1. The Chairman’s lineside chat
2. News desk
5. Big toys
6. Model moments
7. Shop talk
8. Small stuff, but important
9. Safety Matters
11. Our coming events
(Hint to self: always begin with the excuses)…In an attempt to break the time cycle between this publication and the Roundhouse magazine that many of you subscribe to, I have been avoiding putting pen to paper. However, I realised that the best way to avoid duplication was to let some of the articles that would normally have been covered in these pages, turn up in your “box” via the AGM report, so most items relating to the last few months of the financial year are published there.
Some matters have also been dealt with in eNews bulletins to our members who receive emails, but here’s a summary in case you missed out:
Long term hardworking team leader of the retirees group Dennis Brown received an award from Blue Mountains City Council during Seniors Week for his years of dedicated service to the Museum.
“Love was in the air”…young local couple Samantha & Andrew hired Mountains photographer Sarah Moore to shoot their engagement photos at the Museum, with Caves Express carriage RBR 1049 and steam tank engine ‘Stevo’ positioned on the new forecourt as the main props.
The second Seniors ‘One-for-one’ day proved successful, coinciding with a school holiday opening.
Industry body BMATA (Blue Mountains Accommodation & Tourism Association) held its monthly meeting at the Museum and members enjoyed a guided tour conducted by Andrew Tester and a tasty pizza lunch. At month’s end, BMATA launched their strategic plan at Leura’s Fairmont Resort.
In a busy time for mid-week visits, members of Probus Club of Crows Nest arrived by bus for Devonshire tea and a guided tour on a perfect autumn day, while a large group from Diggers@TheEntrance enjoyed mid-week rides as well as their Devonshire tea. We also hosted a small group from Parramatta Legacy who were able to reconnect with STARPS Steam Tram 103A that ran for many years in Parramatta Park.
The Museum welcomed members of the Stronger Families Alliance (SFA) - a Blue Mountains City Council initiative - that is developing a network of organisations offering free and low cost school holiday activities.
A low key photo shoot captured the handing over of a Museum family pass to winners in a prize draw arranged by SFA, following a survey during the April holidays.
A group of serious photography buffs from Blue Mountains Photographic Society enjoyed a guided tour including some areas usually off-limits as well as rides on 'The Valley Heights Mixed'.
You’ll be pleased to know I’ll be working to have more frequent updates to you all, by whatever means, in the months to come.
Please read on….
Since our last Depot Diary, a lot has taken place at the museum.
We had some very well attended Open Days which shows that our plugging away at promoting our various events via Facebook, Twitter and our own website, is very successful.
The rail corridor boundary fencing was completed, the fettler shed construction is making great progress, the introduction into service of X206 is in its final approval stages and a large collection of Australian model rail locomotive and rolling stock items has been added to the Museum collection. The newly acquired Civil Depot needs a substantial amount of TLC but good progress is being made. As is our practice, safety is always our priority and we doing very well in that regard. In all, thanks to the great combined efforts of all our volunteers, our Museum is doing very well indeed and my sincere thanks to everyone: “A job well done, thanks to you all”
Henk Luf, Chairman VHLDHM
Sunday 8 July was the first regular Open Day of the school holidays and proved beneficial for the Museum with over 150 visitors. A guest appearance by member, Mel, as her other self ‘Suzy Spindoll’, was a great hit with a Hula Hoop demonstration, display and free tuition for all.
We opened to the public for both Thursdays of the July school holidays in conjunction with Stronger Families Alliance (SFA), under the auspices of Blue Mountains City Council. Both days were an interesting exercise in supplying low cost and free activities and, with no rides on offer, we fulfilled our obligation in that regard. Special thanks to Henk Luf, Bruce Coxon, Dave Hunt, Ted Mullett, Steve Corrigan, Eileen Ward, Heather Dickson and her grandchild, Olivia for turning out to manage and feed our visitors. Overall, nearly 100 visitors turned up, many of whom were first timers. Several mentioned their inability to join us on weekends, so there is obviously potential for mid-week openings and we are keen to 'keep the pot boiling' with repeat performances. To assist families with sourcing events at other venues that are part of this new partnership, the SFA calendar was displayed at three locations around the Museum for the two weeks of the holidays.
