This is another Progress Report which cover a couple of “little things” that have occurred during recent months that cannot make up a single Report on each topic. Covering a weed-killing special, constructing a mini interim inspection pit and how not to fire a steam locomotive!
Image 2018.001: It was Wednesday, 3rd January this year… the summer heat had not set in, the grass was green and the weeds were thriving. Time for another weed-spraying train! The guard’s van, carrying the appropriate equipment, has been separated from the other cars and hauled by the Ruston diesel, Rhys has commenced spraying. Ben looks on. Luckily, Rhys likes these duties, leaving the Ruston to Ben.
Image 2018.003: Nick decided to come for a ride as well. At least three passes over the full length of the track are needed as a minimum – one in the four-foot (or should that be the two-foot, between the rails) and one each side of the track itself. A fourth is usually done to cover any extremities, especially where the vicious “cathead” burs are known to proliferate.
Image 2018.0067: One major operational difficulty for Pete’s Hobby Railway has been the lack of a servicing pit, enabling one to get under the locomotives. While one is to be included within the proposed storage/maintenance shed, construction of same has been delayed somewhat owing to siting and design problems. Josh had undertaken some internet research, coming up with images of small servicing pits on other narrow gauge railways around the world… so the idea was practical.
A site was selected and on Tuesday 13th February, preliminary works were commenced. Rhys and Ben jacked the track to remove a sleeper so as to provide the necessary length, then, as Ben looked on, Rhys started to remove the surplus ballast. Construction works would have been simplified if the offending section of track could be removed, but without Mario being on site, it was not possible to make use of his crane. However, the earth was like concrete, dry and extremely hard. The mattock and pick had no effect in making the required excavation. Next idea?!
Image 2018.0279: Over the weekend of 3rd & 4th March, a Dingo machine had been hired principally the works in connection with the construct ion of the Loftus platform waiting shed, so with a few minutes to spare, it was decided to see whether this small mechanical digger could be of any use. Initially, holes were bored within the track in an attempted to break-up the concrete-like soil.
Image 018.0286: Eventually, it was possible to excavate a small partial opening, sufficient for a “skinny” person to crawl under the track. Obviously not suitable for Matt, Nick or myself, but perhaps Rhys or Josh could be “persuaded” to do so!
Image 2018.0287: The summer heat had set in, so Ben and Rhys decided on a little shelter!
Image 2018.0291: Good sleepers were installed on either side of the temporary pit and the track spiked to gauge. Rhys does his best to get the sledgehammer to line up with the dogspike!
Image 2018.0300: Time for a trial – With Rhys at the controls (driver under instruction) of the Ruston, Ben waves him forward slowly over the pit.
Image 2018.0301: With the Ruston now spread across the pit and without any obvious sign of rail deflection, the temporary pit was passed for service.
Image 2018.0717: When a couple of mates turned up from Victoria on Sunday 29th April for a brief inspection of Pete’s Hobby Railway, I got Rhys to show them how he fires the Hunslet steam engine… “well, if the smoke comes out of the chimney/funnel, the fire must be at this end of the locomotive.” Many, many years ago, I remember seeing a leading Sydney hobby shop actually display a then British Railways 4F type tender-type 0-6-0 locomotive with the tender coupled to the smokebox! Being a good sport, Rhys agreed to the pose, although he has been trained as to where the coal should go!
Image 2018.0987: Finally… I was more-or-less dared to include this image which shows me in the middle, Josh on the left and neighbour from across the road Gordon, enjoying a cup of tea and cake in the afternoon winter sunshine on Loftus platform. (Saturday 2nd June).
Hopefully, this has caught up with some minor activities for the time being. I still have to prepare a Report on the construction of the Waiting Shed for Loftus station (seen in the background of the last image) and on the 2018 Rhythm-n-Rail “Train Spotting at Pete’s Hobby Railway” weekend.