Progress Report No. 22 – Cosmetic Restoration of a Vintage Fowler

When heavy (30mm) overnight rain on 29-30th December (2016) prevented track construction works proceeding on Pete’s Hobby Railway, Mario’s mobile crane was used for lighter lifting work – allowing the cosmetic restoration to be undertaken of my long-time partially-dismantled Fowler 0-6-0 tank locomotive, No. 8766 of 1900. It would be opportune to place on record a brief history of the locomotive, as I know it.

A brief history

The locomotive had been constructed to the order of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. and saw service at the Company’s various sugar mills in Queensland, before ending its days at the Victoria Mill at Ingham where it worked under the name of “Perth”. Originally built as a tank locomotive, the Company later modified the engine to run with a bogie tender to carry additional coal and water (while still retaining its side-tanks), thus considerably extending its operational domain. Despite its size, the only braking was by the use of a hand brake on four of the locomotive wheels. A new boiler, made in 1932, was fitted in 1939. The locomotive was fully overhauled in 1965 as a standby to the Company’s reducing fleet of Hudswell Clark 0-6-0 tender locos, but saw little service. Subsequent years saw the loco and tender placed on display in the yard of a local kindergarten, but its condition gradually deteriorated until it had to be removed in 1979.

In November 1982, the locomotive was advertised nation-wide in The Australian newspaper. Unexpectedly, I was the successful tenderer, with the result that the engine and tender arrived by road to my Loftus home in the following February.

1983.12.04: The Fowler arrives by road to Loftus and the Weavering Light Railway – February 1983.

1983.12.04: The Fowler arrives by road to Loftus and the Weavering Light Railway – February 1983.

Mechanically and boiler-wise, the locomotive was in excellent condition, although various parts had been removed by the Mill to keep other locomotives in service. The motion in particular was “tight”, evidencing little service since its last overhaul. The side-tanks and the bodywork of the tender were rusted through, hence its removal from the kindergarten.

I accepted an offer of the construction of replacement side-tanks at cost (excluding labour), which required partial dismantling – cab and the old side tanks, the latter being taken away in November 1990 for use as patterns for the new tanks. In due course, these new side tanks were received at Loftus, but were never fitted to the locomotive, which remained in its dismantled state.

1983.12.18: A quick coat of paint does wonders to the appearance. However, it is easy to see that some rough patching as previously been done to the side tank.

1983.12.18: A quick coat of paint does wonders to the appearance. However, it is easy to see that some rough patching as previously been done to the side tank.

With the sale of my Loftus property in early 2015, the loco and its tender were moved to Australian Train and Railway Services (at this time they were Australian Train Movers) yard in western Sydney (along with a Perry 0-6-2T). There it stayed until I was ready for it at Junee, arriving on 8th April 2016. The Perry was relocated at the same time, both being placed on a short length of track away from the street frontage, along with its tender. The “new” side tanks and cab were placed separately to the locomotive.

2015.077A: Departure of the locomotive from Loftus, 15th January 2015. The side tanks had been removed in November 1990.

2015.077A: Departure of the locomotive from Loftus, 15th January 2015. The side tanks had been removed in November 1990.

2016.2131: Arrival of the Fowler at Junee, Friday 8th April 2016.

2016.2131: Arrival of the Fowler at Junee, Friday 8th April 2016.

Possible Restoration

While in the ATM yard, I had an inspection of the two engines undertaken by Ainsworth Engineering in order to obtain some idea of the practicality (financially and otherwise!) of one or both locomotives being overhauled and made serviceable again. In simple terms, the Perry would cost twice as much as the Fowler to restore. So far as the Fowler was concerned, my wish was to see it revert to its original condition as a tank engine – so poor was the tender body. A long-term dream for the tender chassis is to see it used as the underframe for a bogie passenger carriage. While other supporters of Pete’s Hobby Railway and myself would have preferred to see the 0-6-2T Perry locomotive restored to operational condition, finances dictate otherwise. However, the occasional Oz-Lotto tickets are purchased, just in case! I don’t need to win the multi-millions first prize, even several hundred thousand dollars would be sufficient to cover both locos plus the carriage build – I’m not greedy!!!!

While cosmetic restoration of the Perry was commenced (covered in other Progress Reports), the Fowler stood unloved and looking very-much the worse-for-wear, as if destined for scrap. Then, unexpectedly, the opportunity for a quick cosmetic reconstruction became available.

2016.2162: The Fowler’s tender, placed next to the Perry. Very evident is the rusting of the body. Monday, 11th April 2016.

2016.2162: The Fowler’s tender, placed next to the Perry. Very evident is the rusting of the body. Monday, 11th April 2016.

What has been done

  • Dome reinstated to rightful place on top of boiler.
  • Side-tanks reattached (but not permanently) on to frame.
  • Cab reinstated. Rear supports bolted to back of frame, with front supports resting on top of side-tanks.

At this stage, the locomotive has not been repainted. Plumbing (such as gauge glasses, throttle stuffing box (missing), hand brake, reversing lever and ancillary piping have not been installed and/or connected up. Replica builder’s plates to be attached.

However, the locomotive looks a lot better than it used to!

Enjoy!
 

2016.5227: Looking again like a complete locomotive, the “new” side tanks and cab have been refitted. The “new” side tanks would actually be the best part of twenty years old! The small side-tip skip behind the locomotive had its origins (so I understand) as the ash removal skip at Cullen Bullen where there was a short length of 600mm track. Please excuse the crane jib getting in the photo! Friday, 30th December 2016.

2016.5227: Looking again like a complete locomotive, the “new” side tanks and cab have been refitted. The “new” side tanks would actually be the best part of twenty years old! The small side-tip skip behind the locomotive had its origins (so I understand) as the ash removal skip at Cullen Bullen where there was a short length of 600mm track. Please excuse the crane jib getting in the photo! Friday, 30th December 2016.

Other Locomotives & Rolling Stock

Pete’s Hobby Railway has a number of different Locomotives, along with various other Rolling Stock on site. For a brief overview of these, please click on the previous links.

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