Father’s Day on 2 September saw over 200 visitors enjoy the fine weather, with many taking up our offer to bring Dad for free! Dads also had the chance to ride with the driver or fireman on the Steam Tram and this was well received by all. A great day all round!
The ‘Life & Death’ themed event on the weekend of 8/9 September was a success by most measures. About 200 visitors, many from more distant parts of Sydney and further afield (Bundaberg, Wollongong etc.) enjoyed the rarely seen exhibits and attended one or more of the ten 30 minute presentations on a range of topics by our five speakers, introduced in the program below.
We had mentions on two radio stations (ABC & 2GB) and an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette, but many were drawn by the great work done by Andrew Tester on Facebook. There was a good turnout by various historical societies and a group from ‘Friends of Rookwood Cemetery’ boosted numbers on Sunday. The Coffin Cart, on loan with kind approval of THNSW Heritage & Collections Manager, Jennifer Edmonds, had been collected by truck from Thirlmere the previous week, under the watchful eye of Collections Officer, Chris (Christian) Fielder. It will remain at the Museum until after our Halloween event at the end of October and will be returned by STARPS director, Wayne Flicker, and myself. Unfortunately the Tram Hearse, on very short term loan from MAAS (Powerhouse) Discovery Centre at Castle Hill, had to be returned, despite a concerted effort to keep it for longer. The 80 year reunion of this unique exhibit with Steam Tram 101A & trailer 93B was a milestone in Sydney’s Transport history and was well photographed and filmed over the weekend! Here is the link to our YouTube clip: https://youtu.be/0tOaJFJ_Hi4 and some images from the two day event are shown below.
Although the effort and expense involved in mounting this exhibition had raised hope of more visitations, the outcome was satisfactory, considering the triple whammy negative effects of light rain on Saturday, track work on both days and the footy finals!. It is pleasing that we are continuing to attract new visitors and the word will spread accordingly. We had three new 5-star reviews on Google Business and I have responded to them individually. Notes of appreciation have been also sent to the 32 different volunteers (and invited contributors) who made the weekend memorable and without whose effort these activities are impossible!
My presentations, titled ‘Life begins – on the right track!’ involved some months of research into babies that were born on or around trains. This investigation led me to attempt to contact relatives or descendants of those mentioned in the many newspaper articles on this topic. Although largely a fruitless task, at the eleventh hour, I was contacted by a daughter of one of my targets. Eileen Hanlon of Bundaberg, who was reportedly born on a train in 1923 and also involved in an amazing and heroic rescue, aged 17. Part of her story is shown below. Remarkably the family knew of the car crash, but nothing of the train birth!
The Open Day on Sunday 23 September was enhanced by the appearance of over 20 visitors celebrating a 9th birthday. The day went well and the Eichorn family was very happy with the outcome. Thanks to everyone who helped, especially Jeff Russell, who managed their special arrangements.
Thursday 4 October saw the first of our mid-week openings for these school holidays. Forecast extreme rainfall discouraged the public and the thought of a day at a rail museum wasn't high on their priorities! In an unexpected twist, most customers were aged over 50, and they all had lengthy stays, resulting in surprisingly buoyant shop sales. Thanks to Henk Luf, Steve Corrigan, Ted Mullett, Dave Hunt and Eileen Ward for their assistance on the day. On a personal note, it was an amazing coincidence that two of our visitors had connections with Swindon in the UK, the town of my formative years and site of the GWR works, where my late father built steam locos in the 1950s. One of the men worked in the Drawing Office there in the British Rail days and the other is currently a driver with the privatised Great Western. Both arrived independently, with friends or relatives and didn’t know each other but unfortunately, they didn’t meet. It's a small world!
