Saturday, June 23, 2012


Time for a tale of a 'class leader', of sorts... and one of my favourite 48s. Little old G-3420-16 entered service in February 1967 and was dispatched west.  It spent its formative years at Dubbo, which mean that it became a regular on the Coonamble Mail when passenger loadings warranted a locomotive hauled set.  

While it was still under warranty, 48101 was caught by the Senior Train Hunter heading north through Eumungerie.

If you want to read more about the railway life, times and history of Eumungerie, then my other blog is for you.  Reading about wheat trains? Love to, thanks!

Anyway, back to 48101.  Like all 48s, 101 got to the spiritual home of all little alcos, the South Coast line.  By the time of its third decade of existence it was trundling workers' trains throughout the Illawarra.  On a gloomy 1985 day it was to be found at North Wollongong, with an afternoon passenger services.

Unlike most 48s, 48101 managed to escape.  Two years later it was to be found in the Hunter.  On a sunnier August 1987 day it was resting at Broadmeadow, in the shadow of its more powerful cousin, 4512.

I next found the beastie at Rozelle yard, on 16 June 1993.  By this time it had received a 'red terror' repaint, though on this day it appeared that it had also been lightly dusted in icing sugar.

Eighteen months later, 48101 was discovered passing a quiet Christmas back on the coast - here it is at Port Kembla on Boxing Day 1994.

The all red livery succumbed eventually to an all blue version towards the end of that decade.  On 11 April 2001 some lovely dappled autumnal light flickered across this newish livery as it worked through Canterbury towards Enfield.

In August later that same year 101 joined 4819 on a spoil train on the Sydney underground.  A family yum cha was interrupted to dash across Belmore Park that day.

48101 has been spied many times over the past decade by this fan - Moss Vale in March 2004, the Short North in May 2007 and regularly at Clyde over the past two years.  Still, I will leave the final glimpse to the Senior Train Hunter - who found 48101 back in its childhood district on 21 October 2010 at Peak Hill loading grain with 48164 and interloper X36.

I trust you have enjoyed this review of 48101 - truly an unsung little work horse.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Junior's efforts

The Junior Train Hunter (JTH) passed a chronological land mark this week, so to commemorate this event i thought I would invite him into the Rambler blog as a guest photographer.  

He has picked most of these as being among his favourite photographs, which is evidence of his rather quirky range of interests.  So, please, sit back and enjoy 10 of his finest.

We'll start with this 2005 Australian classic.  The only thing missing is a half-stripped HQ Holden, to go with the BBQ, Hills hoist, inventive backyard fence and Tangara.

Number 2 is from Marrickville in January 2005, showing veteran Alco 4483 and even older GM27 wandering by with a trip train, both carrying virtually-new Southern Shorthaul Railroad's yellow livery.

Just down the line at Canterbury, the driver of JL404 (nee 44209) opens the throttle to give JTH's photograph that extra element.

In June 2005 the trip back to Sydney from Thirlmere behind 4201 and 4803 after a Rail Transport Museum event produced this rather ethereal scene.

Junior has always been rather lucky... and none more so than the day he wandered down to Koolewong station to have these strange Western Australian K class visitors rumble through. The camber of the rail through the curve adds to the angular look of the locos.

In Christmas week 2005 2214 stropped just under Unanderra pedestrian overbridge, whilst coupled to 2208 on and AFG grain train.

Into 2006 and the luck continues. Being in just the right place at the right time, JTH catches a quad coalie being led by 8230 crossing double ELs at a rain Canterbury. 

Back down into the Illawarra to a scene no longer available to most - the once-wide open spaces of Port Kembla Inner Harbour for quad 82s.  The blues in this photograph just scream typical South Coast weather.

 In mid-2006 the JTH made it to California. He got to Tehachapi, Vegas and Disneyland, and Cajon Pass for these two BNSF C44Ws on a container freight.

In July 2008 when he was supposedly studying for his HSC we spent a weekend at Parkes. One of the highlights was the hospitality provided by the locals, including a SCT driver who took the JTH out to 7PG1 prior to its early evening departure.

There is enough left in the bank for another couple of blogs by Junior, so if he behaves himself he will be invited back.  Will leave now with this posting of a bonus photograph... a rather inventive time lapse effort at Koolewong in 2009.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Salute to the last Nanny

I have had two very nice days so far this June long weekend in Sydney, each capped off with a jaunt from Sydney Terminal to Clyde and return, courtesy of the NSWGR's last remaining nanny, 3526.  

Like any 95 year-old it struggled a little with its footing in the rain today, needing assistance from a more junior colleague from the 36 class stables. However on both days its performed sterling service. Here's a shot from yesterday, when the weather was slightly better.

When 3526 was a much younger locomotive, it trod the rails of the north of the state.  So it was only really 1967, when it was withdrawn from service to operate on tours for the Rail Transport Museum (RTM), that 3526 came into view of the family's cameras.

Probably the earliest photograph we have of this locomotive was shortly after its allocation to the RTM, when it worked a tour to the NSW southern highlands.  Here it stands, taking a drink at Picton in 1967.

Some months later, 3526 scored a 'heritage' style livery, returning to a royal blue hue reminiscent of its 1930s Caves Express days.  It was in this livery one rainy Sunday in Wollongong.

The next time it made an appearance on the South Coast was to collect 4203 as a consort before climbing the Ilawarra escarpment on its way to Joppa Junction.

There were to be a couple of years interregnum before 3526 made it into the family slide box once more.  But this time was special, because we chased a train using a train.  Having missed out on tickets for the RTM's tour to Newcastle on 4 April 1970, the family followed the nanny to that city by regular train.  

