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     A Look Back at Enthusiast News from our website in 2012

                   To look at other years click on the dates above


Infrastructure Activities

Infrastructure activities that were highlighted in the ARHS 2011 Annual Report illustrate the breadth of activities undertaken by the team. The statistics quoted refer to the 2011 calendar year.

    Mt Barker Creek Bridge Strengthening - Stage 2 - Anti-corrosion treatment. This work involved all ballast and track structure being removed from the bridge - all performed manually. The steel work was then cleaned, painted with three coats of various industrial paints and then covered with a flownet and geo-textile mat throughout. Once this was complete, new ballast was laid and track re-built. The track now requires final surfacing work to complete the project.

    Goolwa Station - Work continued on upgrading of the interior of the former Parcels Office. Other work involved fitting watering systems to plants and repairs to the interior of the station office.
    Victor Harbor Station - Vandalism repairs completed, platform plants and shrubs trimmed, hand basin in shop upgraded.
    Mt Barker Station - Volunteer workers overhauled the station garden and toilets, repainted platform side exterior brickwork, building suffered from repeated graffiti murals painted under station veranda, platform and veranda lighting upgraded

  • LAND
    A range of issues were dealt with mainly relating to interface issues for effluent, power, telephone systems in rail corridor, adjacent land developments, proposals for change of land use under negotiations as per Board of Management instructions.

    Routine condition maintenance under ICP with Transfield Services and SteamRanger workers continued throughout the year with the following items detailing the more extensive maintenance tasks performed -
    • Upgraded signal control batteries at two level crossings
    • Completely renewed flashing light signals at Middleton, including upgrade to LED lamps.
    • Cracked signal mast bases at three level crossings changed out.
    • Continued repair and replacement of safety critical elements.

  • RADIO NETWORK - Train radios were installed in Car 82, Railcar RC60, Loco 507, Loco 958 and Loco Rx207 to enable commencement of trials of communication systems for the Cockle Train service.

  • MT BARKER TURNTABLE - The power supply to the turntable was overhauled and upgraded.

    It has been a busy year the Goolwa Track Team has been working hard, we have replaced 1661 sleepers, 6644 Dog Spikes, 3322 Double Lipped Plates between Mt Barker and Victor Harbor, 28 links of rail at Boomers Beach. We also received 3000 Steel Sleeper and 2000 Double Lipped Plates which was a donation from DTEI. The Torsion Beam Tamper has been working between Goolwa and Pt Elliot in conjunction with the Regulator. The Gemco has been hard at work one axle had to be replaced which was manufactured at Mt Barker Depot, the Starter Motor failed at Goolwa which had to be replaced with a new one, at present the axles have been sent out to have new Rail Wheels machined and some Hydraulic Rams had to be repaired.

    The CAT Loader has had a number of repairs carried out to bring it up to scratch. The Compressor has been modified to make it more user friendly a new Air Drill and Spike Driver has been purchased.

    A number trees have been either removed or trimmed during the year, a lot of Spraying has been carried out between Victor Harbor and Mt Barker Junction by the Bedford Road Railer. The NRM (Natural Resources Management) in conjunction with Steamranger has carried out some Rabbit Control between Sandigrove and Gilberts.

    The Strathalbyn Team have had a busy year cleaning up Strathalbyn Yard and Shed and painting Rolling Stock which are stabled in the yard. They also have been busy out clearing trees and vegetation at Road Crossings also they are oiling Fish Plates between Strathalbyn and Goolwa Depot.

    Mt Barker Team have also been out clearing vegetation and overhanging trees, removing leaf litter from the line between Mt Barker and Strathalbyn, they have just started cutting up old sleepers which have been left when the resleepering has been carried out and transporting them back to Mt Barker Depot for the light up of the Steam Engine.

    Goolwa depot has had part of its floor in the shed done so that they can start getting Brill 43 underway. The fence has been relocated to make the Depot more secure Phil with the help of the Community Services Group has completed the fence. The Group also does a lot of work along the track down the South Coast clearing weeds, trees and general work that is required.

    Spring Services a success!

    A feature of our intensive School Holiday Cockle Train services from the 23rd September to 7th October was the use of steam loco Rx207 on almost all services - three round trips between Goolwa and Victor each day.

    The trains were generally well patronised with up to five wooden "Centenary" passenger cars used on various days.

    An average of 200 round trip passengers were carried on most days, with nearly 350 round trip passengers on Sunday 30th September which coincided with the annual Goolwa Alive festivities throughout the town organised by the Alexandrina Council and various local organisations and businesses. (main street photo opposite)

    On several days group bookings were made by special interest groups including the Jowett Car Club and the Vintage Driver Club of Melbourne whose assembled vintage vehicles such as the Jowett model shown here attracted lots of local interest whilst the participants journeyed across to Victor and return.

