24 December 2016

Same spot, different times

I have been pondering the essence of locomotive depots recently - what is absolutely essential, what is probably needed and what is otherwise nice to have. This pondering led me to think a little about Dubbo's depot - which was pretty small (geographically speaking) relative to most other NSW loco depots. And this pondering even led me to assemble a montage of photographs, taken from nearly the same spot over the last 50+ years. 

I won't bore you with all the photographs - lets just have a look at one every 10 years or so.  What has struck me is the weird stuff - things moving around and other things just hanging around long past use-by dates.

Lets start with a baseline in January 1967 - this shot is a bit closer than the others I will post. Apart from showing 3649 and a P class shunting a S wagon with a very clean tarp, the position is clear from the palm tree and the edge of the signal gantry.  At this time there is the old shed in the process of falling apart, alongside the newer shed.  A line of buildings forms the northern edge.

Fast forward to May 1979 and... it is eerily similar.  OK, the old shed 'fell down' but we have steam era gantries and buildings.  The trees remain and a steam boiler balances on its end further down the yard as a sanding tower.

Jump forward to October 1987 and there has been some change - the diesel fuel pad has been installed and the steam boiler has wandered westward to a position adjacent to the pad. The shed is still there, and so are the trees.  Hey, there is even a S wagon in the shade of the shed.

Next stop, 1997. The shed, fuel pad, sanding tower and even the S wagon are still all there. What's new? The locos are larger - 8213 almost seems to be cramped inside the fuel pad. And those trees - is that new growth?

Onto 2005. Shed, tick. Fuel pad, tick. Wandering sanding tower, tick.  The trees look healthy- even the one which has grown in front of the shed in the right of way - so the shed is there but not being used? At least the western end of the shed is not accessible. And our S wagon (I am presuming it is the same one) has traveled back down its track to the eastern end of the shed.

OK, last one - 2012. The sanding tower has gone, so has the S wagon. The buildings that remain are boarded up. The western end of the shed is no longer obscured by foliage and the palm trees look like they have had a haircut. Has there been a renaissance for the shed? Sadly, no. zoom in and you may be able to pick out the fine lines of mesh across its entrance.  A close check of the roof gives an indication of its purpose - it is a very large pigeon loft.

So, I could go on and on and on but it is Christmas and we all have better things to do. In a reductionist world, what is the essence of a NSWGR loco depot? I think it could be palm trees and S wagons.  All the rest is relatively impermanent! 

Merry Christmas folks!

25 October 2016

He's back - Part II

I have been a little quieter than normal over the past two months on this blog but to borrow a phrase from a well-known Halloween movie - He's Back!

The reasons for my absence are explained in the most recent post on my other blog (NSW Rail Rambler) but just lets summarise to say it was my own clumsy fault. I am still slowly recovering files from a near-dead laptop so while I continue in that chore I thought I would post a quick blog to keep the loyal few in suspense, to borrow a line from another Don(ald).

No blog would be complete without a photo so I thought I would post the following one of the front end of blue 3028T in Dubbo loco, circa 1968. The news that Austrains is contemplating releasing a HO gauge version of this very loco has made this humble and poor scribe very happy. I do hope that they accurately reflect the deterioration in the buffer beam correctly!

So, until I have recovered the remainder of my files, adieu!


30 May 2016

Not quite there

My last couple of posts may have hinted at a degree of excitement in being scheduled to ride 6029 into Eumungerie last Saturday.  I think I may have even highlighted that only ill health or mechanical misadventure could stop me.  I forgot to add safeworking gremlins.

We did get to ride the Garratt and we did get to travel along the Coonamble branch line.  But only as far as Mogriguy due to a loss of time as a result of needing to shunt through Dubbo yard.  And yes there was rain and personal hardships (like poor coffee) but we had a great time.  Here's a few snaps of the day.

Here is 6029 at rest at Dubbo just before the shuttle up the branch line.

HL203 leads the train around the triangle and out onto the branch - well, nearly, this is still technically the (cross country) main line though it wasn't once considered such.

The latest iteration of Troy Junction signal box has a rather utilitarian aspect to it.

Rolling towards the Talbragar silos at Brocklehurst.

Out on the branch line proper. Wide open spaces and great light.
 The clouds returned for our return to Dubbo - coming around the triangle.

After our branch line foray, we chased the next shuttle to Guerie.  Here it is headed back to the big smoke.

Great work by the ACT Division of the ARHS to get the Garratt out to one of its old stomping grounds.  And many thanks to the tens of volunteers who made it all happen.  

I recommend definitely getting along to the Bathurst or Orange shuttles if you can over the next fortnight.

Off to work!


27 May 2016

1 sleep to go

So, bag packed, cameras charged, tickets purchased, weather forecast appropriately predicting rain. One drive and one sleep to go. Barring a medical emergency, a mechanical breakdown, what could go wrong?

I thought I would post just a few photos in a premature celebration of being able to head up the Coonamble branch line behind a steam loco this weekend. Each poses a question?

