Twenty years ago yesterday the NSW State Rail Authority auctioned locomotives which were deigned to be either at the end of their service life and/or surplus to current and anticipated requirements.
In what became known as the Great Loco Auction, at Cardiff on 6 December 1994, 128 locomotives went over the auctioneer's block. Most were indeed at the end of their service life or incomplete, and were nothing more than fodder for scrap metal merchants. But others were complete bargains, returning to service for the next two decades in various guises and for new operators. Thought I would mark the occasion tonight by saluting a few of those bargains.
First up, 4814 and 4836 cost a certain Dr Sheerif a total sum of $34,000. They became the backbone of Austrac's operations until its demise and have since performed sterling service for Junee Railway Workshop and various lessees. I caught them six years after their sale, when they opened up through Canterbury on a trippy in April 2001.
Another Alco bargain was 4829, purchased by the (then-named) Silverton Tramway Company for $17,000. It was nearly 34 years of age when purchased, but it received a pleasing coat of Silverton's yellow & blue and was renumbered as ST33. Over the years it morphed into 33 and it now 48s33. Only recently it escaped the fate of many former Silverton/Engenco colleagues to be rebirthed by John Holland. I found it in Orange a couple of months ago whilst chasing an errant dog through a railway yard.
Larger mainline units probably constituted a slight majority of the locos on offer, including a number of 45 classes. Unlike their near-cousins, the 44 class, 45s haven't prospered in private hands. One which has made it nearly all the way through those two decades has been 4503, although it had to wear the Patrick's 'Big Red Tomato' livery for much of the Noughties. Here it is on May Day, 2006, at Marrickville. Not bad for an $18,000 investment!
Another to survive the two decades through a series of (ahem) novel liveries has been 4488. It was purchased for a meagre $17,000. Currently it sits in Goulburn, wearing the IRA/Qube all over silver. But upon restoration to service in private ownership it wore the lavender of the New Central Railroad, as captured here.
Not all locos were scrapped or went on to wear innovative liveries. One of my favourites - 4473 - returned to its original kit. I think I have posted similar shots in other blog entries but, as I said, 4473 is a favourite so here it is once more. If I had had $16,000 laying around at the time I should have bought it - instead I got a Trainorama version from Tom's at 1/87th of the size and 1/107th of the price.
And now I am going to finish off with a video. Here's a minute of two great survivors - 44202 and 44220 passing through Marrickville in May this year. These days 44202 wears the silver and yellow of Qube and 44220 is disguised in green and carries the moniker 442s1 as a testament to its Silverton days. Its dark and I have truncated the video to make it easier to upload, but I defy you to disagree that it wasn't worth $60,000 to still have these two darlings dribbling around Sydney's freight lines.
I have had a lot of fun working this blog up - primarily because I have drawn heavily from the most excellent Railway News CD released recently. Definitely recommended as a Xmas stocking filler and it carries a great report of the auction in its December 1994 edition.
Ciao for now!