— First Division
Welcome to Pete’s Hobby Railway Calendar for 2019.
This is the first of my annual calendars to be specifically devoted to my “Pete’s Hobby Railway”. Hopefully, it won’t be the last! The calendar is produced by a commercial photo camera laboratory (for the second year, through Harvey Norman in Wagga, as it allows for a 13th, or cover page to be included), rather than by the more usual high production run off-set printing process.
Accordingly, its distribution is very, very limited. After I have selected the topic for the year’s calendar, I am assisted by long-time friend and partner-in-production (and now my informal carer), Ben, in transferring my selection into a format suitable for the laboratory. If I am very lucky, the laboratory, in this case, Harvey Norman, has an annual promotion whereby calendars of this nature (usually costing $39.95 each) are offered at a very considerable discount (less than half!) and this is when I jump in with my order.
A few notes for those not closely associated with “Pete’s Hobby Railway”…
“Pete’s Hobby Railway” is a narrow gauge (2-ft or 610mm track-width) railway currently being constructed on my property in Junee, NSW. Being built and operated under the exemption provisions of the National Rail Safety Law (NSW) 2014 means that I am not able to allow the public on to my property when the train is running – accordingly I am not able to offer rides to the general public. Pete’s Hobby Railway can only be operated for the personal enjoyment of my friends and myself, although it is readily possible for the public to “train spot” these operations from outside my street-frontage boundary fence.
Pete’s Hobby Railway would not exist without the very active support of a small band of volunteers to whom I say a very big “thank you” – These days, regretfully owing to my progressing years, I am basically now only the “Chief Financial Officer”, handling rapidly diminishing funds! However, in return, the volunteers and I do get to enjoy the sounds and smells that only a steam locomotive can provide and, within certain restrictions, the ability to operate when we wish to! Officially opened on 6th February in 2017, there is still much to complete. As the old saying goes… Rome wasn’t built in a day… Neither is Pete’s Hobby Railway.
Two major projects should see completion during 2019. These are the restoration to working order of a second steam locomotive and the completion of our under-cover storage, servicing and maintenance facility shed.
For further information about Pete’s Hobby Railway, progress reports and details of viewable operating dates, please take regular looks at the webpage: www.PetesHobbyRailway.club. The Railway is even on Facebook and Twitter.
About to pass over the level crossing immediately in front of my car-port and only a few metres from the “office”, this location is one of my favourites – with the railway emerging as it does through a small clump of trees and on a ruling grade. Oh, I wish there were many more of this foliage so as to enhance the journey. Rolling farmyard hills with sheep grazing form a distant backdrop, partially hidden for the time being, stacks of rail awaiting use, while to the right, the Fowler-built steam locomotive does not know what was in store for it during the latter part of 2018. Matt was at the throttle … It seems that Rhys as fireman is hanging on for grim life! At the time, the Hunslet (B/n. 1187 of 1915) steam locomotive was burning timber. We were yet to start experimental with coal as a fuel. The date was Friday, 25th August 2017. [Digital image reference 2017.4018]
Current proposals are for the track layout to be in the shape of a dog-bone, but with the tracks running separately when coming together on the eastern alignment. Thus there are opportunities for photographs for two trains running in the opposite directions but parallel and approaching each other! The Hunslet “Torpedo” has been stopped in my front “house lawn” while in the background, the Ruston 48hp diesel climbs the 1 in 22 grade with Ben at the controls. At a later stage, I would like to see a cross-over linking the two tracks, thus greatly enhancing operating opportunities. Thursday, 4th August 2017. [2017.3978].
Again posing in the front house lawn is the Ruston with the modified guard’s carriage. This carriage was rebuilt at considerable expense by Ainsworth Engineering at Goulburn so as to incorporate a holding hand-brake. The hand-brake wheel and mechanism comes from the guard’s compartment of an end-platform suburban carriage, being purchased from Carriage Works at Redfern many, many years ago and originally intended for another use. Rhys is becoming proficient in handling the Ruston under Ben’s tutelage. Monday, 11th September 2017. [2017.4265].
It is difficult to comprehend that this is the Hunslet Torpedo, now pride of Pete’s Hobby Railway, as it was back on Friday 19th October 1973 when it was a children’s play thing in Wangaratta Park at Queen’s Beach near Bowen in North Queensland. Owing to its deteriorating condition, the local Council was happy to dispose of the asset for some replacement playground equipment. The locomotive arrived at my former Loftus (Sydney) residence in May 1975. After several years in static storage, minimal repairs including total re-plumbing were carried out, enabling a boiler ticket for the engine to becoming operational was issued in August 1980. The locomotive was completely stripped during a major overhaul by Ainsworth Engineering at Goulburn in 2015-2016. [Scanned image 1973.01.02]
Volunteers are the backbone of Pete’s Hobby Railway … for their enjoyment of operation, they put considerable time-consuming effort into maintaining and enhancing the Railway. It’s light-up time, Torpedo has been stacked with cut up timber and the fire is soon to be lit. From the left are Rhys, Caleb (who has since moved on to greener pastures), Ben, Matt and Dozer the dog. Monday, 24th August 2017 – this was the last day of using solely timber as fuel. Four days later, Matt and Caleb were unloading our first utility truck load of coal. And didn’t the Hunslet like the “new” fuel! [2017-3988].
