Puffing Billy Railway, Victoria, Australia

Close Window

NA Class 2-6-2t 6A

PBR 6AThe first experience I had of a loco modified under the direction of Nigel Day was on the Puffing Billy Railway in Victoria, Australia. The article linked to below gives the background to the modifications and a brief review of the success achieved.

Having personally ridden behind the modified loco 6A and 'original' NA types the differences are obvious. For a start the loco sounds totally different. The exhaust has a totally different note and is somewhat quieter, as you might expect from a loco with a better steam circuit and exhaust system. 6A also seemed to have more power when it could keep its' feet on the slippery rails. The slipping was also, at the crews admission, partly as a result of the driver being on 6A in modified form for the first time and thus was unfamiliar with the different driving technique required to get the best out of the loco. However the crew were generally very happy with the loco. The fireman especially so as it has turned a good steaming loco in to an excellent one. The only downside seemed to be the very strong draught would rip the fire off the grate if the firehole door was shut - it has to be left open at all times, even if only on the first notch. This did lead to an interesting sound not unlike that made by an oil burner - something of a roar. Under certain circumstances, especially slipping, it produced a pulsing sound as if excess oil suddenly ignites.

A standard Victorian Railways NA Newport (Victoria) built 2-6-2t No.14A at Belgrave. July 2001
A standard Victorian Railways NA Newport (Victoria) built 2-6-2t No.14A at Belgrave. July 2001

As a comparison to the above can you spot the differences ? To the non NA expert there are none related to the modifications visible. Here 6A waits at Menzies Creek before proceeding to Gembrook. May 2002
As a comparison to the above can you spot the differences ? To the non NA expert there are none related to the modifications visible. Here 6A waits at Menzies Creek before proceeding to Gembrook. May 2002

6A at the terminus of the line, Gembrook, more or less ready to head back to Belgrave. May 2002
6A at the terminus of the line, Gembrook, more or less ready to head back to Belgrave. May 2002

I was very fortunate on the return to get a brief footplate ride on the loco. It steamed perfectly and had bags and bags of power available.

Puffing Billy No.6A ,with your webmaster on the footplate with driver Lyn Helsby, during the stop at Cockatoo on the return from Gembrook. This locomotive has a number of modifications designed by Nigel Day including a revised exhaust arrangement that maintains the historical appearance of the locomotive. May 2002 © Greg Dixon
Puffing Billy No.6A ,with your webmaster on the footplate with driver Lyn Helsby, during the stop at Cockatoo on the return from Gembrook. This locomotive has a number of modifications designed by Nigel Day including a revised exhaust arrangement that maintains the historical appearance of the locomotive. May 2002 © Greg Dixon

An excellent report appeared in the Puffing Billy in-house journal 'Narrow Gauge' regarding the modifications to 6A. To read it click here. Many thanks to Shaun McMahon for putting me on to the report in the first place.

Back at Menzies Creek there was some shunting to be done before heading on the to terminus at Belgrave. May 2002
Back at Menzies Creek there was some shunting to be done before heading on the to terminus at Belgrave. May 2002

It is to be hoped more PBR locos with be modified in time.

6A in 2005

In 2005 6A is still proving to be a popular and successful loco. It also looks absolutely first class!

6A at Lakeside in October 2005.  Malcolm Cluett 6A at Lakeside in October 2005. © Malcolm Cluett

Close Window