[IMAGE] "From the Footplate" - SteamRanger's Enthusiast Website    

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     A Look Back at Enthusiast News from our website in 2007

                   To look at other years click on the dates above

[IMAGE] Grafitti at Mt Barker Depot

A most disappointing find when volunteers arrived at Mt Barker depot one Saturday morning in January was to find that sides and some windows of cars 602 and 62 were covered with graffiti murals - obviously contributed by "society drop outs" looking for something to do overnight.

Eight dedicated volunteers were able to remove most of the paint before it had enough time to cure completely. It took 5 6 hours and some hard yakka to remove the mess which in some places was four or more layers thick. Many thanks to regular loco volunteers Ian, John, Kim, Andrew, Kevin, Mike and Jarrod for assisting in the clean up. This is not the first ime we have had carriages attacked - several were also "decorated" at Dry Creek way back in our early days.

Hopefully future attempts will be less successful - we have now upgraded our security systems and future visitors will be assured of a free trip in a car with flashing lights and perhaps a holiday at Her Majesty's pleasure!

Car 70

Now the good news! After a lengthy stay at Mt Barker Depot and innumerable weeks of work by our resident carriage builder Fred Valstar and this team, wooden bodied Centenary Car 70 has been returned to service looking as spruce as the day it was built in the 1910's. Substantial parts of the wooden framing have been replaced and the whole body strengthened. The car was transferred to Goolwa Depot at Xmas time and found ready use on busy summer Cockle Trains. Thanks to all who put in the dedicated effort to return the car to service.

Car 82

Baggage 82, also a wooden framed car is now the main object of Fred's attention at Mt Barker and this photo well illustrates the meticulous work which is required to return these cars to service. The car is our regular Cockle Train baggage and is being rebuilt as an accurate example of the car as in service, unlike our other baggages (81 and 83) which have been modified to work as buffet cars.

Workshops personnel from Mitsubishi

As restoration work on steam loco 621 progresses towards a return to the track around year's end President Ben Greeneklee and Mechanical Services Manager Crig Dunstan have taken the opportunity to recognise the support provided through three key contacts at Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd.

Nic Marciano, Adrian Hodges and Wayne White and his MMAL Toolroom team will be presented with Gold Certificates of Appreciation to acknowledge their invaluable contributions to 621's return to service.

"SteamUp 2007" - our public showcase!

The traditional introduction to our steam services from Mt Barker was staged at Mt Barker station amd Depot on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th May.

Part of the Mount Barker Jazz and Heritage Festival, the two day event featured double ended train operations from Mt Barker station to Philcox Hill with steam loco Rx207 leading southwards and DE507 bringing the Centenary Car consist back.

In the other direction towards Mt Barker Junction, visitors could travel either by RedHen railcar to the Platform 1 miniature railway site just beyond Littlehampton or by track trolley to the Littlehampton station site. Jazz bands played in a marquee at the station and in baggage car 83 on the Philcox Hill train.

Once again, the May Hills weather was not kind and the event was lashed by cold winds on both days and intermittent showers on the Saturday which again kept the visitor numbers to around 2006 levels but significantly down compared with peak crowds 5 years or so ago. Alhough train passengers seemed to enjoy their excursions only a small number of visitors ventured down to the Depot area where locos and carriages under restoration had to be kept inside to some extent hidden from casual visitors.

SteamRanger volunteers manned information displays and refreshment and souvenir sales booths at the station and Pichi Richi and Steamtown railway groups shared a tent promoting their activities.

In the carpark there was a substantial display of vintage cars and all sorts of huffing and puffing machines from the Adelaide Hills Motor Restorers Club and a range of hot food for the hungry and shivering hoardes courtesy of community groups. Even a face painter and bouncing castle for the kids, although erecting the inflating castle proved almost to be part of the entertainment itself!

Here are some photos of attractions and our volunteers. Here's hoping next year will be warmer!

Fun for the kids

     Margaret and Gill (catering)          Doug (track trolley rides)     Pages Flat Footwarmers

Track Trolleys ready to go              Train arrival from Philcox Hill

Amanda at our Marketing display

and the poster at the top of this item - one of two created by John Draper

[IMAGE] End of An Era

Following the 2007 ARHS (SA Division) AGM in April members of the Executive and Board of Management were installed for the next two years. Most standing members sought reappointment and were not opposed.

After more than three decades contributing to loco and rolling stock restoration and maintenance, well known identity Ian Johnston (left) did not seek reappointment as Mechanical Services Manager.

