The Gembrook extension, any photo's

 
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I was just looking through Michael's PB photo's and I wondered what is around of the building of the Puffing Billy's Gembrook extension. I do have a few shoots but it really was not possible to yield a camera given the type of work one was doing. I find this a MAJOR tragedy. I have MANY happy memories of the work and no real good shots of the work.

There was quite afew moments to remember a number stand out. The time we managed to do around 1500 metres of track  in one day going down to the Cockatoo creek bridge site. Doing the new up end points at Lake side, starting early (and I having to drive 240 kilometres before hand) in order to (just) get the points done in time for the first train. A team of 4 of us gauged and spiked around 80 metres of the 2nd rail of the new road two at lake side, I was completely stuffed at the end of that day. Oh another memory was standing on an NQ wagon Immediately in front of 7A while it pushed a 100ton ballast train up the grade from Cockatoo, the sound of 7A working hard only a few metres away was something I will NEVER forget.

The real standout moment was the first official shake down train to Gembrook, tickets were said to be at a premium, ie a lot of people were trying for them, but anyone on the construction gangs that wanted to be on that train was on it. It was one of PB's real moments when the train first arrived at the old Gembrook station. Almost NO ONE even in PB itself thought PB could rebuild the line, there was many of us with a tear in his eye that day.

There is many more of these moments, quite a few people asked me why are you doing all this back breaking work ..............the had no idea, it was a real honour to be invloved and its something (hand building 11 kilometres of track) we will never see again.

And no photos to help one remember.

woodford

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  michaelgreenhill Administrator That's Numberwang!

Location: Melbourne
Would definitely be interesting to see photos of the reconstruction! I've only ever seen one or two.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
On a general note Railpage has these photos of Gembrrok online: https://www.railpage.com.au/search?search_query=gembrook*&mode=query&search_areas=idx_gallery_image
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Would definitely be interesting to see photos of the reconstruction! I've only ever seen one or two.
michaelgreenhill
I never saw anyone with a camera on the track work days, as stated you could not really carry a camera due to the work load. I felt even at the time it was not really good that PB never seem to have had any kind of official photograper, there was a great deal for John Shaw (PB's ways and works manager) to do of course and it was quite a difficult undertaking..

I do though have some shots (somewhere) of building the Cockatoo creek bridge. I will see what I can find, the shots are in my pre digital camera days and would be taken with my RB67.

woodford
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

and would be taken with my RB67....
woodford
Would not be too many people here who know what an RB67 is and how good they are (or were).
  michaelgreenhill Administrator That's Numberwang!

Location: Melbourne
I'm sure there's a mountain of stuff in the archives in Emerald Smile
  woodford Chief Commissioner

and would be taken with my RB67....
Would not be too many people here who know what an RB67 is and how good they are (or were).
ParkesHub
It is a photograhy thread, the punters are supposed to know;).

Just in case the camera is a Mamiya RB67, its a medium format camera using 120 film, with a negative size of 56x68mm. It has interchangable lens, view finders, focusing screens and film backs. The kit I have has 3 film backs, a pentaprism with metering and a spot view finders, a standard and a split image range finder focusing screens. The lens are 50mm. 90 and 250. they still are a good camera. I have effectively replaced mine with a Nikon D810 36mega pixel camera with 2 lens both f2.8, 25-70 an 70-200mm, these are top of the line lens. the performance of it being similiar to the RB and a little bit smaller and lighter.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I'm sure there's a mountain of stuff in the archives in Emerald Smile
michaelgreenhill
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, I do not know, In three years of working on both the track team and the bridge team a never saw anyone there with a camera.

woodford
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I was there too. I have vivid memories of many days working on the section between the high bridge past Lakeside downhill to the Cockatoo Creek bridge. I might actually have been the first person to travel by rail into the new Gembrook 'town' station as I was standing on a PBR gravel hopper (or it may have been a WGR one?) controlling the release of ballast onto the newly laid but unballasted track while it was pushed into the platform section.

While I had a mobile phone with me every day, phones didn't have cameras on them back then, so I have absolutely no shots of the work. Sad
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I was there too. I have vivid memories of many days working on the section between the high bridge past Lakeside downhill to the Cockatoo Creek bridge. I might actually have been the first person to travel by rail into the new Gembrook 'town' station as I was standing on a PBR gravel hopper (or it may have been a WGR one?) controlling the release of ballast onto the newly laid but unballasted track while it was pushed into the platform section.

While I had a mobile phone with me every day, phones didn't have cameras on them back then, so I have absolutely no shots of the work. Sad
"Bogong"


I started fairly late in piece the when track construction had got just past Wright and I was there every work day until we finished. A number of people commented that I seemed to be at all work days, including the ones were few came (like when doing the new 2 road at Lakeside when there were only around a dozen or so). Some months (10 or so) after joining the track team I started on the bridge team building the Cockatoo creek bridge. The PB board.ended up by giving me a well done. I enjoyed every minute of the time and like a lot of us it was a real let down when we ended up completeing the task.

