Weather Conditions affect Pete’s Hobby Railway construction programme
This winter has been one of the wettest on record for the Riverina area of NSW, with the heavy rains resulting in dam overflows, widespread flooding leading to extended major roads closures and the occasional damage to rail infrastructure. As recorded in my previous Progress Report, rainfall in my Junee Shire for the month of September was the heaviest on record, some 185mm (about 7 inches) compared with only 18mm (less than ¾-inch) for the same period last year.
Two images, 2016.3760 and 2016.3961, show the effect of the constant wet weather conditions on my rail track formation just over a fortnight apart, on 11th and 30th September. Even today after a couple of days of sunshine, to walk on the same formation, I almost need to wear galoshes, with water being forced up around my shoes. Obviously, many days of warm sunshine will be required to dry out the sub-surface in order to form a hard base over which to extend Pete’s Hobby Railway. Frustrating delays! However, this evening, it has started to rain yet again.
There have been occasional days where the sun has made a guest appearance for a few hours. I have taken advantage of this to progress the cosmetic restoration of the Perry 0-6-2T. Devoid of its rusted side tanks and boiler lagging, the loco has been given a good coating of gloss black, including most of the frame. The motion and coupling rods have been primed, ready for painting in gloss signal red – the end result should be quite attractive. The dome cover has been repainted and reinstated in its rightful place.
Also rejuvenated is the original headlight, but I have yet to place it back in position above the smokebox. When I acquired the locomotive in the 1970s, the headlight still carried in the glass side-panels, its sugar mill name of Chiverton. Unfortunately, one of these was smashed as I attempted to open one of the side panels, but the other was successfully extricated and now preserved. Missing from the locomotive was the steam-powered turbo-generator and the cab switching gear to control the headlight and cab lights – but replacements were purchased at the time from the West Australian Government Railways stores. The original builder’s plates are in my possession and have yet to be reaffixed to the cab sides.
A rare feature on this locomotive is the fitting of dual coupling facilities, thus allowing the locomotive (of 2-ft gauge) to shunt wagons on dual gauge 3’6” (1067mm) track around the Sugar Mill confines.
Images 2016.3418 and 2016.3451 show the cosmetic restoration progress as at 28/8 and 1/9 this year.
Although the favoured of my two currently static steam locomotives, the Perry is still on the market for sale at an asking price of AU$35,000 plus removal expenses. If this price can be achieved, the income would go a substantial way towards having the older 0-6-0TT Fowler (1900 vintage) commercially restored back to its original design as an operational 0-6-0 tank loco. Any serious purchase applications are invited and can be addressed to me using the contact page and selecting Peter Neve, Stationmaster.
In the meantime, weather conditions and time permitting, the cosmetic restoration will continue.
Not shown on the layout diagram for Pete’s Hobby Railway (see Progress Report No. 7) is my proposal for several platforms or halts around the line. The first of these is planned for immediately west of my driveway level crossing, near the front fence. It would be some 13 metres in length, sufficient to cater for the four carriages and most of the train locomotive. The platform coping would be based on the style of the restored timber platform at Lockhart (on the branch line from The Rock to Boree Creek, the last remnant of the longer line to Oaklands). Image 2015.2082 shows the restored Lockhart station as it was last year.
I propose to name this platform LOFTUS. Those of you who have read through my previous Progress Reports and the separate section dealing with the former Weavering Light Railway, would be aware that I lived at Loftus (in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire) between 1955 and 2015, with the WLR in existence from 1975. As such, I had depot plates cast for LOFTUS and these were attached to my operational locomotives.
A quirk of history will allow me to continue with the LOFTUS name! According to the “How and Why of Station Names”, compiled by John Forsyth of the Archives Section of the State Rail Authority of New South Wales 1993 edition, the construction name for my local Junee railway station was… Loftus! However, the station was opened as Junee on 6/7/1878, becoming Junee Junction on 28/2/1881 with the opening of the branch line to Narrandera, reverting back to Junee in April 1940. Thus I am able to continue with the name Loftus as part of Pete’s Hobby Railway.
