Following the success of this trip, focus was turned to preparations and planning for the next big adventure, a trip that was dubbed the Winter Safari, and planned for the June long weekend here in New South Wales. Lots of planning, some last minute changes and lots of maintenance work on the Garratt and our fleet of carriages was planned and undertaken. With this work completed, the cab is noticeably cleaner and safer, and the risk of oil spills and tools floating around on the floor is pretty much eliminated.
One of the biggest undertakings, was to remove the second brake stand from the cab of the Garratt. This allowed us to address one of our major concerns when operating the loco, that of safe storage space for oil cans and crew bags, issues that had shown up on the earlier runs. With this work completed, the cab is noticeably cleaner and safer, and the risk of oil spills and tools floating around on the floor is pretty much eliminated. Among other works performed on the Garratt was the replacement of a number of bricks in the arch that had proven too small for service, our annual boiler exam, the front tank was removed to allow some work to be undertaken on the lubrication system that was giving trouble and some pipework was fitted to allow through train watering on the long trip.
Even then, preparation for the massive adventure to Junee and Wagga Wagga was not restricted to the Garratt or the previous week. Many, many hours of man power was put into the essential checks, maintenance and simple logistics of such a long distance trip. As the Garratt had not performed such a long distance trip in some 30 odd years, it was in the back of everyone’s minds that there were, potentially, many issues that could possibly arise during the tour. Therefore as much as possible, all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed before we left. Coal was ordered and left in Junee for us to use while we were there, even more was bagged and loaded into the old freight car we have, along with wood for light-up purposes. Telehandlers were hired and placed in Harden and Junee and the Harden fire brigade was put on notice to supply water for us as we passed.
Some say that firing and driving a steam engine is a dream come true and it is for every crew who gets the opportunity to get dirty, and it is an experience never to be forgotten, with such an awe inspiring engineering marvel like 6029. It is indeed all this and so more, but it is also exhausting dirty work. The shuttles required vigilance and hard work for all involved, something that the crews gave happily even though they looked tired and worn out at the end of the day. Seven full shuttles to Bomen and back and a trip to Uranquinty were hard hot work, but we loved it and look forward to possibly doing the same next year!
Thanks as always to Howard Moffat, Bevan and Ross Wall, for the pictures and video content they generously allow us to use on the blog. Without their contribution of time and expertise, there would be very little to see here, and likely no blog at all to keep everyone across what is happening.