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  Restoration to Service of Brill Railcar 60 - September 2001

SteamRanger’s “Brill” railcar is a representative of a large fleet of distinctive railcars which operated throughout the State in the period 1926 to 1970. At their peak, there were some 50 broad gauge power cars (with petrol or diesel engines ) and a dozen unpowered “trailer” cars. Brills were operated in various combinations, from individual cars to coupled sets with up to two power cars and two trailers.

They were used extensively on more lightly patronised country lines throughout the State and on outer suburban metropolitan services They were popularly known as “Barwell Bulls" after the then Premier (Sir Henry Barwell) and the strident air horn note.

The cars operated regularly on the Victor Harbor line. Unable to obtain an original power car to add to its heritage fleet, SteamRanger purchased a derelict trailer. Over a decade from 1990 SteamRanger volunteers installed a diesel power unit in what was originally a luggage compartment and extensively rebuilt the car to create today’s Car 60.


Some History

Commissioner W.A. Webb arrived from from the US in 1926 and immediately set about revitalising the SA Railways. The first Brill car he ordered was built in J.G. Brill’s works in the US and entered service in South Australia in August 1926. All the remaining cars were built at the SAR’s Islington workshops. By 1930 some 50 broad gauge cars and trailers, and 12 narrow gauge cars and trailers had been supplied.

Originally painted overall brown, the colour scheme became green and cream by 1936, with the distinctive illuminated “Day-Glo” safety stripes below the end windows fitted to many cars from 1957. The original motive power was a “Winton” petrol engine, with “GardNer” and “Cummins” diesels being retrofitted to various cars from 1937 onwards. At the same time, remote control facilities were introduced to allow four-car sets (2 power cars, 2 trailers) to be coupled together.

The first retirements coincided with the arrival of the modern “Bluebird” railcars on country lines in 1954 and the suburban “Red Hen” cars in 1955 By 1969 the era of the 75 class had effectively come to an end, with only occasional trips run on the Tailem Bend and Victor Harbor lines and a car continuing to provide the local service between Strathalbyn and Milang until that line closed 1970. The last revenue trip ran from Adelaide to Victor Harbor in October 1971.

The Restoration

AN converted many of the cars to camp cars in the early 70s. When these became redundant in the late 80s SteamRanger acquired two of the converted trailer cars, 207 and 211. A small group of Goolwa based volunteers coordinated by Phil Neville then commenced the daunting task of recreating a representative power car from trailer 207. A GardNer diesel engine was installed in the baggage compartment and the bodywork, windows, and seating replaced or extensively refurbished. The body frame was strengthened and electrical and control systems upgraded.

After 6000 hours of voluntary effort the car emerged in early 2001 as Car 60. The estimated cost of restoration was over $50,000. The car operates as an interesting historic attraction on selected services between Strathalbyn, Goolwa and Victor Harbor.

Keith and Ken Wastell with the newly
installed GardNer diesel

A bit of rust on the end platform
(Phil Neville and Keith Wastell)

Celebrations after the first trial run to Mt Barker
Team Leader Phil Neville, Rolling Stock Inspector Don Dunkerley,
Ken Wastell, Loco Manager Ian Johnston and Stephen Davey