The second mid-week school holiday opening on 11 October was boosted by a group of volunteers from Hawkesbury Regional Museum at Windsor. Devonshire tea, catered by Eileen Ward, and a guided tour, with generous assistance from local historians Sue Fulton and Dick Morony, were well received by all. Several of this group were also members of their local historical society and had the chance to network with some of our team. This visit resulted from the good work done by Andrew Tester and David Wainwright at Windsor in August (as mentioned elsewhere).
A visit to the Portland Cement Works, arranged by David Lewis of STARPS, was held on Wednesday 10 October. A group of over 20 Museum and STARPS members enjoyed an informative guided tour, conducted by long term works ex-employee Herb and daughter Katie. Site manager Richard was also on hand to explain future plans for this largely demolished site. Many of the group decamped to one of the local hotels for a warming lunch on a wet, misty and cold day out!
Work is underway to decorate of exhibits and buildings for our Halloween weekend (27–28 October). Following the encouraging aspects of last year’s event, we are running it over two days, with late opening and closing on the Saturday. Definitely worth a look! Even if you can’t make it as a helper or visitor, please spread the word to family, neighbours, friends and workmates to make the weekend something to shout about! Again titled ‘Dracular Spectacular’ it will be well promoted in all the usual channels.
Andrew Tester’s good work on Facebook continues. Suffice it to say that social media, whether you’re involved or not, is a wonderfully effective and low cost way for us to reach our major audience, families. They are switched on to this type of communication and the results speak for themselves.
The Museum's Twitter account is continuing to blossom. We now have over 260 followers, and whilst the bulk of them are overseas, there is growing support locally. Regardless of where they are, this is a great vehicle for us to spread the word about our goings on.
An illustrated article was submitted for publication in the Spring edition.
Volunteers from the Museum were on hand at the THNSW Expo at Central on Monday 11 June. Duties included managing cab visits to steam loco 3642 during one of its last outings prior to a long overdue spell out of action for major work. A thrilling ride back to Springwood on one of Lachlan Valley Railway's CPH railmotors capped off an exciting, busy but satisfying day.
A very productive meeting was held onsite in August with Martina and Johnny from Schools Industry Partnership (SIP). This private enterprise, government funded local business creates opportunities for young people aged 15-24 in a variety of volunteer activities as a transition from school to the workplace. The Museum was represented by Ted Dickson, Jeff Russell, Andrew Tester and myself, with apologies from Henk Luf and Bruce Coxon. It is hoped that this will provide enthusiastic & younger starters an opening in 'meet & greet' and way-finding roles, in a learning capacity, with a view to stimulating their interest for the longer term. There is also the potential for infrastructure and exhibits projects that can be assigned to teams under the direction of responsible Museum mentors. The relationship with SIP was strengthened with four helpers being on duty for a subsequent Open Day. Tim, Adam, Michael and Colin, arrived with supervisor Martina, and after induction, were rotated around different areas to gain brief insights into what goes on. Spells on the Valley Heights Mixed, behind the shop counter, in the model room and former DLE’s office provided some variety and enabled interaction with the public and several of our committee.
Thank you to volunteers David Wainwright and Andrew Tester for attending industry sessions at Hawkesbury Regional Museum (HRM) on the morning of Saturday 25 August. Representing Valley Heights, at the Dr Rex Stubbs History Symposium, the pair enjoyed the catered lunch before manning a ‘trade table’ that displayed some interesting railway exhibits and Museum leaflets. The wet weather meant that this event, planned for outdoors, was moved inside, deterring a wider audience. I joined them in the afternoon and networked with some other groups.
Grant Robinson and I were at Bunnings Valley Heights for their Father’s Day Family Night on 30 August. With the store specially opening until 20:00, the 100 or so guests enjoyed a jumping castle, freshly baked pizza, a band and kids activities. It gave us the opportunity to promote the Museum and our own Father’s Day event.
With only a few opportunities remaining between us and the draw date, please assist to keep the money coming in by offering to sell or even BUY some tickets soon! TEN great prizes valued at over $1,000 will be drawn by ‘Santa’ later in the year.
A FOUR DIGIT running number was shared by a well-known British steam locomotive and an NSWGR diesel loco built 43 years apart. (They are in varying degrees of preservation!). Which loco has more wheels – on the rails?
