This one is going to be a long one, as I attempt to explain how the train crew were rostered at South Dynon. To me, it all makes sense but i worked with the system for 5 years. To an outsider it could well be a case of "what does he mean by that?", so I've gone into more detail than perhaps necessary to try to make it understandable.
So to keep us productive, while we were unable to actually work on a loco, we were rostered to tasks that didn’t require any further training. I spent the next nine days in the Time Office at Dynon starting at 0745. This section of the depot occupied the eastern end of the building and employed a large number of clerks, all male at that time, who put together the loco crewing rosters for the next day(s). This section also included the Manpower clerks, three of them per shift, who signed crews on and off, allocated unoccupied crews to jobs and did first aid, if required.
The ‘standard’ rosters were posted on the northern side of the Manpower cubicles, which was actually the access corridor to the Time Office proper and listed the weeks jobs in a glass enclosed case. As an example of one of these rosters this is Goods roster 185N, as it was in 1980:
Sunday: OR (off roster)
Monday: 2235 for 2300 Hump Trimmer Pilot
Tuesday: 2257 for 2300 Centre Yard Pilot
Wednesday: 2257 for 2300 West Yard Pilot
Thursday: 2257 for 2300 East Yard Pilot
Friday: 2235 for 2300 Hump Yard Pilot
The difference between sign on times was due to the way you got to your loco; either by having to make your own way to where the loco was, with the afternoon shift crew waiting to be relieved, or taking the loco “off the pit” yourself. 25 minutes was generous if you could hitch a ride on a loco leaving the depot but not if you had to walk the distance and the East Yard was a decent hike from Dynon. However, at the end of a shift every Melbourne yard pilot was moved to the closest point to the depot without actually leaving the yard, for obvious reasons.
In the case of this particular roster the Monday and Friday jobs were both ‘get yourself to the loco’ and the middle three were “take outs”, hence the differences in starting time. Those “take out” jobs would be because the locos on the previous shift had been in the yard for some time and required re-fuelling or other servicing so were brought back “over the pit” by the afternoon shift and you took out the replacement.
By mutual agreement you could swap rosters, so there was a pin-board adjacent to the displayed roster where you could place your request and check to see who else might want to swap a roster for another, say a night for an afternoon.
From memory, four of the Time Office clerks (although it may have been three) sat along a north-south facing windowed wall and were available to answer crew questions, take requests or roster swaps, by having windows at their workstation. This area would have stretched for about 10 metres and when the new rosters went put up, before 1530 when the Time Office knocked off, they filled most of this space with long paper rolls probably 2 metres high, roughly A4 (in landscape, not portrait) in width, side by side. These sheets were pre-printed with the expected jobs detailed including blank spaces between for additional jobs or ones where the sign-on times had changed, which were written in by hand, in those pre-computer days. Cancelled jobs were ruled out to make it obvious, no liquid paper or re-printing of that page. Knowing which roster you were on from the ‘standard’ one meant you should be able to find the job you were booked on, to confirm sign on time and the job details. On Fridays the weekend ones went up with the Monday roster. The weekend ones weren’t as big due to fewer train running. However, this meant you had to check in three locations and you always had to confirm you were off roster as they had the nasty habit of booking you on if they required extra crew, unless you’d specifically asked to remain off duty and, even then, they could choose not to give you the time off if they felt so inclined.
With a Goods roster of 210 weeks, two ‘Big Wheel’ ones (senior men) ‘B’ roster of 12 weeks and ‘A’ roster about 10, a Trainee roster of at least 17 weeks and a ‘Spare’ roster of an unknown number of weeks the clerks had a big job, although if it just meant confirming jobs that were rostered it was quite straight forward.
The ‘Big Wheel’ title was a throw back to when senior crews manned the large wheeled passenger engines like the S class. These drivers didn’t suffer the indignity of night shift and largely worked prestige trains with some pilots and low stress jobs scattered in to give them some easier work to balance out their weeks. The firemen rotated in as they approached their driving qualifications and rotated out as appropriate, so no fireman spent long on these rosters.
When a job was cancelled or extra traffic was running, like the grain season, there was a lot of chopping and changing which could make finding your name difficult.
If you had a day off or more off, you had to contact the depot by phone to confirm when you were due to sign on next – no internet then either.
One of my class mates joined me in the Time Office and he decided that this was the job for him so he transferred out of the Operations section into a clerical job reducing us to a class of five.
If I can get it to work I'll post a rough floor plan of the eastern end of the depot (ground floor) to help with understanding my written description.