Richard Trevithick's Coalbrookedale
Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, represents one of the simplest possible types, that with two axles and four coupled wheels, all of which are driven. The wheels on the earliest four-coupled locomotives were connected by a single gear wheel, but from 1825 the wheels were usually connected with coupling rods to form a single driven set.
In Britain, the Whyte notation of wheel arrangement was also often used for the classification of electric and diesel-electric locomotives with side-rod-coupled driving wheels.
Under the UIC classification used in Europe and, in more recent years, in simplified form in the United States, an 0-4-0 is classified as B (German and Italian) if the axles are connected by side rods or gearing and 020 (French), independent of axle motoring. The UIC's Bo classification for electric and diesel-electric locomotives indicates that the axles are independently motored, which would be under the Whyte notation.
The term Four-coupled is often used for 0-4-0 locomotives. Four-wheeled is also sometimes used, but this term can also encompass other wheel arrangements, for example Stephenson's Rocket which was an 0-2-2 four-wheeled locomotive.
0-4-0 locomotives were built as tank locomotives as well as tender locomotives. The former were more common in Europe and the latter in the United States, except in the tightest of situations such as that of a shop switcher, where overall length was a concern. The earliest 0-4-0 locomotives were tender engines and appeared as early as c. 1802. The 0-4-0 tank engines were introduced in the early 1850s. The type was found to be so useful in many locations that they continued to be built for more than a century and existed until the end of the steam era.
Richard Trevithick's Coalbrookedale (1802), Pen-y-Darren (1804) and Newcastle (1805) locomotives were of the 0-4-0 type, although in their cases the wheels were connected by a single gear wheel. The first 0-4-0 to use coupling rods was Locomotion No. 1, built by Robert Stephenson and Company for the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. Stephenson also built the Lancashire Witch in 1828, and Timothy Hackworth built Sans Pareil which ran at the Rainhill Trials in 1829. The latter two locomotives later worked on the Bolton and Leigh Railway.
A four-wheeled configuration, where all the wheels are driving wheels, uses all the locomotive's mass for traction but is inherently unstable at speed. The type was therefore mainly used for switchers (United States) and shunters (United Kingdom). Because of the lack of stability, tender engines of this type were only built for a few decades in the United Kingdom. They were built for a longer period in the United States.
The possible tractive effort of an 0-4-0 within normal axle load limits was not enough to move large loads. By 1900, they had therefore largely been superseded for most purposes by locomotives with more complex wheel arrangements. They nevertheless continued to be used in situations where tighter radius curves existed or the shorter length was an advantage. Thus, they were commonly employed in dockyard work, industrial tramways, or as shop switchers.
In New South Wales, Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum has preserved twelve 0-4-0 steam locomotives and eight 0-4-0 diesel locomotives, a total of twenty examples, all on the one site.
Finland had the E1 and Vk4 classes with an 0-4-0 wheel arrangement.
The E1 was a class of only two locomotives, numbered 76 and 77.
The Vk4 was also a class of only two locomotives, built by Borsig Lokomotiv Werke (AEG) of Germany in 1910. The Vk4s were used at a fortress, and were eventually also used in dismantling the fortress, after which one locomotive went into industrial use and was scrapped in 1951. The other was sold to the Finnish Railways and nicknamed Leena. It became No. 68 and is now the oldest working broad gauge locomotive in Finland, being preserved at the Finnish Railway Museum.
The Semarang-Cheribon Stoomtram Maatschappij (SCS) imported 27 standard gauge 0-4-0T locomotives of the B52 class between 1908 and 1911, originally to operate services from Kalibrodi-Semarang to Tanggung and Yogyakarta. They were built by Sächsische Maschinenfabrik in Chemnitz, Germany. They were a modern locomotive design for the time, equipped with a superheater.
All 27 locomotives were in existence at the end of 1960, but by 1970 only 15 units remained. Two locomotives have been preserved, B5212 at the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah Museum of Transport and B5210 at the Ambarawa Railway Museum.
The NZR A class of 1873 consisted of three engine types of similar specification but differing detail. They were British and New Zealand-built and several were preserved.
In 1847, the government of the Cape Colony established harbour boards at its three major ports, Table Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London. While railway lines were laid at all these harbours, trains were for the most part initially hauled by oxen or mules. The first steam locomotives to see service at these harbours were Brunel gauge engines which were placed in service on breakwater construction at Table Bay Harbour in 1862 and East London Harbour in 1874.
In September 1859 Messrs. E. & J. Pickering, contractors to the Cape Town Railway and Dock Company for the construction of the Cape Town-Wellington railway line, imported a small broad gauge 0-4-0 side-tank steam locomotive from England for use during the construction of the railway. This was the first locomotive in South Africa. In 1874 the locomotive was rebuilt to a 0-4-2T configuration before it was shipped to Port Alfred, where it served as construction locomotive on the banks of the Kowie river and was nicknamed Blackie. It has been declared a heritage object and was plinthed in the main concourse of Cape Town station.
