Locomotive model with working engine and tender, live steam, NSWGR 3812, Pacific type, 4-6-2, 5 inch gauge, metal, made by Warwick Sandberg and Malcolm Le Bas, Sydney, Australia, 1984 - 1993
The 38 class steam locomotives are regarded by some as Australia's finest example of steam locomotive engineering and were the most photographed engines on the continent. From the first day of 3801's entry into service on the New South Wales Government Railways in 1943 the 38s earned their reputation as great performers. Possessing efficient steam producing boilers and engines designed to utilise the steam to the best advantage, the locomotives had excellent traction and were capable of sustained high speeds. Enginemen who served on their footplates applauded their haulage capacities, power and smooth-riding qualities. Between 1943 and 1974 the thirty 38 class locomotives ran some 37 million miles (59 million km) in total.
These locomotives hauled all the famous named express passenger trains including the 'Melbourne Limited Express', 'Newcastle Flyer', 'Riverina Express' and 'Central West Express'. They served well into the diesel-electric era maintaining the 70 mph schedule on the northern New South Wales railways. However, their axle-load confined them to the main lines and then only to Port Kembla, Albury, Dubbo and Newcastle. The locomotives were gradually replaced by diesels on express passenger services then subsequently operated as fast goods trains. By 1970 there were only three 38s in regular traffic, 3813, 3820 and 3822.
Also during the early 1970s steam tour operations assumed greater prominence with the 38s being the most popular. During 1973 they took such a high public profile that the then Public Transport Commission found the steam locomotives incongruous with their new image and consequently steam was banned from operation in 1974. The 38 class locomotives were absent from the New South Wales railways until November 1986 when 3801 returned following restoration by the Hunter Valley Training Company. This was followed in 1997 when the Museum's locomotive 3830 returned to steaming condition 30 years after it last operated. Both locomotives are now operated by 3801 Limited and run on regular steam trips and tours.
It is understandable then that for the Australian model engineer the 38 class locomotives have been probably the most popular model to build. Models are generally made in two types, static or working. Of the working model locomotives, there are three main types of power sources, clockwork, electric and live steam. The models are constructed in various gauges but the live steam models are usually built to a larger scale and are used for passenger haulage in parks and gardens such as this model has.
Assistant Curator, Transport
The 38-class locomotive was an Australian-designed and built locomotive. The design was developed by a group of engineers in the Locomotive Section of the Design Office of the New South Wales Government Railways, directed by Mr Harold Young, Chief Mechanical Engineer. The aim of the design engineers at the time was to incorporate into the new locomotive the best practice proved on existing NSWGR locomotives together with all the modern improvements applied to overseas steam engines.
The Pacific type 38-class steam locomotives were designed to replace the 36 class engines on the interstate and other express train routes in New South Wales. The Pacific type has the wheel arrangement 4-6-2 which refers to the combination of the wheels of the locomotive. The middle number is the number of coupled driving wheels and the other two numbers refer to the number of wheels on the front and rear engine bogies. The tender wheels are not included.
The Pacific type locomotive was first built in America by Baldwin but was designed by A.W. Beattie from the New Zealand Government Railways in 1901. The locomotives were the first to use outside Walschaert's valve gear which later became the most common valve gear for steam locomotives worldwide.
The 38-class were the first of the Pacific type steam locomotives on the New South Wales system. They were built to a New South Wales Government Railways departmental design, the first five of which were streamlined by the Clyde Engineering Company, No. 3801 going into to service in January 1943. The second batch of 25 were built in two departmental workshops, 13 at Eveleigh (even road numbers) and 12 at Cardiff (odd road numbers). The last No. 3830 went into service in September 1949. They were the first locomotives in New South Wales to have roller-bearing axle boxes. In spite of their large-size grates, they were hand-fired but to lighten the work only the best quality coal was provided.
This locomotive is a model of the full size steam locomotive 3812 which was built by the New South Wales Government Railways at the Eveleigh Railway workshops. It went into service on 20 July 1946 and was withdrawn in December 1965 with boiler and mechanical problems after travelling 2 001 330 km. The locomotive was condemned on 23 May 1966 and scrapped three months later on 1 August 1966.
This model of locomotive 3812 was begun by Warwick Sandberg who built the driving wheels and chassis over a period from 1984 until 1986. (Sandberg has also built eight other models for other model engineers). The rest of the locomotive was completed by the donor, Malcolm Le Bas from 1986 to 1993.
