Johnny's Pages
Old S.A.R. Shunter's Memories

Last edited:  21-Dec-13


View pictures and of old SAR Engines & Rollingstock

View pictures and of 1929 Islington Rail Workshops

View pictures and all about S.A.R. staff exchanger

View pictures of S.A.R. hand signal lamps

View pictures of S.A.R. Signalling



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South Australian Railways Lineside Gravesite.

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Well said detailed inscription on marker post where the North Car Sidings were at Adelaide Station.
The well said text reads:

"Here at peace lies the old S.A.R.
After carrying passengers and goods afar;
Laid to rest on the first of March '78
Never no more to haul long distant freight;
Cleaved in two, right between the ears
For faithfully serving the State for 124 years."

These two pics by Cliff Olds in winter 1979.

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The S.A.R. Gravesite.

The S.A.R. Headstone.

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Especially, for those who can remember these better times.

To view this very well done silent movie footage of the S.A.R.'s good ol days.
This movie footage taken in the early 1960's by the late Les Packham a rail enthusiast.

Click to view "BROAD  GAUGE  BEAT" Silent Movie
Video file-size is 186megs 
  22 minute footage of a trip back to the real rail days.
From an era when common sense around trains WAS the order of the day.
Where you could get up CLOSE and PERSONAL with train working.


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Bayer Garratt 409
21st March 2007

I made rare visit to Adelaide (big smoke) and visited the National Rail Museum at Port Adelaide to see an old friend I had not seen since the total closure of the Peterborough Narrow Gauge in Jan 1970. I count myself very fortunate when I got there, as Bayer Garratt 409 was sitting outside the pavilion in the open air, in all her full glory and this really made my day. Of course her full glory would naturally be under full head of steam as on her last trip 23rd December 1969 on 554 Pirie to Peterborough. I was very happy to see and touch her again. Lots of nice memories there.

Nothing comes close to the ROAR of these Bayer Garratts in full action.
If you have not heard the sound of a Bayer Garratt in action elsewhere on this website,
 Click on the
HERE bar, OR, if your using IE, click the Arrow button. Turn your sound up loud for some proper sound realism:-
Click HERE to play GARRATT Sound file

Sound file 2.5megs.
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A beautiful sight from any angle.

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Left hand side.

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Right hand side.

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Rear view.

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Front view. Note:- Difference between
the Narrow Gauge and Broad Gauge track.

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View of cab at floor level.

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Engineman's view looking forward.

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Ah yes, this was the absolute best of the day.
Sitting in hot seat again. Was a great feeling.

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Stood on here many times during shunting
operations with these engines at Jamestown.

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Engineman's Controls.

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Note: the circular firebox inspection cover.
It was quite a sight to watch when the driver at odd times
 after a crew change, that the engine was not steaming well.
The fireman would get a shovel of sand. Hold the shovel in front
 of that inspection hole, open the throttle then slide up the cover
from  over the inspection hole and the draft would then literally
suck all the sand off the shovel near instantly. This was to clean
all the tubes of built up crud from a previous not so good firing.

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Diagram of the Bayer Garratt 409

To all volunteers of NRM Port Adelaide it is a magnificent setup. 
I was very impressed and well worth a visit, one would not be disappointed.

Also worth a view since I did this trip to Adelaide
Also elsewhere

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NRM poster in the Adelaide Rail Yards.  15th November 2008.

The National Rail Museum Film Collection DVDs.

These well presented DVDs of those great S.A.R. days.  
If you loved, or been a fan of old S.A.Railways, these be a must to have in my view.
To obtain a copy, contact:

 National Rail Museum.
PO Box 3151
Port Adelaide. South Australia. 5015
Phone:  (08) 8341 1690  or  Fax:  (08) 8341 1626

Click on the picture to read the Full DVD cover 

As an ex SAR / AN railwayman these DVD's are nicely done of those old rail days.
Great memories.

A 95 minute rail DVD film Collection Vol 1.
Click on this picture to see full DVD cover

Also this 95 minute rail DVD film Collection Vol 2.
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Also this 2 hour rail DVD film Collection Vol 3.
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   South Australian Railways 900 class diesel  locomotive

"Lady Norrie"

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900 class "Lady Norrie"

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The very spacious cab of 900 class.

900 class "Lady Norrie"

Built by the South Australian Railways 10th September 1951
Diesel locomotive with A1A-A1A wheel arrangement
Entered service as broad gauge 900 class diesel locomotive No.900. 
Withdrawn from service July 1985. 
Now resides at the National Rail Museum. Port Adelaide.