Depot Diary 119 Trivia Quiz answer:
Braemar: site of the Clyde Engineering factory that built diesel locomotive 8207. This loco delivered the Ampol tanker to Valley Heights on 8 October 1994 — the Museum’s first large exhibit!
Check the question at infobluemountains.net.au/ locodepot/ depot-diary
Driven by Building Restoration Manager Dave Grove, a composite team has been working on advancing this project as quickly as possible and it already looks the part. The shell is complete and metal has now been delivered ready for the doors to be fabricated.
The movement of materials for the new shed has enabled work to re-commence (after a long layover!) on the turnout from the arrival to the departure road. The brick collar above a major drainage culvert, adjacent to the excavation for the points, has been repaired.
Much work has been done to prepare the site for the transfer of equipment: sleepers have been grade sorted, and de-plated; nearly 80 tonnes of spoil has been levelled in readiness for the arrival of some shipping containers, which will dramatically boost site storage capacity.
Workshop Manager Terry Matchett has developed a floor layout of the office space and a proposed plan and discussion paper has been considered by the Executive Committee.
These documents seek comment, ideas and input for the future use of these offices by Managers who need space there. The office building requires repairs and modifications that will require the setting up of the carpenters’ workshop in the shed while repairs are in progress. Moving of machinery from the roundhouse has been deferred until this task is completed.
Vice chairman Ted Dickson attended a workshop organised by Heritage & Collections Manager THNSW Jennifer Edmonds that focused on damage caused by insects in museums and galleries. We aim to remain ‘bug-free’!
Honorary member and skilled arborist Luke Tolhurst has continued trimming trees, a major project in the coal road garden to maintain essential clearances. Grounds Manager Steve Dive has constructed some substantial solid steps leading down to the signal box from the side gate to Tusculum Road. Roslyn Reynolds has single-handedly cleared out the coal bunker to make it more fit for purpose. Thanks to a whole team effort, the sleeper pile blocking Number 1 Ash Road has been cleared.
Alan Gardner from THNSW has provided the test report on the hydraulics in diesel tractor X206 and the loco is now ready for duty, awaiting our STARPS chums to finalise accreditation. Ten candidates undertook driver training on Saturday 25 August. Thanks to the hard work of Terry Matchett, Dave Hunt and others the loco performed excellently.
Our trainer, Ray Cullen, who has considerable experience with this loco, provided us with an entertaining and educational day. It will be a significant addition to operations on Open Days, as well as providing a turnkey resource for shunting. Of course, an oft-discussed bonus will be the capacity to provide rides for mid-week groups and on days of high fire risk or total ban. It has been a long journey and will be detailed in a future Diary, but the days of revenue earning service are closing in. Watch this space!
Large Exhibits Manager Bruce Coxon has commenced the long process of arranging the paperwork required for restoration of the 4-wheel timber HG guards van. After discussions, the team had decided the van would be restored at the western end of Road 1 but new plans now mean it will remain in Road 9 but change position with the louvre van.
Bruce and Project Manager Steve Corrigan have been in discussion re our ultimate aim to open up electric loco 4601 to the public. Our visitors will have a unique interactive experience in the cab of this powerful beast and a walk through the massive engine bay will provide yet another new adventure at Valley Heights.
Here’s a summary of Steve’s progress reports on the exciting driver simulator:
Member Leigh Stokes has done a considerable amount of work in the Trainz simulator, particularly in scenery development and has used the latest version of the package. Leigh has had a demonstration of our simulator implementation in 4601, an explanation of its functions and access to the manual. He explained the features of the latest version, and development of local scenery is also being considered. This and other factors will probably require replacing the existing IT platform (computer and software) with a more up to date version to provide a richer and more realistic experience.
The scenery project is considerably more challenging. The ultimate goal, having a route from Valley Heights to Katoomba, will probably take years to develop! In the meantime, Leigh is checking if he can find more relevant Australian scenery which is compatible with our system. Also, as an interim step, it might be possible to make the existing scenery a little more realistic: adding overhead catenary would be a good start, but even this will be very time consuming.
