Locomotive History & Heritage Notes

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Each locomotive operating on the Puffing Billy Railway has its own history and identity. The NA locomotive is the only class to have operated on the Upper Fern Tree Gully to Gembrook railway prior to closure in 1954, in fact prior to 1978, so it can legitimately be referred to as the only “true” Puffing Billy locomotive.

Other locomotives now on the line are “foreign” to the Puffing Billy Railway, although G42, the Climax and the T.A.C.L. can claim association through the Moe to Walhalla railway where G42 operated alongside the NA’s and the Climax and T.A.C.L. on a timber tramway that branched off at Collins Siding.

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With the NA locos, Heritage policy calls for each of the historic colour schemes to be represented on the locos including the scheme adopted in the early years of preservation. Locos 1-2 were originally painted in the light ivy green with gold lining of the Baldwin Locomotive works; locos 3-6 in two-tone green with white lining, with 1 & 2 receiving that livery around 1903; locos 7-17 in Canadian Pacific red & dark brown with white lining, with 1-6 receiving that livery from late 1903 onwards; and finally, all NA’s were painted all-over black from about 1921. From around 1956, the preserved NA’s received red head-stocks, handrails and footplate valances. Heritage policy also states that locomotives should only be given colour schemes in which they had historically appeared in their working lifetime under V.R. operation. Where possible, each locomotive will also be restored to the physical configuration appropriate to the period represented by its colour scheme. Similar policy applies to some of the other locomotives as well.

Following is specific detail for each of Puffing Billy’s locomotives.

3A

Built in 1900 and painted two-tone green, this locomotive was issued to the Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook line and was used in the line’s construction. Over the years, it saw service on the Colac to Crowes and Moe to Walhalla lines, but it saw more service on the Gembrook line than any other. It was withdrawn from service in 1955 at Upper Fern Tree Gully and sold in 1960 to the Lord Mayor’s Camp at Portsea where it remained on static display until 1977. From here it was brought to Belgrave for eventual restoration. When restored, it will be returned, as far as possible to its original condition with wooden cow-catchers, original design side tanks, low bunker, no smoke-box ash chute, etc. It will also have its original colour scheme of two-tone green with white lining.

6A

Built in 1901 and painted two-tone green, this locomotive was issued to the Colac to Beech Forest line and was used in that line’s construction. Over the years, it saw service on all four lines, but mostly on the Colac to Crowes and Upper Fern Tree Gully to Gembrook lines. It was temporarily withdrawn from service in 1958 and returned to service at Belgrave in 1962 for the reopening of this line where it saw almost continuous service until being withdrawn in 1983. It has been restored, as far as possible, to its original condition with original design side tanks, low bunker, original size windows, etc., but a steel cow-catcher in place of the original style wooden one. It also has its original colour scheme of two-tone green with white lining.

7A

Built in 1905 and painted Canadian Pacific red & dark brown, this locomotive was issued to the Wangaratta to Whitfield line and saw service on all four lines with most of its service on the Upper Fern Tree Gully to Gembrook line. It was temporarily withdrawn from service in 1958 and returned to service at Belgrave in 1962 for the reopening of this line where it has seen almost continuous service since. 1979 saw the early two-tone green colour scheme applied to this loco as a trial even though it never historically carried it, but its physical configuration was not altered accordingly. It is now painted its original livery of Canadian Pacific red & dark brown and will eventually be returned, as far a possible, to its original condition with a low bunker, narrow ash-chute, etc.

8A

Built in 1908 and painted Canadian Pacific red & dark brown, this locomotive was issued to the Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook line. Over the years, it saw service on the Colac to Crowes and Moe to Walhalla lines, but it saw more service on the Gembrook line than any other. It was withdrawn from service in 1955 at Upper Fern Tree Gully and sold to the Beaumaris City Council where it remained on static display until 1970. After storage at Newport & Ballarat North Workshops, it was brought to Belgrave in 1976 for restoration. It was returned to service in 1982 after a complete rebuild in close to its late 1920s condition with its extended bunker & modified front end including the tapered “stovepipe” smokestack, steel cow-catcher and the all-over Black livery.

12A

Built in 1912 and painted Canadian Pacific red & dark brown, this locomotive was issued to the Colac to Crowes line, but over the years saw service on all four lines. It was withdrawn from service in 1954 at Moe and sent to Newport Workshops for storage where it remained until 1972. After overhaul at Ballarat North Workshops, it was brought to Belgrave in 1973 where it saw continuous service until withdrawn in 1982 for a complete rebuild. It was returned to service in 1992 in close to its early 1940s condition with all-over Black livery. It will be returned to its post WWI condition with low bunker, narrow ash chute, steel cowcatcher and Canadian Pacific livery.

14A

Built in 1914 and painted Canadian Pacific red & dark brown, this locomotive was issued to the Colac to Crowes line and saw service on all four lines, but mostly on the Colac to Crowes line. It was withdrawn from service in 1962 at Colac and sent to Newport Workshops for storage where it remained, except for a brief time at Bendigo North Work-shops in 1963. After overhaul, it was brought to Belgrave in 1965 where it has seen almost continuous service since. In 1978, it became the first of the preserved NA’s to trial a historic colour scheme for which the Canadian Pacific red & dark brown was chosen, but ended up mistakenly being painted a “London Tan” & dark brown. In 1996 it received a more correct Canadian Pacific livery. This “temporary” trial livery has now given way to 14A’s designated livery of all-over black. Its physical configuration will match the late 1940s era with the extended bunker, guard irons, etc.

G42

Built in 1926 and painted all-over black, this Garratt locomotive was issued to the Moe to Walhalla line where it remained—other than for overhauls—until the line closed in 1954. After an overhaul at Newport Workshops, it was issued to the Colac to Crowes line and remained there until that line closed in 1962 when it was returned to Newport Workshops for storage. In 1964 it was sold to the Puffing Billy Preservation Society and removed from the V.R. register 3 months later. It arrived at Belgrave in 1968 and was hauled to Menzies Creek for static display in the museum. 1986 saw the commencement of restoration and has been undergoing rebuilding ever since in the Belgrave workshops and has been restored to its 1946 to 1954 condition with raised cab roof, raised marker lamps, steel cow-catchers and all-over black livery. It was returned to service on April 18, 2004.