You can now view a WMV file of the 900 class loco in action,
      Is great memory here bought back to life momentarily.    
  Turn your sound up to enjoy best sounding diesel to grace your ears

In this Manoora video the 900 class has to stop for a red signal and then it starts off again.
Towards end of video, note the different types of rollingstock carried in those early 1980's.
Click HERE  to view the 900 class Lady Norrie in Action
   This WMV file is 26 megs in size.   
"Lady Norrie" at Manoora S.A. crossing Bluebird. June 1983.  (Duration:  4 minutes)
Oh, by the way, Manoora does not look like this today. Is a terrible SHAME.

To save the WMV movie file
right click then: (Save Target download
the 26meg WMV file to your hard drive.... All free to keep and to enjoy.

This video footage was taken with the very first VHS National Panasonic video camera, bought June 1980.
The camera itself was not overly heavy, but the video recorder part WAS. Everything was manually operated
 on the camera lens, a trial and practice in itself. When one looks at the video cams of today, this was like
the old brownie box camera, but it did a great job for it's day, hence this rare footage of the 900 survives.

Now if you were a youngster way back in 1953, you may like this bit of old movie footage.
10 minute memory of the early days with the 900's up front.
Take note of a covering between 900 and 901 on the express leaving Murray Bridge.
1953 Richard Take A Train Ride with two 900's up Front

   This WMV file is 52 megs in size.   

   South Australian Railways 520 steam locomotive  

"Sir Malcolm Barclay Harvey"

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Now you can get to see and hear the 520 from those good old days.

Footage starts in Mt Gambier station and then a video car chase to Cellulose, near Millicent in South Australia. 
My wife is still near nervous wreck (joke) from that day as she had to drive almost like Mr Wheeler, while I tried to film the 520 special train trip from the front and then rear seat and it was nearly like a race track chasing the 520.  This is another favourite engine of mine I've played over and over 100's of times since 1984, when I felt like reminiscing the old excitement of those good old rail days. Please excuse some wind sounds on microphone, as is impossible to stop that with car window open.

The WMV video (is in two parts) of the 520 Mount Gambier to Cellulose May 1984
Hope you enjoy it as much as I still do.

Probably best to download the WMV files by
right clicking on the Click HERE icon below
Then click  (
Save Target As...) to your Hard Drive to view them in your player. 

Mt Gambier to Cellulose-Snuggery
(Duration:  14 minutes)
PART - 1:    (119meg file)
Click to watch video 520 to Tantanoola

Cellulose-Snuggery back to just past Tantanoola
(Duration:  8 minutes)
PART - 2:    (58meg file)
Click to watch video 520 return from Tantanoola

To those using Dial-up, or limited downloads.
ALL these video files are quite LARGE to download.



S.A.R. 520 class locomotive

Steel carriage sit up car Bowmans

Sleeping Car Finniss


To see above passenger cars scroll across the screen 
and to hear the sound of 520 class Steam engine
Click to See & Hear 520 class
( Works only using Internet Explorer )

The above 520 & the carriage graphics were made for me by Shane Stewart.  Alberta. Canada.
Shane's website
(Canadian Railroads)
Loram Rail Grinding at night
Interesting Moving Train gifs


   South Australian Railways NG "T" class steam locomotive  

S.A.R. Narrow gauge "T"  class engine

Sound of the "T" class Narrow Gauge loco

Click to hear T class engine sound

Sound file size is 1.1megs

Some information on the "T" class engine.

When first put into service in 1903 the T Class 4-8-0 locomotive was affectionately known as 'Big Ben'. This name was lost in later years but the class remained the biggest 3 ft. 6 in. gauge power of the S.A.R. for just on half a century. A total of 78 were built between 1903 and 1917 and proved a most successful engine.

Their leading bogie wheels had outside axle boxes which were a common feature of earlier classes of narrow-gauge engines on the S.A. R. Similarly, they also combined sloping cylinders with a footplate which sloped over the cylinders and terminated at the front end of the smoke box saddle.

The top of the boiler was crowded with protruberances both large and small. A headlight was added to all engines from the 1920s on in sympathy with the desire of many enginemen to see where they were going at night. The smokestack was a masterpiece of spartan economy which replaced the elegant copper-flanged chimney that adorned the original engines. Behind this was a silencer to smother the sound of the air compressor exhaust which for many years kept the residents of Naracoorte awake all through the night.
Following this was a snifter valve (to break the vacuum when drifting), emergency blow-off cock, the essential steam dome, the blowdown silencer, the Westinghouse generator, the safety valves and finally poking through the cab roof-the whistle.

