Well steam season has come and almost gone and I have not managed to get in a even a little bit of news so here it is now.
In June 2003 a request was made of the Pemberton Tramway Company and Hotham Valley Railway from Works Infrastructure (E.D.I) for use of equipment to assist in the construction of the new Urban Rail Car Depot at Nowergup on the new extension of the Northern Suburbs Railway
In Late August HVTR's ex WAGR "Z" class diesel shunter Z1152 was transferred to Nowergup by road (Nowergup was not connected by rail at time of movement). The Pemberton Tramway Company dispatched 2 Trucks from Pemberton with 3 of our LA Ballast Hoppers - LA's 23725, 23752 & 23852 and 1 Shunters Float - NS 4524, to Nowergup.
Tram services have continued as per normal with very little to report really. Passenger numbers have remained reasonably consistent throughout the period. The trams themselves have seen rotational use, with mixed combinations changing from week to week when small issues have developed requiring the leading tram to be shifted to the workshop for whatever maintenance is required. Tram 4 eventually decided enough was enough in late September and started to perform very poorly and was relegated to the last choice of use. 0-4-0 Plymouth diesel shunter "Rusty" was seen to make a short run to the Cascades and back on a lunchtime special in September to assist #2 & #3 when #4 was required to make up a 3 car set due to #1 being further south on a trip to Northcliffe. Currently #4 has had its old engine removed and is awaiting a replacement engine which should see #4 return to service in early November.
V1213 has been operating well during the 2003 steam season with many participants taking advantage of our steam driving courses during the July to October period. The crews were getting to the stage where they were wondering, when they would get a chance to have a drive as often there were courses booked every weekend.
The commencement of a brilliant Wildflower season on the northern section of the line has made it rather difficult for some driving course participants to concentrate, as the view from the train has been quite spectacular.
In mid September V1213 had some firebox issues develop which caused the end of the season to look a bit doubtful, however suitable repairs were carried out enabling a return to service in time for the visiting "Australian Railway Exploration Association" from the Eastern States to experience the mighty power of the "V" on our steeply graded & sharply curved line north from Pemberton to Lyall and return. This visit also enabled Y1115 to get a stretch of her legs with a special service for the AREA group to Eastbrook and return with the passenger cars late on the Saturday afternoon after they had returned from their journey to Northcliffe by Tram. A couple of photo stops were made on these journeys and hopefully somebody from the tour may send a couple of photos for display here.
This years volunteer get together was a bit quieter than in previous years with only a little bit of sleeper insertion occurring at the long term "turntable sidings" project. Some more pressing maintenance jobs had loomed prior to the weekend and so these tasks were completed first leaving little time to spend at the Turntable area. The Saturday was spent carrying out some general maintenance and remedial work at the Brockman St level crossing lights which had developed a electrical fault a few weeks earlier and were only working in a basic mode. The lights had been powered by mains power since the start of the Tramway in 1987 and due to a failure in the newer "whiz box" built at the time to operate the lights, the operating system was converted back to the older conventional style WAGR pickle jar of relays etc with a transformer and batteries for when there is a power failure. Previous to this if there was a power failure in town, a flagman was required to enable trams to safely use the crossing. Repairs of a broken rail situated in the middle of the Northern end of town Vasse Hwy Crossing was then undertaken on the Sunday. Along with operation of the steam train services, other little jobs were also carried out but are not major enough to mention.
Steam Season is here again. The final pieces of the V1213 puzzle have once again come together to enable steam train services on PTCo to recommence during the Easter Period.
With the school holiday and Anzac day period also occurring in the same week, many city people took advantage of the period to take a week off work.
Full loadings were experienced during this very busy time with many intending steam train passengers having to be turned away on the Saturday morning to travel in the afternoon instead.
Tram services were also patronised well with 3 car sets operating
Another month has gone by and the PTCo is now preparing for the upcoming commencement of Steam Season which will begin on Easter Saturday 19th April.
Works are progressing on V1213 with the jobs needing to be carried out, steadily getting finished off.
