Officially, I was put onto roster 132A but this didn’t work out the way the Roster Clerk envisaged.
Sunday was on at 0915 for the 0930 Canal Pilot with Driver Ian Anthony again. Together we took Y165 off the pit and out to the Canal Yard where our shunting team joined us and set to directing us to gather the vehicles from wherever they were to assemble the trains departing from that Yard. Interestingly, considering it was a Sunday and not that many trains ran on that day of the week, we still put in a complete shift and didn’t sign off until 1745.
Monday was quite a change of pace as I was rostered on, at 0940, to run the 1020 Geelong goods, train 9245, although this was not what 132A had rostered. Instead of filling the driver’s seat in an unofficial, and frowned upon by Head Office, way, this time I had a fireman of my own as I was working under the instruction of ILR D Tong, informally known around the depot as a foreman. I have no idea what the ILR stands for anymore, although the ‘IL’ suggests ‘Instructing Locomotive’. To cap my first officially sanctioned drive, I ended up with 1245 tons trailing behind the loco, meaning earning the tonnage allowance. After meeting Foreman Tong and my fireman (poor guy didn’t rate a mention at all in my diary, so I have no idea who he was now), we walked out to the depot yard to where S300 was sitting. While my fireman checked his list of items, Foreman Tong and I worked through what a driver needed to check on a loco to confirm it was okay to leave the depot, including signing the speed chart. Satisfied that S300 was good to go, we left our kit bags in the cab and made our way through the engine room to the hostler’s cab and prepared to head off the pit. Releasing the brakes, I applied power and took us out to the TR point where the fireman climbed down, via the rear door and auto coupler, to advise the West Tower Signalman of our destination. He scrambled back into the loco reversing his earlier descent. At some point in time, either 1982 or ’83, someone thought to add a stirrup step, adjacent to the rear coupler of all S class, to make it easier for crew to enter and exit from this end; a much appreciated improvement! With the fireman back in his place, the dwarf cleared to allow us to head to the yard where the train was made up waiting for us. With a successful coupling, we relocated to the quieter, and better fitted out, cab and I worked with the train examiner to confirm the train was not going to give us any problems. The guard appeared and advised me the train had “13 equal to 26”, meaning that we had 13 bogie vehicles, which counted as equal to 26 four-wheel wagons, with 840 ton trailing. With the train examiner finished and off to examine the next train the guard got my attention by opening the brake pipe cock in the van briefly and, on leaning out and looking back, he gave me the ‘all clear’ with a green flag. I released the train brakes, holding it with the independent (loco only) brake until the brake pipe was fully charged again, released the loco’s brakes and opened the throttle. With the train moving I checked the rear to get the okay from the guard, indicating the train was following properly and we hadn’t left him behind accidently. Working our way out of Melbourne Yard to the Down Independent Goods line we headed for Tottenham Yard. Once past the trailing points into the Yard, I stopped the train, threw the reverser and applied power to set back into the Yard, following the relayed instructions from the fireman. We had additional vehicles added to the train here, although I can’t say if the local Pilot added them or if I was responsible for that manoeuvre, to take the trains weight up to 1246 tons. With another examination, to confirm the new vehicles were fit to go and successfully combined with the original 13 wagons, the Yard foreman was advised we were ready to depart and he gave us the all clear when the Goods line was clear of approaching trains. Releasing the brakes, and applying power, I worked the train out of the Yard back onto the Down Independent Goods line and followed the signals protecting the junction of the lines to Brooklyn and Sunshine. With the left hand home semaphore indicating the road was set and clear to Brooklyn I applied more power with the fireman collecting the staff from the signalman. Travelling over the bridge, I kept the train under control on the descent into Brooklyn where the fireman did a full hand exchange of the staff. In a less formal setting I might have done the exchange, if the signalman was on my side of the loco, but with everything being done by the book, there was no way I was going to get involved in any staff exchanges. Keeping the train moving on the line to Newport the fireman handed up the staff, actually down in this case, and I kept us moving towards Newport South Junction. Once on the main line, more power was applied to get us up to the speed limit of the train. I took us through Werribee and Little River, until approaching Lara the signals required me to slow the train. Stopping the train where the signals were against us, we prepared to change over with the oncoming up pass. B83 drew to a halt adjacent to the S class and both crews exchanged locos. Signing the speed chart on the B, while the fireman did a rapid fire check of his items, I released the brakes and got the train moving when the guard gave me ‘right away’. With Foreman Tong’s guidance I had no problems stopping at Little River or any subsequent station, unlike that time on that am up Werribee pass. I don’t know whether I had so much to take in, or if I was over-excited to actually be driving officially, that I forgot to record times from the time we left Melbourne Yard. I got the pass into Spencer St successfully and, presumably, returned to Dynon but that is conjecture as my only, final, timing note was that I was signed off with 8 hours on duty. I didn’t even both to record that time, which would officially have been 1740 but it is unlikely I was still at the depot at that time, as working with Foremen seemed to grant that privilege.
