OH MY!!!!

Thumbing through some old piccys today I thought I would share my undying love for the mighty 4 stroke that the good doctor GE built for our for-fathers all those years ago to prowl our lands...
Below are various images taken at various points on the timeline...
I'll quite happily admit to getting all starry eyed and dribbly watching and hearing a pair of DXB's coming up the grade into Whareroa on a still night and still get goosebumps remembering the nights standing on the Otira platform after changing over and witnessing those most incredible standing starts as 5 DXC's bark and fight against gravity to lift 2200t of coal up the grade, a couple of the older ones with a foot high flame off the stack.....

*sigh*

Work is what you make of it eh?..... 

A few times now I have pondered employment elsewhere, in the outside world, but seriously. I dont think I would be happy doing anything else!!!

:-)

AH
 
 
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Went to Ted's today to take Diesel for a hoon, and another keen ride on railway fiend bought his new toy along for a play. 
(Thanks heaps Ben!!)

Its imported from the USA, the name or make escapes me, but its made of wood, very simple with wooden brakes and can be gated in through customs as a "ride on wooden toy" :-)

As you can see the whole tribe gave it a good thrashing, and it is a very good upper body workout climbing up the rise from the bottom of the railway to the top.... 

*puff puff*

So I have included a video of yours truly have a goofy ol time on Bens Fanga :-)


AH
 
 
Not much to offer in the way of mental stimulation this weekend, so I will let the photos taken over the week speak for themselves...
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Damage to the front of 544's lead loco after finding a tree at Ruatangata. Busted all the front windows, smashed off the horn and did some panel beating as it went past...
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Nothing beats a well calibrated eyeometer
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Mini-tamper being put to good use.
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Progress at Manutahi is steaming along.
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528 and 545 crossing at Wanganui.
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And a cheesy wedge...
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Long rake of FE log wagons being loaded at Aramaho.
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Need I say anything...
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Patea by the sea! It looked just so good I just had to capture it...
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545 crossing the Whenuakura river.
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A scungy ex Aucklander on the point of 545 at Waitotara.
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And a quick step back in time to 2006. I was on my first ever trip on the SWL for familiarisation and we had to wait in the loop at Tiriroa, deep in the Buller Gorge. The scenery on the West Coast is just outstanding!
AH
 
 
With school holidays apon us we took the opportunity to steel away to the South Island for a weeks escape from the real world. A chance to visit the farm is never passed up and although it was dark by the time we arrived we woke to a simply stunning Marlborough Sounds morning, the type that captured my heart and imagination the very first time I visited this stunning piece of paradise....
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Looking over the pet paddock towards the hill block..
The weeks structure had not been set in stone but there is never a shortage of things to do on a farm, and our boys were keen to help Grandy do the rounds checking the deer and sheep and helping with the daily chores that townies dont get the chance to see or do every day.
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Father and son off on a hunt...
The hill block is overrun with wild pigs - heaps of wild pigs, and thus its common to go hunting every night. My eldest son is always keen to go, so accompanied by brother-in-law we headed up the hill the first night to try our luck. My boy decided he would stick with his more experienced uncle while yours truely went it alone in a different area, with almost predictable results....
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One happy lad!
As darkness fell we met back at the predetermined location and without fail my son had returned with his uncle and a good sized porked potted at the the top of the hill. My son, never one to miss an opportunity cheekily asked me "wheres yours dad??" Hahaha cheeky little sod! 
I had failed to locate a pig, and even after several further succesful trips sighting pigs, I failed to hit one all week and have come home with my head hung in shame....
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"Diesel" with his ride car being driven by Ted at a local track.
For quite some time my railway interests have influenced those around me, including my Mother-In-Law, who decided long ago that she wanted a ride on train to traverse her expansive garden that encircles the farm house. Having paid visits to the local model engineering groups, and ridden on their 7 1/4inch gauge trains the die was cast and plans started to form on how she could achieve her goals.
A fate would have it, a couple of years back a neat little loco named "Diesel" and his ride car appeared on TradeMe for sale, and at a reasonable price. With a gentle nudge my Mother-in-law soon became the proud owner and the wheels of progress were set in motion. 
"Diesel" was purchased from an Auckland gent, and he eventually ended up stored in my shed here in Taranaki. With the prospect of getting a railway built at the farm still some time off, I rang the local model engineering group in New Plymouth to see if we would be allowed to bring Diesel to their track for a run. Turns out they dont have a 7 1/4 inch gauge track in New Plymouth, but a nice bloke down the road did, and he would probably be more than happy to let us go for a hoon at his place. 
True to their word we met an amazing bloke named Ted, who has a fabulous estate in the foothills of Mt Egmont and a 7 1/4 inch gauge railway that we could take Diesel to run on! 
Long story short Diesel has ended up living at Teds for the last two years, and when time and tide allow, we pile the tribe in the car and head up to Teds for a play.

