Valley Heights Steam Tramway

The steam tram is back

Some said we'd never make it, some said we could make it, some didn't want us to make it, but some said we will make it!

Awaiting the right-of-way for trials
A proud old trammie admiring the lifting safety valves
Awaiting the right-of-way for trials and testing
to the yard gates
  A proud old trammie admiring the lifting
safety valves

Another milestone in saga of the society's return to becoming a fully operating tramway occurred on Wednesday, 24th August 2005. This was the occasion when steam tram motor 103A passed its boiler test and, at the same time, had the safety valves correctly set. Many, many hours have been expended by a dedicated group of members and friends since the fire of 1993. Motor 103A had been moved to the Rail Transport Museum workshops, Thirlmere, where a most comprehensive overhaul of the fire-damaged mechanical components commenced. At the same time a new cab was being built at a private location, also in Thirlmere. Subsequently 103A was transferred to Valley Heights for completion of this major re-building programme, along with 1022 and Stepho.

The boiler of 103A had been examined about 12-months previously, but it was deemed prudent not to bring it "on stream" until the majority of the motor's restoration work had been completed.

Motor undergoing boiler testing and valve setting.Thus on the appointed day our boiler inspector was present for the lighting-up at 9 a.m. by Craig, David and Steve, assisted by Ted and Peter. This gave the opportunity for the boiler inspector to observe the behaviour of the boiler and appliances. When sufficient steam was available, the "safeties" were set to operate at the boiler's optimum pressure of 130 lbs. per sq. inch. The setting of the valves was satisfactorily completed by 11.25 a.m.

With 103A in steam, the opportunity was seized to couple tramcar 93B to conduct a very short trial and test. The motor and car moved at 11.30 a.m. , but only about 15 metres from the turntable into the roundhouse. Then tramcar was uncoupled, placed back on the turntable, turned, then placed outside no. 1 road of the roundhouse. The motor was then backed onto the turntable, turned, and backed up to the tramcar.

Once coupled this historical consist undertook four leisurely trips to the boundary gate. This gave the members present an opportunity to carefully inspect the motor's mechanical components, to observe how the car's re-built bogies performed and have a ride. Once these slow moving trials were concluded, the motor and car were returned to the roundhouse. But not before Robyn had a ride (as a small schoolgirl she witnessed, with her father, the motor undergoing trials at the Homebush backyard in the 1950's).

An operating steam tram was again running in NSW!

Tram & trailer at gates 24-Aug-2005
At the gates for the first time. Will we nick off to Penrith for chips and hamburgers?

Many little fiddley jobs remain to be completed, both on the motor and the tramcar. Once these have been completed, the initial compliance inspection procedures can be undertaken. Once these mandatory tasks have completed, the society can, with confidence, plan to present the steam tram into limited museum service for visitors on the occasion of the Sesquicentenary of NSW Railways celebrations at our home at the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum .

A special and sincere thank you to the many people, both from within and outside the society, who have in one way or another, generously led/assisted/guided/encouraged the society through its endeavours to return an operating steam tram to museum service. This includes everything from finding a new home after being denied re-establishment in Parramatta Park , rescuing B-cars from the demolition site at Berowra to re-building the steam tram motor.

Peter Stock,
25 August 2005

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