    Operating such a busy schedule was only possible with the commitment of our experienced volunteer loco crews, especially our small group of fully qualified steam loco enginemen - Ian Johnston, Brenton Job, Craig Dunstan and Peter Brown and their supporting firemen, whilst some eight operations volunteers were required each day as guards, passenger attendants and station staff, many working on almost every second day in one role or another. Well done!

    November Cockle Trains

    With all the hustle of daily trains behind us, we settled in to running a regular twice a week Cockle Train service through November. The usual passenger load was around 50 "walk up" visitors to the area, but complemented from time to time by organised groups, both locals and visiting tour groups - a valuable source of income to allow us to run year round.

    Railcars were used in the main; either RedHen cars or our heritage rebuilt Brill Railcar 60.

    And to complement the Brill on one day we trundled out a couple of our very first SteamRanger volunteers - Peter Soar as a driver and Malcolm Thompson as guard - both with nearly 50 years of volunteering behind them.

    Wednesday 14th November was a particularly busy day!

    Around 60 young students from Victor Harbor joined the first train from Victor at 10.00am and after spending several hours (and having their lunch by the riverside) returned mid afternoon, leaving us at a specially arranged stop almost right outside their school. They obviously enjoyed their day out as they emailed us afterwards!

    "To all the generous volunteers,
    Today we took our Year Two classes from Victor on your train from Victor to Goowa. This was a memorable day for the children made special by the kind volunteers who went out of their way to make us welcome. The highlight of the day was when the children took turns sitting at the front of the train. Thank you once again from the children and their teachers."

    And on the same day!

    And just as well we were prepared with extra carriages, because on their return trip they were joined by another group of 60 (somewhat older) visitors from the MG car club from Geelong, Victoria.

    They headed of to Victor Harbor and after a brief stopover came back to Goolwa late afternoon looking very pleased with their excursion.

    End of Running from Mt Barker until Autumn

    With the introduction of fire restrictions through the Adelaide Hills at the end of November our services from Mt Barker have now ceased, with passenger loads having been somewhat less than we might have hoped and affected by a serious track wash-away that reduced the number of trains run.

    And, from time to time we get feedback from some of our passengers from Mt Barker as well.
    This email was most appreciated

    Dear Staff and Volunteers
    My husband and I took my elderly aunt who is visiting from the UK on your Steam Ranger to Victor Harbor on Sunday. It was the first time we did this journey, but so thoroughly enjoyed it, that we know it will not be the last. The whole day was wonderful, and we all came away with lovely memories. The staff, who I assume are all volunteers, couldn’t do enough for us, and were all so helpful and friendly. I tried to find someone at the end of the trip to say thank you to, but couldn’t see anyone who I could speak with as they were all so busy. Please pass on our thanks for a wonderful day out, and a job well done. We look forward to spending a day with you again in the future and will certainly tell people how great it was.

    Other Recent trains

    • The SteamRanger Experience
      Our train of beautifully restored vintage carriages was hauled by express passenger locomotive No. 621 "Duke of Edinburgh" from Mt Barker to Goolwa on Saturday 13th October where plenty was happening. There, the 1913 veteran steam engine Rx 207 “Dean Harvey” temporarily replaced 621 and whisked the front carriages over to Victor Harbor stopping at Port Elliot en route.

      Lots of options were available, ranging from first class in newly repainted sleeping car Finniss down to travel in one of our preserved wooden Centenary cars. After lunch and a paddle steamer trip at Goolwa, some passengers rejoined their carriages and 621 spirited them over to Victor.

      At Victor Harbor, the two sections of the train were reunited and both steam locomotives double headed on the homeward journey to Mt. Barker. This was a rare event, including a photostop so passengers could record the train in action.

      All seats on this train were fully booked and this photo from Peter Michalak captures the double headed consist heading back to Mt Barker over the towering Currency Creek bridge

    • Just Add Water - Station to Station Project

      Previous reports on these pages have highighted painting of various structures around Goolwa as part of the state's 2012 Regional Centre of Culture initiative. One of the projects was the painting of railcar 412 by aerosol artists which came to a climax late in November when the car ran a trip for sponsors and associates from Goolwa to Victor and return.

