The Depot Diary
No 117 — September 2017
Wentworth Falls 150 anniversary Ceremony
Part of the crowd at the 150th anniversary celebrations at Wentworth Falls. Photo: Julie Tester

In this edition

1. From the Valley Chair’s desk
2. Community volunteer award: Ted Dickson
3. Recent happenings at Valley Heights
4. 150th anniversary Blue Mountains railway to Wentworth Falls July 2017
5. Big trains
6. On the “four foot”
7. Shopping trends
8. Small exhibits
9. Our models
10. Buildings and grounds
11. Membership
12. Our coming events

The first word

If you’ve been in a snow cave or in deepest Africa since Christmas, you may have missed the news that the Blue Mountains line celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first train to Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls) in July (known as BM150). Although, for various reasons, planning was concertinaed into the previous few months, events all fell into place with a stunning result for all concerned!  Many of the Museum's members and volunteers were involved in plenty of ways and I thank them all collectively for their combined input, effort and support. We’re already planning the 200th anniversary so watch this space!

As you read on you will notice that your Museum is moving ahead on several fronts. Projects, large and small, are complete, close to fruition, in progress, or about to commence. If you’d like to take part in any way, let Membership Officer, Jeff Russell know and he will slot you into a role that will add to your enjoyment and help you make a useful contribution to the Museum. Every little bit of support counts!

On the financial side, we were fortunate to raise a healthy profit from the raffle tickets that we sold on the steam shuttles on the weekend of BM150. The Museum has been successful in adding some new prize donors for our Christmas raffle, drawn by “Santa” on December 10. As we don’t have shuttle passengers to tap in to this time around, extra ticket sellers are needed, so please let me know if you would like a book of 50 tickets to sell? Most of us have friends, relatives and neighbours who are keen to support our worthy cause, so please give it a go.

There is increasing awareness of our responsibility to improve returns on the capital being outlaid on the Museum's behalf. My role in that is to help build visitor numbers with sustainable growth that doesn't Impact on our resources - volunteers or infrastructure. To help lift that profile, we decided to give all purchasers of raffle tickets on the steam shuttles on 22–23 July, a discount voucher to the Museum allowing free entry to children under 16 if accompanied by a full fare paying adult. We are yet to see what level of take-up there will be for this offer. Please note the Museum is always keen to hear of other ideas or promotions that will help us raise our visitor numbers.

Keith Ward, Publicity Manager VHLDHM

1. From the Valley Chair’s desk

Many events have come and gone and many projects have moved forward since our last chat. As a result, the entire team at the Valley has to be thanked for being so keen and for their continued efforts, well done!

It was great to see the culmination of the efforts of Keith Ward, Andrew Tester and Ted Dickson and others in the success of the BM150 celebrations. Their sterling work is to be applauded with such a hugely popular event providing great exposure for the Museum. A great job by our Publicity Team and all who helped behind the scenes.

The Teddy Bears’ Day Out was a great success along with the working bee with our neighbours at the Boys and Girls Club to rebuild their sleeper retaining wall. Thanks to all who assisted.

Henk (“Clogs”) Luf has also been hard at work refurbishing our model railway room and now has a range of different themed trains running for visitors to enjoy. Henk never misses an open day and puts on a great show for young and old alike.

The “Coal Stage Road” refurbishment was a major Per Way project completed recently. Our thanks go to Life Member of Valley Heights Roslyn Reynolds for her significant donation which allowed this project to go forward. Many thanks also to STARPS for their financial assistance, ARTC for a donation of sleepers, to Derryville Rail Services for the work done and to our Per Way team. This project has returned this road (now sometimes known as “Roslyn’s Railway”) to operation and increases our profile with higher visibility to the Highway. It also saved many hours of hard labour for our Per Way team! I must also thank our tireless Treasurer, John Carter, for his expert financial management of this project! John also finalised some major financial documents for the Museum during this period.

Our website failed us recently and if it wasn’t for the tireless efforts of our Webmaster Grant Robinson, this vital piece of communication equipment would have been out of action for a much longer time. Grant is also updating and modifying our website so that it is more “mobile phone” friendly which as its name suggests allows our visitors to view our website on their mobiles.

A grant from the State Government kindly provided by Trish Doyle, MP for the Blue Mountains has provided us with the funds to install air conditioners in the shop and the model railway room which are working well and will be a great benefit to our visitors and staff during the hot summer months. Da-Mell Air Conditioning & Heating Pty Ltd did a terrific job including a very generous offer to install a unit donated by Ted Mullett, Life Member of Valley Heights, in our amenities room at no cost. Trish will now be invited to the Museum to view the completed project. This project was facilitated by the upgrade of electrical mains to the shop carried out by member Glenn Hargrave. Glenn has also installed, at no charge, a number of power points in the former DLE’s building for the new “Call Boy” exhibition that you must see!

The amenities room refurbishment project, funded by a Commonwealth Government grant, has been completed and our federal member Susan Templeman visited the Museum to officially open the room on Sunday 13 August. The restoration team were on hand for a photographic session with Susan saying the following kind words:

“It is always impressive to see how an organisation like Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum really makes the most of the funding they receive.

“I can see that the multiple purposes the kitchen and meeting room can now be put to, after the upgrade, will be a real asset.

“As a trainer, I always like to see professional training facilities, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see the thought that has gone into creating a learning space.

“There has obviously been a lot of volunteer time put into the project to make it the success it is, and I congratulate everyone involved.”

Susan Templeman with Mike Pensini, Dennis Brown and David GroveSusan Templeman, Federal Member for Macquarie, photographed with the Meal Room Restoration Team of L-R, Mike Pensini, Dennis Brown and David Grove. Photo: courtesy of Susan Templeman.

There has also been further movement in the following projects:


The date of our Annual General Meeting (AGM) has been set for Saturday 18 November at 11:00. Transport Heritage NSW (THNSW) Chair Rob Mason confirmed he will chair our meeting for the election of the new committee.

