Progress Report 64: Pete’s Hobby Railway from the Air

Something a little different for this Report! PHR is fortunate to have among is volunteers, one who owns a drone. Very occasionally he has the time to take to the air with his mobile phone attached to the drone, resulting in some interesting and unusual aerial images of Pete’s Hobby Railway. Thank you, Josh, for making your collection of drone photos available for PHR to utilise.

Image 1. (DJI.0292): A general view of PHR as it appeared on Tuesday 24/11/2020.

From this image, one can appreciate just how much of a 2-ft gauge railway can be squeezed into a 1.1ha block of land (100m street frontage, by 110m in depth). On the top is Wardle Street which runs approximately east to west. Loftus station is located only metres from my front fence, very visible to passers-by. The original proposal was for a simple track around the boundary perimeters, hence the sweeping curves on either side of the station (approximately 25 metres radius).

These plans changed when it was realised that so much more running could be accomplished within the block, while still providing access to a storage and maintenance shed. The intended branch to service the Shed has now become part of the extended main line, however in the interim has necessitated some rather sharp curves of about 18 metres radius. (There are distant plans for these curves to be eased, but when???!)

The line as it currently exists (in February 2021) can be followed as it curves in an “S” formation to the rear of my house and temporarily leads straight on to the recently completed turntable, with its (so far) one road access into the storage shed. Three carriages and flat wagon stand on the main line a little short of the turntable.

Future planning is for a right-hand point to be laid in here, to provide entry from the continuing inner main line to the turntable and storage shed. A standard gauge point, in a dismantled state, is currently on site and obviously requires modification of its intended narrow gauge use. Not impossible, and has been done elsewhere.

Meanwhile, above the carriages can be seen to current terminus of the other or outer end of the main line. It used to extend (and will hopefully during the current year, be relaid) to the rear of the smaller of the two sheds, running under the trees about five metres or so in from the southern boundary. Towards the bottom of the image, the track will swing around in a 20m radius loop to pass between the two sheds and finally link up with the point where the carriages are standing. (See CAD plan of proposal with this report.)

Image 2 (DJI.0070): Loftus station from above the street frontage boundary, with the Ruston diesel standing at the platform. Saturday 22/08/2020.

Image 3 (DJI.0232): Loftus station, including the developmental stages of the beautification works. Tuesday 10/11/2020.

Image 4 (DJI.0095): Pre-turntable meant open-air storage of locomotives and rolling stock. Friday 28/08/2020.

Until railed access over the turntable into under-cover storage within the new Shed was available, all locomotives and rolling stock had to be stowed in the open. In this scene, the Hunslet steam locomotive rests in the front lawn area while T-Line’s newly acquired crane carries a length of heavy point crossing (too heavy for use as part of a PHR point), with Mario and Phil hanging on to same so as to prevent swinging. Ben follows at the rear.

Image 5 (DJI.0146): (Then) Future track access to the turntable and Storage Shed enhancements are marked out.

Taken on Thursday 3/9/2020, a white line marks the future temporary connection of the inner main line route on to the turntable. The railed access from the turntable as 2 Road had already been laid into the Storage Shed at the time this aerial was taken. On the other side of the level crossing to the steam locomotive, the white rooves of the passenger carriages are seen, partially hidden under three branches. On an isolated section of track stands the Perry locomotives and ex-Fowler tender, while adjacent and laying on its side is the Fowler boiler.

Image 6 (DJI.0307): The Perry and the ex-Fowler tender await collection by their new owner, Timbertown at Wauchope, NSW. Friday, 22/01/2021.

Immediately to the left of the tender are two replacement side tanks constructed many years ago for the Fowler, while on the other side, laying on its side, is the boiler removed from the Fowler locomotive. The standard gauge sleepers adjacent to the Perry’s cab are intended to be used to construct/install a right hand point on the inner main line to provide permanent access to the turntable and storage shed, while the straight will allow extension of the inner main line around the back of the storage shed to the western side of my block and the construction of a large loop to connect with the extension of the eastern part of the main line. The plan is for the Fowler boiler to be placed on the former Innisfail Tramway bogie flat wagon, thus providing a moveable storage facility. On completion of the laying of the access track to connect with 1 Road within the Storage Shed, it is likely that a change to the storage arrangements within the Shed will take place so as to simplify diesel operations by the stabling of the Ruston on 1 Road.

Image 7 (DJI.0218): Planning for the external enhancements to the Storage Shed. Tuesday, 10/11/2020.

The white lining shows future concrete footpaths leading from the back veranda of my house to service the eastern end of the storage shed and ash-pit. The drone pilot can be observed at the bottom turntable. The hatched area shows the future cab-floor level coal stage, while just in front of same is the already constructed de-ashing pit. A small sump takes water run-off by a pipe to a second sump pit located in the turntable pit, then then by a long pipe to the front of the property where the run-off can be discharged. On the left side, between the house and the shed and marked with a “+” is the future location of a water storage tanks to take the roof run-off from the two buildings. An underground pipe will take the tank overflow, together with other drainage inlets from the eastern side of the house, to a large (currently disused) well located in the front yard. The top of the well is partially visible in image DJI.0095, partially hidden by the rear of the crane.

