No 19 Goes for a Spin

Early morning on Kooragang Island, Tuesday, 12 May 2009.

Sound asleep among the trees, South Maitland Railways (SMR) No. 19 steam locomotive stirred, oblivious to a human inspecting her under-workings.

It was that recurring nightmare: eternity since the last coal delivery; a world powered by green energy – whatever that was.

Half awake, she imagined the rail line was no longer than herself and the trees 10 metres taller than when the boiler last fired.

She woke with a start. The nightmare was true, as always, when sleep departed.

But why was this human poking around? Something was wrong - the brake van hadn’t prepared breakfast and the hoppers were sharing a joke, though humour definitely wasn’t their forte.

Surrounded by workmen, cranes, photographers, and a truck with too many wheels, No. 19 realised this gig was up.

Built for SMR by English firm Beyer Peacock, 10 class number 19 and her sisters lugged coal down the Hunter for much of the 20th century, and 19 did so from 1915 to 1981.

Donated to Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) No. 19 sat in the salt air on raised rails for display the Port Waratah coal loader in Newcastle. Click for photograph at Australian Steam website.

 In 1995 she moved to Kooragang Island to teach apprentices the finer arts, then languished 14 years, separated from an adoring public and fretful rail buffs while PWCS tried to find her a home.
It was finally to be Richmond Vale rail museum.

Opinions on ol’ 19 describe a bent frame, nothing more than a shell, declaring will never steam again. And, forbid, all the brassware gone.

Keeping 19 company during spells at the Port and Kooragang were three wooden hoppers and a brake van. Pictures of those follow the engine-lifting series.

Here is a blow by blow photo essay showing in far too much detail the lifting of a 10 class steam loco onto a road transport flat bed semi. Photographs are Creative Commons non-commercial share alike – with attribution – so knock yerselves out.

Too much information, as they say. Or is it too many photos is never enough? About 90 high-resolution photographs now begin, totalling 36MB.

Sizing up
Hooking up
Oh dear. Shooting into the sun at a the shadow side of a black steam loco in shadow.
Yes, the sun is perfectly wrong.
Lifting begins
Note to train lifters: important to have different coloured cranes.
After steam locomotion, civilisation’s greatest invention was the timber 3x2
Reversing out
Let’s get that 26-wheeler on the move
Preparing to hit the road
Some vanity shots
Almost a panorama. Image of rear section would not stitch.

This is the final stage before the road trip but no shots of it leaving because I have to go now, being embedded with an impatient TV crew.

Although the hoppers and brake van cooperated for this shoot, they did suspect me of disiesels
Everyone deserves a coffee break!

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