The name originates from The Right Honourable Sir Augustus William Frederick Spencer Loftus, who was Governor of the State of NSW between 1879 and 1885.
I am fortunate to welcome to Pete’s Hobby Railway, Josh from nearby Wagga, who has offered to take on the responsibility for the construction of the station platform. I look forward to the time when I will be able, along with friends, to make use of the platform.
While residing at Loftus (in Sydney), I had made up a replica of the earlier style of station nameboard that would have once graced suburban Loftus station and attached it to the exterior of my model railway room. Image 2015.0386 shows Ben dismantling the sign as one of the final stages of my relocation to Junee. Despite the very apparent roughness of the job, I was approached by the local Loftus Bush Fire Brigade who sought to preserve the sign at their Depot, not realising that it was not an original! In fairness, I must say that it looked the part from the street! In preparation for the commissioning of the new Loftus platform, I have had new letters cut to the actual design of the original NSWGR ones, as shown in image 2016.3828.
As a second stage to the construction of the new platform, I am considering a suitable timber waiting shed – and guess what… there used to be exactly the same thing located on the down platform on Loftus station! A scanned image of a 1960s slide of mine, a little worse for wear, sets the scene. For those who read these Progress Reports from overseas, the scene was a daily weekday working at the time whereby a Wollongong suburban local ran through to Sydney suburban Sutherland (one station north of Loftus) during the very early morning hours, but could be photographed on its return during summer at 0645 hours. The locomotive is a C30 class 4-6-4T, as originally used on Sydney suburban services prior to stage one of the metropolitan electrification works of the 1926-1930 period. Normally, only tender-type locomotives were used on through passenger services to the South Coast. So it all falls into place!!! Loftus on Pete’s Hobby Railway.
Track + Signal magazine article
Back on 30th June last when the steam and diesel locos, along with the modified carriage, were being loaded at Goulburn for transport to Junee, I invited a long-time friend, semi-retired journalist and resident of Goulburn, Leon Oberg, to be present for the event. The end result was a three-page, well-illustrated article in the quarterly Track + Signal magazine, Vol.20, Issue 4, dated October-December 2016. Track + Signal magazine describes itself as “your independent rail magazine””. I would describe it as a mixture of an Australian railways trade style news magazine, with a small section down the back covering heritage news. It sells for AU$7.00 and is available through most local newsagents. I have scanned the article and included it in the Media Coverage section of this webpage. Unfortunately, a reference to the Pete’s Hobby Railway webpage was not included.
Light Railways magazine coverage
Light Railways is the bi-monthly publication of the Light Railway Research Society of Australia. As well as going to members, the publication is sold through rail enthusiast outlets and some newsagents. The October 2016 issue includes a brief write-up on Pete’s Hobby Railway and the restoration of the Hunslet steam locomotive. On this occasion, a link to the PHR webpage was included, resulting in a considerable number of “hits” over the last few days as subscribers received their copies.
PHR web page is popular!
Thanks to the efforts of Nicholas Pyers in setting up and maintaining this webpage, there was been continuing on-line interest in the progress (and otherwise) with Pete’s Hobby Railway. The webpage went online over the Queen’s Birthday Weekend (June) this year, although it was a number of days before it was publicised and thus commenced receiving “hits”. To date, there have been more than 5,000 viewings, the greatest number being on 8th July, with 651. The next step is to gain 7,500 hits, followed by 10,000. I wonder how long before these goals are reached? As at the time of writing, PHR is still at the top of the lists when searching on-line for Pete’s Hobby Railway.
Pete’s Hobby Railway also has a Facebook page, as well a Twitter feed, both of which will allow you to be advised of each posting that I make. Why not Like or Follow either or both as one of your favourites – that way, you will be promptly kept up to date of progress.
That’s all for the present.
Pete’s Hobby Railway01961760