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We will endeavour to get back to you ASAP, but please allow a couple of days for us to respond!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Interested in Travelling Privateer Style??? - Sat 26 Sept - Bowral/Mittagong

As part of the reason for creating this blog, it is also intended to keep those interested in future trips to be kept informed about planned operations.

On Saturday 26 September, the ARHS-ACT is operating a train to Bowral/Mittagong for the Tulip Time Festival.

For those looking to head out for a fun day travelling in the premium class lounge car BAM1741 - this is one of the first opportunities of it being availed for the general public to ride!

Interested passengers can directly book with the ARHS to travel in this car as a complete package for the day to the Tulips Festival, Details as follows:-

Looking forward to continued support with the Privateers outings!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rollingstock History of the Privateers Part IV

Being a worldly group of Privateers, we are not only confined to the NSW regions... Former NSWGR stainless sleeping car FAM2386 is under restoration by one of our colleagues up in sunny Bris-vegas.

FAM2386 is a former "Brisbane Limited" car that also operated on the "Gold Coast Motorail" service. These trains were overnight trains between Sydney and Brisbane and Northern NSW prior to the introduction of the XPT services in the early 80's.

Rather than re-tell the story, below is the "411" from the owner which tells the story of the "FAM Project" more accurately than I can.....


Well I hear you all say, “What is the FAM project”. No it is not my hip way of saying the family project, although it is becoming a family project as such.

The FAM is actually FAM 2386 a stainless steel air conditioned sleeper carriage from NSW which has been recently obtained to restore.

For two years now I have been on the lookout for a stainless steel sleeper carriage to restore as my own private carriage. A couple of opportunities came up but nothing eventuated. In September 2007 I was made aware that FAM2386 was coming up for tender by Railcorp.

In April 2008 the tender document was released and much to my surprise the Office of Rail Heritage (ORH) in NSW was asking for tenders for the carriage but at no cost. The Office of Rail Heritage was asking for submissions to give the carriage away, amongst 83 other separate items, and it would be awarded to the person or group who could give it the best heritage outcome.

Not thinking I would have a chance in hell, I thought what the heck I will give it a go. Considering I was going to be tendering against the preservation groups, I really didn’t think I was going to get a look in sideways especially a Queenslander getting a look in. None the less I set about writing a submission answering the 12 key selection criteria and backed it up with letters of support and other documentation required and submitted it by the 5ht June deadline. The document turned out to be half an inch thick.

Months went by and no one really knew when ORH was going to make their decision. On 6th November 2008 I got a phone call from the ORH and was asked “Did you tender for FAM2386?” ... slowly I said, “Yes.” I then prepared myself for the “Unfortunately you were not successful in your application.” The reply was simple, “It’s yours.” I was absolutely stunned and went deadly silent whilst I was standing in the waiting room of the relaxation centre. The officer from ORH then said twice, “Are you still there?” Still in shock I replied. My remark was that I was told one week before hand unofficially that I would not be successful. The ORH advised that he didn’t know who told me that misinformation but the carriage was truly mine.

A tremendous feel came over me and the mind started 100 to the dozen as now I had 8 weeks to get the beast out of Sydney and back to Brisbane. With Christmas just around the corner it was going to be a huge task.

FAM2386 was built in 1970 by the Granville Workshops on licence from Budd Cars in Philadelphia. It spent most of its life on the Gold Coast Motor Rail but also occasionally when to Melbourne. In 1988 it was retired from service and was to be converted in 1991 to the Broadmeadow Breakdown Van. This project commenced with 3 rooms being removed and a kitchen started at one end. A stainless steel range hood and kitchen bench were installed but the project ceased soon after. The carriage was then moved to Eveleigh Carriage Workshops to be stored under cover with many other items of Rollingstock owned by ORH. It stayed here until Wednesday the 3rd December when it was shifted to Chullora ready to be transported.

(Laminate interior in the bedroom)

(Partially constructed kitchen area by SRA)

(Gutted bedroom area for crew)

(Another shot of the "kitchen")

(The FAM in storage in Carriage Works, Eveleigh)

In the meantime, I had to organise cranes, our good 'Oldmate' Mario from Australian Train Movers, an additional semi trailer, transfer documents, various permits, dogs and chains to secure the load, wide load signs and everything else you could think of.

