Archive for February 2013
During 2012, an enthusiastic group of volunteers at the Australian Sugar Cane Railway participated in Museum & Gallery Services Queensland’s Standards Program. http://www.magsq.com.au/_dbase_upl/ASCR%20Profile.pdf Alan Edwards tells of the benefits of volunteering at ASCR.With the help of Reviewers, Christine Ianna and David Mewes, the group identified their disaster preparedness plan as one key priority for future action. Here’s the group in their well equipped training room during 2012.
Then Cyclone Oswald hit and North Bundaberg flooded. Wendy Driver reports: On Sunday 27 January we received an email from the Council’s disaster management committee to advise that the flood level would get to 7m so I rang Tom and he got a crew from the village and they lifted all the gear in the training room as per our plan.
On 1 February, Wendy emailed: Hello from soggy Bundy
Yesterday after seeking permission from the Deputy Mayor following a
meeting of residents and business owners of North Bundaberg Ross
Driver, Graeme Timson, Alan Edwards and Jeff McPherson went to the gardens via Childers and Gin Gin and then back the same way as bridges are closed – nearly 300km round trip.
There they found that the water had got to 9.5 metres- 2 metres more than group prepared for. The speed of the water current had caused extreme damage, even the metal cabinets in the training room are buckled and twisted beyond belief. All records, photographs, training equipment and library were lost. There was nothing left to salvage in the training room. The ticket office for the train rides round the Gardens was flooded to the roof.
On 6 February, M&GSQ reached Ross Driver to advise that the Museums Development Officers were available to help if needed. Ross reported need for heavy machinery to clean up twisted tracks, 4 feet layer of river sand preventing shed from opening. Society was keeping focused by restoring a No 3 Fowler boiler that had been moved off site before the floods. Already they were making plans to operate the locos in the Gardens by Easter to keep community spirits up.
On 21 February, Wendy emailed: The Society meeting went well on Monday night – even after all it was a positive meeting. Correctional people are manually digging the mud from the inside of the track so as not to damage (like a mechanical machine would) – they have a big job.
Yesterday the local paper visited for the first time so hopefully that will get out to the locals. Members are working daily – plodding their way into the shed. Today the firm who were to do a building extension are visiting to offer advise on how the training room can be made secure.
There is a working bee on Saturday for those of us who work to have some input – I plan to do morning tea and have asked around some friends for coffee mugs as there is nothing left!! It was decided at the meeting that there is a meeting each Monday for a while so the recovery plan is organised. Ross has prepared that and it will be updated each week. Yesterday he ordered a new computer … He has also drawn up plans and will hand in for a quote today so that it can go to Council for relocation!
Ross has had a very tiring but successful day today with the help of firemen from Beaudesert way. So far the diesel has started!! When Ross rang me at lunch I heard the whistle in the background so it was a boost!!
In the local paper today there was a write-up and a page and a half of picture. The Editorial was the best bit saying about the historic heritage of the locos – all very good.
On 22 February, Ross emailed:
We had the fireys from Beaudesert come down into the shed and hose out rubbish. Karen, the lady in charge, was a great woman who had a great interest in historical equipment. The men with her took notice from her with the clean-up. I took photos of them at ASCR and I was thrilled and proud to be in a photo with them – standing beside these brave people was quite an honour especially after sitting down and talking about some of the experiences while they were here in Bundaberg. This was their last job in Bundy before they headed home – see attachs pics.
The Society appreciates greatly the support you have given us and now especially the donation. Today a new lap top was ordered for the membership secretary and your donation will go a long way towards this purchase – this is for Tommy – as the society’s was lost in the flood. Please tell Christine that the motor from the lathe has been removed and taken off site to be restored. Locomotive boiler for No3 has been fully retubed – luckily it was off site on high ground and the work continued while awaiting access to the facility in the Gardens.
On 23/24 February Ross emailed:
We had 15 members working at the shed today in the flood zone The weather is very oppressive and makes recovery work very hard. Track work was done so we could get Valdora up the restoration line to pull out the frame of No.3 Fowler locomotive.
It was 35 degrees with 100 percent humidity , stench from rotting vegetation, mud contaminated by raw sewerage and flying fox shit. The bats have relocated from the west (Biggenden we have been told) The best that I can say about working conditions is that they are miserable but we all still have our sense of humour intact.
Wendy has been down there in the middle of the muck urging us on. She has been making sandwiches for smoko for all the troops.
