Friday, 28th August saw Pete’s Hobby Railway take delivery of its first bogie vehicle — an open goods wagon which last saw service many years ago on the Innisfail Tramway in North Queensland. It is one of approximately 110 built between 1900 and 1953. Known as H-type open goods wagons because of their similarity to the H-type open goods wagons of the Queensland Railways 3’6” (1067mm) gauge system, the first eleven initially saw service with the Geraldton Shire Council back in 1900.
In the years following the take-over of Council’s 2-ft gauge line in July 1914, eventually forming QR’s Innisfail Tramway, the numbers gradually increased, including by a couple of conversions, until the nominal figure of 110 was reached in 1953.
The wagons formed a fleet used to convey bagged sugar from the surrounding Mills to Mourilyan Harbour for shipping. In 1960, the sides were removed to allow the fitting of single bulk sugar containers. However in 1997, rail haulage to the Harbour ceased, resulting in the wagons falling into dis-use.
The wagons have a length over body of 20-ft (6.1m), a width of 5-ft 9-inches (1.75m), a tare weight of 4-tons (4.08 tonnes) and a gross weight of 12-tons (12.25 tonnes).
PHR’s vehicle carries no identification, so it is not possible to determine its road number on the Innisfail Tramway. One assumes that it is one of the later variety built between 1916 and 1953, as it is fitted with bogies bearing QGR stamped axle lubrication plates. The vehicle was fitted with a hand-brake, operating from one side only.
Locomotives and rolling stock built for the Geraldton Shire Council (and later for the Innisfail Tramway) have a coupling height higher than the normal canefields location below the buffing plate.
PHR’s wagon is one of a number purchased by Australian Train and Railway Services (“Mario”) from a private owner who had one time had ideas for a passenger tourist railway, but never got off the ground. At least two others have been acquired by another fledgling group setting up in the western part of the Blue Mountains, while Mario himself hopes to build his own line on private property near Capertee.
Because of the height of the coupler, the vehicle can only be moved using the Ruston diesel. Interestingly, PHR’s Fowler locomotive “Perth” has provision for this higher coupling as well as its normal canefields height coupler – even though vehicles with this higher coupler never operated on 2-ft gauge at CSR’s Victoria Sugar Mill where “Perth” operated for the whole of its working life. This, together with builder’s number stamped on the main frame above the axle journals, strongly suggests that the frame currently under “Perth” originated from an identical Fowler locomotive previously used by Geraldton Shire Council.
What is the future of PHR’s latest addition?
That is a little uncertain, as it was obtained while it was still available. Perhaps it could be rebuilt back to the original design as an open goods wagon, may-be as a flat wagon for general per-way use, or even as the basis for a completely new (luxurious!) passenger carriage sitting on a steel underframe! Time will tell. In the short-term, it does really need some tender-loving care, particularly to the sprung couplers.
[General information on the H-wagons came from the John Armstrong and G H Verhoeven book, “The Innisfail Tramway”, revised edition published in 2000 by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia. The diagrams of both versions of the H-wagons were drawn by John Armstrong and appear in the Book.]
Thanks to Josh Burke for the drone footage of the Goods Wagon been hauled by the Ruston.