What does this have to do with this posting.... well as I alluded to before, plans have been evolving to get a railway built in the garden at the farm, and we have finally reached a point where work can start. Brother in law is a surveyor, so after plotting and mapping, checking grades and curves we finally began construction of the garden railway.
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Through there please.
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One of the curves marked out
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bush bashing and peg placing...
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paegs in, boxing taking shape.
After three days of digging, leveling, shoveling, banging, blood sweat and tears, the first 18 meters of track foundation was ready for steel reinforcing and concrete. We are going to lay the track on a 500mm wide concrete base, which will give a solid and stable base for the railway while allowing sufficient clearance between the railway and the lawn to allow mowing and weed control. 
Steel is on the way and with a bit of luck more will be done when we return south at Christmas.
With temperatures hitting 26 degrees in the valley, what better way to cool off after a day of working on the railroad than taking the kayaks for splash in the river! We loaded up and headed for the river over the back of the farm....
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Paradise!
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drag races down the river.
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Mahey Drisdale eat your heart out!
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"Umm.... left over and under then right over left....
Sadly, all too soon it was time to head home, and fittingly the weather bombed and we had high winds and heavy rain all the way home......

Back to the real world on Monday. I have a week of day shift running 545 - 528 - 547 - 544 so there should be some opportunities to get photos of trains in the daylight  for a change...

Untill next time..

AH
 
 
Ended up in Palmerston North yesterday arvo to run 546 home. As I had some time to kill after arrival, waiting for locos and wagons to be ready, I took the chance to go for a stroll, being a pleasant sunny Saturday afternoon and all.....
Always of interest to me is what might be hiding in storage sidings, and quite handy to the Palmy depot building is "coal road" where lots of old wagons are stored, seemingly with one foot in the grave. It looks like the scrappys have been rubbing their hands as there is plenty of evidence to suggest a cleanup is underway.
The place really did look like a bomb had gone off, or perhaps like a childs toy where all the bits fly off when banged hard enough!
There were a few ZG's and ZH's in the mix, along with the ENO and a bunch of flat wagons. There were also several sets of bogies still sitting on the tracks where they were left when what ever they had on top of them had been removed.
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ENO 15 now sitting on the hard sans bogies.
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And VRB's in various states of decomposition.
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And a ZD wagon. Why cant this wagon be out making money?? (Apart from the fact its not got any bogies)
There are usually slim pickings in the way of locos on a Saturday afternoon in Palmy, but today I found a few lounging in the sun.
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30's 203 and 007 rest by their repair shed.
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The yard hack rests...
Other than a couple of ratty DC's that we have all seen a hundred times before there was not much else worth mentioning other than spotting a freshly rebuilt ZHC wagon nearby. KR are rebuilding a bunch of ZH's by taking the big pain in the butt troublesome doors off and replacing them with much more user friendly side curtains. It certainly makes a dramatic change to the look of the wagon, but apparently its proving to be a hit with the customers and a large number of the wagons are being converted.
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The old and the new.
Not much later my locos were ready (5068 and 7307) so we put my 546 together and I trundled on home...

AH
 
 
Just a quickie (oh my!) today with some recent foamings...
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5419 on the front of 549 the other night waiting at Whareroa for 546 to come up.
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EM80 track evaluation car passed through to evaluate our tracks...
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"The J" shunting inside the plant at Whareroa.
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542 unloading.
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Tr 914 at rest, Eltham.
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A super mega late (plus 6 hrs) 520 rattles through Hawera.
AH
 
 
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No, this is not some warped gardening segment.... I promise.

No, this an attempt at a brief and potted history of some of the locos that have spent time working for what is / was Farmers Fertiliser in New Plymouth and where they have ended up.
I have always had a strong interest in the little locos of this world, and naturally I could not resist getting photos of little locos in such a raw industrial setting as the ones outlined in this post.

Of course, working in such a harsh environment all day everyday pretty much dooms any and every loco that is sent to work in the pit, and over time several locos have come and gone from the fertiliser sidings at Smart Road. 
And below are photos of the locos that I have known to work the sidings over the years. There may have been others.....

