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Life of a Model Railroader Mile Post 2

Glenreagh Mountain Railway

So I’ve kick off the new year with my first work travel and sales meeting.

I must say it was a great meeting, I wasn’t shown the doors within the first five minutes. Instead the meeting lasted close to three hours! Very very productive meeting was had.

No I did not sell a damn thing but I did get a personal tour of the local historical railway in my customers town to which he was a board member of.


Glenreagh Mountain Railway, known as the GMR, was established in 1989 as a heritage tourist railway at Glenreagh, near Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. The GMR acquired the 35-kilometre section from Glenreagh to Ulong in 1999 from the State Rail Authority for $1 and began restoring this section of line as well as rolling stock, to enable the heritage tourist railway to operate.

Rolling Stock

GMR’s current rolling stock includes steam locomotive Z19 class 1919, 4-wheel watergin L568, TAM sleeping car, two heritage end-platform cars, S type carriages, ex-U set interurban carriages, and numerous trikes and track maintenance vehicles.

End Platform Cars

At the Glenreagh Mountain Railway Museum, you can view steam trains, diesel trains, 4 Wheel Open Goods Wagons, end platform cars and more.

We are open 7 days a week by appointment to the general public.  To book a tour, please  email us at at least 2 days prior to your arrival. Group bookings are also welcomed.

A number of school excursions, rail enthusiasts, photography clubs, tour groups visit us here at the Glenreagh Mountain Railway Museum. 

Our current Rolling Stock includes, but is not is limited to: 

1. The Railmotor CPH 11

The Railmotor CPH 11 here at Glenreagh is one of the famous “42 Foot Rail Motors” of the NSW Railways. They were commonly known as “Tin Hares”, a title that owes its origins to the greyhound tracks of NSW between the two World Wars.

There were 37 in all of the CPH’s . The first one was introduced in 1923 and they rapidly revolutionised passenger transport on branch lines throughout NSW. When many of these lines were closed from the 1960’s onwards they were redeployed to non-electrified passenger lines in Sydney and Wollongong until the mid 1980’s. They are amongst the best known and most widely traveled rail vehicles in NSW.

CPH Rail motors were powered by a General Motors diesel engine generating 150hp. They have a driver’s compartment at each end, a central guard’s compartment and passenger accommodation at both ends. When they reached the end of their journey the driver simply locked up the cabin he had been using and walked up to the other end. No need for turntables or triangles with this handy little machine!

During 1970 CPH 11 was based at Richmond for use on commuter services to Blacktown. By the next year it had moved to Moree to run out on the Boggabilla and Mungindi lines. In 1974 it was running to Oaklands in southern NSW from The Rock.

Next year saw it based at Cootamundra to run out on the line to Tumut. In 1978 it was transferred back to Sutherland to work on Illawarra line services. Electrification of this line to Waterfall resulted in its transfer to Wollongong where it saw out its days until retired in the mid 1980’s.

CPH 11 was initially bought by the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum. Ownership passed to GMR in the late 1990’s. Its transfer to Glenreagh West did not occur until late 2003.

Its general condition can be described as fair at best.

Much work will be required to return CPH 11 to operating condition, but in time it will become a vital part of GMR’s operational fleet.


2. Locomotive 1919

The 19 class

Perhaps a little should be said here about NSWGR locomotive numbers. After a renumbering in 1924, all steam locomotives carried a 4 digit number. The first two digits indicated the “class” of the locomotive, while the second two digits indicated the number of the locomotive within the class. Thus, 1919 is the nineteenth member of the nineteen class. Nineteen class locomotives first entered service in 1877, with 1919 entering service in December 1878. Ultimately, seventy seven 19 class locomotives were employed, with the last entering service in 1890. Fifty nine of the engines were built by Beyer Peacock and Co. of Manchester, England, with the remaining eighteen being built locally by Henry Vale and Co. of Sydney.