The footplate presented no less a collection of handy looking equipment. Most engines carried a spare drum of sand (over the cylinder) followed by a mechanical lubricator (worked by a link from the cross-head), a lead weight, the sandbox, another lead weight, the re-railing jack, and two more lead weights. The lead weights, incidentally, were added during the lifetime of the engines to increase their adhesive weight. As built, they were inclined to be a little slippery on starting and even with the lead weights they were likely to spin their wheels in inexpert hands.

In the final rebuilt condition with superheater, improved front end and cyclone spark arrester they were ugly, ungainly engines but somehow they carried an aura that assured them of many admirers. With their chins jutting forward and their small (43 in.) drivers digging into the rails, they were completely overshadowed by their out-of-scale tenders. Their long dachshund boilers always guaranteed enough of the essential ingredient to keep them working when the going was hard and fast.

Their clothing covered in patches, their smoke boxes dirty and rust-streaked, their paint-work marred by the sediment from their blow-downs, the 'T's were nevertheless kept in good mechanical order. The Peterborough men would not allow rundown engines on the main line. The 'T's handled the bulk of the Broken Hill ore for 50 years until replaced by the '830' Class diesels. They worked on all the narrow-gauge divisions of the S.A.R.; the only line which never saw them being the Glencoe line in the South-East, whilst on the Beachport and Kingston lines they only worked part of the way.

A truly universal narrow-gauge locomotive, they were used for shunting, passenger trains or goods trains with equal confidence. Although designed by S.A.R., builders included Walkers Ltd of Maryborough, Queensland, and James Martin of Gawler, S.A., as well as the S.A.R. at Islington. It is interesting to note that five were converted to the 5ft. 3 in. gauge for a period, classed 'Tx' and used on the light Murray Lands branches, later being changed back to narrow-gauge Class 'T' again.

Cylinders:......................................... (2) 161 in. x 22 in
Boiler Pressure:............................... 185 lb.
Diameter of Driving Wheels:............ 3 ft. 7 in.
Tractive Effort:................................. 21,900 lb.
Roadworthy Weight:........................ 74 tons 14 cwt.
Length over Couplers:.................... 54 ft.


"Rusty Rails"
By Mount Gambier group, 'Round The Bend'

"Rusty Rails" by group "Round The Bend" copyright 2000

The sound file is 3.5 megs.

Only rails into/through Mount Gambier now are only rusty rails, hence the song.

Brief History - South Australian Railways.


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( Thanks John Evans )
Collects Train orders.

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S.A.R  Train Order 1969
Jamestown  Narrow Gauge
This Train Order taken by yours truly.
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A.N.  Train Order 1990
Mt Gambier Broad Gauge
Again by yours truly at Mt Gambier Junc.

These next 2 train orders cross each other. 
One from Jamestown end, the other from Peterborough end.
This was an unusual movement extra 91 was showing as a passenger, headed with a Garratt.

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Train Order given from Jamestown
Note: Train Controller changed over
from this order to the next train order.
Assistant TC ran the Pirie board till 12am.

Train Order given from Peterborough
Note: Afternoon shift there was 2 controllers.
Midnight shift was with one controller who ran the whole board on his own till around 8am.

( Thanks Bruce Killmier )

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21st March 2007

Also while in the big smoke to visit the NRM, the next day I tried out the new trams. Oh! they were okay, but I still prefer the older ones as I have many fond memories of them when they ran Kensington Gardens - Glenelg trams on the Norwood Parade Kensington in the early 1950's, till Adelaide did a really stupid thing and pulled their tram lines up.   No foresight.

I was pleasantly surprised that the new trams had a conductor selling tickets. Hooray, someone is using their head at long last, as one reason I not like to use suburban trains or buses is hard for country bumkin(s) to feel comfortable with self serve ticketing system. Okay for the local peasants, not so good for country bumpkins. Plus makes one feel a little more comfy with a connie on board.

Where we got on the new tram at stop 12 Morphett road it was near the Glengowrie tram depot, and inside tram depot I spotted two of the older trams. They were for me the grand old days and glad I not missed them.

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Was good to see these again even at a distance.

(in 2007)

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Victoria Square ready to depart for Glenelg


An Interesting Railroad Fact

Does the expression, "
We've always done it that way" ring any bells?

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. 
That's an exceedingly odd number. 

Why was that gauge used? 
Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? 
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then? 
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay!

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? 
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? 
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? 
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live forever!

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. I'm really getting into this origin's great!

Now the twist to the story... 
There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.

The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So! A major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's arse.... and you thought being a HORSE'S ARSE wasn't important.

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