When the call went out for a volunteer to collect the super heater elements from Ballarat, I thought that this would be a bit of an adventure, so the hand shot up.
I was selected from the throng, and set about the logistics. My copilot was to be John.
Friday April 30 saw us on the road, and well clear of Yass, before sunrise. We didn’t get to see sunrise, more of an increase in light between fog patches. The drive was quite uneventful. I have not been on the Hume since the Coolac bypass was finished. Also notable was the extended dual carriageway into Albury and the start of works to bypass Tarcutta. As well as other things I can’t remember.
Our trusty Avis Isuzu performed flawlessly. We made Ballarat by about 4pm. We found Glenn at home on his RDO. The elements had been neatly stacked in five packs of four. Each pack consisted of four elements the same size. Here is where a little excitement started. The longest elements were 4.5m, and the truck was 4.2m. We had a vague plan to remove the doors and let the last foot hang in the breeze. This plan proved to be not needed. John has an uncanny spatial awareness about him, and was convinced we could make it work without removing doors. This was done by restacking the packs. Each new pack had one of each sized element. This meant we were able to get the first three packs in the truck diagonally, and the remaining five elements were placed on the tray under the frames that Glenn had made. The photos paint a better picture.
After an hour or so, the truck was loaded, and we were very relieved not to have had to remove the doors.
Glenn took us down to the Steamrail yard and showed us around. They have a number of D3’s there, and two R Class locos. Class leader R700 is under restoration. It didn’t look much, as most of it is elsewhere. Sound familiar? I had known that the R Class locos were gauge convertible. I had no idea how you would do this, but now I have. They have packers in the frame that you remove. This makes it narrower. All you need is new axles, new bogies? And a lot of plumbing redone, and you’re away. I imagine this is a pretty serious job, and could take a while. I think the clock is on R766, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
After a stroll around the yard, in which time we saw three (3) passenger trains arrive at nearby Ballarat Station, we said our farewells to Glenn and headed out for dinner.
Saturday saw us on the road soon after 5.30 am and back at Kingston before 4pm. There the friendly folk, and their forklift, helped unload the truck, and the job was done.
Bring on the hot steam!