In addition to this we had to store the car in 'borrowed space' from QPSR and lay a new road for the carriage to be stored on. In 5 Days and between 6 people we laid 97m of track with 75 pound rail - an impressive effort from the team! Even more impressive that the rail had to be dug in to ground level.

The morning of the 3rd of December soon arrived and hopefully with everything in place our journey begun. First thing was to pick up the truck that I was to drive to Sydney. I hire a Volvo FH12 and 40’ steel flat deck trailer from Rentco but with all the finest plans in place something was bound to go wrong. None of the trailer lights worked so that delayed us by an hour. It was then back to home to load up the rest of the gear and get underway. The first part of our journey was to the old Melaleuca Station at Chinderah just south of Tweed Heads where we had to back load two carriages for Mario. What was to take 1-2 hours actually took 4 hours. The crane was 1 hour late and when we had loaded the two carriages we had to reposition them and then the challenge was to chain them down.

We eventually got away at 4pm and made a mad dash south to get as far as we could before I ran out of driving hours and energy. We actually made it to Kempsey that evening at about 8pm. Parking the truck in the motel was an interesting.

The next morning was an early rise but once again we were held up as some talented individual parked the truck in and we didn’t know who it belonged to. After some nervous manoeuvring we were then underway.

It was a great run down to Sydney until we hit that famous Sydney traffic. Trusting a GPS in a 40’ truck is nerve racking when you don’t have any clue about the area you are driving in little loan knowing where you are heading. All we had was some scratchy notes from Mario and a desire to get off the road. We arrived at Mario’s at about 1pm to be greeted by his lovely wife (and the true organiser) Nora. Following lunch we viewed Mario’s collection and unchained the carriages on my truck before retiring to a local motel to wait for my good friend and engineer to arrive. Naturally a few ales and a good meal were had to wash away the road dust.

It was an early start on Friday 5th December to unload the two carriages from my truck, load the jinker to move the carriage and a section car. Our journey this morning was to take us to Chullora to load the carriage at 1pm.

Upon arrival at Chullora we discovered that FAM2386 had been put into a siding that we could not get the cranes anywhere near and the clock was ticking with our crane on site. A quick phone call to the ORH was then made. The ORH organised a loco to come and shift the carriage to where it was supposed to be. Much to our surprise the loco was dispatched and was on site within 15 minutes. Meanwhile we secured the items in the carriage to prevent movement during transport. At this point in time a sudden sense of surrealism set it along with some disbelief that this was now actually my carriage and everything I had dreamt of.

(Just about on the road)

(Bogies on the move)

(Crane action)

(More crane action)

(FAM sitting at Chullora)

The crane we ordered was a 50T slewing crane but they actually sent an 110T crane. What an awesome sight. It was built in 2007 at a cost of $1.7M and had its own support truck.

It took about an hour to set up the crane and prepare the carriage for the lift. We had to get under and knock out the cotter pins for the bogie pins, disconnect the brake lines and ensure there were no loose items. Trust me, crawling under axels and getting into a place where you had never been before was a challenge. We lifted one end at a time. Lifting the lighter end first we slewed the carriage across onto the prime mover turntable. Several adjustments were made until Mario was completely satisfied. His fussiness shows what a professional he is. Now the first bogie could be lifted onto my truck.

The other end was then lifted onto Mario’s jinker and then secured into place. Mario had this process down pat. The only thing we had to cut off was one toilet outlet and not one hole had to be blown in the frame to tie the carriage down. The whole tie down and then placing the wide load signs on both trucks took the best part of 1.5 hours and the whole process took 4.5 hours. Not as quick as I had planned.

Feeling quite drained from a very hot day and working flat out it was time for a quick shower and then dinner with another one of the Privateers. An early night was certainly on the cards for me.

We were up at 1.30am to be picked up and taken to the rail yards again for a 2.30am departure. We had 3 escort vehicles. Two for the carriage itself and 1 for my truck as we were all wide loads and in Sydney CBD you can only move wide loads between midnight and 5am.

We had a quick sprint up to Wyong truck stop for breakfast and to wait for day break. It was here that we could get rid of two escorts. The rest of the day was casually driving up the coast with several compulsory stops.

It was quite amusing to watch people’s faces as we drove up the coast. You could just about read their lips. Being in the second truck you got to see their reactions. Even more amusing were the comments across the radio like, “Now that’s a real road train”, and “That’s the only way NSW can keep their trains on time.”

