Eltham South Electric Tramway

Melbournesparks

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Oh, and what's your secret with couplings?
Oh sorry I forgot to reply to this post last time! All the heavy rail stock here has automatic couplings, at the standard height of 28mm above the rail head. The tramway stock has tramway link and pin couplings, with adapters to couple to autos if required.
 

Jasper

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Some nice photo work here, to say nothing of the modelling. The first two photos both, play with light in interesting ways.
I originally meant to repaint the LGB passenger car, but to be honest I kind of like it as is.
It blends well with that loco, although the yellow isn't exactly the same.
So why did you plan to repaint it in the first place? Something about the livery itself? Or are you like me, i.e. unable to leave things the way they came?
 
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Melbournesparks

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Some nice photo work here, to say nothing of the modelling. The first two photos both, play with light in interesting ways.

It blends well with that loco, although the yellow isn't exactly the same.
So why did you plan to repaint it in the first place? Something about the livery itself? Or are you like me, i.e. unable to leave things the way they came?

Bit of both really, there are very few items or rollingstock in the fleet that haven't been modified in some way. For this particular car I always intended to paint it in the fleet colour schem of green and cream. It has already been modified by fitting automatic couplings.
 
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Stefan PR

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I have seen your little lawn mower. Are there any photos from underneath? What blades do you use?
 

Melbournesparks

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It's the middle of winter at the moment, so not a lot has been happening operations wise. There has however been some major progress on the environmental front, part of the ongoing process of reclaiming degraded weed infested land.

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This scene looks completely different compared to only a few months ago. This area was so degraded the only solution was a scorched earth policy, with a large amount of contaminated top soil removed along with all existing vegetation. Replanting with native grasses and moss is now largely complete, it looks better already!

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Also complete now is a deviation of the main line between Falls Loop and tunnel 2. This section was previously on decking attached to the fence, which generally looked pretty ugly. The line now follows a new fully landscaped alignment, which required building two new bridges, a number of small culverts and a new tunnel. The Ballarat tram is seen here crossing one of the new bridges in the up hill direction.

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The Ballarat tram has also had some long overdue workshop attention, including a good clean, paint touch up and some new signs. Operating outside can be tough on the equipment, just like in full size things get scratched and dirty! Here at Gang Gang siding there is also now direct sun even in winter, after the removal of some black wattles. Even though the black wattles are a native, they're not really a suitable tree for this area so some more appropriate planting has taken place instead.

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The new sunny patch has become a good place for photos in winter. Since the tramway follows south facing hillsides for much of the route the low winter sun means many parts are in shadow for much of the day. 51M on a down service.

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At the same spot, heading back in the up hill direction with most of the goods wagon fleet. The goods wagons were on a test run after lubricating all the axleboxes.


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The toast rack tram heading in the uphill direction.

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34M catches the last bit of winter sun between Currawong Loop and tunnel 3.


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Also finally got around to taking a group photo of the little green locomotive fleet.


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The tramway has also relatively recently acquired a diesel electric loco. It has proved to be a useful workhorse, especially for the more mundane and dirty jobs we don't want to use the passenger motor cars for. It has been interesting seeing the transition from what was originally a very small scale operation with tiny rollingstock, to one where the distances and gradients involved mean that speed and power actually mean something.

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Approaching a very green Grasslands Loop on a winter afternoon.

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And departing for West Grasslands.


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The driver contemplates a long night ahead, on a nocturnal operation to collect and store rollingstock safely before a winter storm. This is the kind of job that the diesel electric is well suited for.


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Approaching the new un numbered tunnel (between 1 and 2) on the deviation. The old alignment was just out of view to the left.

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It was a brave and intrepid photographer that captured this long exposure on a winter night.


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With no moon Gang Gang siding is a very dark and very quiet place.
 
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dunnyrail

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Always look forwards to an update on the ESET. Quick question is the Diesel a Battery powered job? I imagine it must be as your points if I remember correct have been set for overhead running as a norm.
 

Paul M

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Brilliant and inspiring
 

Jasper

Hey, I'm only being creative here.
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Since the tramway follows south facing hillsides for much of the route the low winter sun means many parts are in shadow for much of the day.
I really had to mull this one over for a long moment, until I realized that your midday sun is in the North.

Anyway, thanks for the update, much appreciated.
 

Melbournesparks

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I have seen your little lawn mower. Are there any photos from underneath? What blades do you use?

Sorry for the really late reply!

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There's not much to it, the blade is just a flat bit of steel, sharpened on the cutting edge and twisted slightly so it sucks the grass up into it. This isn't really the best design, it would benefit from replacement with a heavy disk with some short blades on the edge. Then the disk acts like a flywheel and stores a bit of energy, so it can cut through thick stems better.



Always look forwards to an update on the ESET. Quick question is the Diesel a Battery powered job? I imagine it must be as your points if I remember correct have been set for overhead running as a norm.

Yeah that's correct, all the non electric locos (including the diesel) are battery powered. It is a modified LGB diesel, rebuilt with an Australian style cab and a bunch of other details.

I really had to mull this one over for a long moment, until I realized that your midday sun is in the North.

Anyway, thanks for the update, much appreciated.

This one didn't immediately occur to me either, it was a bit disorientating the first time I visited the northern hemisphere. During summer the mid day sun is near enough to straight overhead, but we're far enough south here that in winter there is plenty of shadows even in the middle of the day.
 
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Jasper

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It has become a sport for me to try and recognize locations on your line, both in pics and videos.

Looking forward to the next YouTube.... :happy:
 

Melbournesparks

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It's like the heavy rail era of the line never ended in this impromptu photo stop at tunnel 4. In a way it hasn't, the diesel electric was the preferred motive power for the line inspection today.

