Monday, March 31, 2008

Where are they now?

If there's one thing that never fails to amaze me, it's the NSWGR, throughout it's history, sticking it out with obsolete or barely sufficient technology. Sort of fulfills the great railway equation:

Good for gunzels = Bad for government!

However, if you look at this fact in another light, it's truly a testament to some of the great locomotive designs in the world - a loco like 5069, built in the 1890s, still doing what it was built to do, in original condition in 1972! In this light, one must look over the class as a whole, and one type rings out - why, the S (30/30T) class of course!

It would be silly of me to elaborate on their early history on this blog, so let's have a look at what's left of this once 145-strong class:


3046 - Stored, DSRM
3085 - Static (to be cosmetically restored), NSWRTM
3112 - Stored, Brambles Siding Canberra (Next door to ARHS-ACT)
3137 - Stored, NSWRTM


3001 - Static, NSWRTM
3016 - Operational, ARHS-ACT
3026 - Under overhaul, LVR
3028 - Stored, DSRM
3075 - Static, Parkes
3090 - Stored, DSRM
3102 - Stored pending overhaul, ARHS-ACT

So, in, light of this, what are the prospects for the remaining locos in this class? Aside from 46, 75, 85 and 90, the others have all operated in preservation, and on the mainline (bar 3028), but at this present time only 3016 remains accredited for RC/ARTC metals. More seasoned readers of this blog will remember the days when it wasn't uncommon for 3137 and 3112 to run trips together? Or that fateful last trip of 3026 with 3001 when she dropped a plug? While many of us take great enjoyment in the 38s and 36s, it's rather refreshing to see one of these little battlers roaring away on a rake of cars once in a while. Sadly, the prospects of that happening in the near future are rather slim. Let's look at each one:

3001: Those readers I referred to earlier would remember this fine little loco's exploits on the mainline in the early 90's, she gave stalwart service to the RTM. Based on reports from the RTM some pretty extensive work was carried out on her during her last boiler certificate, so would there be much work required to get her going again? Seems to be in reasonable external condition, last I saw her (Feb 07). To me, she's the logical choice to steam when 2705 is retired.

3016: As was made very public last year, this loco was overhauled by the NSWRTM for the ARHS-ACT in 2006-07, and returned to active service in March 2007. Unfortunately, however, it has steamed only a few times since then, for reasons uncertain. It was very pleasing to see it repainted in black and red though, the 'Circus Tent' nickname was certainly starting to become engrained in the gunzel vernacular...

3026: Ahhhh, this poor little loco dropped a boiler plug in 1994, and hasn't turned a wheel in anger since. However, a recent conversation with some LVR heavies revealed a desire to return her to steam very soon, following 5367. Good luck to them.

3028: Member of the famous Dorrigo collection, her chances of steaming any time soon are fairly slim, but ran for a brief time in the mid-1980s with 5069 on the Dorrigo branch. Granted, I've been told the boiler is still in excellent condition, and while externally she's fairly average, mechanically there's little to do. Still sad to see though.

3046: In a similar situation to 28, but in as-withdrawn (ie mechanically shot) condition.

3075: She's in a park. In Parkes. (How droll, Humphrey...). Most of the fittings removed and not likely to be going anywhere in a hurry. Nice bit of relief if you're ever near there, though.

3085: Currently tucked away on a back road at the RTM, she is in need of a good paint and polish. Still got that weird Arabic inscription from a filming venture.

3090: Similar again to 28 and 46, in reasonably good condition however. Unique among preserved 30Ts as it is the only superheated version without a drumhead smokebox (ie a full-length saddle).

3102: Was a runner in the 80's but lies stored in the ARHS-ACT yard sans it's tender. There were talks in recent years of steaming her again but I would that their resources would be consumed entirely by the restoration of 6029.

3112: Very sad case this one. Maintained beautifully by Barry Tulloch and 3801 Limited until 2007 when it was sold to a private buyer. Said private buyer threw a hissy fit when told he couldn't run it anywhere he wanted at any time, and had it removed to the Brambles Siding in the ACT. Has run once since then but is now languishing outdoors with the coupling rods starting to rust up, and in need of a boiler inspection. Still maintained by previous owners, but with the current owner having taken off to Scotland they can't get to it. So this once well-loved mainline performer is a static loco guarded by German Shepherds. Go figure.

3137: Was a strong mainline performer in the 80's, but pulled up with a knackered boiler. Chances of steaming soon a very slim, but where is it? Last time I visited the RTM she was nowhere to be seen - any of you RTMers can shed any light on this one?

