Thursday, August 30, 2012

Time for a light Mikado

Sixty years ago today, 5901, the first of 20 oil-burning steam locomotives purchased by the NSW Government Railways from the United States entered service.  

While these locomotives proved durable work-horses for their masters, they were perhaps the ugliest thing put on the rails in their home state.  And while they ranged across the south and west of the state at times, their spiritual home was the north.

So, in honour of 60 years of service, here's a few snaps of the 59s....

While there is no photograph of 5901 in the family collection, its immediate sibling was snapped at Newcastle after working a passenger service.

 Keeping on the short north, here's 5904 at Morriset on a pickup.

Polishing up 5911 and painting its boiler bands was a bit like putting lipstick on a pig.  Here it is on a tour to Port Kembla on (thankfully) a dull day.

Back on the central coast, and on a sunny day, 5912 gets ready to take a drink at Gosford.

Towards the end of steam, several locomotives received ignominious roles.  None more so than the roles given to 5908 and 5916 to provide steam for other purposes at Broadmeadow locomotive depot.  Ironically, being assigned these duties took each beyond the reach of the scrapper's torch and into the 21st century.  

Now its time to cover the two working survivors.  First 5910 in a tidy glint shot, working back through Mount St Thomas after a day tour to Kiama.

And then there is the venerable 5917, presently getting a little TLC before returning to duty for the Lachlan Valley Railway.  Here it is in Wollongong, 30 years ago, showing just how far occupational health and safety has come since then.

 Happy birthday, 59ers.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Bombo is a lovely little railway crossing on the NSW south coast.  It is quiet, especially when the blasting stops at the local quarry. 

Until electrification was put through, it was a top location for viewing all the odds and sods that the south coast could throw up at you.  One of the more ubiquitous emanations of the coast was the two-car diesel, which formed the majority of local passenger services for the last two decades of the 20th century.

If 2 car diesels worked the majority of passenger services, then the 48s held the mantle of the stalwart of the goods (freight) services.

And if it wasn't one 48 on a goods, then it was likely to be two of them.  In the following case, it was two 48s heading north with a load of Bombo's finest export... ballast.

At the southern end of Bombo there was a terrific trestle bridge.  In 1986 one could catch  48128 racing north with a number of fuel tankers.

And for a very long time, if it wasn't a single 48 or double 48s, then it could only be... triple 48s, as shown here.

 And if it wasn't a single 2 car diesel, then it could only be two of them, coupled together.

And that was pretty much all you ever saw in the 1980s at Bombo.  Then, in the 1990s, things changed.  Coming over the hill one day the following sight was available... like two centipedes facing off, this day in 1994 brought 4845, 4834 and green 4836 arriving from the quarry, with 4818, 4916 and 4908 emerging from the south.

Safe-working activities completed, both trains departed.  It was the Alco with its two GM henchmen headed north.

All this light and colour disappeared in the early part of the 21st century.  The superannuated diesel sets were replaced by a new version which did not permit the opening of windows - a great disservice to passengers on this surf-lovers line.

And 48s have been largely replaced by larger mainline units, such as the 81 class.

Of course, the thing missing from those last two photographs is the wooden trestle bridge. Ah, the cost of progress!