Ian's involvement commenced in the 1970s when SteamRanger was looking after retained steam locos at the SAR's Mile End Depot and with Dean Harvey and Frank McDonnell he played a major part in setting up our Dry Creek Depot in the 1970s and in the subsequent relocation to Mt Barker in the late 1990s. Beyond his loco duties Ian has been an invaluable member and President of ARHS Council, an almost continuous member of our Operations Committee and has represented SteamRanger in liaising with a wide range of external bodies.

Since he retired as a defence scientist in the late 1990s Ian moved to live in Strathalbyn within sight of our rail line, and made Mt Barker Depot almost a second home. He will be sincerely missed as an office bearer, but we hope he will still contribute as loco engineman and we will be able to tap into his wide experience for many year still to come.

Ian has been replaced as Mechanical Services Manager by Craig Dunstan (right), for many years now a committed member of the loco team. a trained automotive tradesman, Craig is employed in a senior position in the retail motor vehicle industry. We wish him all the best in his new SteamRanger role.

And finally; after several years as a member and Chair of out Marketing team, Mark Batten has reluctantly left the Board of Management to devote more time to his career position, but will remain a key member of the team.

And for the record the full list of Board of Management members for 2007/8 will be;

  • ARHS President:    Ben Greeneklee
  • ARHS Secretary:    Peter Charlson
  • ARHS Treasurer:    John Lambert
  • ARHS Vice President:    Barrie Hawes
  • Manager, Operations and Safety:    Brian Busch
  • Manager, Human Resources:    Andrew McDonough
  • Manager, Marketing:    Marshall Flanagan
  • Manager, Mechanical Services:    Craig Dunstan
  • Manager, Infrastructure:    Troy Barker

The first four members are also members of the ARHS Executive Committee

[IMAGE] Certificates of Appreciation awarded to longserving Volunteers

At the April ARHS meeting our President Ben Greeneklee announced the names of volunteers that were to be awarded Certificates of Appreciation for 2007. The certificates recognise three levels of contribution, with Silver and Gold certificates recognising longer or more significant contributions.

In addition, the contribution of veteran volunteer Peter Soar (right) as Chair of our Fundraising Committee was recognised with a Special Award. Peter, one of our longest serving loco enginemen, has also held a string of other important positions in SteamRanger and the ARHS (SA Division) over several decades. We congratulate him on his award.

Long serving Operations, Fundraising and Marketing volunteer Bruce McLean was recognised with a Gold Certificate.

Rex Hoppo and Peter Kither (Mechanical Services)and Doug McKenzie (Infrastructure) were recognised with Silver Certificates.

Other volunteers to receive certificates were George Camilleri, Bob Grant, Ashley Grivell, Simon Job, John Kuchel, Peter Keynes, Peter Num, Cliff Olds, Mark Pointon and Marl Zrna

Click [IMAGE] to display a full list of of recipients to date.

And just to prove that the awards are merited, our website photographer has unearthed evidence of the gold and silver recipients hard at work. Here they are (L to R) Bruce, Peter, Rex and Doug.
We are assured Doug is weed spraying not grafitti-ing the shed!

[IMAGE] Marketing Initiatives

Marketing WebSite Redesign

For some time now you will have been aware that we have been experiencing difficulties in maintaining our public passenger oriented website. The external organisation that developed the site for us several years ago was restructured and ended its support to us. Subsequently we did not have access to the complete website code and were only able to make minor updates.

One of our volunteers has now designed an interim passenger oriented site (opposite) and this is now fully operational and contains full and accurate information on our 2007 running program. It is accessed in the normal manner by entering "www.steamranger.org.au". It may be further expanded in the future when funding is available.

"Corporate" Promotional Signage

The Marketing Committee is developing a suite of "corporate" themed posters to promote each of our major services and similar posters will be installed at each of our stations in the near future.

Track Restoration Funding

The report earlier on this page highlighted the need to fund replacement of some 2000 sleepers between Mt Barker and Strathalbyn and to continue to operate a range of services to both produce much needed income and to maintain SteamRanger's visibility to our potential client base

The "Buy a Sleeper" scheme used a couple of decades ago when SteamRanger first took over the Victor line has been re-instituted in a new guise. Supporters and passengers on all our trains are being handed a leaflet explaining how they can nominally "purchase" a $25.00 sleeper and receive a certificate in acknowledgement. Just call us on 1300 655 991 with your credit card at the ready or enquire at stations

We will take your name and address any you will be forwarded a receipt and certificate in the mail.

[IMAGE] Steam Hauled Holiday Cockle Trains

In addition to our regular Sunday railcar services our volunteers are traditionally busy during March and April with more intensive steam hauled holiday services

  • On the long weekend of the 10th to 12th March a very busy service pattern was operated in conjunction with the Goolwa Wooden Boat and Music Festival which was held around the historic Goolwa Wharf precinct.

