Cooma Monaro Railway

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Rolling Stock
 

The Cooma Monaro Railway uses the CPH Railmotor, the well known 'Tin Hare'. Created in 1923, the type served for some 65 years on NSW country feeder lines and outer suburban branches. In Sydney, Richmond and Sutherland were two places in which the CPH was well known.

The first CMR motor to be restored was number 6. It first left the shed under its own power in November 1995.

Lessons learned on number 6 were quickly applied to the restoration of the second motor car, number 22. As a result, it took somewhat less time to do, leaving the shed in March 1998.

The third car to undergo the treatment was non powered driving trailer car CTH 55. Trailer cars are comparatively rare, and we believe that 55 is now the only one in going condition. The trailer is easy to recognise because of its lack of the radiators prominent on the roof of the motor cars.

CMR decided to fit the car out as a dining and lounge car - a unique configuration! The photo below shows the dining tables and the lounge area with the kitchen at the far end. The dining capacity is 24 persons in 6 booths. The car is available for parties and dining runs.

 

An Unusual Combination

If the number of passengers on a run exceeds the number that one railmotor can comfortably accommodate, the service is normally provided by our two motor cars (nos. 6 and 22).  However, whilst number 6 has been undergoing maintenance recently, such services have seen number 22 operating with trailer car 55. This car has a driving compartment at one end, with a small kitchen in between the cab and the passenger lounge/dining seating. Driving the train from this position is an experience for the drivers, as the usual engine noise is almost absent, and there is a feeling of remoteness from where the action is. You can always pick the trailer in photos, even if you can't see its number, by its lack of a roof mounted radiator.

   

 

Restorations

When CPH 8 first arrived at the CMR, it was considered beyond restoration. Well I guess one should never say 'never' when it comes to the enthusiasm some people have for restoring old rail engines and carriages (not just CPHs).

Pretty in Pink

When these first two photos were taken, the inside of No 8 still had a fair bit of work to be done, but by then no one doubted that it will join our two other motors and our trailer car in active service.

 

As the photos below clearly show, CPH 8 is now well on the way to that happy day when it will run again, joining 6, 22 and 55 in daily operations on the CMR. 'Well done' to our crew in the shed. 

 

Isn't She a Beauty

But what about number 8's motor?  The venerable GM 6/71 diesel from number 8 was in dire need of a complete overhaul, with numerous bits missing or needing replacing. Fortunately, member Rob McCutcheon has had considerable experience running and maintaining buses. He took the motor down to his home on the coast of southern NSW and has worked his magic on it. He has provided us with photos of the completed unit (and what a fine job it is too). So, all you 6/71 enthusiasts (we know you are out there) can rejoice in the new lease of life for this veteran campaigner. A big thank you to Rob from the CMR!

With the major component of the engine taken care of, the CMR is again calling on members to set aside some time to devote to the completion of the bodywork.  Hopefully soon then, members will feel the thrill and the pride as another 'new' CPH emerges from the shed.

Well, actually No. 8 has been out of the shed a few times already, just not under its own power. Sometimes it is brought to the platform to be on display on gala days and the like. Then one has a rare opportunity to photograph the full compliment of CMR's passenger rolling stock together. 

 

 



FP11 Arrives at Cooma

CMR's president recently provided to the editor of a local paper this insight into pay bus operation at Cooma:

'A railway Pay Bus was a bus sized railway vehicle that went all over the former rail system delivering pay to the remote workers such as fettlers in the field, remote station people, or crossing keepers.

They didn't carry passengers, but one (FP13), was converted with bus seats to run between Cooma and Bombala in a last ditch effort to reduce costs. With the addition of this Pay Bus (FP11), CMR can replicate that passenger-carrying Pay Bus. CMR is gradually acquiring the types of rolling stock that ran here.'

John Gibson reports: 'The privately owned pay bus has arrived safely in Cooma on the back of the "Train Movers" low loader on Saturday 27/10/12 with the assistance of Alan Ward. It is sitting on the back platform road on the goods shed side of the powder van. It needs some tender loving care and a bit of mechanical knowledge. The motor appears to be a Leyland 6 cylinder diesel. Rumour has it that there is a problem with the fuel feed. We hope that is all! It is an interesting addition to our yard.'

As well as being an 'interesting addition to our yard', the pay bus looks like it would be fun to drive and take passengers for a ride in. But realistically, it will take a considerable amount of time and effort to restore it to display condition, let alone operating condition, and even making a start on it depends on money and resources being available and its priority in our program of works.