When introduced on the NSWGR, the nineteen class were the big new goods power of the day, replacing many older and less powerful engines. They became the most widely used class of goods engine employed on the NSW system. In their early days the Nineteen class travelled all of the main lines of NSW hauling the “heavy” goods trains.

In their latter days they saw service on almost every branch line and industrial siding in the state. As built, the nineteen class weighed about 57 tons and were about 46 feet long, overall. They are diminutive when compared with the massive 57 class goods engines introduced some 52 years later in 1929, weighing 227 tons and of 87 feet in length. Although considered big in their day, they are very small engines by “modern” (1929!) standards.

1919-restoration -2

The nineteen class locomotives had extraordinary long lives. While some were scrapped in the 1930s, many survived until the 1960s, giving them working lives of around eighty years. Eleven of the class, including 1919, remained in service until near the end of steam on the NSWGR in 1971, giving them working lives of up to ninety five years! While it was not uncommon for steam locomotives in NSW to have lives spanning forty, or fifty years, (or even sixty or seventy years in the case of the famous 32 class engines), the nineteen class engines were unique in their long life times.

The reasons for this lay in the light axle loads and short wheel base of the class. They could transverse lines where no other class could go. Several branch lines in NSW, notably the Oberon, Batlow and Dorrigo branches, were laid with steep grades, sharp curves, and light rails which were unsuitable for longer and heavier engines. While the Dorrigo line also permitted 50 class engines, only nineteen class were allowed on the former two branches. Ultimately, the wharves of Darling Harbour, and the Newcastle waterfront accounted for the retention of the class, for shunting at these locations. Sharp curves and light rails would only pass the nineteen class and while more modern engines, including the legendary 38 class, were passing to the scrap merchants, the old engines were still being overhauled at Eveleigh workshops. All but nine engines completed over a million miles during their varied careers.

1919-restoration -18

1919 and the Glenreagh – Dorrigo line

During the years 1953 to 1958, engine 1919 was allocated to South Grafton Locomotive Depot, but spent most of its time at Glenreagh, which was a subdepot of South Grafton. During this period 1919 operated many trains on the line, and became a familiar sight between Glenreagh and Dorrigo. 1919 was the last of its class to work regular traffic on the branch. 44 and 48 class diesels were introduced from October 1957, and 1919 was withdrawn from South Grafton depot in October 1958.

3. “S” type 4 Wheel Open Goods Wagons

These 4-wheel open wagons were once the most numerous wagon on the NSW railways. Nearly every preservation group in New South Wales has a representative of this type of wagon in their collection.

The S truck design was originally introduced in 1901, but it was not until the late 1940s that a massive rebuilding programme saw the introduction of the modified design represented by wagons in the GMR collection.

The reconstruction programme continued until the end of 1958 by which time a total of 10,000 were built. Clyde Wagon Works undertook the massive task. New frames and bodies were built, but some parts were salvaged from the earlier designs.

The 4-wheel S truck has a wheel base of 10′-0″and an overall length of 18′-0″. This became the standard or equivalent length for measuring all trains in New South Wales. Crossing loops and refuge loops were stated as being equal to a certain length, for crossing purposes, and were measured in multiples of this standard 18′-0″.

S trucks lasted well into the 1980s, last seeing main line service on the wire traffic from Port Waratah in Newcastle to Ashfield & Rozelle in Sydney.

4. End Platform Cars

HFO 1260 and HFO 1595

This car was originally built in 1911 as a loose car i.e. not as a part of a particular car set but in July 1936 a set coded  LUB 36 of 8 cars was formed out of loose cars including 1595.

This set was officially condemned in Dec 1974 but unofficially continued to be used as the standby set at Newcastle, where it saw intermittent use to replace failed diesel railcars.

Placed into storage mid 1977 and then sent to Shell Harbor for further storage pending scrapping.

Built as a FA 1595 5/1911

Fitted with electric lighting June 1926

Converted to a brake end 8/1932 with a small guards/goods compartment.

Converted to HF0 3/1941

Condemned 12/1974

HFO 1595

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