The first railway locomotive to run in revenue earning service in South Africa was a small broad gauge 0-4-0WT well tank engine named Natal, manufactured by Carrett, Marshall and Company of Leeds. It made its inaugural run from Market Square to Point station in Durban during the official opening of the first operating railway in South Africa on Tuesday, 26 June 1860.
In 1878, while construction work by the Kowie Harbour Improvement Company was underway at Port Alfred, the Cape Government Railways acquired one broad gauge locomotive named Aid from Fox, Walker and Company of Bristol for use as construction locomotive on the east bank of the Kowie river.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a number of 0-4-0 tank- and saddle-tank locomotives were imported into South Africa, many of them for use in harbours. Many of these locomotives came into South African Railways (SAR) stock in 1912, but were never classified.
Between 1886 and 1888, three well-tank condensing locomotives were placed in service by the Cape Copper Mining Company on its Namaqualand Railway between Port Nolloth and O'okiep in the Cape Colony. They were the first condensing steam locomotives to enter service in South Africa. They were later rebuilt as conventional well-tank locomotives.
In 1899, Rand Mines acquired two narrow gauge tank steam locomotives from Avonside Engine Company and in 1900 a similar locomotive was delivered to Reynolds Brothers Sugar Estates in Natal. In 1915, when an urgent need arose for additional narrow gauge locomotives in German South West Africa during the First World War, these three locomotives were purchased second-hand by the South African Railways.
In 1900 the British War Office placed two Sirdar class 0-4-0T tank steam locomotives in service on a narrow gauge line near Germiston in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, where the Royal Engineers had established a siege park during the Second Boer War. The locomotives were built by Kerr, Stuart and Company. At the end of the war, the two Sirdar locomotives were sold to a farmer, who used them on a firewood line between Pienaarsrivier and Pankop, until the line and locomotives were taken over by the Central South African Railways (CSAR). In 1912, when these locomotives were assimilated into the SAR, they were renumbered with an "NG" prefix to their numbers. When a system of grouping narrow gauge locomotives into classes was eventually introduced by the SAR somewhere between 1928 and 1930, they were designated .
In 1902, the CGR placed a single narrow gauge tank steam locomotive in service on the Avontuur branch, built by Manning Wardle, classified Type C and named Midget. In 1912, this locomotive was assimilated into the South African Railways and renumbered. It was sold to the West Rand Consolidated Mines near Krugersdorp in 1921.
A single small five-ton locomotive, built by Krauss & Company, was purchased by the CGR c. 1903 and placed in service as construction engine on the narrow gauge Avontuur branch out of Port Elizabeth.
The tank engine versions of the wheel arrangement began to appear in the United Kingdom in the early 1850s, with the first significant class being six saddle tanks designed by Robert Sinclair for the Caledonian Railway.
By 1860 the type was very popular and it continued to be built in significant numbers for both mainline and industrial railways, almost to the end of steam traction. Hudswell Clarke were supplying industrial saddle tanks until at least 1947, and both Barclay and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns until 1949.
During the 1840s, the wheel arrangement was widely used by Edward Bury on the bar-framed locomotives built for the London and Birmingham Railway. However, with the exception of a few isolated examples used by the smaller companies such as the Cambrian Railways, the Furness Railway and the Taff Vale Railway, and four examples built by Edward Fletcher (engineer) of the North Eastern Railway between 1854 and 1868, the 0-4-0 tender locomotive had been largely superseded on Britain's mainline railways by 1850.
An early example of the 0-4-0 vertical boiler type was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Atlantic No. 2, built in 1832 by Phineas Davis and Israel Gartner. In the United States, the 0-4-0 tank locomotive was principally used for industrial railway purposes.
In the United States, the Best Friend of Charleston was the first locomotive to be built entirely within the United States. It was built in 1830 for the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company by the West Point Foundry of New York.
The Pennsylvania Railroad kept producing classes long after all other major railroads had abandoned development of the type, building their final A5s class into the 1920s. The A5s was a monster among , larger than many designs, with modern features found on few others of its type, such as superheating, power reverse, and piston valves. The Pennsy continued to build the type because it had a large amount of confined and tight industrial track, more than most other railroads had.
The wheel arrangement was also used on a number of small 0-4-0DM diesel-mechanical shunters produced by John Fowler & Co. and other builders in the 1930s and earlier. Similarly, it was perpetuated on a number of diesel-mechanical and diesel-hydraulic classes between 1953 and 1960 (see the List of British Rail modern traction locomotive classes). Many of these were later sold for industrial use.