THNSW CEO Andrew Moritz advised that the THNSW AGM will be on the same day at Thirlmere commencing at 17:00 — a change from the usual mid-week meeting at Burwood.

There is something happening at your Museum all the time with work on the grounds, large and small exhibits, publicity, curatorial, etc. so please come along and get involved. Our open days are every second and fourth Sunday, and we always need more help in the shop! You can always come along and just say "Hi".

Hope to see you at your Museum soon?

Bruce Coxon, Chairman VHLDHM

2. Community volunteer award: well done Ted!

Ted Dickson on tramPhoto: Sam Wyatt

Foundation member of Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum and THNSW Life Member, Ted Dickson, recently received a Community Volunteer Award for recognition of his outstanding volunteer efforts at the Museum from the Rotary Club of the Lower Blue Mountains.

Ted joined Valley Heights at the inaugural meeting in 1989 and since then has put in many thousands of hours in various roles.  In the last year alone, Ted has accrued over 1,250 volunteer hours, spreading his time across work on Per Way, building repairs, clearing the grounds, working on exhibitions, preparing submissions for grants and general administration.  Ted is currently working on the tender of 5711, which he has a strong desire to see restored.  

Congratulations on this thoroughly deserved recognition, Ted.  Thanks for all that you do to bring the story of NSW transport heritage to life for the community of Valley Heights and beyond.

Ted is also a qualified driver for the Valley Heights Steam Tramway and enjoys driving the 1891 steam tram and the 1899 Stephenson locomotive on the Museum’s open days.  

THNSW July 2017 eNews

3. Recent happenings at Valley Heights

National Volunteer Week

Guests from seven other volunteer organisations were on site on Wednesday 10 May and were treated to a sausage barbecue, expertly catered by Jeff Russell, and a guided tour with myself as part of National Volunteer Week. Thanks to everyone who kept the place tidy for the day and made the event a pleasurable one for our visitors! Several of our own volunteers also took advantage of the special deals during the week at reciprocating museums and galleries across Sydney. These offers should not be missed if repeated next year!

Teddy Bears’ Day Out

Teddy Bear day out flyerTBDO flyer created by Andrew Tester

Papa and mama bearPapa bear on tramTeddy on U Boat
Teddy on tram in roundhouseTeddy at gatePapa and Mama bear on tram express

The Teddy Bears’ Day Out on Sunday 28 May was a great success and led to the usual round of “bear” puns! (None of those will be repeated as it’s more than I can bear). Around 300 visitors of all ages packed the Museum to enjoy the day’s activities. The roles of “Papa” and “Mama” Bear were performed with great stamina and enthusiasm – the former shared by Museum stalwarts Ted Dickson and Andrew Tester; the latter throughout the day by volunteer Kailee Southwell. Our sincere thanks go to these three hardy souls who coped with the confines of the suits and the excitement of the children as they received their complimentary packs of “Gummi Bears”. Building on the popularity of the “hidden” teddies of previous years, we held a “Spot the Teddies Challenge” to encourage children and families to identify and locate 20 bears in both easy-to-find and unusual hiding places around the site. This caused a high degree of interest and amusement with five families receiving Museum passes after the results were judged. Wonderful weather plus paid promotion on Facebook and various websites resulted in good turnover for the shop and means that this popular event is now cemented on our calendar.

Korowal School visit

Friday 2 June saw a group from the Korowal School at Hazelbrook visit the Museum. Jeff Russell and Keith Ward met them at Valley Heights station after their arrival by train and escorted them safely to the Museum, where they were welcomed by Chairman, Bruce Coxon and Large Exhibits Manager, Henk Luf. Bruce and Jeff than conducted interesting and educational guided tours that included our 10 question quiz and highlighted learning outcomes that had been suggested by the school. Whilst on board the (non-running) Steam Tram, children and teachers alike were surprised by a guest appearance by a whistle blowing conductor! All enjoyed their morning and lunch breaks in the Roundhouse before being ushered back to the station for their departure.

Great Train Expo

A team from Valley Heights was on duty at Sydney Central Station for the Great Train Expo over the long weekend of 10-12 June and handed out 1,500 double-sided flyers promoting the Museum and events for the 150th birthday celebrations in July. Visitors also viewed the brand new commemorative panel that tells the story of the first 150 years of the line to “Weatherboard”, now known as Wentworth Falls. It was alongside three similar boards featuring the histories of Sydney Bus Museum, Loftus Tram Museum, and a general overview of NSW rail. Our thanks go to David Bennett and Ha Bui at Head Office for the concept and the opportunity to be part of such a high profile event.

The involvement of Serge Sequen, Warwick Tafe, Adrian Duffy, Eileen Ward and new volunteer David Wainwright was greatly appreciated and we all had a great time engaging with the many interested patrons who stopped to chat and read the content. The 3 x 2.4 m wall was later used at several venues to tell this remarkable railway story and is now on display at the Museum.

Commemorative Panels at Great Train Expo Commemorative panels at Sydney Central Expo, June long weekend, Keith Ward and David Wainwright on duty. Photo: Eileen Ward

Inaugural Ghost Hunt

The Museum held its inaugural ghost hunt on Saturday 10 June, hosted by Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators. A fine but cool night ended with a light shower, so our brollies were called in to play. Eighteen visitors plus a large team from the hosts were on site and the place looked a treat, with the Roundhouse night lights forming a perfect backdrop, supplemented by spotlights for safety and coloured LED strip lights laid to mark pathways. Although it was a late night for all, the paying guests were gone by 22:30 and the organisers did a good job of packing their equipment and tidying before they left.

For the time being, this will be treated as a one-off event and lessons were learnt from the trial. Many thanks to Jeff Russell who did a sterling job of assisting with managing the Museum's interests on the night.