I don't remember much about the trip to Newcastle, but we were obviously in Sydney to see the loco head north in its newer royal blue livery (with thinner lining).

And we were in Newcastle to see the nanny set off for its return trip.

While this was all very good and nice, the one thing I remember as a very impressionable 6 year old, was the very, very fast trip on the following passenger train - at least from Newcastle to Gosford.  It was hauled by a 40 class - I think 4017 from family folk lore - and it was the fastest trip I ever got on a train in NSW until an XPT ride in the mid-1980s.  This 40 class left nothing in the tank.  

Four decades later, it is still one of the most exhilarating rides I have ever experienced.  And it was all done in a clapped out Alco hauling a 10 car train into the fading sunset.  And thankfully, the Senior Train Hunter was game enough to stick his head out the window.

But back to 3526.  Its next appearance was a non-appearance.  It was scheduled to haul a tour train to the South Coast on 11 January 1971.  When a diesel arrived with the train, the passengers brought a story of a loco failure at Waterfall.  The Senior Train Hunter set off in the Cortina to capture the loco in its disgrace.

Eleven months later there were happier times.  In front of a crowded Farmborough Heights, 42103 pilots 3526 up the hill.

Its rather nice to reflect that nearly 40 years later, both are still plying NSW's rails.  While both locos have made it, there was a very long time when 3526 didn't look like a museum piece.  

In 1975 it steamed out to Thirlmere and then stopped - until its return service in 2004.  Since then 3526 has been at the centre of most steam-related events in NSW.

In 2006 it ran shuttles in commemoration of the centenary of Sydney Terminal.

In April 2009 3526 ran shuttles as part of the Maitland Steam Festival.

As part of its current role to provide short distance passenger services, 3526 gets to run a fair bit backwards (tender first, that is).  In fact, its probably done more miles in reverse since 2004 than it did in 50 years of NSWGR service.  In honour of this, here's a photograph of 3526 setting off to Newcastle from its home base in the 2011 Maitland Steam Festival.

So that brings me full circle - to yesterday.  Here's a half-hearted attempt at an art-shot.  It is a reflection of 3526 in the window of a glass-fronted building near Burwood, as the loco trails 3642 out to Clyde.

Its a great shame that another member of the 35 class was not saved from the scrapper's torch, as the only thing better than one nanny is two!


Sunday, June 3, 2012


A month ago or so I covered the 421 class locomotives operated by the venerable NSW Government Railways and its successors.  Now it is time for a roll call of that class’s closest relatives – the 42 class. 

Most readers will rejoice here – not because they are particular fans of the 42 class (though there are many of those misguided souls).  No, the rejoicing will come from the knowledge that as there are only six members of the 42 class so this author cannot possibly prattle on for too long?

And sadly, this will be a briefer contribution it should otherwise be as I seemed to have missed ever photographing 4202 during its 24 years of service life.  So, lets get into a quick review of 83.3 per cent of the NSW Department of Railways’ 42 class locomotives.

Lets get started with the class leader, 4201. While I actually seem to have accumulated a fair few shots of this unit, and not all of them blurred, I have chosen a fairly recent snap.  

A reason for this selection? Well, by my calculations this unit is now serving its 30th year in the preservation scene after its withdrawal in February 1983, after serving only 28 years in revenue action.  

During this last three decades it has carried a green livery of various hues, first shouldered in 1980 in recognition of the 125th commemoration of the NSW railways.  On an autumnal March day in 2007 4201 was captured rolling through the very pleasant bayside village of Koolewong.

And now… the space where 4202 should be...  Sorry about this...  Normal transmission will resume in the next paragraph.

Like its class-mate 4204, 4203 got to spend a number of years at Cowra.  Sadly for 03 it spent its last years in a bizarre livery adjacent to a local caravan park.  There wasn’t a real lot of it worth saving after a while, and now its gone to GM heaven (except its nose, which is apparently at Emu Plains).  Here’s a shot of lonesome 03 in August 1996.

Now, onto happier times.  4204 lives on, and is a fine specimen these days.  Its present livery captures that essence of maroon which isn’t evident in later NSWGR diesel-electrics’ liveries.

In 2010 4204 spent time at Eveleigh, where the following shot was captured.  Now, I would normally wince at poles growing out of the centre of a loco, but this pole has a sign atop it which states ‘no parking beyond this point’, which apparently doesn’t apply to 42 class drivers.

Because I am of a particular vintage, my major recollections of 42 class locomotives are on the south and in the shafts.  By the former I mean somewhere between Sydney and Goulburn, and by the latter I mean not being the lead locomotive in a multiple unit combination.  The following photograph isn’t the finest quality but it does sum it all up – 4205 being led by 42102 and being pushed by a little Alco battler, 48148.

This photograph just screams the dying embers of a quiet Sunday afternoon at me – because it was. About a minute after taking this snap, I knew that the good burghers of Picton had their afternoon solace severely disrupted by the two lead units.

And now, for the wackiest of them all.  Not the loco so much, but the combination of loco and location.  In the early 1970s both the NSW Rail Transport Museum and the NSW Division of the Australian Rail Historical Society ran ‘Mystery Tours’, usually around 1 April.  On one such tour, in a moment of inspired madness, someone let someone else drive 4206 around the Sydney underground.

To whoever dreamt this up, sincerely thank you.  To whoever let it happen, thank you, too.  And thanks Dad for getting out of the train whilst it was still moving (I recall it was not permitted to stop) to photograph this event and then jump back on.  And Mum, thanks for not letting me go with Dad on this once in a lifetime event - I’ll be in therapy for years for that exercise of parental control.  Anyway, back to the photograph…

 So, that's another class down... not looking forward to the 48ers.