The heat is strength sapping so we have been careful with hydration and hygiene
as we have been told the mud contains ecoli, hep b, sewerage and heaps of
other nasty bugs. Add the possibility of lyssavirus from the bats if one gets scratched or come in contact with them; so members have been given strict instructions not to touch a sick one on the ground
This has been a marvellous achievement when you consider the water went up to the top of the windows.
From Wendy Driver 26 Feb:
It is difficult to get resources. Things like gloves and rag are short around town. It was decided to work Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week until cleaning has been achieved. This gives those who don’t work a bit of a break in between heavy days and those who work the opportunity to assist on Saturday. Ross took over a white board and blue tac today to put up list of priorities. The roller doors were removed today and hopefully when it stops raining the training room will be secured. Once the rain stops I have organised to get a load of hardwood so a light up of the steamer can happen – all the timber and coal went in the flood too!!
From Ross Driver 26 Feb:
We had a meeting(25.2.13) of all members in the flood zone at what was once our training room. It was a grim but determined bunch that sat there with rain pouring into the damaged building. It was decided that flood recovery work days would be Tuesday, Thursdays & Saturdays.
Everyone was positive and the planning session for the rebuild went well with all members having input. Not a word was spoken of quitting but I tell you mate I would not blame them if they did
The mob are determined that the community of Bundy especially those over North will hear that steam locomotive whistling once more. North Bundy is heart breaking
Today we went a bit further in to the shed at the boilermakers workshop and that is in a hell of a mess, cupboards, tools, welders and grinders strewn around the place by the fast moving waters. We got our generators going for lighting as this is in a very dark spot. The humidity is stifling and even if you stand out in the rain it doesn’t cool you down. The work is exhausting with boots forever sticking in the mud as you just dont seem to be able to get away from the bloody stuff.
Bought a lot more safety equipment today as most of our gear either got washed away or is badly contaminated. Mud is our biggest enemy because of all the bugs in it and members are briefed every morning during the risk assessment session about its dangers. Any cut abrasion or wound has to be investigated thoroughly before the member can continue working down there.
Engineers started today the arduous task of restoration work on our specialised lathe tools see attached pic.
Fortunately for us the bats were not there today and fingers crossed they have moved back to the west (it was certainly a lot quieter without them)
Contractors started repairs to the track mtce shed and started to build the extension we had planned last year
Our area down there is still classed as an exclusion zone and will be for some time
from Ross Driver 28.2.13:
We got into the tool room and boiler shop today and its in a bit of a mess just like we thought it would be. Smashed our way through old tool cupboards using a 14lb sledge hammer to open up the area so we could start to clean up (no restoration stuff here as it is badly contaminated from mud & sewerage)
When splitting the timber with the hammer the stench that came out of the broken timber was awful as it must have soaked up the contaminated mud
The old cupboard had some history to it as it had been used at QUNABA Sugar mill in their loco shed for storing the loco fitters tools. An old loco driver and myself had installed it in our shed during1987 after the closure of the mill (There comes a point where you just cannot save some of the stuff due to the contamination)
One of our Vietnam Vets Graeme Timson (Timmo) can be seen shovelling the crap into a barrow (don’t mind the rolly) he reckoned a good smoke was the only thing keeping him sane
Timmo and myself took turns at wheeling and shovelling during the day till the heat got that bad we had to give it away (we were both drenched with sweat) It is still opressive weather with 100 percent humidity and more rain expected on the weekend. At present the Burnett is flooding once more and we hope it wont get to the same levels as in January
Graham Mac one of our Engineers has been working on the lubrication system off “INVICTA” and was very happy that he had them all working when we finished in the arvy
Work has continued on our shed extension and when this is complete it should make up a little bit for the training room we lost
Charlie our head mechanic and workshop supervisor has got the Deisel Locomotive “VALDORA” fully operational which has been a great feat done by a very determined man
An old white board borrowed from Wendy the President has been installed in the damaged training room and is hanging by zippy ties.
Wendy is very pleased with the progress of the extension and it was a big lift to see it going up thanks to the boys from ASCOT buildings
I just had to include a pic of the mud just to remind us of how terrible this stuff really is and what unseen nastys it has in it
Cheers from the Flood Zone
Secretary Australian Sugar Cane Railway
Grad Cert Eng Mtce Mgt
From Ross 2/3/12: Today Saturday was not a good day with rain bucketing down and the river about to flood once more. A hardy crew was determined to continue recovery efforts even though I told em they were bloody lunatics and that they should all go home
Ron & Jeff took over from our previous efforts in the boiler shop and got it cleaned up before we called it quits. The fellers were taking the mud out in the pouring rain and the mud was sticking to their boots as they tried to wheel it out
I gave my drizabone coat to Ronny as he was wheeling out in the rain which was already saturated but he reckoned it was better than bugger all.