Will the railway bridge be able to take the weight of the train like it did this day in 1963 when 3088T nimbly trotted across it? I am not concerned about the Garratt making it across, but I am worried for those in car A if one of their travellers has pigged out on sausage rolls for breakfast earlier that day.

Next question: will it be as wet on Saturday as it was when the following photo of the approach to Eumungerie's yard was taken? The answer is, yes, of course! Every time I ever head to the country to photograph train I make it bloody rain, without fail. I should be rewarded for this talent. 

And finally, will we be as comfortable as these sheep seem to be when they were behind 3262 passing through Eumungerie? Answer: I hope so.

So folks, you may guess that I am fairly excited.  Will hopefully update this blog by the end of this weekend with the results of this trek.  By curious irony I won't get a photo of a Garratt at Eumungerie as we are there for a whole 4 minutes and (quite reasonably as there is no way to disembark), there will be no way to grab a couple of shots.


15 May 2016

Garratt North!

A chance look at the ACT ARHS website on Wednesday afternoon disclosed that 6042 6029 is planning to do shuttle tours out of Dubbo on 28 and 29 May (more information on these shuttles is at canberrarailwaymuseum.org).

I had initially presumed that these shuttles would follow the pattern of others run previously by 3801 Ltd and the NSW RTM - that is, stick to the mainline.  It was only a half in hope request from the Senior Train Hunter that I checked the itinerary to find that amidst the Dubbo-Guerie shuttles, there are two planned to Eumungerie.  A Garratt returns to the Coonamble line after nearly 50 years! Woohoo!!!

I have mentioned previously that I never saw a Garratt on the line as most of the workings were at night and such operations came to an abrupt end on 9 January 1967 when 6011 caused the rail bridge over the Talbragar River to partially collapse under its weight.  My post on this blog from 4 January 2012 recounted this event: http://eumungerierail.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/talbragar-bridge-collapse.html.

Anyway, some 49 years later a Garratt is once more scheduled to head to Eumungerie, this time over a replacement bridge. And we have tickets to be right behind it in car A.  I have always held hope of getting a ride along the branch by steam, but I always figured it would be most likely to be behind a 32 or a 30T - and this would be great.  But a Garratt - that's one to tick off the bucket list.

Anyway, to mark the occasion, here's a snap of a Garratt in Dubbo loco from around 1965.

And to keep commemorating the upcoming event, here's another of a Garratt moving down the yard.

Anyway, now that I have our tickets I certainly encourage anyone who wants a really great experience (watching two old blokes thoroughly enjoy themselves), get tickets for that Saturday shuttle to Eumungerie. 

Wonder what are the chances of a cab ride?

21 February 2016

Moving animals

New year, new resolutions. Thankfully one of them this year wasn't regular postings on this blog!

There has been some progress in the background since I last posted.  A veritable trove of Trove articles have been read, which promises the uncovering of the minutiae of a small village in the mid-century years of last century. Not all of these are rail related, but there was an amazing number of washaways, derailments and reasons for late mail deliveries.

On the HO scene, I engaged a works contractor to re-establish a static version of Eumungerie station in his garage. Its up and replete with the basic buildings, but needs detailing. Much more. So to start I thought I would investigate the stock races - though I can only remember them being called sheep races.

The races were a favourite hangout of mine, slightly less so during snake season which seemed to go for 11 months of the year. They were great to climb on and to ride the swing gates.  Though there was a 'pong' as we called it then which lives to this day. It just wasn't snakes you needed to be careful to watch out for when running around the races.

So I thought I would just grab a few photos and get into it this afternoon. Well, after a solid hour of hunting I have given up with the weakest collection of shots ever.  This first one (which I have posted before) starts promising - it gives an idea of the actual races and the drovers' shed - pretty sure that is what it was - happy to be corrected. It was taken in 1965.

Then all I could muster is a distant shot of the yard taken around 1963 (two years earlier) which I have chosen to show as 'extra large' so I can pick out a few details which are missing from the 1965 shot. First, some things are in both shots - like the water column and the drovers' shed (though note the small water tank against the north wall obscured in the 1965 shot).

The major change is that the two signals in the 1963 shot below are gone from the 1965 shot.  There is also a huge telegraph pole which seems to have disappeared from the landscape.

While I still know net to nothing about the races and yard from this photo, at least I have enough evidence to go out and but one of those lovely Austrains ways & works train packs. The wagon next to the LFX looks interesting - maybe an old D truck with a gangers' shed on top.

Now this last photo was in very bad shape when I scanned it.  I have retouched it as best I can - with a lot of lightening and noise reducing. Itdoesn't show the sheep yard, races or even the shed, but it does give a bit more of a clue about the wagon attached to the LFX. Oh yeah, and there is a 30T with what seems to be an extremely large load of coal in the tender for one headed to Dubbo so it may have worked tender-first out from there to shunt the yard and possibly pick up the works vehicles.

 Hope you enjoyed these fairly ordinary shots.  I am off to build a red shed.