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  #1  
Old 7th May 2018, 08:20
aussiesteve's Avatar
aussiesteve aussiesteve is offline
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What is it about trains ?

What is it about trains ?
Especially soot belching things.
Yesterday, I drove a total of 749 kms, departing home in a frosty pre-dawn at 0540 and arriving at The Richomnd Vale at 1045.
After the morning fog had dissipated, the Hunter Valley turned on a beautiful autumn day.
Being sunday, I didn't expect to see any coal trains during transit on the Ulan line occasionally encountered from Bylong.
The Ulan coal region being at the extreme western edge of the general Hunter Valley coal district.
I espied nada with metal wheels until entering the gravel track to the Richmond Vale mob.
The gates were open and paying the $16.oo entry fee I was told where I could find my target, the ex GCR ROD.
0-4-0 ST Clyde 1938 Marjorie was puffing away from the station on it's first run.
The bush fire devastation was evident, and not much track had been reopened, barely 500 metres.
The destruction of a bridge plus wooden sleepers on the line north to Pelaw Main will require a vast injection of funds to restore.
Consequently, the society run on a small section of the original line to Hexham veering around behind the carriage shed.
The original line having been ripped up many years ago, the short portion existing was used to gain access to the shed.
But, until further trackwork is performed, they cannot get into that shed currently.
The use of concrete sleepers as replacements obviously due to the lack of available wood sleepers.
Plus possibly offering more bush fire resilience should another fire event occur.
Richmond Vale ROD 23 had cosmetic restoration and returned to the French era identity of number 2004.
Public access is restricted to much of the Museum area, preventing a sunny side shot of the ROD.
I am now curious as to whether all of the GCR ROD things were right hand drive.
I also discovered just why I had not taken a photo of it when I visited in 1992.
ROD 23 (2004) was not on site back in 1992, it was still stuck on a plinth in some park, yet to be rescued.
Patrons appeared from time to time and Marjorie would blast off when anybody appeared desiring the brief ride.
Chuffing down around behind the shed to the stop block, and then propelling the two carriage train back.
While chatting with the 7.25 inch miniature railway 0-4-0 diesel driver, a 10-11 year old girl appeared dragging Dad along.
She was most eager for a ride, so I concluded my chat, not wanting to delay her enthusiasm.
While shooting video of Marjorie puffing too and fro, I had noticed a dog.
Obviously belonging to one of the crew.
When I hoofed down through the trees to shoot video near the stop block, I noticed this dog trotting along behind the train.
It then padded around the stopped train and glanced into the cab.
After the three toots to commence setting back, the dog then trotted along following the train back to the station.
Too cramped and HOT inside the tiny cab of Marjorie for the hound dog, I presume.
Chatting with the crew while they munched on lunch, I mentioned that I might go and hunt for any SMR branch coalies.
None running for the next couple of days, I was informed, by one of the blokes who occasionally works those coalies.
I counted almost 30 cars parked when I departed.
And, cars were arriving and departing frequently.
So, the sights and sounds of a soot belching thing, albeit only strutting a short distance, still attracts patrons.
But, for them to reopen their "main line" up to Pelaw Main, either a rich benefactor or Government grant will be necessary.
Motoring back north to Maitland, I veered around to East Greta Junction.
I found the old SMR branch signal box unattended and padlocked.
This confirmed that nothing was rattling along the SMR track.
The SMR branch coalies had been my second target for the trip.
While I have little interest in the usual Hunter Valley coal trains, at least some 1990 era GEs are utilized on the SMR.
With the North Coast Rocket NT35 (XPT) due through Maitland at 1430, I drove around hunting for a suitable spot.
Telarah was too limited for video, so I drove into the newbie suburbia of Oakhampton Heights.
After encountering a number of dead-end streets, I finally found my way east towards the railway.
The old Oakhampton station long gone to history and access barred, I had to make do with the curve before such.
The Rocket appeared about 5 minutes late.
The location was not suitable for the interstater 7MB4 due through Maitland at 1601.
Plus, I was not about to stand there for almost 90 minutes.
So, I attempted to follow the winding back road to a better location.
But, I kept running into dead-ends, needing to retrace my steps
No other railway access was provided, and I finally ended up back in Maitland.
Having driven north to Paterson back in my january foray and not finding any suitable video spot, I wasn't going any further north.
I found the footbridge that I had utilized in 2016 for the Maitland Steam Fest.
Unfortunately, now a metal rock barrier screen stretches across that footbridge.
I guess that somebody had been hurling things at either trains or highway vehicles from that footbridge.
Not wanting to waste more time navigating the narrow one way streets of Maitland city, I set up on the end of the footbridge.
Just a small portion of the access ramp not being enclosed by the rock barrier screen.
The constant highway traffic noise beside the railway preventing any warning of an approaching train.
A couple of hideous coal trains rattled past, plus the 1537 two car dmu service to Telarah.
I waited, but no sign of the interstater.
In lieu of 7MB4, another grotty empty coalie rattled past.
I waited, but with the sun angle dropping, at 1615 I packed up and drove west to the trucker rest stop at Branxton.
I had planned to camp in the car there sunday night if I was loitering for monday.
I boiled the billy for a cuppa and ate my lunch sandwich which I had not got around to munching on.
No point my loitering if the SMR coalies were not working.
With the sun about to sink below the hills, and the breeze chill worsening, I decided to commence the long voyage back home.
Steve.