  • Three return steam trains operated with Rx207 between Goolwa and Victor for four days at Easter

  • For the two weeks of the SA school holidays (15th to 29th April) another three return train service operated on each day. The next article below gives an insight into the volunteer effort involved.


Fireman Andrew Gramp and Guard Roger Currie stand proudly by loco Rx207 at Goolwa on 23rd April while passenger attendant Bruce Roper offers advice to an intending passenger

[IMAGE] SteamRanger from Space

Have you used the Google Earth program to take
a birds eye view of our world from up in space?

The latest imagery gives you an excellent spaceman's view
of our depots, both at Mt Barker and Goolwa
Here are examples of the images you can zoom into and pan around using the program

Coords 35 29' 27" S    138 46' 35" E

Coords 35 03' 57" S    138 51' 54" E

You will need to enter the above coordinates to quickly zoom in on the selected image

Click to download a page which will assist you
to identify the depot features you can then see on the Google Earth images

Use your browser button to return to this page

And, thanks to the observant eye of Geof Pearson, it has been brought to our attention
that if you look at the image for Port Elliot Station you will see a three car steam hauled Cockle Train
approaching the red roofed station building from Victor Harbor (from bottom left of the image).

In this case the relevant coordinates you need to enter are    35 32' 00" S    138 40' 48" E.

Good hunting!

You can read more about Google Earth and download a free version of the viewer software

[IMAGE] Human Resources - Loco Crews

From time to time your websiter compiler is asked how many qualified enginemen we have, are they ex railway people, how are they trained and do we need more?

We will address the training queries over the next couple of months by asking one of our mechanical services volunteers to provide some specific details, but a good way to illustrate the diverse range of volunteers that form the team might be to have a look at our January Cockle Train rosters.

During January we have been using each of our qualified steam loco enginemen on a rotational basis, and here they are:

Ian Johnston
Peter Soar
Peter Brown
Brenton Job

These guys come from a diverse range of employment backgrounds, none directly related to railway operations. Ian (who is our Mechanical Services Manager) and Peter Soar have been retired for several years and come from a defence science and public service background respectively. Peter Brown manages a large automotive dealer's mechanical workshop and Brenton is self employed in the building industry.

And to fill out the picture, the loco roster also requires railcar and diesel enginemen and those currently rostered are the apparently ever smiling guys below.

Peter Charlson
Philip Neville
Mark Batten
Daryl Simon

Again these guys come from a range of backgrounds; Peter and Phil are now retired, Peter a qualified "A class" electrical worker having been previously a production technician at a major SA power generator whilst Phil was a local farmer. Mark shares his time between SteamRanger and working in the financial services field. Daryl is one of SteamRanger's Mt Barker workshop employees, having come to us from a defence industry mechanical workshop background, and he makes a valuable volunteer contribution as a railcar driver.

Each of the eight has been involved in various roles with SteamRanger for several decades. All have obtained their engineman and rail safeworking certification through many years' study and structured supervised training under SteamRanger's auspices. The predominantly unpaid involvement of a number of now retired railwaymen in providing supervision and guidance in our earlier days has been invaluable in this regard.

So you can see that our loco team is diverse in both age and background and we welcome enquiries from anyone with the capability, the commitment and the preparedness to work though a demanding training programme with the consequence of taking over from these guys in the next decade.

If you are interested in joining the team
take the first step by contacting our Mechanical Services Manager, Ian Johnston
by phone at (08) 8536 4621 (AH)
or click the logo below and send him an email.

[IMAGE] 2007 Marketing Plan

The Marketing team have been working on arguably one of the most extensive Marketing Plans generated by SteamRanger to date. A substantial amount of time has been spent in analysis of the research accumulated and product analysis.

The plan does not depart greatly from the other 2 years it is an ambitious one from a sales point of view. We have taken the time to review all aspects of the operation on all services. There are some refreshed objectives with equally exciting action plans to implement them.

One of the initiatives proposed is to address the growing need for qualified tradesmen and workers in the Mt Barker workshop. We believe a viable approach would be to establish a Skills Training Center at the Workshop. With funding a critical issue for any heritage railway organization, means needed to be investigated to address this. To our benefit we have a well equipped workshop and on the other, there is a skills shortage in light and heavy engineering, metal work and woodwork. SteamRanger will investigate link these issues to help achieve our maintenance and restoration while contributing to the community. More details soon.

[IMAGE] Volunteers underpin our Cockle Train Services

Holiday periods are traditionally our busiest running period with three return daily Cockle Trains running between Goolwa and Victor Harbor and around 15 volunteers rostered on duty each day.