We arrived at Tweed Heads at 5.30pm when we were curfewed. Finding accommodation at the Gold would normally seem easy but rest assured we couldn’t find anything with shouting distance of where we had to park the trucks. With two sleepers in the truck and a sleeper carriage, accommodation was right where we needed it. We had a quick bite to eat and an early night.

A 4.30am start on Sunday saw us continue to our journey to QPSR’s depot at Box Flat and we had to be off the road by 7.30am. Upon arrival at the site the very heavy rain the night before made the road very slippery and unloading the following day looked unlikely. Not exactly what we had planned on. Plan A was in place and we had to quickly come up with Plan B, C, D and E. A meeting with the crane company and we reverted back to Plan A with the additional need for swamp pads to stop the crane sinking in the soft ground.

The rest of the day was spent planning for the unloading of FAM2386 and the modification of 2 QR bogies to sit the carriage on. Thanks to our oldmates the 2 bogies were quickly modified.
(What a standard gauge car on NG looks like - Perhaps a tribute the old CR days of the Narrow Gauge Ghan...)

Monday 8th December saw us unload FAM2386 on the head shunt at QPSR. With some quick ground preparation with a bob cat, we positioned the two trucks to first unload the bogies with a 25T Franna and then a 65T all terrain slewing crane. Some juggling was required to manoeuvre the items but after 4.5 hours FAM2386 was unloaded and safely on QR bogies. It then took the best part of an hour to shunt FAM2386 into the compound.

Several weeks later another shunt took place to shift the carriage into the newly constructed road to its final restoration place.

It is planned that the restoration project will take approximately 2-3 years so stay tuned for further chapters in the restoration of FAM2386.

(This is what a clean end looks like - shiny things)

(This is what it started like...)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trips of the Past - Part II - Canberra, Sydney and Katoomba NYE 2007/08

Generally speaking, the NYE trip run by the ARHS from Canberra to Sydney is a staple trip for the privateers. All years since the ARHS commenced running this service except for 08/09, where no privateers were present, but 1748 went for a crew van), the privateers have made the effort to travel on this train.

The train generally departs Canberra at 10am on NYE, makes its way through the Southern Highlands and South Sydney with an arrival into Central, Sydney around 4:30ish in the afternoon. The return trip back is on New Year's Day departing Central at 2am with an arrival into Canberra around 10:30am - (This year, 09/10 the ARHS is once again planning on running this trip,

On the 2007/08 New Years Trip, the Privateers had arranged for a side trip to Katoomba in the evening as well as the attached trip to Sydney.

The train operated by the ARHS to Sydney was 17 cars including the two privateers. This trip was the first time that the ARHS had utilised locomotives operated by our supporters at Southern Shorthaul Railroad - the trip to Sydney and the Katoomba side trip was hauled by former NSWGR locomotives 44204 and FL220 (ex 42220) and on the return former Commonwealth Railways locomotive GM10 (built in 1952) and former Victorian Railways locomotive S317.

All photos once again go to the credit of the highly talented Domenik Giemza and his uber-cool photographic equipment.

44204 and 42220 sit on the train (well outside of the platform in Canberra - it was never built for 17 cars) prior to departure.

Enroute between Canberra and Bungendore, this photo shows the length of the NYE special - it was well patronised with 130 odd passengers!

Entering Sydney metropolitan area, its all too exciting to not have a look and see where things are at.

This photo shows the gutted shower and conducter's compartment in BAM1748, which has been made in a well serviced bar - its a hot summer's day after all, refreshing ale anyone?

This photo is a good shot of the removed four sleeping rooms in BAM1741. We can see the polished timber finish and leather lounges.

So guys, where are we? Cant be too far from Sydney... (also a good view of BAM1748 lounge area)

This looks like the alternative to classy travel - Cityrail's finest T-set on an up Waterfall service passing through St Peters vicinity... wonder what the pax on the Cityrail service thought???

Too cool for school in those sunnies, and overtaken by the Waterfall service!... Still were not in any hurry.

Sitting at Central prior to the little side-trip to Katoomba.

Enroute, and engrossed in conversation, New Years Cheers celebrated by all!

We've just arrived at Katoomba on NYE, and its 8:31pm and 14 seconds (not to be precise or anything like that...)

Gotta run around to go back down again - just for the record, 35 degress in Sydney, 21 up at Katoomba - nice and refreshing!