Tuesday was an 0820 start for the 0855 Shepparton pass, train 8307, once again under Foreman Tong’s tuition. With only 35 minutes between sign on and train departure time I would suggest that we made our way to Spencer St by foot and spark, unless we hitched a ride on another loco heading to Spencer St over the flyover, a not uncommon way of getting there if the timing was right. B65 was attached to the train for the north bound run and we joined the crew in the cab. My notes indicate there was a ‘Big Wheel’ crew there either ahead of us or we joined them on the trek from Dynon, but exactly what happened is not clear due to the brevity of my records. Either way, I was in the driver’s seat at departure time from Spencer St, releasing the brakes and notching up the throttle on getting the ‘all clear’ from platform staff and guard. Controlling the train’s speed through the multiple points at the end of the platforms and then on the departure road leading to the Dudley St junction we headed towards North Melbourne station. Once on the suburban lines, speed was increased a little until North Melbourne Junction restricted it again. Once through the junction and on the Broadmeadows line the B was notched up again to climb the grades to that station. Stopping briefly for the ‘pick up only’, I acknowledged the ‘right away’ from the guard with a pop on the whistle and notched up once more. As the train cleared the platform I checked that everything was following as it ought to, aided by the guard doing the same from his end. Climbing the grade to Somerton under full throttle, at least until line speed of 115kph was reached, the throttle was backed off as we levelled off along the stretch between Somerton and the approach to Donnybrook. With the climb to Beveridge approaching I notched up again to try to maintain maximum speed and backed off once more as we crested that grade. The loco was given something of a rest on the line approaching Wallan with its combination of short level stretches and gentle declines. Running through Wallan, at speed, the throttle was notched up again as we headed for the grade up to Heathcote Junction. Cresting over the Divide I notched back the throttle again and may have even engaged the dynamic brake on the drop through Wandong, although the B class were notorious for having an incredibly useless dynamic brake. Any other loco fitted with one would hold a train reasonably well on down-grades, requiring only limited use of the air brake but not the B class; air brakes were definitely needed with those locos. We continued on towards Kilmore East where, from here through to the approaches to Tallarook, Foreman Tong would have guided me in the best way to make use of the momentum grades, something I, and various guards, being jostled in the van, at the rear, could have benefited from in earlier years. Powering through Tallarook to Schoolhouse Lane I eased up as we approached the single line crossing of the Goulburn River and the run into Seymour station. On stopping in the platform at Seymour, I gave up the driver’s seat to a qualified driver, hence my reference to the ‘Big Wheel’ driver earlier. Whether Foreman Tong and I stayed in the cab, or not, my memory doesn’t enable me to recall but the pair of us did stay on the train through to Shepparton, since, after the loco had been run around and re-coupled for the up run as train 8318, I took control once more as we prepared to depart again. Leaning out of the driver’s window to accept the green flag from the guard, I popped the whistle, in acknowledgement, once more and opened the throttle again. We made it across Wyndham St crossing safely, a single long blast of the whistle at the whistle board and again before the actual crossing, and I kept the power up to maintain the timetable. The flatter track of this stretch, as far as Mangalore, made it easier to maintain a steady speed than further south. With guidance, I was able to make the stops along the way without any major complications, while the fireman handled the staff exchanges, most of which were on his side of the loco anyway. At Mangalore, he handed up the staff from the window in the driver’s door while I stopped the train. Getting the ‘right away’ again, I opened the throttle to cross the junction onto the up line to Seymour and then controlled our speed down the hill into the platform. Stationary in the platform, I once again handed over the controls for the, qualified, driver to take us from there to near Beveridge. At this point I was, once again, placed at the controls, although why, at speed, in this location, I can’t explain. Back in the driver’s seat, I controlled our speed down the grade into Donnybrook, on through Craigieburn and Somerton to hold our speed down the grade into Broadmeadows. Stopping within the platform, I applied power again in response to the guard’s green flag and we descended the Glenroy bank, ran through Essendon and North Melbourne to work through the junctions back into a platform at Spencer St. We were relieved and I repeated Mondays record of 8 hours work without noting the actual time. If I’d thought about it I should have questioned whether I was entitled to the mileage that the ‘Big Wheel’ crews got for doing this Shepparton run; having done my fair share of the driving I reckon, now, that I should have.
