While we are on about snow, I thought I would share a couple of pictures taken at Arthurs Pass by Mike Kilsby while he was on duty that night.
Now THATS snow! LOL....
Arriving at Arthurs Pass from Otira.
Hip deep snow at Arthurs Pass.
OK, so Monday bought about one of those "once in a lifetime" events....
As far as I know, until now it has NEVER snowed here.
I fell out of bed at 0520 and stumbled out into the hallway on auto pilot when a very strange glow caught my eye through the window of front door...
I shuffled up to the door and pressed my face to the window.
Thinking "somethings not right here" I opened the front door and nearly fell over.... GOOD GRIEF ITS SNOWING!!!
And not just a little bit of snow, but great piles of the white fluffy stuff!
So after running like a little kid in a lolly store around taking photos I had to scrape the snow of my car, and then gingerly made my way to work.

There was only a small amount of snow on the ground at Whareroa, but even so, it was still snow!
I gathered up my things and headed south in the company car to go and find 526, which ultimately I would pick up at Waitotara. Even there is was trying to snow and once it started to get light, I noticed that all the hills inland two or three km's away were pure white with snow! wow! 
Snow in Normanby!
After a brief shunt at Whareroa I headed north and it wasnt long before I found snow along the right of way....
526 at Te Roti.
Train control informed me that 52 shunt had not been able to get proceed indications on the signals at Te Roti junction (where the Kapuni branch leaves the MNPL) and that I would have to stop outside the junction and hand wind the points back to normal before I could continue...

Wrapped up like Michelin Man I left the warm haven of my cab and ventured forth into the now heavily falling snow.
The snow had packed in quite hard on the ground by now and instead of  walking along normally loose and wobbly ballast I instead found myself walking on a veritable carpet akin to walking down my hallway. 
No worries with a tail wind and my hood up, I was thinking to myself "this isnt so bad...." 
Te Roti junction looking North.
After a wee while I arrived at the junction and completed my hand winding mission, replaced the crank handle in the bottom of the box and started to make my way back to my train.
Te Roti junction looking south, the MNPL on the left, the Kapuni branch on the right.
I was now walking into a headwind and high speed flakes of snow were pelting my face. In about a nanosecond the gloss faded out of this adventure. As I buffeted my way back along the track I realised just how far I had walked, and my train now seemed to be a very long way away....
After what seemed to be an eternity I was once again re united with the warm sanctuary of my cab and began to thaw out...
With permission granted from train control I headed north, into heavier snow. 
Heading north through Eltham.
Ngaere straight.
Coming into Stratford.
I couldnt believe the way things looked at Stratford, this big white field lay before me with a few black lines running through it. For the briefiest of moments I felt like I was somewhere in North America LOL...
I cant believe it!
The staff at Stratford were equally bemused with the quantity of snow, and a few moments were spent taking photos before we went up and did the shunt.
Soon enough I was heading north again, and up to the highest point on the line.
Heavy snow leaving Stratford.
Midhurst was just a white-out.
I took my time and just cruised up to Midhurst, which was completely white, and  then a little further north to the highest point on the line at Waipuku...

An bizarrely in just a few short km's downhill at Tariki I popped out into sunshine and there was not a flake of snow to be seen.....
Most definitely a day to remember.....
Just a quick note to say thanks to everybody for their support and encouragement, both here and privately.

Its nice to know some of you actually like what i do here :-)

Righto then... 
5097 disgraced itself today.
I Waited patiently at Patea for the arrival of 526 so I could let the Palmy crew go home, and make my way to New Plymouth.
After a short while 526 emerged round the bend and the first thing I noticed (apart from the meager train of 4 wagons) was that the front locos were running. 
I thought it very odd that they would need two locos to bring 4 wagons and a dead DFT up, so I was about to give a bit of cheek but cut short after being told that 5097 (on the front) had no water and was just idling, and the second loco (5137) was online and doing all the work, because 5097 would shut down as soon as throttle was applied..

So while we were changing over, the Brightstar thought it was cold and decided to step up to high idle to warm the engine up (built in feature) and as soon as it tired to increase revs, 5097 promptly shut down!

Well the Palmy guys fled the scene, leaving me to breath some life back into the old girl. A quick reset of the governor, a bit of a poke and prod, and 5097 was back up and running, so I got my warrant and set sail to Whareroa.

Once at Whareroa,  we left the wagons on the loop and I got the rail operators to guide my consist down into the milk siding so I could use one of the high volume water hoses down there to fill 5097.  Alas all the water has been turned off to the milk siding during shutdown, so we had to go for plan B, using the garden hose up at the Whareroa depot building.

The shunt crew shifted the DSJ out of the way and we eased the three big locos round the tight curve, lining up the water filling point on the DX with the hose. But once again we were stopped in our tracks (pun intended) as the small diameter of the hose ment that more water was coming out around the filler neck than was going in. 
So with 5097 shut down I had to get up on the roof and stick the hose into the top of the water header tank...
.....and waited....

.....and waited.....

And after an eon or two the header tank was still no better off.

With the hose jammed into the header tank I got down and started the loco, to which it started coughing and spluttering and sounding a bit odd, so, I went for another look about the engine which soon reviled a veritable fountain of water cascading down from around the central power assemblies on the drivers side of the motor. 

"Ahhh" I said. "Thats torn it!" and we promptly declared 5097 a basket case and shut her down.
After a bit of reshufflng, 5097 was plonked in behind 7213 (the power for 535)  with a "return to sender" slapped on it,and I carried on to New Plymouth on 526 with 5137.

And even then I nearly didnt make it, having one of my closest "near hit" yet at a level crossing in Inglewood when a bloody big white truck swung off the main road and barreled across the level crossing without even stopping!
Almost required a visit to the proctologist to remove seat leather!!

Just another day in the office!

Just wondering if there is any point to keeping my blog??
I seem to have lost enthusiasm for it, and struggle to create worthwhile and engaging entries for regular readers (both of you)

Its been a rather quiet winter with only two notable events so far, one being the visit of a DL for clearance testing, and the other being yesterdays once-in-a-lifetime snow dumping....


I dunno... the next milk season is knocking on the door - maybe that will bring some inspiration? 
One good thing is we are keeping our DX's for another season while they get some reliability out of the DL's. We in the Naki are right at the bottom of the list for DL training and deployment. I guess we will get to see the rebuilt DFT's up here a fair bit..