To appreciate the basics of nurturing a steam locomotive, one starts off as a “trainee engineman” which usually means undertaking all the hard, dirty work. The volunteers have all had goes at “doing a light-up” and raking out after the day’s activities. Surprisingly, they are sought-after activities, even if the light-ups commence at dawn under the supervision of Matt, a qualified steam driver! Here, Rhys is engaged in the rake-out after the day’s activities. Monday, 18th September 2017. [2017.4331]
Saturday, 30th June 2018 saw the official opening of our completed heritage waiting shed.
Based on a 1914 NSWGR plan, the structure was constructed in about six months, basically single-handed by one of our volunteers Josh, ably assisted and guided by his father Phil and comes complete with a genuine (but new) galvanised iron tank to catch the rain-water run-off from the roof. Notice the original green banner for intending passengers to stop the approaching passenger train, while enclosed in the glass case above is an original notice advising those intending passengers of how to stop the approaching train… I suspect that this is the only time that a green signal is given to stop an approaching train!
PHR was honoured to have our local State Member of Parliament, Steph Cooke, to cut the official ribbon, unveil a commemorative plaque (since mounted inside the waiting shed) and flag down the “first” train using the green banner. Having “stopped” the train, Steph spent the next hour or so with Matt and Josh in the cab of the steam locomotive until it was time for her next engagement, even managing to try her hand as a Driver (but under Matt’s guidance!).
Thanks to Stephen Preston, Pete’s Hobby Railway now has an original kerosene platform lantern which will be erected and displayed to the left of the open doorway. Matt is in charge of the Hunslet as a local WIN television news cameraman shoots some coverage of the new waiting shed. Saturday, 30th June 2018. [2018.1551]
Another project commenced in the latter part of 2018 was the restoration to operational condition of a second steam locomotive for PHR. Built in England by John Fowler & Sons in 1900, the locomotive had been used by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company at its North Queensland located Victoria Mill as “Perth”, being finally taken out of service in 1966. Following an initial favourable check-over by the Boiler Inspector, the engine has been stripped down to its component parts. This month’s picture shows the local T-Line Steel 20-ton capacity crane removing the boiler from the frame before the frame itself was lifted off the driving axles. To the left of the picture are the Perry locomotive and the tender formerly attached to the Fowler. Thursday, 2nd August 2018. [2018.1785]
Although Mario was providing assistance with a mobile crane, bulldozer, small road roller and truck, the actual joining together of 12m lengths of “set-track” (rails with sleepers already attached) has been handled in the main by volunteers. Ben and Rhys bolt two lengths of rail together as track-laying neared the second level crossing (closer to my carport) on Sunday 9th July 2017. [2017.3203]
One of the items on PHR to receive infrequent workouts is Torpedo 2, a Kalamazoo or quadracycle. Construction had been commenced using and/or modifying existing bits and pieces by Ken McCawley, then completed by Albert and Lenny so that it would be ready for the official opening of PHR on the occasion of my 75th birthday. A couple of weeks later, when the railway was operating for public train-spotting as part of Junee’s Rhythm-n-Rail festivities, a number of friends were invited to join me in a BBQ. Torpedo 2 made a couple of runs during the day… in this scene, Dave and Grace are up front, with Ben behind. The track here was fairly level, so propulsion was not too difficult… but as soon as the rising grades were reached, forward movement soon came to a stop! The date was Saturday 11th March 2017. [2017.1783]
Despite Junee and PHR being in a dry climate, weeds proliferate with the slightest sign of rain. Accordingly, several times a year, it is necessary for PHR to operate its own weed poison spraying train. The necessary equipment, powered by a 12-volt battery, is located in the composite guard’s van and propelled/pulled as required by the Ruston diesel. At least three passes are made – one covering the area between the rails, then a second and third on either side of the track (the cess). Although he can’t be seen, Ben is in charge of the Ruston, while Rhys does the actual spraying. The Hunslet steam locomotive and carriages have been moved to the other extremity of the track. Monday, 11th September 2017. [2017.4268]
PHR was honoured on Friday 14th September 2018 with a visit by two recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia, Michael Forbes and John Griffin, for services to tourism and hospitality on Australia Day 20/1/1991 and services to tourism on Queen’s Birthday 13/6/1993 respectively, both in connection with the formation of the Zig Zag Switchback Railway at Lithgow as a major local tourist attraction. I’m standing behind them –- I received my OAM in the Queens’s Birthday listing of 8/6/2015 for the preservation of Australian rail heritage. Friday, 14th September 2018. Matt is in the cab of the Hunslet. This image was taken for me by Rhys Harrison. [2018.2234]
Ben and Matt manhandle the original headlight of the Perry steam locomotive temporarily back into place, while Caleb (back to camera) waits with hands outstretched in case it slips! Monday, 16th October 2017. [2017.4843]
2019 Major Projects
- Construction of a 14m long x 10m wide locomotive and rolling stock storage shed, incorporating a 6m long by 1.2m in depth inspection pit and with a manually operated turntable. All being more than capably project managed by Josh and Phil.
- Completion of the restoration to operational condition of our second steam locomotive under the skilful care of Matt and Rhys.
Please hang this copy of Pete’s Hobby Railway 2019 Calendar in a conspicuous place. This way you can enjoy each photo of the month as we progress through the year.
Peter Neve OAM
Stationmaster, Pete’s Hobby Railway