This report covers a couple of assorted updates and happenings at Pete’s Hobby Railway.
Our next next project is to prepare the Hunslet steam locomotive for a belated boiler inspection! This almost took place on the days commencing Monday 8th March, 2021 when Matt arrived down from Bathurst, intending to stay with his father Bill for a few days. The plan had been to prepare the Hunslet for a biennial boiler inspection and, if there was time left, to undertake further preliminary works on the Fowler restoration project. As it happened, crew shortages on the “big” railway meant that he was only able to spend less than a day with PHR before he was recalled urgently for “real” work.
Before Matt received his “call-up notice”, the opportunity had been taken to drag the Hunslet steam locomotive out of 2 Road and push/pull it in both directions through the 18m radius curve on the newly laid access track to 1 Road. Bill dropped over for an hour or so and was well-satisfied with the ease the Hunslet traversed the curve which had been laid 10mm over-gauge to compensate for its sharpness. Everything went well, so time was taken for a photos with locos on both tracks. Of course, it would have been nice to have had the completed Fowler next to the Hunslet … however that will be some time into the future!
Views of the Pete’s Hobby Railway website passed the 47,500 number on 18/3/2021, having commenced in June 2015 (as far as I can determine!). Thank you to the interested (and loyal?) followers of Pete’s Hobby Railway. The Page had been commenced by a couple of the volunteers and I should thank Nicholas Pyers for continuing to look after this publicity aspect. I wonder how long it will take to reach 50,000?! A little less time if you can encourage your mates to have a gander on a regular (or even irregular) basis.
As loyal followers of this Page are well aware, Pete’s Hobby Railway is located at Junee in the Riverina (or southern) part of New South Wales, Australia, 485 or so rail kilometres from Sydney on the interstate route to Melbourne. As I wrote these notes in late March, Sydney and the northern part of the State had been experiencing torrential rains and floods, closing the main North Coast Railway linking Sydney with Brisbane. Junee is not immune from rain, although we have just emerged from drought conditions. Prior to the construction of PHR’s large Storage Shed which incorporates an under-cover lengthy inspection pit, all servicing and maintenance works had been carried out in the open (including the Fowler restoration project) … and unfortunately, the Hunslet steam locomotive has several oiling points within the frame on the internal valve gear, not easily externally accessible.
Our first “pit” (in the very broadest sense) was excavated in March 2018 and could only be accessed by those as skinny as a rake, such as Rhys and Josh – both of whom as Trainee Enginemen had to be guided as to where the lubricating oil was supposed to go – on the locomotive, that is! Clearly unsuitable, a much deeper pit was constructed, providing for stand-up room under the loco – a necessity for our last boiler inspection. Located down near our Griffiths Bros Teas heritage sign, the pit is very much in the open to all weather conditions. When it does rain in Junee, and despite all diversion efforts put in place by Phil and Josh, it can fill with rain water. Because of its location, we either have to pump the water out or let it dry naturally. Luckily, our third inspection pit, inside the new Storage Shed and thus under cover, is now available. However, there is still a water problem as it leaks! With heavy rain, the ground outside the shed becomes rather soaked by the run-off from the shed wall and after a while, leaks into the pit. This had been foreseen, with a sump constructed at one end, into which a submersible pump is dropped and the water piped to outside the shed.
As constructed, the Storage Shed only had a temporary means of disposing of any rain water. This has now been superseded with the installation of a 5,000 litre cylindrical ground level water tank, which now filled, overflows into new drainage pipes which lead to an old homestead well at the front of my 1980s house, dating back to the previous dwelling on the property. All downpipes from the eastern half of my house (4 in all) have also been drained into the old well.
A concrete path has been laid from the back veranda of the house beside the Shed to near the de-ashing facility, with a connecting path across 2 and later 1 Roads immediately in front of the eastern end of the Shed. This will be greatly appreciated in adverse weather conditions when the Junee “concrete” dust turns into Junee “mud”! The concrete path is to be extended to the perimeter of the turntable, around which is to be constructed a level walking path which will be of assistance for those making use of the facility.
As I prepare these notes, 3 & 4 radial turntable tracks have just been completed (26/3), to be followed by the above-mentioned concreting. 5 Road will not be laid in at the present time. The bogie wagon was removed from the main line storage location on 26/3 and placed on 4 Road, while the remaining three 4-wheel passenger carriages have been placed on 3 Road. This frees up the eastern main line to be reconstructed, mostly on the old formation but with differing height levels so as to ease the gradient, parallel to the rear boundary fence. The plans attached to the previous Progress Report #65 may make this a little simpler to understand! Hopefully, it will not be too many months before we can again run trains over this section of track again!
The next Progress Report, could be titled – “Is the impossible, impossible? How did PHR turn a 5.5m. wheelbase bogie goods wagon on its 5m radius turntable?” All will be revealed in the next Progress Report.
Meanwhile, back to looking at preparing the Hunslet for a boiler inspection!