The oldest of the locos known to me was this dieselised steamer first built by Dubs & Co #1164 of 1878. Apparently this loco was D class #50  with the NZR before going to the Kauri Timber Co, and then on to Challenge Phosphate, Otahuhu being based at the fetiliser sidings in Otahuhu. Somewhere along the lines it was dieslised with a chain drive and all. 
The photo above shows the loco stuffed and mounted at Stratford's "Pioneer Village" in the 80's after it was retired from service with Farmers Fert. New Plymouth. It sat in this very location for many years until it was relocated to the front of the village along the roadside on a concrete plinth. 
The loco was repainted and there it stayed for some time more until the village people (.... YMCA.... woot... ) deemed the loco to be too rusty and a hazard to people and childeren who play on it. Branded an eyesore and a hazard the local earth moving contractor was tasked with its removal, and it was trucked not far away to his compound.
During 2004 the poor loco sat plonked at the gate to the earth contractors compound like some giant red gargoyle. I visited the new owner of the loco and asked what his intentions were with the loco. He said he was keeping it as a conversation piece for the time being, but if I was interested in the loco I could have it, but I would have to pay the going rate for it to be moved anywhere... Sadly none of the local groups were interested in the loco and I did not have the cashflow to bankroll its relocation. 
Recent searches for the earth contractor and the loco have reveled nothing, other than they have both gone. I fear the loco was scrapped as a loco wheelset matching the ones seen on the loco can be seen from the Stratford yard amongst a large pile of machinery that has slowly been growing in a compound bordering the yard.

Next on the list is Price built #220, a cheeky wee chain driven number, and twin sister to the little red Price that served Lactose at the end of the Kapuni branch.
I had the pleasure of seeing this wee beastie working in the confines of the plant one day, the growl of the motor and the protests of urea crusted drive line deprived of grease suffering from years of acidic coatings certainly compounded the thought that this loco's days were numbered.....
And sure enough it wasnt long before the Price was put out to Pasture. The surprise came when it rolled into town one day atop a well wagon, sans engine and onther usefull bits.  It turns out that the Price had been purchased by Nigle Ogle of Tawhiti Museum fame and was bound for his museum. The loco sat for many moons on an old siding in the Hawera Yard before being trucked out to the Museum. 
Sadly, this loco didnt quite fit with the museums plans, and to this day still sits in the same spot it did the day it arrived there, out of sight and out of mind. I am not wure what plans there are for this loco (if any) but I dont think anything will happen for some time yet.

The other "old timer" was this larger Drewry built machine #2507 of 1954. Originally from the Northland Fertiliser Co, Whangarei, heavier and a with more power, this loco was capable of shifting a loaded 70 ton CF wagon without too much drama, which the smaller Price loco could not. With the outlawing of 4 wheeled wagons, and fertiliser coming and going in CF bogie wagons, bigger more powerful locos were needed. I am not sure where the Drewry came from but I am led to beileve it spent quite some time working at the plant.  
Somewhere I have a photo of the Price and the Drewry side by side in the shadows - but I think I will have to find the negative and re scan it.
The Drewry was shown the door in the early 2000's having been replaced by an ex NZR DSA, and was purchased by the ill-fated Hooterville railway group who called the end of the Waitara branch their home. The loco ended up in Waiatara and was reduced to a million bits (as so many well meaning railway projects start out) but stopped abruptly when the Hootervile group imploded and ceased to exist. 
Photographed below stored on a wagon in graphic dismemberment, I am led to believe this loco has since found solace and refuge further up the line with the Waitara Railway Preservation Society, and is in the process of being put back together again - humpty dumpty style. 

Next in line is Bagnall 3079 of 1956, known for most of its life as NZR's DSA 414. 
Retired from the NZR this loco was sold (or maybe leased) to the Kiwi Dairy Company for use at its Whareroa plant....
... before being sold to Farmers Fertiliser as their main shunting loco. This loco spent a long time "as delievered" pushing wagons around the fertiliser plant.
It wasnt long before the reasonably straight and tidy condition of the DSA started to suffer at the hands of carefree employees and began to be degraded by the chemicals and other nasties floating around....
Some time around late 2003, the DSA was repainted in a TranzRail inspired black and yellow, which made it look quite sharp (IMHO), but it wasnt very long until the old girl suffered the same fate as the rest of fleet, and soon became a stop block ornament....
I am pleased to say that this loco has too found sanctuary on the Waitara branch, and as at time of writing is actively having restoration work done on it.... 