Wednesday, I reverted to my normal role of fireman again, although once more working a ‘Big Wheel’ job, firing for Driver J McSmith on the ‘down Apex’, train 9317, to the quarry to re-load the train. It appears that I was not supposed to be rostered under instruction this day, as there are no changes to my notes, unlike the following day. Sign on was 0915 to take fresh locos from Dynon to Newport to meet the train. At this point in time the ‘Apex’ had three unloading locations, the best-known, Westall and, slightly less common, Brooklyn, with another in the Geelong area. Never actually running the Geelong leg I’m not sure of the exact location the train was unloaded and I’m not sure how long the ‘Apex’ worked to Geelong. T360, with its ‘chopped’ nose, instead of the high hood at the short end, like its sisters, had been coupled to S307 by the fitters, on one of the through roads in the depot yard. We boarded the T, although our kit bags would have been shoved through an open door onto the floor of the S class from ground level to be dealt with later, for the run from the depot through the TR point, to the reversing spot and then moved to the S for the run to Newport. We would have used the suburban lines to get to Newport since there was nothing we needed to add to the train at Tottenham. At Newport, the signalman arranged for our locos to get to the front of the train, with the previous locos released to return to Dynon for fuel and servicing. Once the locos were coupled up to the train we relocated to the T class once more, this time taking our kit bags with us. Taking possession of the staff for Brooklyn, we set off, at 1005, to get the train to Broadmeadows and onto the Seymour line. Once on that line we made our way to Kilmore East, and the quarry siding, where I failed to record what time we drew to a halt with the train under the loading chute. With the locos attached to the up end of the train we began the loading shuffle, working from no. 307. Loading was completed so we prepared to return towards Melbourne as train 9318. We moved onto the main line at 1455, with over 1,000 tons trailing, to work our way back as far as Broadmeadows, where a goods roster crew were waiting to relieve us, although exactly when that happened is also lost to time, since I didn’t write it down again. We watched the ‘Apex’ disappear, whether towards Essendon or Albion I can’t say anymore, crossed the line and waited for the next spark to terminate to form an up so we could travel ‘per’ back to the depot. Sign off was 1730, officially, although whether that involved the fairly routine ‘Big Wheel’ shenanigans, or not, I don’t recall.
Thursday was 0703 rostered to work with Foreman Tong again running the 0755 Horsham pass, train 8105, via North Geelong and return with the up ‘Jet’, train 9146, however I get the impression he was either sick or required on some other duty, which would have made the ‘Big Wheel’ crew rostered to the train happy; not to have their day disrupted by myself and Foreman Tong. Instead, I went straight onto standby until called upon by Manpower to team up with Driver F Delaney to work the Instructional Pilot from 0840. Y119 was allocated to the task of training up new shunters, although which part of Melbourne Yard we worked in, or if we moved around so they could experience different parts of the bigger Yard I didn’t note. Nor did I record when we wrapped up working this Pilot but I finished with a full 8 hour shift with no other jobs recorded so it may have occupied most of the shift.
The roster had a 1050 start for a Brooklyn Pilot for Fridays job but the Pilot was obviously cancelled early enough that the Roster Clerk changed me to an 0900 sign on for standby. This only lasted for 25 minutes before I was teamed with Driver K Whelan to travel to Frankston to relieve an up ballast coming from Hastings. This could be an indication that the line was being prepared for re-opening, after the, relatively, recent closure. Making the walk to North Melbourne station we caught an up spark to where we could change to a Frankston bound one and then travelled to that station where we arrived at 1100. The ballast train had not made it back from Hastings when we arrived, so we found somewhere to wait until it did arrive. Eventually it appeared around the curve on the down end of the station, hauled by Y class nos. 165 and 158. It stopped in the yard so we made our way across the tracks to it and relieved the previous crew, so they could travel back to Dynon. Taking over at 1200 we eventually were given access to the main line and set off on the up run towards Melbourne. Our maximum speed of 65kph wouldn’t have caused too many problems for a following spark as we didn’t have to stop anywhere unless we caught up to a preceding one. We continued on through Caulfield, South Yarra, Flinders St and across the viaduct. At Spencer St we would have followed the goods line but we kept on going through to South Kensington and the Independent Goods lines to pass by Tottenham Yard and re-join the main line on the up side of Sunshine then travel through the junction onto the Ballarat line. Our final destination was the Boral siding, off the main line at Deer Park West and, even with an empty train, it took us until 1415 to get to the siding there. We ran around and obviously shunted the train so it could be reloaded, since we remained within the Boral sidings until 1630. Gaining access to the main line, once more, we took the loaded train back past Tottenham Yard, on the Independent Goods lines again, to stable it somewhere in the North Melbourne area, probably the Ways and Works sidings. With the paired Y class released from the train we returned them to Fuel Point at 1720 and I signed off at 1740.
The Roster Clerk gave me Saturday off, which was fair enough in retrospect, as I’d already worked six days, including two under instruction, although my pencilled note indicates that 132A would have been on for a Kensington Pilot.