It was noticed in summer that the 12 volt power supply, which runs the lights as well as the simulator electronics, became quite hot. This was probably because it is in a very restricted air circulation area. To address this issue, a variable speed 12 volt automotive fan has been installed to keep the air moving and can be switched off when not needed. Our policy of not making changes to the locomotive for non-original installations, means the fan has been clamped to an existing conduit, thus avoiding drilling any holes.
During a recent visit by a former 46 class driver, the operation of the Line Switch and Traction Motor Fan lights on the driver’s control desk was explained and it was suggested that it would be relatively simple to simulate operation of these lights using light emitting diodes in place of the original incandescent lamps, and some simple electronics. This would add to the realism of the operation of the simulator, and so some preliminary wiring has been installed.
Following that idea, the existing Line Switch light has been replaced with a LED and suitable dropping resistor, and connected to the controls as indicated in the 46 class wiring diagram. This appears to work, the lamp being illuminated whenever the accelerating handle is away from the “Off” position, although intermittent operation suggests that a better ground connection may be in order. Following on from this it is planned to develop a suitable timer so as to get a simulated resistance fan motor lamp working.
A great project and well worth the wait!
Model Railway Manager Ray Beharrell is pleased to advise that the turntable on the DCC 1950s layout has been wired up and is now operating so we can demonstrate a loco turning on it. It did, however, prove difficult to get the loco bed to stop at the precise spot to take the loco on and off, plus the wiring for this to happen is quite complex and will be studied and executed at a later date. The control sockets which were installed earlier in the year have now been fully wired into the working circuit.
Over recent years, Valley Heights Chairman Henk Luf has collected a large number of Australian model locomotives and rolling stock. As the items were primarily used at the Museum, he thought it a good idea to combine Museum exhibits with his own fleet to display a large and varied model railway attraction for all to enjoy. This generous donation will be valued by members and visitors for years to come. Thank you, Henk!
Retail manager, Steve Corrigan has arranged a wider variety of children’s books, plus a range of Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise, the latter with thanks to Mel Anderson at Thirlmere. Sales have already been generated by these popular additions.
The shop has re-stocked a selection of books in the “Sydney’s Forgotten…” series. These publications continue to sell steadily, despite being on the market for many years. As a result of some interest in the recent publication on the Hawkesbury Bridge, limited supplies will be available soon. You can reserve any of these popular item for your library…just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details. We also have a quantity of THNSW calendars at just $18. Make a date to visit!
Member Michael Jessop has been skilfully designing and making unique models for sale in the shop. These include a single fettlers’ shed, a model of the shed on Hazelbrook station and several tank engine kits. Exclusive to Valley Heights…have a good look at them and remember to bring your wallet!
Mid-week events, although needing extra planning and volunteer support, are always welcome. Valley Heights is the perfect site for special interest groups and attractive rates can be negotiated for birthday parties, wedding photography, film shoots, and so on. Please contact Keith Ward at the Museum on (02) 4751 4638 (leave message) if you know anyone who might be interested.
The team working with Small Exhibits Curator, Michael Pensini has been busy on many fronts:
I would like to congratulate all our volunteers for their efforts in contributing towards a safer working place. We have had no incidents to report in the last six months.
Having said that, we (VHLDHM & STARPS) continue to face the many challenges around WH&S and rail safety, which require us to maintain and improve upon our current standard.
Many issues raised during the Safework NSW audit from late last year have been dealt with, but some of the bigger ticket items are either currently under review or are still waiting to be addressed.
A team of volunteers led by David Wainwright has recently constructed a safety fence that extends along the top of the retaining wall from the fire shed to the western side of the ash tunnel. Built from onsite second hand materials, the fence was low cost and is quite attractive. An extension from the ash tunnel eastwards along the retaining wall is also on the agenda.
The pallet racking at the back of the roundhouse was identified as high risk and life expired during the safety audit. This pallet racking has subsequently been safely dismantled. An independent audit specifically targeting the racking onsite later identified additional issues with some of the Brownbuilt shelving. One such issue was the absence of SWL signage. This signage has now been obtained and is currently being fixed to the racks. Some of the racking also requires replacement and as this was a broader issue for THNSW, we are now working with Head Office to seek suitable replacements.
