Progress Report No. 26 LOFTUS platform – construction proceeds

Progress Reports 18 and 20 have covered the preliminaries behind the construction of LOFTUS platform to service Pete’s Hobby Railway. The latter Report covers the building works undertaken during November last, to the stage where the platform wall had been built. This Report carries on with the construction, along with a glimpse at future plans for the platform. It also demonstrates and places on record the construction skills of 26-years-old Josh Burke, an extremely versatile self-employed handyman with a multitude of skills, assisted in no little way by his interest in railways. Pete’s Hobby Railway is very lucky to have attracted him as a volunteer. Unless otherwise indicated, all digital images in this Report were taken by myself.

Image 2016.4976: Having completed the erection of the timber platform facing, Mario with his tip-truck dumps back-filling obtained from the cutting at the rear of the property (see Progress Report No. 23). The timbers used were weathered treated pine (garden) sleepers, 1.8m in length by 75mm depth and 200mm height, dropped into H-bar metal supports concreted into the ground. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016).

Image 2016.4976: Having completed the erection of the timber platform facing, Mario with his tip-truck dumps back-filling obtained from the cutting at the rear of the property (see Progress Report No. 23). The timbers used were weathered treated pine (garden) sleepers, 1.8m in length by 75mm depth and 200mm height, dropped into H-bar metal supports concreted into the ground. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016).

Image 2016.4967: Prior to back-filling, an agricultural drainage pipe had been laid for the full length of the platform and covered with blue metal ballast. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4967: Prior to back-filling, an agricultural drainage pipe had been laid for the full length of the platform and covered with blue metal ballast. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4968: The treated pine sleepers were cut to size and mounted to cover the H-bar metal uprights. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4968: The treat pine sleepers were cut to size and mounted to cover the H-bar metal uprights. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4969: Josh shows how the sloping ends to the platform are secured with metal uprights. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4969: Josh shows how the sloping ends to the platform are secured with metal uprights. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4996: There are interested volunteer spectators as Dave Hedlund’s hired-in bobcat spreads and levels the platform surface. A bobcat makes life so much easier – what would take a week or more of manual labour can be completed in less than an hour! Later, the job would be completed by compacting the surface with Mario’s road-roller. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.4996: There are interested volunteer spectators as Dave Hedlund’s hired-in bobcat spreads and levels the platform surface. A bobcat makes life so much easier – what would take a week or more of manual labour can be completed in less than an hour! Later, the job would be completed by compacting the surface with Mario’s road-roller. (Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.5009: Although by no means completed, we were anxious to try out the new platform. I was first to board, followed by Nick, Mario and Lenny, while Ben hangs out of the Ruston, about to depart with the “first” train. (Still Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.5009: Although by no means completed, we were anxious to try out the new platform. I was first to board, followed by Nick, Mario and Lenny, while Ben hangs out of the Ruston, about to depart with the “first” train. (Photo by Rhys Harrison – still Tuesday, 29th November 2016)

Image 2016.5054: The treated pine sleepers were certainly versatile! Here, Josh uses them for the platform edging. (Monday, 5th December 2016)

Image 2016.5054: The treated pine sleepers were certainly versatile! Here, Josh uses them for the platform edging. (Monday, 5th December 2016)

Image 2016.5058: A view of the platform from an approaching train. (Monday, 5th December 2016)

Image 2016.5058: A view of the platform from an approaching train. (Monday, 5th December 2016)

Image 2016.5060: The completed facing of the platform, prior to painting and weathering. The white pipe takes any drainage water from the rear of the platform facing under the rail track for dispersal. (Monday, 5th December 2016)

Image 2016.5060: The completed facing of the platform, prior to painting and weathering. The white pipe takes any drainage water from the rear of the platform facing under the rail track for dispersal.
(Monday, 5th December 2016)

Image 2016.5103: The platform coping has been completed, along with the sloping ends and now Josh ages the timberwork. (Thursday 8/12/2016)

Image 2016.5103: The platform coping has been completed, along with the sloping ends and now Josh ages the timberwork. (Thursday 8/12/2016)

Image 2017.1247: After the break over the Christmas / New Year period, work resumed on the platform on Monday 30th January with the delivery of the decomposed granite for the platform surface.

Image 2017.1247: After the break over the Christmas / New Year period, work resumed on the platform on Monday 30th January with the delivery of the decomposed granite for the platform surface.

