Sorry I dont have much in the way of news or stimulating stories just now, but I have snapped a piccys around the place. 
The last of the milk season is in its death throes and things are starting to slow down a bit around the place. We have a new roster starting soon without any hint of milk trains so its safe to say we will firmly be entrenched in winter mode before long.

Some piccys below.

5500 on the front of 526 early one morning last week at Marton.
More South Island muscle visiting.
From the archives. 5264 in early 90's shunting Hawera.
5264 at Westfeild, mid 90's Not my photo.
5264 shunting Hawera, fresh out of Hutt after rebranding.
543 at Wanganui.
EU shunters wagon at Wanganui.
FE (blue cradles) USL and UKN (black cradles) log wagons at East Town.
Loading logs at Aramaho.
Quick shimmy up a pole at Ruatangata.
New coolstore taking shape at Whareroa.
526 approaching Te Roti.
A quick wee digital recognition of the BEST hell raiser to ever grace the rails.

The DAR was kept captive at Whareroa as the yard donkey for many moons, and whiled away its hours puddling around the plant and ever really having to work hard.

As a result, the cylinder bores would glaze over with carbon, the rings would suffer, letting sump oil into the chambers and where ever the loco went, it would leave a fine rain of black muck behind it, covering workers, cars, buildings and coolstore floors.

In an effort to help keep her tubes clear, the DAR was allowed out on mainline trains once a week to "give her a blow out" and help keep the carbon down.

This is where the hell raiser was at its best.....

Not only did modifications to the air piping in the short hood cause untold confusion for uneducated road crews while setting up, but all that unburnt carbon sitting in her lungs waiting to be expelled was the most superb fire lighting material known to man, and almost every trip out would result in spot fires occurring along the way side, most of which attracted the attention of the various fire crews along the way.....

One fine summers day we strapped the girl onto the afternoon shuttle 574 and ran her through to New Plymouth, but only got as far as Te Roti before Train Control called up saying that the Fire Service were dealing with various spot fires along the railway corridor behind the train and ordered that the DAR be shut down.

But her worst transgression occurred while she was in my care one fateful Saturday....

I had put the DAR into the empty milk train consist of 545, paired up with two DFT's. I took the middle one off line before departure leaving the front DFT and the DAR in power for the run south. 
Leaving Whareroa I headed down the first valley and up the other side to Mokoia without much drama, the DAR filling the valley with massive amounts of exhaust smoke.

Happy that she was sufficently warmed up, I took the front DFT offline for the climb out of the valley off the Manawapo Viaduct and up to Manutahi.
With only the DAR in power, and an empty milk train consist, the DAR was working VERY hard. Down to a crawl I was watching the exhaust slowly clear up the further we got up the valley. This was indeed an extreme blowout for the old chook, but she took it in her stride and did extremely well I thought, especially for a little loco that didnt get to stretch her legs very often.

Once up the top of the grade at Manutahi, I put the DFT back online and cruised down to Patea where I changed over with a Palmy crew who had come up in a car.

Driving back to Whareroa I noticed a large plume of smoke rising from the region of the railway line over the back of Manutahi, and noticed the councils Rural Fire Officer in his ute on the side of the road, busy talking on the phone...

"Hmmmm" I thought to myself.... "surely not....."

A bit further along the road I passed two fire engines in full combat mode screaming down the road the other way....


From the elevated position of the Whareroa terminal building, one could look south towards Manuthi and see a big plume of smoke..... and helicopters...... and fire engines travelling along the main road.....

So a few days later I get an email from Management inviting me to comment and explain a rather large bill (tens of thousands) they had received from the South Taranaki District Council pertaining to a very large scrub fire they had spent all day fighting, which they claimed had been started by a train....

I explained what I had done, that I had taken the DAR for its weekly walkies and that I had actually made the thing work hard for once in its life and it was probably well "blown out" as I had climbed the valley.
The next day I went south with a milk train, and the fire damage to the valley was extensive to say the least.... the whole valley had been burnt from top to bottom

Needless to say that the poor old DAR was never allowed to leave the yard in power after that, and over time it eventually succumbed to its choked up lifestyle, the final nail in the coffin blowing a traction motor in the yard one day. It was sent away for repair, but never returned, eventually being summonsed to Hutt Shops for "evaluation".

Full of rust and worn out bits the DAR was shoved out the back on rotten row and forgotten about, where it still sits to this day.

It was replaced with DSJ 4045, which is a better machine for the intended task, but certainly has none of the flare and mischievousness that the DAR ever had....


Farewell old friend, gone but not forgotten...



There has not been a lot to report in recent times. Milk trains are slowly finishing for the season as milk volumes drop. 546 and 542 have both officially finished running for the season,  but there were problems with the Fonterra plant yesterday and all milk trains were cancelled, so I ran 529 (5097) down to palmy instead of 541 last night. 
 I got to Marton the same time as 229 (30111 + 30042 )and we both waited for a big 210 (30203 + 30134) to go north, which also had loaded OM's on the head,
 presume off to Te Rapa. It was a good time to get out for a leg stretch and give the two trunk trains a "roll by", and I must admit to getting a bit of a thrill watching the big 30's working hard starting their trains in the half light of  the Marton yard lights, the pans arcing away on the contact wire...

 (foamer LOL!!)

 I followed 229 into Palmy and ended up sitting behind it on the arrival for a while while a massive 520 (7186 + 4634 + 4438) pulled out.
 228 had also just arrived and there were trains going everywhere.

 The electric locos off 229 went straight onto 210, while I got cut off in the yard and went to the south end and over the flyover.

 229 diesels were on the front of their train (5402 + 1267 + 1200) and they had  pushed back to catch the incomming 229 tonnage and then pulled into the CT

 Lots of locos everywhere and train movements... if your around at midnight its  worth a watch IMHO...

 Not sure if the milkies are back running today. 

Some photos below taken over the last few days.

544 arriving on the main at Waitotara,
7008 zooms up the main at Whareroa with 528.
"sun on the nose!!.. sun on the nose!!..." not gonna happen here folks..
Finest puddle jumper in the land...
Through the looking fence...
Your butts as big as a bus!!
South Island interloper on 528.
Something from the archives. 542 through Patea on the 7th of November 2008.