A new machine has been acquired to assist us in testing and tagging all our electrical equipment. Training in its use will commence this year with up to six people to be eventually qualified.
At times we have volunteers working onsite alone (in isolation) and this has been a concern for the Executive and Safety Committees. While we have procedures in place for volunteers to follow when working alone, there is still the risk that something could go wrong which could affect their safety.
In an attempt to assist a volunteer working in isolation, should their life be at risk, the Museum has recently acquired a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon). This device is only to be activated in extreme cases where they feel their life is at risk, e.g. medical episode, snake bite. Of course the Museum does not encourage volunteers to work alone, but sometimes this cannot be avoided and key holders can access the site at any time. Any key holder who plans to work and finds they are the only one onsite, is required to phone another Committee Member to let them know that they are onsite, what they are doing and how long they will be there. Similarly, a person remaining onsite alone after other volunteers have left must notify a Committee Member. Upon leaving the volunteer is required to confirm their safety and imminent departure to the Committee Member.
A new white board has been installed next to the sign-on computer in the amenities room for volunteers to indicate where they will be working. This aids the Duty Officer to identify who is onsite and where they are working. Prior to this we had no idea of who was onsite and where they could be found in the event of an emergency.
All electrical switchboards and sub boards were recently inspected and have subsequently been upgraded by suitably qualified Museum volunteers, to bring them into line with the current safety standard. As a result all electrical circuits are now protected with RCDs (Residual Current Devices aka safety switches). We are grateful to these volunteers who dedicated their time and money to ensure these were wired to the safety standard applicable at the time.
The Museum has acquired two UHF hand-held radios to use in assisting with communications onsite. This was raised during diesel shunter X206 trials when it was found that communication between loco crews and conductor was impeded and the usual hand signals were inadequate. The radios could also be used by volunteers working as car parking attendants, on busy event days, and if successful an additional two may be acquired.
The Museum is currently looking into the purchase of a defibrillator. These devices are becoming more prevalent in today’s society and it has been suggested that the Museum should have one on standby in case of a medical emergency. Let’s hope we never need to use it.
Transport Heritage NSW will be conducting the second Safety Roadshow at Valley Heights on Saturday 3 November 2018 commencing at 10:30. The presentation will cover WH&S issues and where the larger organisation currently stands with addressing the issues bought about by the SafeWork NSW and EPA Audits last September.
Thank you for your support
2018 Museum membership stands at 168, of whom 14 are new to our ranks.
Please note that your annual membership renewal falls due on 1 January of each year. The fee remains at $20 for adults and $10 for school aged children. Renewals for 2019 can be paid from November onwards.
A downloadable renewal form is on the this web page.
If your details have not changed you need to write your name and membership number (and of course banking details if you are using our banking system).
If you have difficulty downloading or printing the form, contact me on (02) 4751 2471 or email@example.com and I'll send you one.
with your bank details to: firstname.lastname@example.org – please supply your name and membership number.
with your bank details or cheque to:
Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum
PO Box 484
Springwood NSW 2777
We welcome you and hope you enjoy all the activities and facilities at your Museum.
We always need more volunteers at Valley Heights – particularly to ease the load of those already putting in super efforts. Please make contact and we can discuss your interests, as shown on your original form along with your availability to volunteer.
(ICE = In case of emergency)
These allow us to contact family and friends in case you are injured or sick at the Depot. Spare cards (in envelopes) are in the plastic box on the filing cabinet in the lunch room. It is important that you complete one of these.
Please remember to sign on using the computer in the lunch room. If you cannot do this please write your name and details in the contact book (either on the table or near the computer).
I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and wish you a great 2019.
Jeff Russell, Membership Officer
Please share Museum news with friends, relatives, workmates and neighbours.
Keith Ward, Eileen Ward, Andrew Tester, Bruce Coxon, Grant Robinson
We wish to thank our important sponsors:
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