      The trip was reported in an article by Patrick McDonald in the Adelaide Advertiser as follows;

      Artists Scott Coleman and Seb Humphreys with the colourful Cockle Train railcar

      Goolwas's beloved Cockle Train has been transformed into a rolling mural with Australia's first officially commissioned railcar aerosol art "It's a canvas in motion," artist Scott Coleman, aka KAB101, said yesterday. Collaborator Seb Humphreys, alias Order 55, said their project had made news on graffiti websites around the world. "This is the first train that's been legitimately done hi Australia," he said.

      The artists approached SteamRanger Heritage Railway, which operates the Cockle Train, as part of Goolwa's Just Add Water program as the state's 2012 Regional Centre of Culture. Coleman said graffiti on trains began in New York in the 1970s and had been at the centre of a battle with railway authorities ever since. "Kids just started writing their names," he said.

      "Next thing, it became like sign-writing. It developed beyond being readable, yet every line has its place." The project, Station to Station, also involved Coleman and Humphries mentoring local artists, who worked on one side of the carriage. It was launched at Goolwa last night. Picture by Simon Cross

      Rolling Stock

    • Rebuilding of Motor Inspection Car MIC3
      Over the last two years, MIC 3 has undergone a total makeover. The body had a fair amount of rust issues, paint was peeling from age, the engine was worn out and operated poorly. All up this meant time for drastic action. A total overhaul of the engine and reassembly was followed by total body repainting. The electrical system was re-wired and checked. The vehicle then went out on a commissioning run on the 21st July to Strathalbyn and performed faultlessly. It was a pleasure to see this unique vehicle back in action and looking its best. It should once again give SteamRanger many years of reliable service. Thanks to everyone involved in this project. More details are on our infrastructure pages HERE .

    • Return to service of RedHen railcar 334
      SteamRanger purchased railcar 424 from the former Limestone Coast Railway at Mt Gambier around a year or so ago. Since that time, we negotiated a further agreement and subsequently purchased the remaining other cars namely 334, 405 and 820. This is certainly a plus for railway preservation in that at least some of the efforts of the LCR team won't be lost as the cars return to service on the Victor Line. The purpose behind these purchases is to provide SHR with operational flexibility in the 'off-peak' season on the railway such that we can operate to any varied destination on the line all year round, whilst also providing further support for our off peak Cockle Train services. The first car RedHen 334 was delivered by road to Strathalbyn on 10th August. More details on this acquisition on our rollingstock page HERE where subsequent restoration work on these cars will be reported .

     Exceptional floods damage SHR track

    Rain falls of over 100mm over two days in late June seriously affected SHR trackwork near Finniss between Strathalbyn and Goolwa These photos from Ian Johnston and Troy Barker show the extent of the damage


    And HERE is a video taken by Ian earlier in the event showing the force of the water which eventually undermined a significantly longer section of track, perhaps up to 20metres. The video is 8MB in size and make take a little while to commence if you have a slower internet link.

    These photos from Troy Barker give some idea of what had been achieved by mid July.


    By Wednesday July 25th the Contractors had finished their work and the track team's next step was to restore the rail line. Once the top capping was installed and all compaction testing showed up as satisfactory, our volunteers again moved back in and rebuilt the track. SHR sincerely commends Davidson Contractors who did a manificent job including extra work that was not in their contract. Thanks guys!

    A full report on what challenges were faced and more details and photos on the track reinstatement can be found on our Infrastructure pages HERE

     Human Resources

    • It is with much sorrow that we learnt of the recent passing of long-term volunteer
      Colin Gower. A gentle giant of a man Colin worked with SHR as a car attendant and ticket officer. In more recent years Colin was a regular member and office bearer at National Rail Museum at Pt Adelaide and a presenter with several community radio stations.

    • On a happier note the ARHS Executive has recently conferred Life Membership on Vice President Bev Sawyer (right). Since joining us some 25 years ago, Bev has carried out a variety of tasks both on and off train - catering, shops, ticket selling and deputy train manager. More recently she has combined the duties of Vice President, Booking Officer and Administration Officer. Congratulations Bev!

     Special Services

    • Fleurieu SteamFest       The weekend of the 26th and 27th May was the culmination of a lot of hard work by our volunteers to have two steam locos, Brill60 railcar and RedHen railcar 428 ready to promote our services on the south coast. Four return steam hauled trips were run between Goolwa and Victor each day, with two intervening Brill60 railcar services. In addition, RedHen 428 ran four return trips from Goolwa past our depot and over the tall viaduct to Currency Creek and return.

    • Goolwa Hoot Festival - June Long Weekend      On the weekend of the 8th, 9th and 10th June SteamRanger participated in the annual Jazz Festival in and around Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills which was revamped this year to feature more evening performances and specially invited interstate and international musicians. The 30 or so town venues were virtually filled to capacity with bands, singers and musicians performing in restaurants, cafes, wineries and a funeral parlour!