Image 2017.1258: With the date for the Grand Opening of Pete’s Hobby Railway rapidly approaching, there was much still to be done for the completion of Stage 1 of Loftus platform. Dave Hedlund’s bobcat was again hired in to clear the rear of the platform and form a sloping backdrop. The first upright, comprising a length of rail, for the station nameboard has just been concreted into place. (Thursday, 2nd February)

Image 2017.1258: With the date for the Grand Opening of Pete’s Hobby Railway rapidly approaching, there was much still to be done for the completion of Stage 1 of Loftus platform. Dave Hedlund’s bobcat was again hired in to clear the rear of the platform and form a sloping backdrop. The first upright, comprising a length of rail, for the station nameboard has just been concreted into place. (Thursday, 2nd February)

Image 2017.1283: The newly arrived Sheffield hand-pump trike TORPEDO 2 powers through the platform. That  Lenny and Nick on the front, while I am hidden behind, pushing downwards. Although only a couple of days until the Grand Opening, the decomposed granite has yet to be spread and compressed. The second upright steel rail has also to be sunken into a concrete base and the station nameboard erected. Really cutting things fine!!! (Photo by Rhys Harrison, on Thursday, 2nd February)

Image 2017.1283: The newly arrived Sheffield hand-pump trike TORPEDO 2 powers through the platform. That’s Lenny and Nick on the front, while I am hidden behind, pushing downwards. Although only a couple of days until the Grand Opening, the decomposed granite has yet to be spread and compressed. The second upright steel rail has also to be sunken into a concrete base and the station nameboard erected. Really cutting things fine!!! (Photo by Rhys Harrison, on Thursday, 2nd February)

Image 2017.1388: Only one day to go! The decomposed granite has been spread and rolled flat, while both uprights for the station nameboard are in place and have received their first coat of white paint. Meanwhile, this was the second day of leading my guests on a tour of the railway interest around the area. (Sunday, 5th February)

Image 2017.1388: Only one day to go! The decomposed granite has been spread and rolled flat, while both uprights for the station nameboard are in place and have received their first coat of white paint. Meanwhile, this was the second day of leading my guests on a tour of the railway interest around the area.
(Sunday, 5th February)

Image 2017.1452: It is Grand Opening Day and (thankfully!) all is ready. With some 60 guests ready (out of sight on the left) for the opening ceremony and the Official Train waiting to enter the platform, Josh and myself wait patiently on the platform while Nick sets up the public address system. Claude stands ready in the background in his Station Master’s uniform, ready to assume control of the platform once it is officially opened. (Photo by Rhys Harrison, Monday, 6th February)

Image 2017.1452: It is Grand Opening Day and (thankfully!) all is ready. With some 60 guests ready (out of sight on the left) for the opening ceremony and the Official Train waiting to enter the platform, Josh and myself wait patiently on the platform while Nick sets up the public address system. Claude stands ready in the background in his Station Master’s uniform, ready to assume control of the platform once it is officially opened. (Photo by Rhys Harrison, Monday, 6th February)

Image 2017.1481: Josh already has his side of the sheet covering the station nameboard unravelled, however, I’m having a little difficulty. The letters were laser-cut from the original NSWGR design. The nameboard itself was also constructed according to NSWGR design, even down to its support brackets welded to the steel rail uprights. (Photo by Rhys Harrison, Monday, 6th February)

Image 2017.1481: Josh already has his side of the sheet covering the station nameboard unravelled, however, I’m having a little difficulty. The letters were laser-cut from the original NSWGR design. The nameboard itself was also constructed according to NSWGR design, even down to its support brackets welded to the steel rail uprights. (Photo by Rhys Harrison, Monday, 6th February)

What Next?

At its monthly meeting held on Tuesday 21st February, Junee Shire Council approved of my Development Application to construct a Waiting Shed on Loftus platform. The structure will be based on the NSWGR’s standard design for an unattended platform waiting shed, as shown in this 1914 General Arrangement plan. The only difference will be the provision of a hard base concrete floor, rather than the supports at the rear of the platform as shown on the diagram. The waiting room itself will be 15-ft (4.57m) wide by 10-ft (3,05m) in depth, with bench seating attached to the interior walls. The simple skillion roof will have an 8-ft (2.4m) overhang to the platform with a 4-ft (1.2m) setback from the platform edge. Rain water run-off will be collected in a small water tank on the right hand side.
Apart from the water tank, the structure is the same as used to be located on the down platform at Loftus station in Sydney around the 1960s. The building will be painted in appropriate heritage colours.

The original NSWGR General Arrangement diagram of the 1914 era unattended platform waiting shed.

The original NSWGR General Arrangement diagram of the 1914 era unattended platform waiting shed.

Once the waiting shed is completed, final beautification of the station platform will be undertaken. This will involve the erection of a white timber picket fence along the rear of the platform (behind the station nameboard) and at each end – allowing sufficient space for engine crew to gain access to the track. Appropriate “NO WAY” signs will be provided on these end-fences. Already, a pathway has been provided from my driveway to the eastern end of the platform.

Future plans provide for the erection of a lower quadrant starting signal at the western end of the platform – controlling the departure of trains once the circular track is completed … at which time trains will normally operate in an anti-clockwise direction. A suitable signal arm is already held, while I have been offered a mast to go with it. This leaves rodding and a lever with which to operate it, to be sourced. An even further future dream would be for an elevated water tank, but nothing ideally comes to mind at the present time. In the interim, a garden hose from a nearby tap is used to replenish the Hunslet’s side tanks.

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