Giant clogs

A pair of giant clogs was seen entering the model railway room on Sunday 16 July, and a certain well-known (non-flying!) Dutchman nearly split his sides with laughter! 

Nepean District event

Sunday 16 July dawned crisp and fine on the Mountains but not as cold as Emu Plains, where some hardy souls from the Museum set up camp at the Australia Arms Inn to assist the Nepean District Historical Society’s own event to celebrate BM150, with special emphasis on John Whitton’s Victoria Bridge.

Under a specially erected marquee, our display included our Karabar platform seat, our station name pull-up banner, a fettlers’ trike, some HO models on track mounted on a display stand carefully custom built by Mike Pensini, some historical panels kindly prepared and loaned by Sue Fulton, and our Great Western Line commemorative panels that were used at Central. Following assistance from Bruce Coxon, Steve Dive, Andrew Tester and myself with set up, Mike, along with Henk Luf, had many enjoyable conversations with visitors during the day and handed out plenty of leaflets, promoting both the Museum, and details of the following weekend.

Museum display at Nepean District HS
Museum display at Nepean District Historical Society celebration

Model trains display at Nepean District HS
Model train display at Nepean District Historical Society celebration

Future stuff

Your Museum is planning an inaugural Halloween event on Sunday 29 October. This extra Open Day should enable us to bank some of the revenue that will be lost by any closures due to the forecourt upgrade. This will be a running day and we are again looking for ideas (and volunteers) to help make this an interesting addition to our program. If you’re ready to have a go at maybe dressing up and having a good laugh, this is the day for you! Come along and enter into the “spirit” of it! Auditions may be required so be in touch soon.

Other business:

Donations in: Two councillors from Blue Mountains City Council each contributed $500 to help fund the 150th commemorative event. The money was spent on various projects, including, but not limited to: image rights, printing, catering etc. We thank Cr Mick Fell and Cr Daniel Myles for their support.

Donations out:  Elizabeth Dudley-Bestow, Principal Landscape Architect for Blue Mountains City Council has contacted the Museum regarding the possibility of us donating items for the revamped play area at Glenbrook Park. Several exhibits surplus to requirements have been identified and further progress will be advised.

Blue Mountains Accommodation & Tourism Association: I attended the regular monthly meeting of this organisation held on Wednesday 2 August at the Hydro Majestic. It was (to my knowledge) the first time that our Museum had been represented in this group (of which we’re a member). This gathering of thirty key players from the tourism sector across the mountains provided a great opportunity for networking and we have some interesting potential prospects to follow up. There is an opportunity for us to host one of these meetings next year.

Parramatta Light Rail Media Manager, Karen Smith visited the Museum (with her father Ian, who guides at Thirlmere) to discuss creating a storyboard for display in the PLR precinct, to tell of the early days of trams in the area. This task has been handed to STARPS and Bruce Irwin has made good progress with the concept which may also include good promotional opportunities using electronic media. Project details: parramattalightrail.nsw.gov.au

Photos: Keith Ward

Keith Ward, Publicity Manager VHLDHM

4. 150th anniversary

Blue Mountains railway to Wentworth Falls July 2017

[Click on photos to see larger version]

Friday 21 July

An early start for many, as a group from the Museum took the interurban to Central to catch the 10:00 departure of 3642 and a rake of heritage carriages as they set off with TV crew on board, the latter having been on duty to capture the excitement on the platform beforehand, including an interview with our own Andrew Tester. Equally early, a team from Wentworth Falls Chamber of Commerce had been braving the cool upper mountains air as they set up chairs, p.a. system and decorations ready for the steam train’s arrival later in the day. I was also on site to erect our GWR commemorative panels and check with the Chamber’s President, Lew Hird, that all was progressing smoothly. The setting, Coronation Park, adjacent to Wentworth Falls station, had been preferred as the ideal spot for the ceremony, but its large shady trees, welcome in summer, prevented the sun’s weak winter rays from penetrating! Meanwhile, Channel 7 was conducting several on-train interviews, including a glimpse of Ted Dickson handing out leaflets about the charms of the destination, the township formerly known as “Weatherboard”.

Andrew Tester at Central Andrew Tester being interviewed
Andrew Tester at Central station prior to departure of the 150th anniversary train

GWR commemorative panels
Great Western Railway
commemorative panels
Bluey Quilty and Dr Robert Lee
Bluey Quilty and Dr Robert Lee on the
commemorative train

Photos: Julie Tester

My job there complete, I hopped on the interurban to Springwood to meet our invited guest, local MP Trish Doyle, and BM Gazette journalist, Brenda Cunningham-Lewis, along with dozens of fellow travellers and spectators keenly awaiting the train’s approach. Brenda was active with a series of interviews that were streamed live on the paper’s Facebook page. Her chat with the driver and fireman can be viewed at: facebook.com/bluemountainsgazette/videos/1580757431996079/  
We boarded the train, to news that a highlight had been the parallel run at VH station with “Stevo”, who was in between trials on the newly refurbished Coal Stage Road. Many thanks to our STARPS friends for arranging that.

Crowd on arrival at Wentworth Falls  12
The train has arrived and floral display at Weatherboard for the anniversary celebration. Photos: Eileen Ward

Our arrival at Wentworth Falls was met by a friendly voice on the footbridge guiding us to the required spot and other Chamber of Commerce members took care of distributing official programs. With the BM Grammar School Band in place, Lew welcomed the guests, followed by humorous and apt addresses by local event campaigner and co-organiser Bluey Quilty, author Dr Robert Lee and Trish Doyle, who then assisted local Station Manager Ed Griffiths and NSW Trainlink CEO Peter Allaway in cutting the commemorative cake. An 1867 news item was read by children from the local primary school. The steam train returned to Valley Heights during proceedings, providing a fitting backdrop. The band accompanied the gathering’s rousing renditions of “Waltzing Matilda” and “Advance Australia Fair” and continued playing as the 350+ crowd dispersed, either to catch trains or to enjoy the village eateries!