    • ARHS 60th Birthday      Special excursion trains between Mt Barker and Goolwa were operated on 16th June to mark the first meeting of the ARHS (SA Division) which was held on the 25th June 1952. Two commemorative trains featured steam locos 621 and Rx207 and a representative set of passenger cars - Sleeping Car "Finniss", Tavern car "Bowmans", and both steel and wooden sitting cars. Special attractions at Goolwa included a river excursion on paddlewheeler "Oscar W"' and various lunch options. The consists combined on the return movement to feature double heading up the ranges.

    • Rock and Roll Special
      One of Adelaide's best known Rock and Roll groups joined passengers on the regular steam hauled "Highlander" service to Strathalbyn on the Sunday 9th September. Steam loco 621 hauled an almost capacity consist of 6 centenary cars.

      As well as playing through the train enroute, R&R music for dancing was played on the platform at Mt Barker before departure and during the lunchtime stopover in Strathalbyn where dancers showed their style on a special dance floor assembled in the park by the river.

      Recent trains - Fleurieu SteamFest

      The weekend of the 26th and 27th May was the culmination of a lot of hard work by our volunteers to have two steam locos, Brill60 railcar and RedHen railcar 428 ready to promote our services on the south coast.

      Four return steam hauled trips were run between Goolwa and Victor each day, with two intervening Brill60 railcar services.

      In addition, RedHen 428 ran four return trips from Goolwa past our depot and over the tall viaduct to Currency Creek and return.

      The services were very well patronised with passengers numbering over 300 return trips a day. Unexpectedly high passenger loads were achieved on the Currency Creek railcars.

      Photo left from Maikha Ly
      who caught Rx207 and 621 crossing at Goolwa

      Lots of questions for the 621 crew whilst standing at Victor , a line-up at Goolwa Ticket Office,
      and guard Ray Green hard at work checking tickets on the RedHen heading to Currency Creek.
      Photos: Kevin Marzahn (L&C) and Ben Greeneklee (R)

      Other happy operations volunteers at Goolwa station
      Ray Green (guard), Brian Busch (operations manager)and Ted Mason (station master)
      Val Green and Shirley Keynes (tickets and refreshments) and Bill Lewis (guard)
      Photos: Ben Greeneklee

      And not to omit our more recently inducted loco crews!
      David Groves on 621 and Ollie Lukins on Rx207
      Photos: Peter Michalak

      And we managed some good media publicity
      Brenton Ragless from NWS9 news
      brought along his cameraman (left)

      and Ashley Walsh from ABC radio provided an audio-visual report for the ABC radio website
      which features interviews with Brian Busch,
      Mark Batten, Peter Soar and
      Andrew McDonough

      Click HERE to load the ABC clip (right).

      When the ABC image appears, click on the symbol at the bottom right of the picture to play the slide show
      and use the button at the top left of your browser window to return here.

      And if you would like to see more photos of actual locos and rolling stock in service on the weekend

      to go to our photoalbum.

      This photo of a double headed consist lined up at Victor ready for the last return to Goolwa of the day by Ivan Marchant

      Recent Trains - SteamRanger part of Mt Barker "HOOT" Festival - June Long Weekend

      On the weekend of the 8th, 9th and 10th June SteamRanger participated in the annual Jazz Festival in and around Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills which was revamped this year to feature more evening performances and specially invited interstate and international musicians. The 30 or so town venues were virtually filled to capacity with bands, singers and musicians performing in restaurants, cafes, wineries and a funeral parlour!

      SteamRanger participated by chartering to the organisers a three car RedHen railcar set, cars 412, 824 and 428, on the Saturday and Sunday which ran three or four 30 minute round trips from our historic station over the top local section of the Mt Lofty Ranges to the now abandoned Bugle Ranges station site.

      On board were selected jazz groups who, after an intial set played on the station platform, moved through the carriages en-route entertaining the passengers.

      The trains were virtually full on both days to the extent that additional services to those originally advertised were required.

      SteamRanger operated its regular Bugle Ranges trip on Monday 11th, but without the musicians.

      The above photos are provided courtesy of the Mt Barker "Courier" newspaper. - left photo by Jim Filmer

      To read their online report CLICK HERE - and use your browser key to return to this page

      Recent Trains - ARHS 60th Birthday

      Special excursion trains between Mt Barker and Goolwa were operated on 16th June to mark the first meeting of the ARHS (SA Division) which was held on the 25th June 1952.

      This photo shows the first organised excursion of the group to Mt Pleasant later in the year using Brill railcar "58". Older members may be able to recall the trip and identify those in the photo!