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Old 7th May 2018, 20:48
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465 miles each way - that's dedication!
But good to see it was a worthwhile trip and the Richmond Vale Railway is running after the fires.
I haven't got a definitive answer, but from what I can see, the GCR 8Ks (including the RODs) were all built as right hand drive, and although the LNER did convert a number of their inherited locos to their preferred left hand drive, I haven't found any reference to the 8K/O4 class being converted.

Tony
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  #3  
Old 9th May 2018, 10:37
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aussiesteve aussiesteve is offline
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G'day Tony,
Crikey, if I had driven 465 miles EACH way, the boys in blue would have arrested me for dangerous driving.
HA!
465 miles was me total odometer reading for the big day out.
Well in kms as we were prompted to adopt from 1966.
Five hours journey time each way due to the very slow back roads.
Numerous 35 and 45 kmph curves climbing over the Great Divide.
My route was SLOW but the shortest distance.
Petrol pricetag ($1.58 per litre) being the major factor in route decision.
Interesting that them RODs were right hand drive.
Some NSW Works Dept soot belchers were right hand drive.
But, the NSWR was adamant for left hand drive for anything built for the NSWR.
The handful of Works Dept things retained right hand drive when absorbed.
I have been told that right hand drive is better for the banjo swinger.
Especially if that banjo swinger is right handed.
I don't know as I have only swung the banjo on a normal NSWR left hand drive soot belcher.
And, I got more black diamonds on the cab floor than actually into the firebox.
Being a right hander, maybe the prophecy is correct.
I have uploaded me Richmond Vale video clip to You Tuber;
https://youtu.be/ZU9kMiu9q5k
I adore the hound dog, aussie kelpie cross.
Steve.
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Old 9th May 2018, 20:11
richard thompson richard thompson is offline  
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465 miles all in is still pretty impressive by our standards, good effort Steve!
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  #5  
Old 9th May 2018, 21:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiesteve View Post
G'day Tony,
Crikey, if I had driven 465 miles EACH way, the boys in blue would have arrested me for dangerous driving.
HA!
Sorry, misread that Steve! As Richard says, it's still quite a long trek.

Tony
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  #6  
Old 10th May 2018, 08:34
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aussiesteve aussiesteve is offline
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G'day Richard and Tony,
If I wanna squiz trains, I gotta motor a distance.
Nothing much occurs here around Bathurst these days.
I used to be able to belt a goodly distance in a day.
But, now that I am a senior citizen, I guess it is a tad more tedious.
Now that winter is approaching, I may hafta aim das auto way up north.
Might hafta attempt to get to Dorrigo at some stage.
Plus take a gander at the solar powered train near Byron Bay.
Won't be achieving that distance up and back in one day.
Steve.
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  #7  
Old 10th May 2018, 20:20
hereward hereward is online now  
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Steve - Something ironic about getting a compliment from “Madpetrolhead” for the video. Just had a Google about that solar train; the guy said that hopefully it will attract visitors to Byron Bay. When I went there half the population of Australia had found their way there, without the train. Hardly surprising though, such a beautiful place.
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  #8  
Old 11th May 2018, 08:07
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aussiesteve aussiesteve is offline
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G'day Hereward,
Yeh, Byron Bay is an interesting location.
Go inland and up a bit into the hills and they grow that funny weed.
But, I am sure that the owners of the resort to where the solar powered train rattles don't permit that funny weed.
Some nice beaches in the Byron region, even one where you don't need to wear speedos.
The Ritz Express was a prior attempt to run a tour train in that region.
It failed due to the cost of maintaining the old branch line.
But, as the solar powered train only rattles a total of 3 kms, I guess that maintenance costs won't be too extreme.
Steve.
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