Anniversary cake. Photo: Julie Tester
14 18
At the Wentworth Falls ceremony. Photos: Eileen Ward

During lunch with some of the invited guests, the central slab of the cake was purchased by Trish Doyle at an impromptu auction, and kindly donated to our Museum, to be used for fundraising the next day. Later, I removed our commemorative panels and delivered them to Lawson Bowling Club, ready for Sunday.

The consist was already safely housed at the Depot by late afternoon and as usual looked great in the Museum’s surroundings. Preparations were already underway for the next day’s action!

3642 stabled at Valley Heights
3642 stabled overnight at Valley Heights. Photo: Andrew Tester
Coal Loading
Essential coal supplies being off loaded at Valley Heights. Photo: Eileen Ward

Saturday 22 July

The train (including myself and wife, Eileen) headed to Penrith for the first of four sold out shuttles. During the day, we journeyed back and forth to VH station, again to be met on each occasion by “Stevo”, now carrying excited visitors on the “Valley Heights Mixed”. Plenty of photo opportunities and lots of raffle tickets sold! 3642 made its final run back to the Depot for the important re-coaling in the evening. Good news from the Museum was that nearly 100 customers had arrived to enjoy this extra Open Day and the bonus of seeing 3642 in town.

Sunday 23 July

Action returned to the mid and upper mountains. From early, a large group of volunteers from Lawson RFS and staff from Lawson Bowling Club (“The Tank”) were in action to prepare for the day’s events. At the same time, the team from Rhomberg Rail had been preparing their contribution to the activities. With Dave Grove’s valuable assistance, we again erected our commemorative panel (with some difficulty due to the coldness of the surface and the pesky wind that had sprung up). Held in the grounds of the club, the program included track-laying competitions between Rhomberg gangs from Sydney and the Hunter Valley, some speeches and another cake cutting ceremony later in the day.

Fascinated onlookers thoroughly enjoyed the exciting action as the Rhomberg teams displayed their highly professional skills, using old style manual techniques, and racing against each other and the clock. Watchers were treated to the spectacle of track-laying skills rarely seen these days (except of course at Valley Heights!) We are extremely grateful for the support and effort put in by everyone in the group, especially Bren Vamadevan, Construction Manager, and Richard Morgan, General Manager, Rhomberg Rail Australia Pty Ltd.

Local MP and Museum Patron Trish Doyle was again on hand to enjoy the morning’s events. The crowd was pleasantly entertained by the Blue Mountains Ukulele Group, whist Lawson RFS remained on duty throughout the day, efficiently carrying out the roles of guides, crowd control and first aid duty, as well as handing out hundreds of programs. Andrew Tester and I rode the shuttles all day selling many more raffle tickets as we travelled to and from Katoomba. At day’s end, Dave and I dismantled our display and equipment and returned it to the Museum.

tracklaying commpetition 1 tracklaying commpetition 2
Track-laying competition. Photos: Bren Vamadevan

In summary, the three day BM150 spectacular proved to be just that. With great support from Head Office, the general public who packed the nine trains, fine weather, no major hiccups, wonderful exposure though many arms of the media, and the engagement of the Wentworth Falls and Lawson communities, a true team effort was achieved, a win-win for all stakeholders!  Of course the encouragement and enthusiasm of my colleagues at Valley Heights, without whom the task would have been insurmountable, enabled us to make it through John Whitton’s much changed landscape, with scarcely a smut in the eye! Thank you!


On Wednesday 9 August, Andrew Tester, Henk Luf and I attended a debriefing session with the organising group responsible for the events at Wentworth Falls and Lawson. We met many times over the months leading up to BM150 and this was a good opportunity to table our comments and ideas. During the two hour session, there was plenty of animated interaction and excellent feedback. The meeting was also attended by Mina Howard, President of the Mt Victoria Progress Association, so that their organisation could benefit from the suggestions and lessons learnt from BM150.

Diary note: the 150th anniversary event at Mt Victoria has been set for 26/27 May 2018, with steam loco availability confirmed by THNSW. This may lead to a change in the timing of our TBDO event that has previously been held on that Sunday.

Keith Ward, Publicity Manager VHLDHM

5. Big trains

Diesel tractor (X206)

New member Alan Holley has joined the dedicated group led by Workshop Manager Terry Matchett that is moving this project forward. There have been some issues with this loco that are regularly the focus of attention. These problems mainly relate to hydraulics. As previously reported, X206 will be used on Museum Open Days when steam is not available (or desirable) as well as occasional shunting duties, once certified.

Some comments from Terry typify some of the frustrations and challenges that have been encountered:

“The loco has not been co-operative as the vehicle appears not to have any push when it’s running. Some changes are being carried out to the gear selection to lock the drive into low range. A limiter has been fitted to the diesel control. With the modification to the control panel gauges, the tachometer drive cable fractured. A replacement is being sourced through Dave Hunt.”

5711 update

Over the last few months work has started again on the tender.

There has been progress on the replacement of 3 large gusset plates and 3 cross braces strengthening of the tender frame.

Removing the rusty fractured gusset plates involved cutting the old rivet heads off and then using a hydraulic jack to push them out. Some rivets when removed were found to be crippled (bent) indicating stress between the two plates, which could account for the cracked plates (see photo). After removal, cleaning and descaling, the new plates were fitted, rivet holes were marked and the plates removed and drilled on the horizontal borer.

New cross braces were also manufactured.

All of these items will now be refitted and each hole reamed to make sure the holes are true ready for riveting. Rivetting should take place in September when the engineering company will be finished with 3801's boiler.

Minor rust removal has been necessary on the turret section of the tender tank.