All internal surfaces of the tender water space have been cleaned and rust proofed and then painted with an aluminum based paint (this is a job we carry out to assist with slowing of corrosion of parts) as have the coal space areas. Most washout plugs have been replaced along with the tender inspection panels. All firebox cladding which gets removed for inspection of weeping stays have been refitted after repainting of the firebox surfaces. The fire hole door has also been refitted after inspection of the internal firebox. The right hand side or drivers side has had new rings fitted to both the Piston and the valve as they had been found to be a little worn and some of the piston rings had cracked. The locomotive front has again been lifted and some adjustments made to the side control on the front pony truck. This has enabled the cowcatcher and associated cylinder drain pipe work to be refitted. In the smoke box the main steam pipes have been refitted after having some minor repairs made and all surface areas painted with aluminum based paint.
With 3 weeks to go we have only to refit new cylinder covers, big end bearings, main rods and spark arrestor equipment.
Works have also commenced on reopening the line through to Lyall with the ballast regulator being worked both ploughing and brooming the length of the line over a few days. Some foliage removal is still to be carried out.
Works have also been started by Forest Products Commission and CALM on clearing of some of the private logging road crossings along the Pemberton Northcliffe section for road user sighting purposes.
February has been a quiet month as is usual although with reasonably consistent passenger numbers each day. Tram # 4 has been the main service tram during this period and has been performing well. #1 has been the second tram when doubles have been required and works well in conjunction with #4
V1213's maintenance is continuing. After a 2nd good washout, V1213's boiler has been inspected and has been given a green light for the next steam season period. Connecting rods were dropped to enable inspection of big ends and of Piston rings. Welding required on leaking Stays has been carried out enabling firebox cladding replacement to be commenced . New cylinder covers are currently being made at Willis Engineering and will return when available along with some new spark arrestor shelving needed.
Boxing up of the boiler will also commence soon.
Before we know it Steam season will be here again.
Christmas has come and gone with reasonable numbers of holiday makers in the Pemberton area making use of the Warren River Tram services during the New Year and school holiday period.
Tram #3 was returned to service on 28/12/02 and has seen service on and off throughout the January period. Due to new engine and overhauled drive pumps #3 seems to be incompatible with the other trams as they are "worn in" and so #3 has been only used when the other trams have been in for maintenance.
The Australia Day long weekend (25 - 27/01/03) saw a get together of staff and volunteers for the annual BBQ which had been put off from before, to after Xmas to make attendance easier. This saw a BBQ on the Platform and then a short tram journey to the Cascades and return to keep the kids happy.
General Manager Ian Willis was also in town for the weekend, and with attendance of local volunteers Rick and Rudi and our City volunteers - Simon, Garry, Bob, David, Scotty and Trevor, for the weekend, a few projects were continued from previous get togethers.
Y class 1114 diesel electric loco was refitted with the Auxiliary Generator from Y1107 (which had been removed in September).
All that remains to be done is the wiring of the generator and hopefully Y1114 will be able to run again. Due to the cessation of log hauling in January 2002 there has not been a need to have Y1114 running and so it has been one of those backburner type jobs
Continuation of what has been described by some, as the "longest track laying session in history" was also undertaken with some good progress being made.
Previous efforts had seen planning and marking out with pegs for where the track was to be laid (see News 2001 & 2002) and then some of the required components were retrieved from the stock pile to enable placement of track sections to start. Once the point work was in place it would be just a case of a laying out panels of track (if only it was as easy as that) to make up the siding length.
During the long weekend all available (in Pemberton yard area) suitable track panels were put in place. This meant a little shunting of 2 QBE wagons from the other end of the yard to the works site at the turntable or old loco depot area.
There is still a bit of work to go to finish off this yard/storage area with lots of sleepers to be inserted and some more panels of track to be brought into Pemberton from the stock pile at Diamond siding, by train of course, so that will make for another interesting get together of the Volunteers. We might get it finished one day.
Tel: +61 8 97761322