Image 8 (DJI.0240): Railed access to the turntable and into 2 Road of the Storage Shed has been completed.

In this image taken on Tuesday, 10th November last, the inner main line was been slewed to connect with the turntable, with the approach track having been defoliated of a high growth of weeds etc… A head-shunt has been constructed off the turntable, opposite 2 Road. The three remaining passenger carriages and the flat wagon can be discerned at the top of the photo. Not completely obvious are piles of dirt excavated from the turntable and ash-pit areas – currently located between the inner and outer portions of the main line opposite the two piles of track panels. This dirt will be used to form low embankment earthworks for when the curvature of the inner main line is eased to a 20m radius, while at the same time allowing for the future installation of points between the two tracks.

Image 9 (DJI.0247): View from eastern boundary revealing how the Storage Shed is “hidden” behind the main house. Additional tracks are to be laid off the turntable. Tuesday, 10/11/2020.

Image 10 (DJI.0264): The first of two aerial views Inside the Shed, with the pit lights turned off. Tuesday, 24/11/2020.

In the foreground, on 1 Road is the frame of the Fowler locomotive, with the six driving wheels in front. Behind is our man-powered (“person-powered”?!) fettler’s trike. Obviously, on the accessible 2 Road are the Hunslet steam locomotive and my 48hp Ruston diesel.

Image 11 (DJI.0266): An opposing view inside the Shed. Tuesday, 24/11/2020. Notice the marked walkways, also removable safety fencing around the pit.

A future rearrangement will see the trike relocated, allowing the Fowler frame to be moved to the western end of 1 Road. The flat wagon with the Fowler boiler would be moved on to 2 Road, off the pit and adjacent to the Fowler frame. As 2 Road extends beyond the western extremity of the Storage Shed, the wagon could be moved partially outside if desired to facilitate retubing works under suitable weather conditions. The Hunslet would be placed at the eastern end of the pit, while the remaining space on 1 Road would be taken up with the Ruston and the combined passenger/guard’s carriage. As 1 Road over the turntable leads directly to the Departure Road and the Main Line, this would facilitate simple operations on PHR with minimal staffing.

Image 12 (CAD.2): In the future… Dreams/planning!

After the installation of a roof-drainage water tank and associated over-flow piping, along with the completion of laying of the additional tracks off the turntable, attention will turn to the construction of the final section of main line which will eventually join the inner and outer tracks. This may have to be done in several stages, dependent on how the “experts” can reduce the length of the former standard gauge right hand point as part of its conversion to a 2-ft point.
Initially, the outer main line will be extended (relaid) on a slightly wider curve so as to ease a “kink” where it previously passed the end of my Archives Shed, then parallel to the southern fence alignment for about 60 metres or so, before swing on three-quarters of a large circle (20m radius) to come back on itself between the Storage and Archives Shed to a location adjacent to the turntable where there would be a temporary stub-terminus.

At the present time, the area in the south-western part of my block is being used for the storage of pre-laid track panels. The attached CAD plan, previously prepared by Josh and included in a past Progress Report, will provide a general idea of what is proposed. As this CAD was prepared prior to the turntable track arrangements being modified, I have included a second drawing, showing the trackage as now proposed. Of the various tracks shown, only the Arrival/Departure Track, 2 Road leading into the Storage Shed, 4 Road and 6 Road (shunting neck for 2 Road movements on to or off the turntable), have been laid and are operational. This CAD has also appeared in a previous Progress Report.

Image 13 (CAD.1): Turntable track arrangements.

If (and it is a very big “if”!) the truncated former standard gauge point can be fitted to connect with the existing inner main line (currently providing the direct access on to the turntable), this would allow the inner and outer main lines to be joined as one, with the right hand point providing access to the Storage Shed. However, this would still be temporary, as future plans are for a cross-over between the inner and outer tracks a little distance beyond the depot point which would almost double the non-stop run of a train over the main line. This would require a deviation of the inner main line from near the top level crossing just outside my car port, to ease the radius of the track to 20 metres. Thus the existing access would be truncated to a location close to the northern side of the turntable tracks 3, 4 and 5.

With the insertion of the right hand point, a stub terminal would be constructed off the base of the point so that departures and arrivals at the Storage Shed would be the long way around, via the outer main line! Confused? So am I! Accordingly, I will leave it there… Just study Josh’s earlier CAD plans reproduced above.

Until the next Progress Report…


SM Loftus.

[Editor’s Note: Peter wrote, and supplied this article to me over a month ago… and despite a few subtle, and not-so-subtle, hints from Peter, I just have not had the time to page set and publish it… my apologies to Peter and all our keen followers… there are two more Progress Reports with me and they should be page set in the next few days and scheduled to be published over the next week or so, so stay tuned… and again my apologies for the delays. Nick]

2 thoughts on “Progress Report 64: Pete’s Hobby Railway from the Air

  1. Absolutely flabergasted by the progress Peter and guys. Boy it has come on since I was privileged to have had my last visit. Great drone pics too. Great stuff guys, Hope we catch up soon. Leon

  2. Thank you, Leon. To me, all seems to progress too slowly. However, escalating costs, not assisted by my inability to physically undertake much myself, will slow future progress … especially on the Fowler restoration project.

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