Ted Dickson, Project Manager 5711

5711 Gusset plate removed
Gusset plate removed

5711 Rusted and fractured gusset plate
Rusted and fractured gusset plate

5711 Drilling pilot hole in gusset
 Drilling pilot hole in gusset

5711 Drilling final size hole
Drilling final size hole

5711 Drilling cross brace
Drilling cross brace

5711 Finished gusset plate
Finished gusset plate

5711 Cross brace in location
Cross brace in location

Photos: Ted Dickson

U-Boat trailer car (ETB6039)

Some of the timber window sills on the car are showing signs of deterioration due to weathering over almost 60 years in service and on site. They are being progressively replaced by Dave Grove and the retirees group.  LED lights have been purchased from England and look like a normal bayonet cap globe. At the present we can only operate six lights due to restrictions on the power supply. The car was closed to the public for a short time due to suspected asbestos fibres being noticed at the base of some of the internal wall panels but, after inspection and testing by a certified body, a clean bill of health was issued and the theatrette is again open to the public and members on our Open Days. If you haven’t seen our interesting seven minute video about the first railway lines on the mountains, especially the Lapstone Zig Zag, then do come and watch it, then chat with long time volunteers Sue Fulton and Dick Morony.

Cement wagon

Our (ex-Boral) hopper wagon has been on the move! The coal that had been used for display purposes at its former home at Greystanes has been removed, with a great job done on the day by some of the Per Way team, assisted by member Michael Jessop, who has been working diligently on the paintwork in readiness for historic signwriting and the wagon’s accreditation before its welcome addition to the “Valley Heights Mixed”. The wagon also had a spell over the pits, so Michael could paint the underframe.

Henk Luf, Large Exhibits Manager


4601 update

Steve Corrigan has continued to toil away on the 46 class train simulator and has made much progress.  A detailed outline of his recent work on its operation and functionality appears below.

Work on developing the train simulator continued apace, concentrating in three areas: tidying up wiring, improving reliability and documentation.

Some work was carried out in finding a safe and visually acceptable way of running wires between the High Tension (H.T.) compartment and the No. 2 end drivers cab. To date, during testing, wires have simply been laid on the floor, which is not considered acceptable or safe for public access. Essentially there are two types of cables: low voltage (i.e. control signals at 5 volt, speaker leads and a VGA computer video cable) and mains (240 volts) cables. Lifting the drivers cab floor is not viable, so a short path has been found from the H.T. compartment via the walkway alongside the compartment, under the inter-connecting walkway thence concealed under a safety “cable trench”. This addresses the control wires (horn, brake controls and speaker wires), but it does not address the VGA (screen) cable and 240 volt mains supply. In regard to 240 volt mains power, the plan is to install a female power point (of the type typically used in caravans and camper vans for connection to the mains) under the side of the 46, above the bogies. This would be easily accessible from the outside, but would not be visible. Mains power could then be reticulated to power points inside 4601.

During continuity testing of wiring as part of this process, some control voltages were found to be lower than anticipated. This is probably due to the fact that some 46 class control devices (mainly magnet valves and relays) are actually still in circuit and the combined load of these devices is slightly dragging down the working voltage. This is further complicated by the small “demonstration” lights, which had been installed to provide a working display of the locomotive's control systems. These lights run on 3.5 volts, which means that the operating voltage has to be kept within a very narrow range; above 3.5 volts for the simulator interface, but below 4 volts for the lights. An attempt to resolve this issue was made by splitting the supply into two different voltages, but this solution didn't work, so, ultimately, these lights, and some of the locomotive's control equipment, were disconnected, and the supply raised to 5 volts. The plan is to restore the “demonstration” lights at a future date, using dropping resistors to provide the correct supply voltage. It is also planned to replace the 12 volt power supply (currently an old truck battery and charger) with a permanent 12 volt power supply to be installed in the H.T. compartment, thus freeing the machinery compartment of any active electrical equipment, which will facilitate cleaning out this compartment in the future.

Also, the interface unit, which up to now has been transported back and forth as needed, has now been left securely stowed in the No. 2 end compartment along with the computer.

Train simulator unit
Train simulator computer & interface unit in No. 2 end H.T. compartment.

Over several days, the reliability of the system was tested by simply running it continuously for periods of three to four hours. During this process, another intermittent problem occurred in which the simulator would not go back to idle when the accelerating handle was pushed back to “off”. After a particularly intense fault finding investigation the wire conveying signal “RT2”, which is energised when the accelerating handle is in the “off” position, was found to be attached to the power control circuit board by a defective solder joint. So far this problem hasn't re-appeared. After the above mentioned problems were addressed, the system performed satisfactorily, including during a “road test” by trainee 46 class driver Henk “Clogs” Luf.

Henk Luf at simulator control            
“Clogs” in action at the controls.

Photos: Steve Corrigan

An operating manual for the simulator has been produced. This document provides instructions for setting up, operating and shutting down the simulator, detailed description (circuit diagrams, circuit board layouts, connection tables etc.) and describes all changes made to original 4601 wiring.

Prior to going public, the following tasks remain:

Steve Corrigan, 4601 Project Manager

6. On the "four foot"

Coal Stage Road

After many months closure and following a generous donation from Honorary Life Member Roslyn Reynolds, the Coal Stage Road has returned to operational use. Derryville Rail was engaged to carry out the much needed work to this historic road. Near new sleepers, donated by that company, have been laid on a well graded and ballasted bed and even a new stop block installed.

This work saved many months of hard labour by members and volunteers through all sorts of weather. The lower part of the road (about 30 metres) had already been done under the watchful eye of John Stanley until his passing late last year. A resolute and hardy team continued and finally finished that length through a very hot spell in summer.

The latest section of track was inspected and passed by Les Kelleher (THNSW Rail Infrastructure Manager) in mid-July.

This work could not have been completed without the efforts and resources of Derryville Rail as contractor, the financial resources of Roslyn Reynolds, STARPS and the Museum and the continued work done by members and volunteers alike to ensure that this important asset is available for use by the Museum for many years to come. The Coal Stage Road allows the display of the Museum’s activities on a regular basis to the passing traffic on the highway showing that the Museum is alive and well preserving the history of Valley Heights and the Blue Mountains.