      Two commemorative trains featured steam locos 621 and Rx207 and a representative set of passenger cars - Sleeping Car "Finniss", Tavern car "Bowmans", and both steel and wooden sitting cars. Special attractions at Goolwa included a river excursion on paddlewheeler "Oscar W"' and various lunch options. The consists combined on the return movement to feature double heading up the ranges.

      This photo from Ivan Marchant shows the double headed train crossing the Currency Creek bridge

      The key phases of SHR's development over the last 60 years are summarised on our "History" webpage which is being currently expanded to outline progress since the turn of the century. Click HERE to go to these pages.

      July Cockle Train Running a Success

      In spite of steam motive power being quarantined at Mt Barker due to the track damage reported below, the sixteen days of daily Holiday Cockle Train running in the first two weeks of July attracted an average of nearly 100 return passengers each day - up to 150 on weekends, reducing to 30 or so on various midweek days - but, encouragingly, virtually the same as in 2011 when some trains were steam hauled. A high proportion took advantage of our discount Family and Seniors fares.

      Trains were run with a mix of diesel loco 507, Brill railcar 60 and our highly decorated Redhen (opposite) which has only a few months to go before reverting to its traditional SAR color scheme.

      Over the 16 days, a large number of volunteers was required to operate the daily service - over 40 different volunteers in Train Operations (Guards, SMs, Ticket Officers, Train Attendants and Shops - eight positions to fill each day) and 10 loco crew. Several volunteers worked five or six different days over the running period. We thank them all - particularly Bev Sawyer who had the mamouth task of preparing the roster!

      50th Anniversary of Puffing Billy Railway

      On the 28th July Puffing Billy in Victoria is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Menzies creek.

      Puffing Billy is the oldest Heritage Railway in Australia and is the second oldest we believe in the world. They are having a special day on the 28th July and are launching Nick Anchen's new book on the "Narrow Gauge" in the Belgrave workshops.

      CLICK HERE to read a flyer from Puffing Billy about the event. Further details can be found on the Puffing Billy website. www.puffingbilly.com.au Anyone visiting Melbourne would be most welcome.

        Infrastructure Report - February 2012

      Troy Barker and Ray Green have provided the following summary of activities in February

      650 sleepers have been marked for replacement on the Cockle Train line. So far, we have replaced 297 sleepers between Goolwa Depot and Bashams Beach.

      Phil Neville and helpers have sprayed the track from Strathalbyn to Littlehampton. Kylie Moritz from the NRM {National Resources Management Board) has been putting out baits for rabbit control from Strathalbyn to Currency Creek. A total of 3 trips made in the Section Car. Some trees were removed at Goolwa by a contractor.

      The Strath gang are now mobile with their TMC track machines. They have made several trips to Goolwa Depot and from now on that section of track will be well maintained. They are also restoring the Mazda road/rail utility which will make their job a lot easier. The group are still out oiling fish plates and trimming trees at road crossings. Now that they have power connected to the Goods shed they will be able to clean out the shed and put some racking up so that they can move some of the spare parts from the floor.

      Tree Cutting
      Our tree cutting program continues. Apart from the section between 67km & 68Km (near Tarrawatta Rd.) we have completed all the way from Mt. Barker to Strathalbyn.

      This month's photos shows Doug dealing with a low tree near Fidler Lane

      Close to home, the team are now going to tackle the section of track from Dutton Rd. to the Mt. Barker Creek bridge which is gradually being overgrown with blackberry bushes and other sundry weeds.

      In an earlier report Ian Johnston reported on the completion of the construction of a sleeper cutting saw mounted on a rail based trailer. While we have been bringing back to Mount Barker all the odd sleeper "butts" from along the line plus the odd sleeper the full size sleepers are way too heavy for our team to lift and carry.

      Doug and Malcolm came up with the idea of mounting a sleeper cutting saw on our old greasing trailer which has been dormant in the Mount Barker goods shed for a number of years. The idea is to cut up the old sleepers removed from the track between Mount Barker & Strathalbyn (of which there are about 800 according to Malcolm's count) into thirds or quarters on site for easier handling and transportation back to Mount Barker.

      And here is a photo of the final asset!

        Steam loco Rx207 provided the motive power for most of our busy Easter and April Cockle running

      On many of the days where 5 car consists were used, the cars were very well patronised, keeping the Goolwa and Victor ticket sellers very busy.

      Passenger patronage reflected the availability of a steam locomotive on almost all running days. Overall our number of passengers carried was arpound 8% up on last year.

      Over the peak four day Easter weekend period around 350 return passenger journeys were recorded each day (mainly four return movements each day), reducing to around 200 per day for the later school holiday period. (three return movements per day).