Once inside out of the rain it was still hot and humid so he went from freezing cold one minute to sweating like a rotten pig the next
In the end the rain got too bad even for us die hards so after a smoko with ham & egg sandwhiches made by Wendy and some hot coffee out of thermos flasks we called it a day
This arv (Monday) we had a meeting of members to discuss work activities over the coming week and beyond. It was a very determined bunch of people that sat there in the gloom planning on the best ways to activate railway operations once more
When and if the weather fines up a lot better progress will be made. The gardens complex is still closed to public, the regional council is looking at March the 8th for making it safe enough for public entry (dunno about that one wishful thinking I reckon)
The YMCA 60 & Better group turned up to our meeting to present us with a donation of $600 which was greatly appreciated and this money will go to paying for the safety equipment we lost in the flood (this is one of those real positive outcomes which lifts your spirits)
From Ross Driver 5/3/3:
Tuesday, just another day in the muck but at least it is not raining and the flood waters are receding.
Charlie had a good day with getting the locos going, he and Bevan changed the oil in “Valdora” again (I think this is the third time they have done it and I am starting to lose count)
They also got the Planet loco going and were heading toward the navvy cart when I left (men on a mission and I dunno where they keep getting the energy from)
Graham & Tony continued work on the restoration of tools and equipment and Andrew worked on cleaning out the boilershop with a gurney
We still have to get to No.1 Fowler to clear the mud but only when we can get some dry weather so we can haul them outside
Then we will get the fire brigade to clean out the mess.
From Ross Driver 7/3/13:
Starting to open up the shed a bit more now that we can use the planet & Valdora for shunting duties. Using the planet to get the No.3 loco frame outside we were ale to access the mud still in front of No.1 Fowler Steam loco (this is slow going as the mud is bloody awful over this side and stinks to high heaven) I didn’t think it could get worse but it has; the good thing was that we cleared up the mud to the coupling so will be able to get Valdora up there to shunt it out. Once we get it out we will get a fire truck in to hose it out and that should be the last of the mud. It is good to see two locos up and operational and the cab of No.3 upright once more and cleaned. The cab of No.3 and the side tanks are going to be removed to a local painting contractor for grit blasting and a new coat of paint. The boiler of No.3 has been completely retubed and is ready for installation back onto the frame; we are trying to keep recovery and restoration going together
Cleaning of the frame of No.3 loco was carried out and the pistons & valve chests removed so that all mud and foreign material has been cleaned out (big job but we are progressing well with that task)
The men will be looking at the greasing of the axle bearings this saturday as Charlie was able to repair the air operated greaser and hook it to Valdoras compressor as we are still without power down at the shed (I think it is a tribute to all of the people working down there that they have managed all this work without power and facilities to continue the recovery)
Working Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays to give people a rest in between and have a break from the very hard work.
From Ross 7/3/13:
The heat & humidity still continues with light drizzle still hampering our recovery effortrs. We all hope for cooler weather
All of the mud was finally removed last week and we have to thank people like our rural fire brigade from Childers, for without their help we could not have managed. On one saturday when they came over they used approx 60,000 to 100,000 litres of water to get mud out
The fellers have been going through every tool and refurbishing as they go. Christine will be happy to know that the lathe which has been thoroughly refurbished will be operational once more as the electric motor has been overhauled and is ready for installation
Workshops have been cleaned and are now being used once more. Documentation out in service ready for regular operations to start again
The old permanent way has been repaired and is ready for opertion unfortunately the new track extension remains badly damaged and is just out of reach for our resources to get going for the present anyway
We are ready to run a limited service with the carriage seats now having been re-upholstered and just fitted today.
The main issue for not running at present is that the flying foxes (bats) have closed down one half of the gardens complex. The council has applied to the state government to move them on and have been given permission to do so
“Valdora” the diesel locomotive is our only engine up and running at present as “Invicta” is still being worked on particularly the safety valves which suffered damage as a result of the flood. We expect to have this loco going by the end of June.
We have finished retubing the boiler of the No.3 Fowler steam loco and will start putting it together once all the cleaning and reorganising of the infrastructure is complete
Our Maintenance Coordinator down at the shed Charlie Leslie has been a great source of inspiration to all of us who work with him.