Roslyn Reynolds cutting ribbon Roslyn Reynolds set to cut the ribbon. (First Open Day using the newly re-laid Coal Stage Road) Photo: Peter Butler
Derryville rail team celebrates The Derryville Rail team celebrates the finished job with Roslyn Reynolds, Photo: Keith Ward

Fettlers' Shed

The rail laying is now complete and conduits installed for water and electricity. Final levelling and drilling of uprights needs to be done. Following the decision to lay a concrete floor, quotes have been received and evaluated and the job will commence when funds are available. Dave Grove's Retirees Group that meets monthly, has built formwork boxes to mark the locations of the posts when the concrete slab is poured.

There has been a push to identity and dispose of timber sleepers suitable for landscaping or surplus to requirements. This project has progressed well and donations to date for sleepers collected from the site have reached $224, with further negotiations to follow.

Chris Troy, Per Way Manager

7. Shopping trends

While there was only one open day in May (closed for Mothers' Day), that one event, “Teddy Bears’ Day Out” (report elsewhere) certainly made up for it, as it was actually slightly busier than last year’s Santa Sunday, making it the biggest day of the last financial year (although marginally smaller than TBDO of 2016). However total revenue on the day was up 10% on the same day last year. Our top seller was the toy pull back trains featured in DD116.

Our first Open Day in June (10th) was on the Queen’s Birthday weekend but it proved to be exceptionally busy, with well above average visitations and plenty of income despite an equipment problem, in the form of an overheated (overused? Ed.) eftpos machine. Thanks to John Carter’s good work, and a pleasingly quick response by Westpac, this was replaced in time for the next Open Day. Card transactions sometimes exceed cash takings so this unit is now a critical piece of equipment. Don’t forget to bring your credit card with you on your next visit to the shop. There is always something there to tempt the eye, heart and wallet! (Note, we actually don’t mind if the machine is overused!)

July was an upbeat month with the extra Open Day on the BM150 weekend, during which some of our visitors also caught steam shuttles. Visitation totalled over 350 for the month, and also boosted our shop sales, that were well above average.

Shooting the WestIn stock news, “Sydney’s Forgotten Sidings” a new release, is now almost sold out and the long anticipated book “Shooting the West” has just been delivered.

Another new title, “Vantage Point NSW”, is now available. It is essentially a picture album of NSW steam, however it does contain some unique and particularly lovely photography. Multi skilled member Michael Jessop is now making a 46 class fridge magnet, which we now sell. Michael has also provided us with another unique item for sale, an HO scale model of a fettlers’ shed based on the actual design we will have on our site soon, as you will read about elsewhere. It is available as a kit ($25) or fully assembled ($35). Thank you again Mike, lovely work!

HO scale Fettler ShedCompleted model fettlers' shed. Photo: Grant Robinson

Coming Items: two more issues of the popular “By-Ways” series are expected later this year, watch this space.

Steve Corrigan, Retail Manager

8. Small exhibits

The eagerly anticipated Call Boy exhibition has been finalised following the hard work of many, especially volunteer Sue Fulton. Make sure you drop in to the former DLE’s building when next at the Museum and admire the new display. Two of the sloping glass topped display cases relocated from this building will be used to enhance the story of the Caves Express (RBR1049) and Milk Wagon (MRC27506)

With financial support from THNSW Collections Manager, Jennifer Edmonds and extensive input from our signage group a mobile pull up sign was designed and ordered. It explains the changes in railway station names in the Blue Mountains and was used at our BM150 display at Emu Plains in July (see image elsewhere). The sign now “pops up” every Open Day and is restrained by a special wooden bracket on the side of the courtyard wall. Very well received by visitors and members alike, it ties in with the historic station seat names recently painted by member Frank Coy.

Mike Pensini, Small Exhibits Manager

9. Our models

VH Depot Model Railway Room

Don’t forget to inspect the latest work being carried out on the loop. A hinged bridge has been built and wired crossing the narrow passageway used for operator access. Emergency switches have been installed to stop a train in the event of an open bridge, thus preventing an accidental disaster.  Further electrical work has been completed to overcome power supply issues near the “Y” turning area and on the coal stage. Roger Dohnt and Michael Jessop also spend some Saturday mornings working on the layout.

The Museum has accepted the generous offer of two locomotives plus a large number of excellent kit built four wheeled vehicles from member Don Chandler, who has also donated a sizeable amount of money, which is part of the proceeds of his sale of locos and rolling stock to our members and the Christian model fellowship (who are also beneficiaries of the sale). Don has asked that the money be spent on the layouts.

Ray Beharrell, Model Railway Manager

10. Buildings and grounds

Workshop news

Two buffers were fitted to the Museum’s “S” truck to make shunting safer. However, one buffer on the other end of this vehicle needs attention.

Our hi-rail vehicle “Mario” failed again recently, however, the cause was found and with the assistance of Eddie at Hydraulube it is again operational. To prevent future failures of this nature a modification will be carried out. A pressure gauge and fittings for Mario (valued at approximately $130) were donated by BGS Hydraulics (Emu Plains)

A steel rack has been manufactured and will be used to store our stock of steel flat bar alongside the EHO guard’s van at the rear of the Roundhouse.

Terry Matchett, Workshop Manager

Building restoration

Our rebuilt wooden phone box is nearing completion with member Dennis Brown finishing a faithful reproduction of the inside paint work. This project, with useful help from Mike Pensini, Bob Matthew and others has transformed it from its earlier condition having languished in the Roundhouse for some years. The box now needs an old fashioned pay phone (any offers or ideas?), a door closer, a decision on its final resting place and a superhero with external undies!

Further progress was made on the repainting of the exterior of the former amenities building (for our newer members, now the shop/café)

The perennial scourge of a site built around timber supports – termite attack - was noticed in a couple of locations after the recent regular inspection. They were attended to, otherwise all is well.