      On two days passengers were offered a five hour excursion to Strathalbyn and return on our StrathLink service with Brill railcar 60.

      Recently qualified volunteer station master Peter Michalak provided this photo of the Rx having a brief layover at Victor Harbor midweek with the passengers obviously either browsing through our giftshop or settled into their carriages.

      With both our operational steam locos now back at Mt Barker Depot getting ready for the Fleurieu "SteamFeast" Cockle Train services during May will be operated with a mix of railcars and DE507 hauled consists.

      • Coral Street Gates
        Observant people would have noticed the much improved condition of the Coral St gates. The station side gate had deteriorated quite significantly due to rotten timbers. Our trusty gate repairer Alan Potter was able to take on the repair task fitting replacement sections which he had pre-cut in his workshop at home. Alan was able to obtain assistance from a Goolwa firm to provide and cut new iron brackets at no cost. Lester Mclnerney and his team repainted both gates as this was now well overdue. We now have an important state heritage asset maintained to a good standard.

      • Mt Barker Station
        We have been suffering from ongoing serious graffiti attacks over the last six months. The stonework under the verandah has been covered in murals which required expert assistance to carefully remove this mess. Fortunately we have a new volunteer, John Petrovic, who has been working at the station to keep it maintained and has now had to "waste" a lot of time painting over these attacks which is most disappointing.

      • Signal & Telegraph Radio Network
        Stuart Schilling has been keeping himself busy with his work on this project. To date, we have installed train radios in all locos that operate the Cockle Train service, along with Car 82. Current work focuses on setting up a system in the 300/400 class cars. Once all the required radios are installed, we will need to apply for a Management of Change process to integrate these servicesinto our safety system.

      • Track
        December was a busy month as we had to complete some track work before the Christmas Cockle Train started with sleepers and tamping between Goolwa and Middletonand between Gilberts Siding and Finniss.

      • Track Plant
        The Track Gang then started maintenance on the Track Plant to bring it up to scratch. Full details on our Infrastructure page. The Cat Loader has had its hydraulic oil leaks repaired by Cat Power.

      • Vegetation
        The line between Goolwa Depot and Victor Harbor was mulched in early December,slashing and ploughing beside the track also took place so there would be no danger of the steam engines starting a fire. A big thanks go to Robert Haebich and his team from Mount Barker, who were busy removing trees that had fallen over therail line at Littlehampton and Gemmells Rod Radestock and his team at Strathalbyn have been busy trimming trees at road crossings and track side cutting and poisoning.

        They even have first class working conditions with this lounge class seating to rest their weary bones. (Ian, Doug and Peter at Philcox Hill, courtesy of some rubbish dumper)

      • Strathalbyn
        There is still a problem with graffiti attacks in the Strathalbyn Area and they are constantly removing grafitti from the station yard and station. The gang have been busy oiling fishplates and switches between Lowanna Road and Goolwa Depot. Now that they have 2 TMC's accredited they will be doing more work beside the track .

      • Herbie Gardener
        With some sorrow we note the death of longserving track team member Herbie Gardener . He is survived by his wife Joan and three children. The Funeral was attended by most members of the past and present Track Workers, a total of 11 who turned up to farewell a great bloke and friend. A small plaque was placed in the track at Goolwa.

    • Just Add Water launch makes a splash in Goolwa

      Local stages, galleries and open air sites in and around Goolwa are now ready for a wave of creativity following the November 27 launch of the Regional Centre of Culture program, also known as Just Add Water. There's so much to look forward to from exhibitions and theatre to comedy, craft, master classes and workshops. Events organised by Country Arts SA will continue throughout 2012.

      The official program kicked off with a large free public concert on Saturday, January 14 at Goolwa Wharf when a stage was built on the wharf opposite SteamRanger's station and audience seating was arranged on the platform after the departure of the last Cockle Train.

      One of the colourful activities involved artists Seb Humphries and Scott Coleman painting RedHen car 412 with very high quality artwork which will remain until until around October when the car will return to its more historic color scheme.

      As well, other artists set to work painiting (not grafitting!) a collection of stobie poles near the road entrance to Goolwa station, including a very colourful Rx . Here are a few examples of the artwork

  • Environmental

    Robert Haebich has provided the following outline of what his team has been doing in January.