... Well, it is important to keep in contact with friends, especially in making plans for later - but hey, why leave a well stocked bar! (for the record, good photo of the bar area in BAM1741)

Did anyone say hangover... meh, must just be the morning fog of the Southern Highlands - we see environmentally friendly GM10 and S317 taking the train through to Canberra returning our 'all celebrated out' passengers back home to Canberra.

By the time next year comes around, we would have forgetten what happened last year and will be ready to do it again (or maybe lets give it two years!)...

Trips of the Past - Part I - Tarago by Steam 17 August 2007

So beyond the fun of getting dirty and messy doing the restoration of the various vehicles, occassionally, the privateers get out to enjoy their masterpieces!

There have been many trips in the past, but to get started with a taste of what happens on a 'privateers' trip, a couple of trip summaries are provided here to wet the whistle of any prospective privateers...

The report summarises a trip on Saturday 17 August 2007 which was a steam engine hauled trip from Canberra to Tarago in NSW using BAM1741 and 1748. As with any trip to Tarago a 'must visit' is the Historic Loaded Dog Hotel...

All photos are credited to Domenik Giemza

In the cold Friday Evening before the trip, 3016 sits simmering away awaiting the following day's duties!

Our fireman contemplating life is smiling on the inside!

3016 with private cars shunts out the goods shed siding at Bungendore.

3016 Shunting into the Bungendore platform with the private cars.

3016 is working enroute between Bungendore and Tarago - not a heavy load, but important cargo!

The compulsory visit to the Loaded Dog Hotel whenever in Tarago township! One of the best pubs in Southern New South Wales. Always well worth stopping in for a relaxing pint, and a great meal - excellent food and service, huge meals!

... and walking back to the Station, what do we see on the horizon!

Smiles all round - a great relaxing day to a brilliant destination in awesome company!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rollingstock History of the Privateers Part III

MHG11674 is the next item of rollingstock within the greater community of private carriage owners to come online - most likely within the next 18 months ~ 2 years.

Historically, the MHG is one of 200 such vans operated by the NSWGR in the period of the early 1950's to the mid 1980's, when the use of guards vans were withdrawn by the State Rail Authority. For more info on this class of van, see:-

The history of this van in its operating days is largely unknown. Apart from its build date in 1952 and being originally painted black (technically gun metal grey), the only modifications made to this van have been the 'closing in' of the old side guards doors and modifications to allow access to the passenger saloon from the guards area.

At some stage in the 1970's, the van was repainted in the standard Tuscan Terror red colour scheme. It is believed that the vehicle was reclassified in the early 1980's to the modern coding classification of "NVMF".

Without rollingstock record cars to confirm accurately, it is believed the van was withdrawn in the mid 1980's and stored at Parkes, NSW. The van was amongst a large string of freight vehicles, including flat tops, water gins and other MHG brake vans purchased by the ARHS and taken possession in 1999.

The van had no use with the ARHS and was never planned on ever being utilised for any particular purpose - the ARHS had sold similar vans from the batch acquired in 1999 for the use of "static" farm storage sheds.

The current owner made an offer of purchase of the van from the ARHS in 2007, and has since commenced restoring the vehicle. The vehicle was purchased 'as is, where is' where it had been previously heavily vandalised, water damaged, no windows, rust patches etc etc prior to its recovery by the ARHS in 1999.

Restoration has commenced in earnest and the follwing photos provide a very brief snap shot of works undertaken since this process commenced. It is anticipated that this calendar year (2009 - something about the best laid plans of men and mice...) that the vehicle will be mechanically ready for a test trip, although not fitted out.

The works undertaken thus far have involved securing the van, repairing the roof, replacing doors, fitting of windows, rust repairs and the bogie overhaul has also commenced...

Bogies prior to strip down and overhaul

Old internal roof removed for replacement and wall removed for preparation.

New baggage doors fitted.

New doors and prior to roof restoration

More again...

Repaired end walls

Bogies stripped down, needle gunned and new horn cheek wear plates fitted

Horn guides pre-needle gunning (not pretty!)

The bogies of a 1000 pieces!

More wall removals for fixing roof and rust correction!

The old guards chair... Not very comfortable.

Where the passengers will sit (eventually)

Rust removal from the end wall.

Some original photos from when the van was first purchased!

Onwards and upwards, as they say!