Meanwhile, CMR's good friend Peter Neve (he of 'The Railway News' fame) supplied us with the following recollection of an experience with FP13:

'Since CMR has acquired a Rail Pay Bus, I thought that you might be interested in a photo of a Rail Passenger Bus at Cooma. The photo was taken on Saturday 21st August 1971 ... with about a dozen others, I had the "pleasure" of travelling in this vehicle all the way from Sydney to Cooma - with a number of photos along the Branch. FP13 was being returned after repairs or overhaul in Sydney, and we were to return to Sydney with rail motor CPH 28 which had filled in on the Bombala run whilst the four-wheeler was away.'

This photo, by Peter Neve, depicts a pay bus, CPH28 and a DEB set in Cooma in 1971.

Some time later we had a visit from a diesel mechanic from Victoria. Seeing the Pay Bus in the siding, he asked what type of motor was in it. When told it was a Leyland Diesel, he volunteered to take a look at it. (Note that the motor had not run for 5 years previously). Five minutes later, the engine spluttered into life, emitting the cloud of blue smoke you see below. The smoke soon stopped as the engine settled down to idle. Whilst this is a great first step towards getting the Pay Bus operational, there is still a deal of work to be undertaken before it will move under its own power.


Progress on Pay Bus

Members will be pleased to learn that there has been visible progress in the restoration work on the Pay Bus. We can thank member John Cowper for work which includes

• removing the seats and painting the interior

• applying coats of white paint to the roof

• polishing up the old exterior paintwork.

As you can see from this recent photo of the beast, it is looking quite presentable now.


Move That Motor

Followers of this website will already be aware of the super job that Rob McCutcheon has done in refurbishing the motor that will go into railmotor number 8. The time duly came to retrieve the motor from his big shed down on the coast. James Sullivan used his 4 wheel drive and sturdy trailer in the exercise, but even so, the weight of the motor ensured that maneuvering it and towing it back up the hills to Cooma were not easy tasks. Safely back at CMR, the next step was to get it into the shed. We take up the story at this point.

The original idea was to use a frame to lift the motor off the trailer, but it immediately became apparent that the motor was too heavy for this operation. So a call was made to the operator of the adjacent parcels depot to ask to use his forklift truck (the depot was not operating at the time, but fortunately Rob has a forklift licence). Thanks to the generosity of the operator, the motor was quickly hoisted on to the trolley.

The short journey back to the shed had a slightly unreal quality to it, as we peered over the top of the motor at the track ahead.

Finally the motor was placed in position in front of number 8, above the ash pit. From here it will be lowered into the pit, number 8 will be towed forward above it and the motor will be raised into position underneath, thus completing a significant step in the restoration.


Restoration of CPH 8

A number of members have invested many hours of labour into the refurbishing of the body and the mechanicals of our last railmotor, number 8. Progress has come in fits and starts, but recently another significant milestone was achieved.

On the October 2011 long weekend our CPH maintenance crew of Peter Lawrence, Rob McCutcheon and new member and retired fitter, Edwin Lowery installed into CPH 8 a reconditioned 'GM 671' engine and 'Twin Disc' torque converter transmission. There have been many hours preparation, scrounging, trading, manufacturing and assembling of the many components required to make it all happen.

CPH 8 is now well on the way to that happy day when it will run again, joining 6, 22 and 55 in daily operations on the CMR. 'Well done' to our crew in the shed.


Maintenance - A Co-operative Effort

Late in 2009, railmotor No 6 was in need of attention. It's torque converter (transmission) had reached breaking point and required repair and refurbishment. The Office of Rail heritage (ORH) negotiated to have this performed by the Railcorp Rail Apprentices, with the Rail Motor Society (RMS) contributing a repair kit and expertise to the project. On Wednesday 18th November, a small handover ceremony was held in the Apprentice Annex at Eveleigh to handover the refurbished converter to CMR.   

In taking delivery of the unit, CMR expressed heartfelt thanks to the project participants:

The Railcorp Apprentices: their quality restoration work is already well known and CMR was delighted that they could help us out. Work has been completed in time to get No 6 up and running for CMR’s busiest day of the year – the Cooma Cup in early December.

ORH: for their pivotal role in facilitating the resourcing and scheduling of the work to be done

Rail Motor Society: RMS have helped CMR and other heritage groups before now. We commend them for their willingness to share their resources and expertise.