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2257 in happier times at Smart Road.
The last loco in this long tale of woe is none other than DSC 2557. Built in 1963 and served its creator for near on 40 years before being sold to Ravensdown.
Having driven this loco "in service" at Whareroa, I am not surprised it was sold - poor ol 2257 was a DOG of a loco. It was the regions "loaner" and we always hated having it at Whareroa. 
Knowing the state of this loco in Tranz Rails care, I am equally not surprised it didnt last long working for Ravensdown. Breathing in and being bathed in urea all day every day had a deadly effect on this loco in quick time. One day it gave up, was dragged up to Smart Road yard and there it has sat ever since.
Ravensdown hired another DSC from the railways to replace 2257, but noone gave much thought to getting it back for regular servicing and all reports suggest the railways had a fit at the state their hired DSC had been returned to them in.... These days DSC's are still loaned to Ravensdown (or whoever they are these days) but they are rotated out a lot more regularly now!
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2257 as she sits today.
As usual I have further photos of 2257, both at work in the siding and when it was seconded to work the fertilisier siding at Aramaho in Wanganui before coming to New Plymouth, but they are lost in the depths of the archives somewhere....

AH
 
 
The sleepy slumber of the winter roster and pint sized trains has given way as the new milk season swings into action once again. 
Our little yard has gone from woah to go in a week, with three milk trains running already!
I have added some random bits and pieces from this weeks adventures.
First up is a piccy of the freshly painted Patea river bridge (bridge 41) which was blasted and repainted over the winter....
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Mmmm shiny!
Next we have progress (!?) at Manutahi. After all the effort expended installing the loop at manutahi, writing out new rules proceedures, site visits and staff training, the points have now been ripped out and work has begun on the extension, which will include installation of ctc here to turn the loop into a remote crossing loop operated by train control. There is also a large amount of earthworks going on to the west of the mainline too, which has me wondering if its all related or if thats where the overburden is being dumped from the formation works.... 
What I have found really sad is although KiwiRail's cost cutting job reductions for gangers have been touted as not being filled by contractors, there is not one Kiwi Rail ganger or vehicle to be found at Manutahi for this project..... they are all contractors.... hmmmm

In other news, milk has started flowing in great volumes, and two full milk trains are already running!
A massive dairy plant with a massive consumption can be likened to the human digestive system.... what goes in must come out at the other end, and true to form, an instant increase in container loads has occurred.
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540 unloading this morning.
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544 rolling into Patea for changeover.
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TEU's as far as the eye can see...
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Hire containers used to transporting "domestic" products to other warehouses.
Remember the new coolstore being built?
Now it looks like this.....
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Almost done!
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The scene at Whareroa this morning.
Of course no post could be complete without some cheesy roster shots! Featuring this week are a couple of grotty two stroke war horses that are surely in need of some love (and a little dulux!?).
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( thats 7173 in case you cant see the numbers! )
And to round out this installment is a couple more of my 537 sitting in the loop at Patea yesterday waiting for 544 to arrive.
Untill next time..

Oh, and some goss I got told today - the big cheese is currently offshore buying more Chinese locos and wagons...... yay.

AH
 
 
I had a few minutes to kill at East Town this morning waiting for the wheels of progress....
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526 at East Town this morning.
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One from this side......
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...and one from this side.....
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.... and one of thelog wagons....
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The golden arches... :-)
AH
 
 
Below are a few shots from the shoe box taken around the port in the early 90's, most taken while I was living in NP at boarding school.
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Overview of the port yard, early 90's.
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Former UC tank wagon converted into a bitumen container to ride on IA type wagons.
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More converted old UC tank wagons.
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TBB and TCC containers, and VRB's full of butter and cheese from Whareroa getting unloaded on the wharf.
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More of the former UC tank wagons in the siding where they were loaded.
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A UBC cement wagon stored at the port. The blue paint around its number means its written off and waiting for scrapping.
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Straight from Whareroa this train ran directly to the port, seen here passing Moturoa coolstores. April 1993
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Down in the port yard about to run around its train.
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and then push the wagons onto the wharf!
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Then brand new the DXR was specially arranged to be part of a shuttle train to convey passengers from New Plymouth to the port for their open day. 1993 or 1994.
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The Westgate port open day train seen just west of the site of the old station platform down town.
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DC4133 was on the other end of the train operating push pull type. DC 4853 was there at the start of the day, but was incorrectly set up and dragged all the way down to the port, and had to be towed back to Smart Road with extreme wheel flats. Oops! Seen here near Belt Road.
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The port open day was a grand affair with many displays and demonstrations. New Zealand Rail sent several of the latest and greatest of their wagons for display, including VRB, VS, and this ZBV.