His enthusiasm and no mucking about and getting on with the job is something to see.
Trying times like this bring out the best in people and those of us priveleged to work with the old blighter just look on in amazement and hope we measure up along side of him
Grad Cert Eng Mtce Mgt
This week has been a very good one for us with completing repairs on the steam locomotive “INVICTA”
It has been a hard task to repair this locomotives damage due to the flood but the determination of the maintenance engineers has been inspiring in getting it back on line.
When you consider all the other tasks that has been asked of the maintenance crew down there it was a great moment to see the loco back under steam with a fire in its belly.
“INVICTA” passed the hydrostatic test and had the safety valves set and an accumulation test carried out under the supervision of Allan Biedermann (Pressure Vessel Inspector) Allan and I passed it as OK for service. The locomotive has been doing test runs in the gardens to see how it performs after 7 months being out of service.
The training room shed has now finally got power back and we have some facilities for having smoko (like a fridge and a hot water urn) all of these things we take for granted and once they are not there brother do you miss them.
Hopefully after the fruit bat colony moves on the train will be able to commence operations.
Tourists at the 1928 restaurant came out to see the engine working and gave the loco crew a resounding cheer.
We still continue to clean parts that were flooded and have included a pic of our new young member Nathan Edwards cleaning Steam Turbines.
Grad Cert Eng Mtce Mgt
Today something special happened at our Railway and that was “INVICTA” passed all inspections and was ready for operations (a sight for sore eyes and aching backs)
It has been 6 months since we operated the steam loco but we are running once again thanks to the efforts of our hard working team.
The determination of the ASCR rail safety workers to see the Railway operate again has been an inspiration to all that have seen these people working in the gardens
We still have a long way to go for a full recovery especially with the Track extension but our Permanent Way Engineer Ronny Stitt reckons no problem (not without a lot of hard work though)
The fruit bats have moved on so this will allow us to operate from Sunday the 28th July after all commissioning trials have been completed
We have started to use the old training room once again for having smoko and it is just so good to have power back again (hot water for a cuppa tea bloody fantastic)
The locomotive looked good today as it steamed out of the facility with the carriages for a test run. We all stood in awe as it moved off because even though we were quietly confident we would get things running again we all did have our doubts.
There is a quiet feeling of great pride amongst our people that they have managed to overcome a great tragedy by being typically Aussie (stop yapping and just get on with the job)
Update 23 July 2013:
Today is a day the ASCR crew has been working so hard for over the past 6 months to achieve and that is “commencement of operations” in the gardens. I can no longer refer to it as the Flood Zone or No Go area as we are now a bloody goer!
It was a nice sunny day for the many people who came over for a ride even though we did not advertise as next Sunday the 28th July will be our official opening.Many of the public could not believe the height of the flood waters when we pointed out where it came to.
Over the last 6 months we were wondering why all the effort and thoughts of chucking in it had at times been considered however when we saw the young ones (toddlers) looks of amazement who had never seen a steam loco hissing & puffing we then realised it was worth the effort
The locomotive performed smoothly as did the rolling stock but the human part was probably not quite up to the mark as the mechanical side of things with crews saying they were out of practice even though we had been commissioning for 2 weeks (most of us including myself whinged about being stuffed).
After these comments I said to the guys”what do you think you have been doin the past 6 months sippin champagne and eatin strawberries”
I then told them “take a bloody hold of yerselves and have a good long hard think a
t what you have achieved and done in the past 6 months with lots of back breaking work, that’s why you’re hurtin you flaming nitwits.”
They thought for a while and then reckoned that I was probably right.
One thing for me that has come out of the disaster and that is our aussie sense of humour and determination to get on with the job “long may it live on.”
A young mum said to me late on Sunday after we had hauled approx. 350 passengers “are you sure there was a flood here it all looks so good like nothing ever happened ?”
I replied with a very weary smile and said “my aching bones & body sure know a flood went thru here.
Grad Cert Eng Mtce Mgt
Museum and Gallery Services Queensland extends its thoughts to the communities affected by the devastating widespread flooding.
In response to this natural disaster, M&GSQ has developed a register of affected organisations is available to download below. M&GSQ will continue to update the register as information comes to hand – go to http://www.magsq.com.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=954 for updates.
Should any museums, galleries or cultural heritage organisations require assistance, please also contact M&GSQ on freecall 1800 680 433.