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Beyer Garratt 6029

Okay I’m not a train spotter or a fanatical steam buff but like many blokes I like machinery and steam trains are a golden age of man-made machinery. I like looking at them and riding on them occasionally. As a photographer I have of course always taken the odd snap when I do. That proved kind of handy when a really special big steam engine was restored to service and I have pictures from the beginning in 1985.
I remember going to see it soon after Canberra Railway Museum got hold of Beyer Garratt 6029 and I’d just got a proper camera again. This engine is massive! It is articulated and has the boiler in the middle with the two sets of drive wheels in front and behind that, under the weight of the water and coal reservoirs.
I remember the anecdotes about their arrival in the 1950s quite well. How they sat on the docks in Sydney for 2 years while they shaved 6 inches off all the station platforms on the way out of town. These were for hauling big goods trains out west. There were issues with them being so big, hence long and loud, that the crew couldn’t hear the warning bang of blasting caps on the rail. Australian ingenuity added a mod with a front funnel and sound tube back to the cab. Then all the safety concerns about the tunnels they barely fitted through. I sat with one of their engineers on the trip to Thirlmere and they loved these big beasts.
Many years after that first visit to the museum I had my first proper digital SLR and went back to look at the old Beyer Garratt. It was now 2005 and it was in the sidings rusting away. How sad I thought but its size was still impressive so I shot away even though the mid-summer lighting was dreadful. More years go by and I hear they have been restoring it. Great news I thought and off we go again in 2013 to see how it’s going. Wow what a difference! The old rust and grime was replaced with shiny black paint, burnished steel and polished brass. It still needed more work to get it fully operational which took until the end of 2014. At last steam and smoke and heat patterns of the fire doors. At the start of 2015 it is officially named “City of Canberra” and the minister got a short ride.
So at last it’s time to take it out on the main lines with passengers. The first trip is from Goulburn to Thirlmere for a big celebration. Later it does the local standard night train to Bungendore run. This is just the warm up, the big trip was 4 days to Junee and back on the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
It’s now June 2015 and pretty much 30 years exactly since I took those first shots in July 1985.

Article By Jeremy Wood

Beyer+Garratt+6029, steam+train, restored

WordCount: 489
Published: 6/26/2015 2:05:51 AM

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