    The team have started our annual tree & foliage cut back and weed spraying program and it is pleasing to report that Doug & Malcolm have completed spraying both sides of the track from Philcox Hill to the Wistow Main Road crossing. A great effort on their part walking up over the cuttings and down in the gullys as well as along the track on both sides. They have also sprayed from Philcox Hill back down to Native Avenue. Tree cutting undertaken by Robert, Peter and Barry has progressed from Philcox Hill to the 67km post and at various other isolated locations. Sleeper butts are being collected at various locations and hopefully in the next report we will be able to report on a new initiative by Malcolm & Doug to recover not only the butts, but whole sleepers as well.

    It was good to catch up with the Strathalbyn Gang on the 30th January and to find out that they are now mobile with their TMC track machines. They have made several trips to Goolwa Depot so after a while the track from Strath. to Goolwa will be looking pretty good. They are also restoring the Mazda road/rail utility which will make their job a lot easier. Years ago, Doug, Peter & I used the Mazda quite often looking after the track environment, all the way to Victor Harbour at times.

    On the team membership front we have been fortunate to gain the services of Barry Sims as a new recruit to the gang. He heard about our activities from Greg Mill and after several weeks looks as if he has settled in well with our group. He particularly likes our morning & afternoon teas and BBQ lunches.

    Our photo shows Malcolm Merritt, Doug MacKenzie and Barrie mixing up weed killer "brew" ready for another onslaught!

    Pre Christmas Maintenance Activities

    • Valve Rings
      A number of tasks were performed on Rx207 leading up to the Christmas running with one of the most major tasks being to rectify a persistent groaning noise from the cylinder area, mainly noted whilst the loco was shunting at lower speeds. The cause was found to be excessive carbon build up under the valve rings forcing the rings to bind slightly in the bores. Rectification work required the removal of both valves and main pistons and associated valve and connecting rods, in order to remove the hard baked on carbon from under the rings.

    • Drifting Gauge
      Other tasks included the installation of a drifting gauge (like large power locos) in order to provide a clear indication to the engineman that a positive steam pressure is maintained in the steam chest at all times. This eliminates hot flue gasses and soot particles from being sucked into the steam chest whilst drifting. The sooty/ carbon gasses are believed to be one possible cause of the hard black carbon build up under the rings. The installation of a drifting gauge system was suggested by Ian Johnston. Based on successful operation of the drifting gauge indicating steam chest pressures, lan's idea was to install a gauge not unlike the big power loco's on the Rx in order to determine just how far the regulator is required to be cracked in order to maintain a positive pressure in the steam chest. Shaun performed the required drilling and tapping of the steam chest, installation of associated plumbing for the gauge and installation of the gauge to a position in the cab for it to be trialled over the Christmas running period.

    • Cylinder Release Cocks
      To compliment the cylinder work a new cylinder release cock system was designed, manufactured, installed and now operates with success. This system, incorporating ideas, designs and drawings of Bob Sexton, Ian Johnston and a final concept by Shaun Cassidy. This involved converting Rx207 from its original mechanical cylinder release cocks to an air operated release cock based on the large power loco concept. The original mechanical handle was retained. This handle now operates a strategically placed air valve behind the compressor which in turn operates the slave valves at each release cock, permitting smooth, easy operation. The original cocks were prone to becoming stiff after a short running period and very prone to blockages. So far the retro fit system has proven a success. The manufacturing task provided a good machining experience for SteamRanger's then 1st year apprentice fitter, Oliver Lukins. To all involved, a job well done.

    • And a few other tasks
      A number of other tasks were performed including periodical service items and the removal of the regulator assembly for facing and reworking of the stuffing box sliprings and packing gland, due to a steam blow from the cylinders whilst the regulator was closed. Several post Cockle Train issues have arisen which will be attended to whilst the loco has a brief return to the Mt Barker workshops.

    Holiday Cockle Train Issues

    • Injector Steam Valve
      Rx207 was removed from traffic after the first return trip from Goolwa to Victor Harbor on Wednesday 18th January due to concerns with the fireman's side injector steam valve. The steam valve after each operation would close to a different parked position in a clockwise direction indicating one of two things. Either the valve seat in the valve body had come loose or some sort of issue with the valve spindle was allowing it to work its way out of the valve body. With the latter being adopted as having the highest safety risk the engine was failed from traffic, allowed to cool overnight and a replacement injector installed the following morning with the loco returning to traffic without further issue. Dismantling of the injector steam valve showed it to be the former, the valve seat working loose in the body. The injector has since been repaired and will be installed whilst the Rx is at Mt Barker for some post running servicing.

