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Dorrigo at Last

It has taken me two years but at last I am on my way to Dorrigo, where 169037 and 169109 now live at  the Dorrigo Steam Train Museum which is the biggest collections of Steam Trains in the world. I rose at 5 am and was in Melbourne at 10 am for my flight to Brisbane. Met at the  Airport by John (Rusty) Dyson in his trusty Jeep. We were soon on our way to have a nice steak dinner and then were away to Dorrigo. Travelling inland to Grafton through some very pretty country it was a very enjoyable drive. It was at Grafton where my Driver / Navigator fell down. Somehow we took the wrong road and after about 200 kls we decided we should have seen the turnoff to Dorrigo. It was at this time we looked at the map and I had the feeling we were pretty close to Glen Innis, a pretty place but one we did not have any plans of visiting. But 40 kls later we did in fact visit and as we were past the point of no return we decided to have dinner and a mixed grill went down rather well. Away towards Armadale and soon we turned off and in time (a lot of it) we arrived at Dorrigo, a pretty place but not much at midnight. We were in fact very lucky as they were still playing pool in the hotel and we were able to knock up the publican and obtain the key to our room. A shower and coffee and it was at this time we decided to maybe try the bottle of Port in my bag. Alas my driver did not bring a corkscrew, and I was to tired to snap the neck off and drink it through a sock so it was packed away till a later date. Sleep came as I was climbing into bed and I never moved till morning. A shower and another coffee and we started out for breakfast but then became aware of NSW  being on daylight savings time so it was straight to the Museum, where we were welcomed by Brad Baker owner of 169109 and Keith Jones Director of the museum and controller of 169037.

I will not even start to describe the Steam Trains, only to say there were heaps of them all on tracks waiting restoration. The work done here was in fact unbelievable, but much more is still to come. They decided to collect everything they can and worry about restoration later, but there are some restored items about, plus two tracks in full working order, one two hours and the other a hour and a half. These tracks are owned by the Museum


This section shows a fraction of what they have at Dorrigo, and next time the stay will be much longer. Both Centurions can be seen parked among the train carriages


169037 The Museums Centurion with dead batteries, they have new ones coming


This is Brads 169109 and it has only just been started after many years, maybe 20 years or more. She blows a lot of smoke and has not got much power. She was in fact very hard to get speed up, but I think all she needs is a good run and she will be right. But she did start on the first touch of the button, the fastest starting Centurion I have ever seen. 

The booster coil must be in good condition and of course the batteries would be new. (I   think)


This 17 ft. wall shows how much of the hill has been cut out and moved to a level surface extending back into the paddock


Here can be seen the fill that has extended the level; area


169109 waiting and  ready for my drive


Me waiting for the Temp. gauge to reach working temperature


Ready to roll, I had my goggles around my neck but they soon came up as the lack of front guards  threw everything at me.


The tracks were made by Rusty who had first drive which I caught on Video, but alas no 35mm photos, Hoping there are some in Brads photos which will come down next week. So it looks like I will be hogging the limelight this time.


She is blowing some smoke as I move off


A lot more as I hit the paddock


Third was as high as I could go, but Rusty managed to get into fourth gear


As she had only just been made mobile again after many years, she really needs a good fast run to blow the plugs clean, but we could not get enough speed up to do this


Coming up to the hight part of the fill I thought I may get a knife edge experience


Just starting the climb up


I start to climb up and I do not know how it looked but it felt spectacular

Rusty missed the photo when I was up in the wild blue yonder


Down on the level again. I did manage to hold her at the top of the vertical for a second before she slowly came down

Jeez it felt good


Rusty and myself discussing something, maybe something about Centurions


Waiting for Rusty to have another drive


Rusty waiting for the temp gauge to come up


Rusty coming up on an angle, he just has to be different!

On this circuit Rusty managed to obtain fourth gear but on the way down into third something broke! He was stuck in third with  not enough power to move and a very slack gear change lever. We decided that a pin may have dropped out of the linkage but an inspection proved this was not so. The inspection plate was removed from the top of the gear box and we managed to push the selector arm back so that we had neutral. We also found that the yoke on the gear shift for third was flopping around and closer inspection showed the 'bell crank lever pin '  was broken. 


The Bell  crank levers are the four levers shown in the above picture on the left The pin screws into the housing holding them in position.

The shift  cover has been removed in this photo


We removed the pin and found it had an old fracture halfway through, and its my guess that it was the result of Vietnam service. It was quite possible that since she was sent for loading onto the boat for the trip home that she had never been in fourth for the last 30 years. Brad being a mechanic, felt he could make a pin at work with no trouble and we all breathed a sigh of relief that it was not a major disaster. We then drove her back in first gear and that finished a great day.

Now three days later I WANT TO GO BACK!!



Its now April 2005 and Brad has now repaired the broken pin in the Gearbox

The linkage cover plate removed and the pins also removed.

 The new pin is to go into the middle threaded hole


All refitted and working well


The Cover Plate back on and linkages refitted

 Job finished

(The cover plate is the shinny piece beside the left hand Brake drum with the four bolts holding it down)

169109 is now running again and will soon be moved to Alan Hills property near Nambour

Co-incidence--Alan donated space on his property to house 169109 and then found out it was his tank that he crewed in in Vietnam as a Gunner