CMR Members: involvement in negotiations, unit removal and transport – Peter McFarlane, Grahame Linkenbagh, Rob McCutcheon, Lindsay McLachlan, James Sullivan and Peter Lawrence.  

Overall, this was a great example of what can be achieved by the heritage movement and ORH working together.

 

The converter is hoisted up ready to load onto Peter Lawrence’s trailer for the return journey to Cooma.

At the handover: the Apprentices team with ORH and CMR representatives.

 

Postscript

On the weekend of the CMR annual general meeting (21-22 November), Peter Lawrence and Rob McCutcheon spent almost all of the two days working to reinstall the Converter into No 6.  Installation is a very tricky procedure and it tested their skill and patience to the limit.  But they got the job done and No 6 was running again.  A very big thank you was due to these guys.

 

Peter - up top                                                              Rob - down under

22 waits for 6 to be repaired. The red flag on 6 indicates that it is not available for revenue service.

 


Powder Van

Under the sponsorship of the Office of Rail Heritage, Railcorp apprentices restored a Powder (explosives) Van to better than new condition. The CMR was selected as the custodian for this item, in recognition of the role these vans, and the railways in general, played in supplying the Snowy Mountains Scheme over many years. Cooma, as the headquarters of the Snowy Mountains Authority, was the focal point of this close association.

The restored powder van arrived in Cooma in mid October 2011 and immediately went on public display. It is proving to be a popular attraction. It is easy to see just how much research, fabrication and restoration work has gone into it, even down to the custom made explosives containers displayed within it. We thank all who have been involved in obtaining this outcome. Arrangements are in place for the ongoing display of the van and its accessories and for showing a video of the restoration and other promotional material provided by the Office of Rail Heritage.

Next time you visit Cooma you can see the show for yourselves!


L Trucks

 

The first photos show the transferring of the CMR's initial "L" truck for use by track maintenance crews to carry sleepers, tools and ballast out along the track. It was one of two that were part of a group of rolling stock left at Tumut by Mountain High Railway.

CMR member John Gibson provided some pictures of the first wagon being transferred from Tumut and unloading at Cooma on 6/8/03.

   

As it stood, the wagon was not compatible with our CPHs.  The brakes were a different system and it had auto couplers and no buffers. But what a difference a few months makes!

.

And now we have retrieved the other one from Tumut. Its body looks straighter but the wooden floor has been burnt out by vandals. It wasn't long before it received some restoration treatment!

 

A side benefit of having two of these wagons in the yard is the boost they give to the image of a working railway!


Suzuki Hi-Rail

Member Mark Colman has made an enormous effort to make operational our Suzuki Hi-Rail track inspection car. We originally obtained this vehicle from ARHS Canberra free of charge, but it has required a sizeable outlay of time and money towards bringing it up to speed. A lot of testing, repairing and modification has been done, but more is required, and then approval obtained for the vehicle and associated paperwork. Many thanks to Mark and Sharon Woodhead for their dedication to this task.

Before and After shots of CMR's Suzuki Hi-Rail.

Top photo by John Gibson. Bottom photo by Sharon Woodhead


Trolleys

The final occupants of the shed are a small collection of trolleys. These vehicles have rendered sterling service in the areas of track preparation, inspection and maintenance, and provided us with enjoyable rides within the confines of the yard before the CPHs first turned a wheel.

Now, the trolley's main use is in weed spraying (see photo below). However, there are plans to convert our second L Truck (see L Trucks) to perform this function on a larger scale.

For the foreseeable future, this will be the extent of our rolling stock. However, we do not rule out the possibility of other types of locomotion if and when the circumstances permit.

 

Our Next Track Vehicle?

We had a slightly unusual visitor last Sunday!

    

Whilst the three occupants of the personnel carrier went for a train ride, we began to speculate on how useful it could be as a track vehicle. It is fitted with a V8 motor and the 6wd should make it easy to pull out old sleepers.  The high ground clearance will take away the worry of wandering sheep getting caught up underneath.  The gun will be useful in removing objects from the line such as fallen trees. By the look of the tow hooks fitted to the rear, it should couple up with our "S" truck or even a CPH if required. By the size of the radio antennae, we should have no trouble contacting our president at his property or even our members from Canberra or the coast. With the addition of  a couple of CMR logos, I'm sure you will agree that it would be a worthwhile addition to the CMR fleet. However, there may be a problem in obtaining appropriate Certificates Of Competency to drive it.

(Our thanks to Vice President John Gibson who supplied the photos and much of the speculation)!

 

 

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