A large acrylic sheet has been installed as a permanent cover for the job maintenance chalkboard from DELEC that has been mounted on the rear wall of the Roundhouse (near 4601)

Acrylic panelJeff Russell & Dave Grove manoeuvre the acrylic panel into place.

A suggestion from STARPS led to the construction of timber steps with a landing, at the eastern end of the terminus platform to allow for safer passenger movement when the LFA carriage is being used a part of the “Mixed” consist. It also makes the train crew’s job easier when aligning the carriage with the steps. The metal steps used previously have been earmarked for access to the U-Boat.

Steps taking shape
New platform steps take shape under Dennis Brown’s guiding hands
  Finished steps
Ready for use: the new platform steps after a coat of paint

Photos: Keith Ward

Dave Grove, Building Restoration Manager

Building Services

Fence construction

Our fully funded boundary fence along the southern perimeter of the property is close to completion.


Member Glenn Hargrave has been busy around the site. He installed several power points to relieve the congestion of leads and power boards, has commenced the huge task of testing and tagging all of our portable tools and cords and also installed heavier grade sub mains power circuits from our main switchboard to the end of the Roundhouse. This was required to accommodate the extra load of the new air conditioners.

The LED lights erected for the arrival road worked well on our recent steam weekend when steam loco 3642 was stabled for two nights at the Depot.

Museum stalwart Dave Hunt has been busy repairing the log splitter and lights on the tractor.

Ted Dickson, Building Services Manager

“Around the Grounds”

The regular tasks of mowing, weed poisoning and new plantings continue throughout the year. If you have green thumbs and would like to assist in this department, please consider joining our merry band of gardeners. Honorary Life Member Roslyn Reynolds has made a good start on cleaning up the Civil Depot precinct and with qualified arborist Luke Tolhurst has begun fertilizing the garden areas.

Steve Dive, Grounds Manager

11. Membership

Following a recent appeal to unfinancial members, a substantial number have responded by paying their 2017 fees. There are new guidelines being introduced about late payment and more details will be sent when confirmed.

11.1 Membership Year

A reminder that our Valley Heights Membership Year runs from January till December. At present we have 170 financial members.

Unfinancial members were contacted in April/May and over 30 of these members renewed their membership. Since the last Depot Diary 11 new members have joined (They are listed below). If you are still unfinancial please consider renewing as below.

  1. If you do NOT have access to a membership form, merely write your name and address on a piece of paper and send the cheque ($20 for adults and $10 for school students and younger folk) and the paper to VHLDHM, P.O. Box 484 Springwood, NSW, Australia, 2777. Please indicate any changes to name, address, phone numbers (include mobile if applicable) and email.
  2. If you wish you can ring me and I shall post a form to you.
  3. You can obtain a form on our website — infobluemountains.net.au/locodepot/membership — click on the link on the right hand side. You can post the form to the above address.

Members who are financial for the 2017 year will be asked to renew their membership for the 2018 year in about December.

11.2 New Members

All at Valley Heights would like to welcome our new members and we hope to see you at the Depot throughout the year.

11.3 Member meeting

The next member day meeting will be on our AGM day – Saturday 18 November. You will receive additional information about this in early October.

It is anticipated that we will have a BBQ lunch on the AGM day.


This is the computer program used by volunteers to log on and off and to indicate the task on which they worked. Volgistics does not contain every member’s details – it is used only for those who do voluntary work for the Depot.

Those using Volgistics can now find out their hours and change personal details by logging on at www.transportheritagensw.com.au/volunteer. You would have received an email from THNSW about how to access this. If you require help here please make contact.

11.5 ICE Cards

Volunteers are asked to complete an ICE card (In Case of Emergency) and leave it at the Depot. This will allow your relatives or nominated person to be contacted in case you are involved in a mishap and the card can also supply important information to medical personnel. The blank cards and envelopes are in the rear of a plastic box near the computer in the amenities room. Once you complete the card please put it in the envelope, seal it, write your name on the envelope and put it in the plastic box in alphabetical order. The envelope will be opened only in an emergency.

IF YOUR DETAILS CHANGE PLEASE WRITE THOSE CHANGES ONTO YOUR CARD.  Take a new envelope (in the plastic box) and put your amended card into the new envelope and put it back into the box in alphabetical order.

11.6 Tour of the Depot

Members who have recently joined or those who have not been to the Depot for a while are welcome to ring me and organise a time to have a tour of the Depot. This will take about 1-2 hours, depending upon your interests.


Jeff Russell, Membership Officer
Email: jeff.russell@valleyheightsrailmuseum.info
Home phone: (02) 4751 2471

Vale Nick Hill

Nick Hill: 14 November 1942 – 6 July 2017

It is with much sadness and deep regret that we report on the passing of Museum member Nick Hill. Nick was one of our early members joining the Museum in July 1990 and being granted member No: 20. Nick’s involvement with the Museum included a period of 8 years (September 1991- August 1999) serving on the Museum’s executive committee in the positions of Grounds Maintenance Manager and Building Restoration Manager.

During his term as Grounds Maintenance Manager, Nick oversaw a team of members in the construction of our boundary security fence. This was made from second hand materials procured from the old Thirlmere Museum site. Nick was also involved with Roundhouse roof repairs when this building was severely damaged by gale force winds in 1994.

Nick Hill doing roof repairs
Nick at work tying down the roof trusses in the Roundhouse (1994). Photo: Andrew Tester

Nick was born in Ecclesfield, Yorkshire in England on 14 November 1942 and was the eldest of three children having a younger sister Rosalind and brother Theodore.

As a 21 year old Nick left England on an adventure to Australia. He travelled by land through many countries including Afghanistan and India until he reached Singapore at which point he set sail for Australia. He arrived in Perth on the 24 December 1964. He soon moved to Melbourne where he spent a short time before moving north to Sydney. Nick spent time living in Kings Cross, Balmain, Ermington and ultimately Blaxland where he built his brick fortress.

