Location: Manning Valley
Date: May 2010

May 22, 2010. It's interesting that this journal is #0032 and here I am talking about a class 32 steam loco. Here's a note from Wikipedia about the 3237: 3237 was built in the United Kingdom by Beyer Peacock & Co and came into service in Australia on the 26th of February, 1893. the Loco was originally numbered P 508 but became 3237 in the NSWGR 1924 renumbering scheme. The loco work mainline runs around the Sydney area area light freight but for most of its working career 3237 was based at Cowra's semi-roundhouse. The loco was withdrawn in November 1971 and eventually moved to Cowra's semi-roundhouse, the home of the Lachlan Valley Railway which owns 3237. The loco was dismantled during 1980's for a lengthy overhaul which included a new front tube-plate. The overhaul was completed with 3237's return to steam in mid-2005. 3237 is currently stored at Eveleigh Workshops, Redfern, for occaisional mainline use with LVR and 3801 Limited.

The loco was supposed to make a refuelling and maintenance stop at Taree while on its way to the Grafton area for a 6-week stint. But people heard about the stop and clamored for a ride. Local enthusiast Ted McKellar and his wife volunteered to sell tickets and organize things. He was a big help to me too. 3237 will return to Taree in early July and I hope to be on board if it does a local trip before it leaves again for Sydney.

For some reason best known to the vagaries of computers, the order of the album pics is ass about. The 3237-2 series appears first but they were taken on the second day, the day after the loco arrived. I also shot a video on day 2 (May 21) so there wasn't much time for stills. I'll be editing the vid during the next day or two and will post it on Youtube.

On day one, I spoke to a couple of engineers, a Brit and an Aussie. The Brit knew a thing or two about steam locos so I asked him how 2 or 3 locos pulling the same train are synchronized when coupled together. "By feel", he said. So the 3 drivers use their experience to maintain a synchronized speed. It's different with diesel locos... they're controlled by computer. The driver is basically an observer. The Aussie bloke worked for 54 years on the railways and drove steam locos for most of that time. He also drove the diesel XPTs for 20 years. He said driving steam locos was "hot and dirty work", which I can believe. The driver's cab is open to the elements, with a red-hot furnace blazing constantly, soot all over the place, and no creature comforts. The modern diesels have microwave ovens, refrigerators, stereos, phones, air conditioning and all the mod cons. BUT, diesels don't have romance. Hehe.

The Aussie also related an interesting story about the Yanks when they were here during WW II. The main line up and down the NSW coast is a single track. The Americans offered to build a second track but the NSW government rejected the offer because "maintenance would be too expensive". So here we are 70 years down the track (no pun intended) and we still have a single line.

I traveled on a northbound XPT some years ago and we had to pull over to a siding and wait for a southbound train to pass before we could continue our journey. What a joke in this day and age.

Not all that long ago, steam was taken for granted. One bloke said there were 3 steam locos a day passing through Taree and no one bothered to look. Nowadays, of course, they're a rarity and a novelty, and attract a great deal of attention. Click here for the photo album.  If you'd like to see the video of the event, click here.


← Older posts      Journal Index      Newer posts →
Return to Home Page