman the railway was purchased by the Tasmanian Government. He was appointed superintendent of the locomotive, carriage, and wagon departments in 1898, and in 1904 he became chief mechanical engineer, a position which he held until his retirement in 1923.

Mr. Deeble was a pioneer in the introduction of Garratt locomotives; the first locomotive of this type ever built was constructed in 1909 to his designs and worked on a 2-foot gauge tramway in the mining districts of Tasmania. Larger Garratt locomotives were then ordered and in 1912 he adopted the 4-4-2+2-4-4 type for express passenger work on the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. Tests with these engines established the fact that a Garratt locomotive has the running characteristics of the wheel arrangement of its motor bogies.

Mr. Deeble also designed special cross-seat carriages with sleeping accommodation, and initiated the steel seats with reversible backs which are now in general use in Tasmania.

Shortly before the War he prepared plans for the expansion of the fitting shops at Launceston, and he was responsible for the erection of a large block of the new workshops. In addition he introduced coal- and ash- handling plants.

Mr. Deeble was elected a Member of the Institution in 1900. He rendered valuable services as a Member of the Australian Advisory Committee from 1922 until his death, which occurred at New Town, Hobart, on 25th July 1936.

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