In 1968 Nick married Judith and together they have two sons Lancelot and Alexander.

Prior to arriving in Australia, Nick had received limited education and after arriving in Sydney set about improving on his education. He put himself through Meadowbank TAFE (Technical College as it would have been known at the time) to complete his School Certificate and Higher School Certificate. He returned to continue his education completing his Clerk of Works certification. Nick spent over 10 years studying at Meadowbank and as he returned to continue his education, staff at the college were often heard saying “Oh not you again”.

He became a licensed bricklayer and builder and the quality of his work was exceptional. His skills in bricklaying were solid, only to be surpassed by the builders of the Great Wall of China. Examples of Nick’s skills are on display in the Museum including a rather solid brick barbecue and the foundations for the overhead water column.

Nick’s interest in railways and trains stem from his early childhood. Growing up in England Nick’s father was employed on the railways. A benefit of his employment included free travel for the family and during holiday periods the family would travel extensively by train.

Nick and Judith were actively involved with the Scouts Association at Ermington and later West Ryde.

Aside from railways, Nick was also interested in long distance walking. Back in England Nick and his family would walk long distances often in extremely cold conditions.

Upon moving to the Blaxland, Nick’s walking interests extended to exploring his natural mountain environment. He was a member of many organisations including the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, National Parks Association, Glenbrook District Historical Society, U3A Nepean Blue Mountains and the Blaxland Rural Fire Service, until he fell sick.

In the year 2000 Nick was diagnosed with a multi resistant staph infection (often referred to as a super bug) and doctors thought Nick would not survive the next twelve months. Nick went on to fight this for many years. Unfortunately the infection spread and in 2007 Nick’s kidney function began to fail requiring him to commence kidney dialysis. Over time Nick also developed heart complications. 

This was a setback for Nick as his illness restricted him from continuing many of his lifelong interests.

Nick fought one mighty fight with the complications associated with his health. Nick was admitted to Nepean Hospital 3 July 2017 with pneumonia and succumbed to his battle on the 6 July 2017. 

Although Nick has now moved onto life’s next journey his parting wish to this world was to have his body donated to the University of Technology for forensic research after which he will be cremated and his ashes spread within the gardens of the University.

Nick is survived by his wife Judith, and sons Lancelot and Alexander, sister Rosalind and brother Theodore.

Farewell gentle giant. Rest In Peace.

Andrew Tester

Nick Hill with 3214 Dec2016
Nick poses beside 3214 on the 14 November 2016.
This was to become Nick’s last visit to Valley Heights. Photo: Andrew Tester

12. Our coming events

Sun 10 September Open day with Steam Tram rides
Sun 24 September Open day with Valley Heights Mixed rides
Sun 8 October Open day with Steam Tram rides
Sun 22 October Open day with Valley Heights Mixed rides
Sun 29 October Halloween event
Sun 12 November Open day with Steam Tram rides
Sat 18 November VHLDHM Annual General Meeting at 11:00
Sun 26 November Open day with Valley Heights Mixed rides
Sat 9–Sun 10 December   Special Christmas Themed Weekend—Santa arrives on Steam Tram
26-27 May 2018 150th anniversary of rail to Mt Victoria event

Possible Newington Armory Tour

Disarmed at the Armory
Download Disarmed at the Armory brochure

Dave Lewis from STARPS hopes to organise a tour to the Newington Armory at Olympic Park. The tour includes a train ride, and a behind the scenes guided tour where the public can't go.

The most likely day would be a Wednesday, from 10am till 12 midday, followed by lunch in the Mess Hall. If we can get 40 participants, the cost is a paltry $16 each, plus $16 for lunch. If we get 20, the cost is still only $32 each.

Before finalising plans, we need at least 20 participants and need to give the Armory 4 weeks notice. If interested, contact Dave Lewis:
Email: floozie2@bigpond.net.au
Phone (02) 9630 6304


Keith Ward, Publicity Manager VHLDHM


We wish to thank our important sponsors:

  • Springwood Mowers
  • Glenbrook Cinema
  • BGS Hydraulics
  • Hydraulube Fluid Power
  • Glenn Hargrave (electrical)
  • Luke Tolhurst (arborist services)
  • SPC Statewide Protective Services
  • Norman Lindsay Gallery
  • World’s Best Products (graffiti removal supplies)
  • SDS Models (sdsmodels.com.au)
  • Local Hire Service, Valley Heights
  • Blue Mountains Coffee Roasters, Valley Heights
  • Austrains (austrains.com.au)
  • On Track Models (ontrackmodels.com.au)
  • Bunnings Hardware, Valley Heights
  • Jenolan Caves
  • Featherdale Wildlife Park, Doonside
  • Richard Butcher, author
  • Blooms the Chemist, Springwood
  • Springwood Historical Society
  • Turning Page Bookshop, Springwood
  • Abcoe, Penrith
  • Macquarie Road Auto Repairs, Springwood
  • Headway Hair, Springwood
  • Scenic World, Katoomba
  • Royal Hotel, Springwood
  • Mac’s Daks Menswear, Springwood
  • Hunter Shoes, Springwood
  • Coles, Winmalee
  • Signwave, Penrith
  • Terrys Truck Hire, Springwood

Publicity Manager’s Trivia Quiz Corner

Rank the following items in descending order in terms of the (approximate) number of rivets used in construction:

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Two Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets
  • The entire fleet (at its peak) of “P6” (C32) class NSW steam locos (e.g. 3214)
  • Eiffel Tower
  • German “Zeppelin” airship
  • RMS “Titanic”

Depot Diary 116 Trivia Quiz answer:
Kevin Rudd.
Check the question at infobluemountains.net.au/locodepot/depot-diary

Depot Diary: Print friendly version
Depot Diary: High quality print version