So there you have it. Hopefully in the next year or two the prospects for these fine locos can improve, as it would be only fitting for a class which gave such sterling service.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ah gentlemen...

Well firstly may I wish one and all a happy Easter, and hope it was a safe and happy one.

Occasionally in the preservation world we hear some good news, and this Easter was no exception at Cowra! While unfortunately I was unable to attend the weekend I'm hearing some fantastic reports about this weekend jointly run by LVR and 3801 Limited. Two fine steam locomotives running alongside a beautifully restored 44, what more could one want? (A wild woman, some I digress). One very minor but still historically correct aspect I was glad to see was that the 59 and the P both had black buffers! Finally! Much more becoming of them. Well done to the 5917 Syndicate and to LVR for the P.

This now begs one of those gunzelistic questions - was this the first instance of a P and a 59 double-heading? If there's one thing we all know about NSW Railways it is 'assume nothing', but seriously has anyone seen any recorded instances of this? But in any case, congratulations to all concerned.

Alright, time to take the sunshine hat off.

So it's coming up to that time of year - the biggest event on the steam calendar, Maitland Steamfest. Wait a minute, did I say biggest? What was once the premier heritage rail event in NSW is now dying a slow and painful, due to many factors. While the NSWRTM has their own large hand in it's demise I'll leave off that in light of my last post (they'll cop some later though.)

Who remembers Steamfest back in the early 90's? 1991 and 1994 to me are the pinnacle events. 91 saw three SMR 10 Class in steam at EGJ for the first time in years, running about the yard and shunting the other unserviceable locos (which, interestingly enough, were at the centre of a lawsuit to remove them from EGJ after they were sold to the certain owner of a certain Trust/Tourist Railway/Museum/TOC/whatever if the ATO is reading this). 94 saw the first passenger train since 1973, with 3112 and SMR18 topping and tailing to Neath - what a weekend! Both events, and subsequent others, also saw 3801 hauling passengers from Sydney for the event - and didn't that boost numbers!

Now, in 2008, we're looking at no 38s (yes I know 3830 is booked, someone tell the PHM's boiler inspector that), less shuttles because of this absence, ARTC trackwork on the Coal Road (and many of the shuttles are planned for Branxton - go figure) and only two steam locos available for these trips (3526 - for some mysterious reason limited to 80kph - and 3642). On a slightly positive note, 5917 will return to Maitland for the first time in about 25 years (with it's proper tender and in black this time!) but will not be available for shuttles or the like. According to the TAA she is to be stabled in Telarah yard. Another loco with 6 extra cars, might have been useful...but apparently pride is more important.

So, with a heavy heart, I bid my fond farewells to Steamfest, as this year is looking like the curtain down. Sad to think it was begun to celebrate the end of steam on the South Maitland Railways. Maybe in light of recent events at the SMR complex it's celebrating the end of morals and scruples.

Well, in the words of a well-known Maitland engineman, "We tried."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Welcome ladies, gentlemen, others...

Well a good day to all (well, most of you.) This very blog you are reading has been set up for me to elaborate on the various happenings in NSW Railways Preservation, be they the controversies, the fine achievements, or the downright strange!

So far this year has been relatively slow, though interesting to see 3642 out and about for it's first runs for a long time. One thing stands out as being rather strange, however, is that the loco's TOC Waiver bans it from doubleheading with all other ARTC registered steam locos with the exception of 2705. Why this is I haven't the foggiest, but there are quite a few HE trips arranged this year with 3526 (I quote, "...not to doublehead with 35 class..."). So it all seems very interesting. Not as interesting as the kerfuffle over it's livery, however, seems the RTM wanted it lined black (and how nice would that have been?) but the almighty ORH acting on behalf of RC reminded them of the ownership of the engine - latest from the 'Roundhouse' mag:

"3642 will run in lined green as our flagship locomotive while 3801 is being refurbished."

Political pressure, is it not?

While discussing the fine locomotive that is 3801, word leaking from the RTM is that she is completely shagged, and won't be running for quite some time. Mind you, most in the biz already knew this, but it seems the RTM has been plastering the public with talk of it running this year with boiler 3819 being reconditioned (Hold on...I thought that boiler was stuffed due to "unsatisfactory operating practises prior to 2007"???). Seems there's only so many times you can shitcan someone else for something you contributed to.

Anyways, thanks for calling in!