    • Whistle Valve
      An earlier issue noted was an abnormality that developed rather quickly in the operation of the whistle valve. The valve became "notchy" in its operation to the point where, intermittently when blowing the whistle, the valve would open momentarily for a short blow then shut again with further effort then being required for further blowing. Eventually complete jamming of the whistle valve mechanism occurred requiring the complete whistle assembly to be changed over with another operational valve assembly. Upon inspection, the fault was soon evident with the main valve body of the whistle becoming detached from its mounting thread. A modification to the valve some decade ago, by means of sleeving the internal bore of the valve, had provided a nice shank for the whistle body to move up and down on, every time the whistle was blown, until it eventually gave way and the mechanism jammed. Amazing that the entire whistle valve body did not find its way into a paddock somewhere. Apart from resulting in a failed loco, should something this dramatic have occurred there is no danger as there is a steam stop valve beneath the whistle valve. The fortunate part of this issue was that it occurred on a day prior to a fire ban permitting a day's grace to and change the unit over. Not the most pleasant tasks, working on top of a hot steam loco on a very warm day. Well done Shaun for a speedy repair.

      Steam locos Rx207 and 621 teamed up with our heritage
                railcars for busy Xmas - January School Holiday Cockle Trains

    The attraction of two different steam locos performing Cockle Train duties throughout the Christmas holiday periods proved a success. On many of the days where 5 car consists were used, the 5 cars were very well patronised, with some record breaking days produced. It is known that on many occasions the mix of loco's produced many return passengers throughout this period to ride behind the different locos. One little boy's mother stated that he had travelled behind the two steam loco's on no less than seven separate days whilst holidaying at Victor Harbor.

    Passenger patronage reflected the availability of a steam locomotive on almost all running days with ticket sales up by around 30% on last year's running when we had no operational steam loco. In the peak period of late December / early January around 350 return passenger journeys were recorded each day (up to five return movements each day), reducing to around 200 per day by mid January (three return movements per day). Overall for the whole holiday running period we carried 10175 passengers compared with 8216 in 2010/2011 (a 24% increase) .

    We were unable to operate trains on two days around New Year due to high temperatures and fire restrictions and had to substitute diesel power on another two, due to a mechanical fault with Rx207 and a fireban.

    • Three daily return services ran for the full period, departing Goolwa at 10.00am, 12.15pm and 2.45pm, departing on return from Victor at 11.00am, 1.30pm and 3.45pm. These trains initially featured steam loco 621, and then Rx207 from the 10th onwards with 621 returning from Australia Day onwards.

    • A late afternoon return trip ran with our heritage Brill railcar departed Goolwa at 4.30pm until the 8th January, and then on the 15th and 26th, returning from Victor at 5.30pm

    And some extra or varied services!


      As was done last year our RedHen set again helped south coast residents and visitors to bring the New Year in at Victor without all the hastles of driving. The set depart Goolwa at 8.30pm for a 30 minute trip to Victor, where it stayed until 12.30am before travelling back to Goolwa, arriving at 1.00am.


      Brill railcar 60 operated a train from Victor to Strathalbyn and return on the 2nd, 8th, 15th and 26th of January, pasengers on the first leg from Victor to Goolwa using the 11.00am Cockle Train service.


      On the Thursday 19th January our afternoon Cockle Train was retimed slightly to accommodate the bike race which concluded for the day at Victor. Passengers were able to view the race from the 1.30pm ex Goolwa train which stood near the Port Elliot caravan park to watch the cyclists ride by!

      Passengers and the crew (this photo from fireman Kevin Marzahn from atop his tender!) had an excellent view of what turned out to be a very competitive section.

      The scheduled 3.45pm ex Victor train was delayed until 4.30pm so that passengers could take in the end of the ride at Victor.


      On Saturday 11th February we ran the first of two SteamRanger Dinner Excursion trains from Mt Barker to Strathalbyn and entitled it "Celebrate Valentines" to coincide (nearly) with Valentines Day later in the week.

      The train was hauled by DE958 with two comfortable steel cars and a baggage. The train was almost full with passengers celebrating with dinner in one of the historic pubs. Peter Michalak caught the atmosphere of the evening with his dramatic photo of the consist standing at Strath station.

      Another evening trip is scheduled for 28th July with the theme Christmas in July.


      Congratulations Craig!

    Thursday December 29th 2011 marked the first solo CT driving run for the first new SHR trained steam loco engineman for many, many years!

    After a rigorous training and assessment process our Mechanical Services Manager Craig Dunstan (center) took the steam regulator of loco 621 on a day of Cockle Train running and we congratulate him! He was accompanied on the footplate by vintage SHR firemen Andrew Gramp and Roger Currie who no doubt were able to point out all the attractions along the south coast beaches to him.

    Later in the week he was scheduled to be accompanied as fireman by another recently SHR trained fireman David Groves another key member of the Mt Barker based mechanical services team who keep out fleet in top notch condition. David took the above photo.