Sunday morning dawned a lot clearer than the day before, so after breakfast I successfully gained a leave pass to go exploring once again.
Leaving Maggie to yarn the day away with her life long freind, I made the Greymouth yard my first point of call.
Having spent some of my working career here, I was pleasantly surprised to find that nothing has changed in the last 6 1/2 years since I left!
The grey morning mist was lifting fast so I went over to look at the old railcar shed. Previously used to house and maintain the railcars that served the coast and ran the services to Christchurch. Apart from the yard office and the building thats now used as the freight center, the old railcar shed is the last remaining direct link to the old glory days of steam and its age is starting to show.
When I was last here, the resident DSC loco was stored inside the shed, but as time has passed and operational needs have changed, there is no longer a DSC based at Greymouth, and the shed has become somewhat derelict.
Something of interest outside that caught my eye was the old capstan winch that was used in conjunction with a long rope to move empty wagons out of the shed during repair work. Judging by the items left lying around I can only assume the shed was also used by maintenance staff as a wagon repair depot.
Quasimodo, is that you???
The only loco present was humpback whale (or should that be hunchback) coal motor DXB 5310. Prior to coal service this loco was involved in a crash and ended up on its side. 5310 was taken to Hutt for repair during the peak of the DXR program, and as such during repairs received a rebuilt DXR-ish long hood as a trial to evaluate its worthiness for the rest of the fleet. As it turned out the decision was reached that the new style hood was a lot of effort and money for sod all benefit and apart from the two DXR's has remained the only DX to get a long hood like it.
IMHO I think it looks great, with a real chunky industrialfeel to it, the coal chutes bringing it all together nicely....
Just to the south of the yard were some UK wagons with old school NZR TBB and TBC butter containers, used exclusively for moving product from Westland Dairy's plant in Hokitika to the export cool stores in Christchurch. A little hint of nostalgia was present here too as most of these containers were once used in Taranaki to haul butter for Kiwi Dairies Ltd (now Fonterra) from Whareroa to the port in New Plymouth.
Also in the yard was a short rake of 3 YD wagons and very oddly painted plow van - clearly the work of bored shops staff who either did not have or chose to ignore the company painting charts lol.
So without much else to stimulate the mind, I pointed the thunderbus north west and headed for Rapahoe.
The short journey from Greymouth to Rapahoe was sadly uneventful as hopes were high that I would find a coal train along the branch. Alas it was not to be, as I have since found out there wont be any trains to Rapahoe for a few months while some new coal mining machinery is installed.
Coal is king out here, and everyone is still feeling the raw wounds from the Pike River tragedy, the mine that holds the 29 lost souls being just up the road, the stillness and desolation I found at the Rapahoe coal loading facility was quite haunting.
I was sad to see this very old work site now unused, and felt quite old myself as I used to load coal trains under the now silent coal silo. Trains are now loaded about 1km back along the line towards Greymouth at the "Rockies" siding, hidden from view by huge mounds, bunds and massive wooden walls to protect the townsfolk of Rapahoe from the noise pollution that comes with a large industrial work site like a coal mine and loader...
Taken back in 2005, looking at the old loader from the new one...
Loading coal at "Rockies" in 2005.
I cant seem to find the photos I took from the cab while loading from the old loader at Rapahoe, but I have included a couple of shots I did find of the place taken back in 2005.
Time is against me, so I will wrap up part 2 here.... part 3 will be along soon.