Previous readers of this thread might notice this scene looks a bit different now. Tunnel 4 finally got some proper portals, and some much needed environmental attention to make it less of a weed infested wasteland.


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The increasingly warm spring days are also excellent for a trip on the steam tram to look at wild flowers!

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The fireman watches from the front platform to see if the rails are still there somewhere. Looks like it is time to slash vegetation again, the plant juice on the rails can be problematic if left to build up.

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Back at the depot the motor has uncoupled from the trailer to run around, before pushing it back into the passenger platform.


It has become a sport for me to try and recognize locations on your line, both in pics and videos.

Looking forward to the next YouTube.... :happy:

Soon hopefully! There's been a bit of a lack of video lately because my old graphics card won't encode 4K video, but the old low resolution video doesn't really cut it these days. Upgrade is planned.
 

Melbournesparks

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A recent sight at the depot was this unusual special load.

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It is of course a bridge girder, soon to be installed as the main span of bridge 14.

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The steam tram motor hauls the bridge girder to the worksite. Many of its ex Sydney colleagues found work in similar roles on construction projects after the main NSWGT network was electrified.

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The Ballarat tram crosses the newly completed bridge 14.

Like everything on the tramway this was just made out of whatever was around, in this case the bottom of a bread tray for the girder. I've still got enough left to upgrade some of the other bridges too!
 

Melbournesparks

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The spring time weeds have been growing, so there's been a bit of traffic lately to take care of that.

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Also some video! First in a while, I finally got around to modernising the very archaic way I was doing it previously so it looks a bit nicer now.

 

dunnyrail

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Thanks for transporting us to the Bush with all the natural views and sounds. Judging from the front views in the return journey you are likely to be kept busy for some time yet. Do the Chickens get the weeds? A friend of mine used to let his roam wild in his Hotel Car Park and they certainly kept the weeds down, though what the guests though of the left overs by the Chucks is probably best left to the imagination! Oh and I love the weed bin on the Flat, must make one of them for my trackside weeding exploits. Can easily access similar Chicken Wire in the UK, in fact I have some odd bits lurking in my undergrowth somewhere.
 

Melbournesparks

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In between maintaining the existing fleet and infrastructure in operating condition, work has been proceeding in the background on the Sentinel steam railcar project. Being by far the most complex project yet undertaken by the tramway workshops progress has been a bit slow, but it is finally at the stage where a more intensive testing program can begin.

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The photographer captures it out in the sun for the first time after getting a coat of paint. The colour scheme (and design of the railcar itself) is not an exact model of any particular prototype, though it is based on the sentinel railcars used in Tasmania and the single example in Western Australia.

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This type of rollingstock was chosen because it was thought to be the most suitable for the line's challenging conditions, with tight curves and a long 1:20 gradient. It also, crucially, could be built using locally manufactured and available steam equipment.


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The Flaman speed recorder needle edges over 100kmh near Grasslands loop. Full testing of the performance range is needed and special permission was obtained for this test run above the normal line speed. The railcar is designed to be able to match the electric timetable on the steeply graded line.

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Departing West Grasslands on the return trip. A big part of the test program has been just learning how to drive it, there is a bit of a learning curve for crews normally used to electric traction. We're still learning the basics like how to manage the fire and the boiler water level in the different conditions, and where the best places for taking water are, the best places for servicing etc. The design goal of being able to run a return trip on a single tank of water was easily met, with two trips run today. With some more skilled driving it could probably do three.


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Emerging from tunnel 4 east portal. Introducing steam traction to this normally electrically worked line has caused some unexpected issues, at the end of the day the roof was covered in dead bugs blasted off the insides of the tunnels.

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The railcar powers up the 1:20 grade out of Succulent Valley. Running as a single unit the gradients were easily managed, it is hoped it will be able to haul a trailer in service as well.


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Approaching the most brutal curve on the line, the steeply graded minimum radius curve into tunnel 2. This is a spot that needs special care to avoid either stalling or running away, since the long steeply graded tunnel makes a radio dead spot. There is still a few mechanical issues that need attention, but there will be more testing over the coming weeks and hopefully entry to regular service soon!
 

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Melbournesparks

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Been a bit quiet here lately, this thread was still at the top after a week. I guess a lot of people have had their operations limited by the northern winter, so here's some sunny pictures from the southern hemisphere to look at in the meantime.


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Three Australian trams at the depot this morning. From left to right: Ex Bendigo Birney tram 11, ex Sydney steam tram motor 125A and Ballarat 33 ready to form the next service.


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The steam tram motor runs around the trailer at the end of the line. This little seasonal creek is very dry at this time of the year.


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The Sydney steam tram motor and trailer departing Currawong loop on the way back to the depot.
 

Melbournesparks

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The infrastructure improvement program has been making some progress, despite a few set backs. A big milestone recently was re laying the entire section between tunnel 3 and Grasslands Loop with code 250 rail. The old code 332 rail will be cascaded to other areas that specifically require that size of rail.

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This section is actually pretty good track by local standards now, good for the maximum allowed speed anywhere on the line of 80km/h.


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In sharp contrast is the section between tunnel 1 and Falls loop, now the only part of the line remaining unchanged since original construction. The tramway was a very different operation in those days, with only small four wheel trams like the Birney here. There's a vague long term plan to eventually make improvements to this section, but for now it remains as is with a 10km/h speed restriction.


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34M and set arrives back at the depot on a warm summer evening.

We also have some recent video:


The first train of the year was a works train with the mower wagon to clear the line.



Come for a ride in the van up the hill to the depot.



And on the return trip to West Grasslands.
 
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