As a young man Mr Le Bas' hobby was wireless (crystal) sets. After the Second World War began he joined the RAAF and trained as a radar technician on UHF (magnetron) radar in Beaufort bombers in New Guinea stationed at Lae and Madang. After the War he joined the firm Auto Totalisator who manufactured the automatic totalisator, an apparatus which automatically recorded bets, displayed odds and calculated dividends (before computers) for registered race-meetings which was invented by Sir George Julius. Mr Le Bas travelled around the world installing totalisators in places such as Cleveland, Ohio, Calcutta, Karachi, Las Vegas, Rio de Janeiro, Colombo, Ceylon, and Palm Beach, Florida, as well as around Australia between 1948 and 1958.
After his marriage in 1953 Le Bas settled down in the family home at Gordon on the upper North Shore of Sydney and then moved Newport on the Northern Beaches where he lived for 30 years. At Newport he began manufacturing medical equipment in his backyard. The local council disapproved of this activity and he then established a factory at Dee Why, Spectronic Products Pty Ltd, manufacturing X-ray viewing equipment. After his wife died in 1986 he turned to locomotive model making. He had been a member of Hornsby and District Model Engineers Co-operative Limited since 1980 and had previously built three 0-6-0 tank model engines. The fine detailed work on locomotive 3812 was helpful during this period of considerable stress and sadness.
The main reason he chose a 38 was for sentimental reasons as he had travelled behind the full size 38s, North and South during the War. After the War he spent a great deal of time chasing 38s on the South-West line, North to Newcastle and out to Goulburn. Hearing of Warwick Sandberg's production line of initially seven (and later nine) 5 inch gauge 38s prompted Mr Le Bas to hurry out to Werrington to become the last in line. Early in 1984 he made his first payment and was allocated 3812. Five years passed and progress was slow, so in early 1989 Le Bas decided to take the locomotive over as it stood and purchased from Ernie Winter of Newcastle a set of tender drawings, a casting for a 5/8 bore double acting hand pump and a few other items ready to commence construction. On 6 July 1990 Le Bas took delivery of the engine side frame and beautifully-machined drive mechanism with all the components stamped 3812. Mr Le Bas then began building the model in his Dee Why workshop. The certified boiler was picked up some months later.
Construction began with the buffer beams, drag box, bogies, wheels, axles and a solid lead compressed air tank mounted between the drivers. The running gear was then partly disassembled, the driving axles removed and the hole masked as necessary and painted black. A steam ticket was issued at Galston on 28 October 1992 and the inaugural run was unfortunately spoilt by a tendency for the front bogie to derail. Re-profiling the wheels saw a much better run at Wagga Wagga a few weeks later. The model looks aesthetically as close to the full size engine as possible. Concession has been made in the cab for easier control to enable the locomotive to be driven with convenient access and to minimise the pain of burn fingers.
This model of locomotive 3812 was operated by the donor at the Hornsby Model Engineers Co-operative Limited miniature railway (5 inch gauge) in the Galston Valley. The Galston Valley Railway is located in the North Western area of Sydney and runs just a over a kilometre through fast disappearing bushland. It is popular with visitors and enthusiasts alike. operating for the public for running days on the 2nd Sunday of each month. This model hauled a maximum of twenty adults sitting on four or five carriages and Mr Le Bas, the driver, sat on the back of the tender his feet on detachable footrests on the tener frame.
Mr Le Bas stored his model at his hobby workshop in Dee Why and subsequently Lane Cove. On Galston running days the locomotive, tender, brake van, large tool box, fuel and various other pieces of equipment were crammed into his station wagon and transported to the Galston track. The locomotive was unloaded and set up for running in the loco steaming bay at the railway. The grate was put in and the fire set. Fuel included kerosene-soaked rags, wood chips and char (de-gassed brown coal). This type of fuel runs very clean and does not leave a gluey residue in the tubes. Firing up from cold took about half an hour and when running made steam very quickly, especially hauling a heavy load.
On 31 January 2002 Mr Le Bas had the boiler's steam ticket renewed for another 3 years with a check of the engine by one of the boiler inspectors, Brian Day. As the Galston track is quite hilly, the driver must watch the two water level gauges and steam pressure gauge carefully especially when heavily loaded. The undulations of the track cause the water to flow back and forth in the boiler giving a false water level reading. The driver must make sure that the water is always above the level of the bottom of the glass to avoid the risk of ruining the boiler. Water is forced under pressure from the tender into the boiler via the two injectors. Mr Le Bas formerly used tap water in the boiler but in recent times has collected rainwater which is better as it incurs no chemical deposits such as calcium in the boiler.