Newsletter May 2012
Following many months of hard work (and many years of waiting) the erection of our workshop is now well advanced with our slab and service pit complete, our steel frame up, walls sheeted, guttering mostly up, with the roof yet to go. The slab was put down just prior to Christmas 2011 and the completion of the building is now our first priority.
Thanks go to many, many people with particular thanks to Hutchinson’s Builders for the excellent job done on the slab. All up cost for the slab was $70,000 with $30,000 coming from the Gambling Community Fund and the balance of funding mainly donated by members.
The building has an interesting history with the steel being produced by Bethlehem Steel of U.S.A. This same firm produced steel for the Golden Gate Bridge and for over 1,100 ships during World War 11. The American forces shipped the shed to Australia during 1942 and it was used as an Aircraft Hanger at Oakey during the war. Subsequently it was dismantled in 1947 and then used in Toowoomba as the then Toowoomba Electric Light maintenance shed in Duggan St.
When the site was purchased in 1988 for the development of Village Fair shopping centre it was again dismantled and sat up at the old Bridge Street quarry in Toowoomba. It was then given to Downs Group Training who we negotiated with for the purchase, and thanks to the efforts of Ray Poulton of D.G.T. And our Peter Eldridge, the shed was then given to DownsSteam. As there were no plans for the building, we sought assistance from the U.S.Q. School of Engineering whose students researched the history of the structure and presented us with the plans. Engineer Tony Loveday ably assisted them; at no charge to the group engineer Lindsay Reid draw up the final slab plans to submit to Council.
We are currently making application for $20,000 to fund the purchase of four (4) roller doors and will then need funding for the purchase of electrical components to complete the building. We hope to have it ready for an August Opening and am inviting Tim Fisher to do the honours. The completed workshop will be a giant leap forward for our group with members being able to work undercover through all weather conditions.
This will give the restoration of Loco 106 – “The Pride of Toowoomba” a real boost with only three years left to complete the restoration for her 100th Birthday when she came into service in April 1915. We have had sufficient funds donated to purchase some sixty (60) fire tubes and need another 120 to complete the retubing. The tubes are available for $100 each and we ask members to redouble their efforts to raise sufficient funds to complete the task. We are indeed fortunate to have Damian Strofeld as the leader of the restoration team and his knowledge of steam is second to none.
While this has been going on our rolling stock manager Tom Redwood has been toiling away rewiring our diesel Loco 1172. Ably assisted by Laurie Nearpass and Bill Bowden this is now 85% complete. Bill our driver has also been doing dozens of maintenance jobs on the “Drayton Belle” as it has been named in honour of the township of Bell on the Downs from where it was shifted.
It’s hoped that in the next few months to start recommissioning trials. This will require 1172 to be run firstly as a light engine (Locomotive only) on the main line. At the completion of this phase 1172 will be being coupled to a load of empty carriages for load trials on main line and final systems testing. It is envisaged that these runs will be to Wyreema and possibly Pittsworth.
On the satisfactory completion of test programme, re-profiling machining of the wheels will be finalised. At the present we are investigating the possibility of this machining being undertaken in house. If it proves to be beyond our resources 1172 will have to be run as a light engine to Q.R. workshops in Brisbane. On the completion of all this work 1172 will be restored to its former glory in the original Q.R. colours.
A new member Steven has undertaken the often forgotten but daunting task of documentation so 1172 can be finally signed off, re-commissioned and returned to service as our mainline diesel.
Thanks to Frank Debenham and Kevin Senz, two of our section cars have had a “make over” and look great.
Our thanks also go to Westbrook Correctional Centre for their help with so many jobs throughout the precinct.
The catering corp has continued to help to swell our coffers with planning now under way for the grand opening of the Workshop in August. Dinner and entertainment will be provided and those businesses that helped us will be invited as well as our own members. R.S.V.P. Will be essential and we will advise members more details closer to the date.
Membership continues to increase with some 140 members with a good percentage of those now active within the group. Members are reminded our active workdays are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with other days by arrangement with Jeff Smith and Peter Eldridge.
Our award winning gardens continue to draw favourable comments from all who visit and help is always welcome from members. We are planting up for Carnival of Flowers within the next couple of weeks and we thank the ongoing support of Coroneos Nursery who has supplied (at no charge) the majority of our plants.
At a recent meeting here of the Australian Tourist Railways of Queensland, the members from all over the state as well as representatives from QR on the excellence of our food, our gardens and presentation of the site. A big effort has gone into this side of the organisation and members can be justly proud of the end result.
Beginning July this year, your group takes over the lease of the eastern side of the main Toowoomba / Wallangarra line opposite our existing lease. This is Q.R. Land and the vision is to have a major museum and shed space for rolling stock. Members who have visited our site recently will realise we are now “out of space “on the current site. The additional area is now known as Drayton East.
A new committee under the chairmanship of former president Malcolm Martin is working with Q.R/ and Qld Transport to facilitate our move onto the main line. We will be looking for many more working volunteers to assist.
You may be able to help with our on board catering, tour guides, carriage attendants, maintenance of carriages, servicing the locomotive, shunting, office work etc. Whatever your skills, you would be welcome to apply. Applications can be made by applying in person at Drayton Station Office and ask for Jeff Smith, Peter Eldridge or Graeme Thomas.
We advise new members that we will be open every day during Carnival of Flowers from Sat. 22nd Sept to Friday 28th with the annual Train Drivers Breakfast on Sunday 30th Sept starting at 8.30 a.m. to 10.30a.m. We can seat up to 50 on the covered platform and will have live music. Additional help is definitely needed throughout the week and for the Train Drivers Breakfast. Cost of the yummy, full breakfast is $25.00 and bookings are essential. Payment can be made on pay pal or by cheque in the mail to P.O. Box 11106 Centenary Heights or in person at our Drayton Station. This is a major fundraiser for your society and we encourage all members to support it. Members are always welcome to come and join us for a “cuppa” any Tues, Thurs or Saturday at 10 a.m. In our Melbourne tram, and see our progress to date.
We have been invited to join an international group of heritage and tourist railways, which is having its conference in Leeds U.K. in October. Two of our members Jeff Smith and Peter Eldridge will be attending and representing DownsSteam.
Members are reminded safety for the visiting public and our fellow volunteers is always our first priority. When working on site safety boots and high vis vests are mandatory. It is important to keep the work areas clean and clear of clutter. Trip hazards are the biggest cause of accidents on a railway site. Active volunteers are requested to wear nametags that are available from Peter Eldridge. Following is a list of some of our key personnel
Chairperson – Ros Scotney
Site Development Manager – Jeff Smith
Work place health & safety – Graeme Thomas
Operations Manager – Kevin Senz
Rolling Stock Manager – Tom Redwood
106 Restoration Team Leader – Damian Strofeld
Catering Manager – Glyn Hughes
Special projects and Access C|tee chair – Malcolm Martin
Looking forward to excellent progress during the winter season.
Regards Peter Eldridge.