A typical day involves rostering;

Loco Crews

Each locomotive (steam or diesel) requires an engineman and a fireman / observer who work from around 6.00am to well after 6.00pm. Where possible opportunities are provided for volunteer loco crew trainees to travel on the loco to gain operational experience and build up their "hours" to allow them to progress to a higher qualification level.

The day's crew are responsible for washing, servicing, checking and preparing the loco and carriages each morning, and for stabling the loco at the end of the day. Other mechanical section volunteers are called in when more major tasks such a loco washouts are needed or running problems need to be addressed. And overall the crew seem to enjoy themselves, especially when we give them few minutes refreshment time at turn around stations. Our photographer recently caught Brenton Job (engineman), John Gordon (observer) and trainee Mathew Job stretching their legs at Goolwa Station oin a less busy day.

Operations Volunteers
Up to ten volunteers are require for between eight to ten hour shifts each day to staff trains and stations.

  • A train controller, a on-train guard and a Victor Harbor station master, all of whom need to be rail safeworking qualified.
  • Ticket sales officers at both Goolwa and Victor
  • Up to four on-train passenger attendants, who also clean carriages before and after each day's running
  • Up to three Refreshment and Souvenir sales volunteers at Victor and Goolwa

Behind the Scenes volunteers include
  • Volunteers answering enquiries to our "1800" phone line
  • A Shop Supervisor ordering and stocking up souvenirs, sweets and the essential cold drinks
  • Marketing and promotional personnel
  • Workshop personnel on-call to deal with loco and carriage mechanical problems
  • Rail infrastructure volunteers carrying our routine track condition inspections

[IMAGE] Rx207 returns to Service

Regular readers of these pages will be aware that steam loco Rx207 failed inexplicably on Tuesday 9th January whilst hauling the Cockle Train between Goolwa and Victor Harbor and diesel electric loco 507 had to be called into service for the next three weeks.

It proved necessary to return Rx207 to our Mt Barker depot to carry out an extensive series of tests and inspection of key components, none of which identified the root cause. Finally on Wednesday 17th, with valves removed and cylinder ports blanked, lots of steam was sent through all the internal steam passages. Quite a lot of brown residues were amongst the steam and water which emerged, although some of this is usual when blowing through open valves. We guess we will never know what the blows did in fact dislodge. Certainly in the end we had lots of steam hiding the front of the loco and large dark brown puddles on the ground.

With the loco fully reassembled it was planned to return it to Goolwa Depot on Sunday 21st January but this was stymied by very heavy rains in the Mt Lofty Ranges that could have weakened the trackbed between Mt Barker and Strathakbyn. As a result the loco did not return to Cockle Train service until 25th January.

By all reports it performed well for the final four days of the Cockle Train season, and will now be returned again to Mt Barker until needed on the south coast in March.

And our Passengers? Reports from volunteers staffing the Cockle Train services have indicated that the effect on passengers of not operating steam has not been too severe. Although some passengers have chosen not to travel as planned, a good majority have proceeded with their travel plans, appreciating that our mechanical services volunteers are doing their best to repair the elderly loco. Many commented that the scenery and the chance to travel in our heritage wooden carriages are significant attractions of the journey irrespective of the availability of steam. Overall, the total number of passengers carried, in excess of 7000 with a majority undertaking a round trip, significantly exceeded those travelling in the 2005/6 holiday period.

Full details of the work carried out to reinstate the loco can be followed on our loco page

[IMAGE] Where's 621?

A number of readers have asked us why we are not using loco 621 on the restructured post-derailment services. We have passed on these queries to the Mechanical Services Manager and he has replied as follows:

" 621 was marooned at Goolwa Depot for 5 1/2 weeks after the derailment while the damaged section of track was rebuilt.

At that time the visible damage to 621 was bent draw bars but beyond that further inspections would have to wait until 621 returned to our main workshop at Mt Barker where we have our inspection pit.

621 subsequently returned to Mt Barker and when the tender was emptied of water it was found the bogie centres on the rear bogie would not separate as they should, indicating some further probable damage.

Even if 621 was currently available, because our services are now based and start from Goolwa Depot, the loco is too large to turn on the Strathalbyn turntable and the costs of using a second loco to pilot 621 to and from Strath tender first cannot be justified."

The loco has now been placed in dry storage over the summer months whilst a number of maintenance issues are addressed and prioritised. For more details on the loco click    to read our most recent loco maintenance reports.

[IMAGE] Should someone have called the RSPCA?

We are always pleased to receive photographic contributions to our webpages from passengers and friends. When we received this one from Ben Vincent we were not sure what we should do with it.

Was the bird looking for something to nibble whilst the loco was stabled between movements?

Click [IMAGE] to see what the real context was.
We don't know who won the race across Watsons Gap bridge on the 22nd Oct 2006!

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