I did have a ticket on the first train on the day of the offical opening, but I never used it as I was invited to be on the track team that put in the last rail, If you ever see the video, its my hands holding the fish plates in place while the bolts were being put in.

Don't you get good at swinging a sledge hammer after a while.

woodford
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
It's nice that your work was recognised in a modest way Woodford. As well as track gangs, I was an engine cleaner at Belgrave for years and spent hundreds of days polishing brass and cleaning out smoke boxes. (I suspect engine cleaners might be the lowest form of life on a railway?)

My goal was actually to drive the fire observation trolleys that follow trains in fire season, so I was thrilled when I finally got into a safeworking course. I got better than average marks for almost every unit, but the old bloke in charge of the course took a dislike to me, although I never knew why. Anyway, he didn't believe in email, so when I posted my final assignment to him a day late (but accompanied by a medical certificate that a doctor friend wrote for me), I thought everything would be fine.

However when I turned up for the final practical assessment I was informed that while I could participate, I would not be marked because my last assignment was late and a medical certificate was no excuse. So I went through the practical with the other candidates hoping that the old buffer was just in a bad mood. But when I appealed his decision, I was told that he had absolute authority.

The atmosphere at PB had always stuck me as excessively blokey with lots of point scoring and one-up-manship, so after that final evening where my competence was not assessed, I never went back. That was over 15 years ago. Instead of railways I found a new hobby and became president of the biggest organisation in Victoria for that activity. But I haven't been able to totally get rid of residual dislike for the old bully who denied me safeworking ticket for reasons I never understood.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I can understand exactly where Bogong is coming from.
I also was an Engine Cleaner ( yes; the lowest form of life), and subsequently the Roster Clerk for Cleaners  The blokey, one-upmanship was very much alive and well, and the level of institutionalised favouritism was amazing. It took me four years, and five separate applications to get on a safe working course. One guy, about my age made the safe working course at his first application after 7 months as a Cleaner, because of big noting about all the sponsorship he could bring, which turned out to be none at all. A week after qualifying, he put two NBH cars in the dirt outside the loco workshop whilst acting as a shunter, without proper training.

Finally, after the second occasion that I got up at 0430 and turned up at 0600 for a scheduled run, and found that someone else had been put in my place without the courtesy of telling me, I walked away, taking with me my qualifications as a shunter, guard,  signalman, trolley driver etc. I had passed the fireman's exam, and needed two solo runs to become fully qualified, but it wasn't worth it.
I wrote and told PBR why I'd left, but heard nothing in reply.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I have worked in Volunteer organisations for more years than I care to remember and there all like that. One of the problems of runnning such an organisation is the problem of getting anyone to work and you can get VERY pissed off ringing up everyone to try and get something done. I realise to most its a hobby but wether its PB, the local fire brigade, football club etc they do have a job to do and its VERY frustrating to ALWAYS be getting the run around. I have as one should realise been in that side of an organisation and have the scars to prove it. Any volunteer orgiaisation is governed by what is known as "the 10/90" rule, that is 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work, put your self in the 10 perecnt position for a while................

With PB I had absolutely NO intention of getting any where near a responible position but I had two serious problems. After my initial visit NO ONE contacted me at all, I rung up the apropriate managers directly and they directed me what to do. I did write to them and say this was completely unsatisfactory, I never bothered to follow this up.

The second problem I considered was VERY serious, Now although I was a volunteer for PB, I had no intention of EVER joining the society. Now one of the societys senior members (and I do know his name) wrote a questioaire to all volunteers that were NOT members of the society. This questionaire had around 12 questions two of these STRONGLY indicated that PB was going to kick out any volunteers who were not members of the society. To say I was bloody furious would be a serious under statement. I stewed over this for some time then on the advice of some others I directly approached two members of PB's board. They were shocked at the story, they apoligised and stated there was no intention on the boards part to force any volunteer to do anything and said the author of the document was known to be a bit of an idiot when it came to volunteers. They ended up by contacting me sometime later to say again how sorry they were and they also said there was 1200 members of the society and around 200 volunteers who were not members. They said from passed experience of such things they would expect to lose 60 volunteers (something PB simply could not afford) over the poorly worded questionaire and that I was the ONLY one to contact them on the problem, this being par for the course.

With any hobby that has some kind of serious responsibilty attached you will ALWAYS have to work with this sort of system, you in my opinion have to have some understanding of the organisations responibilties and problems. Its EXREMELY hard going to run such a large organistaion such as PB, thats just keeping its head above water. I was very impressed by how much effort both the section managers and members of the board put in.

A last comment working with volunteers is the toughest assignment ANY managment can have and there will always be mistakes because sucsessfull managment of volunteers is an ART form that cannot be learned.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Post Script..........Hmmmmmmmmm I am proud of that last line, sums the situation very nicely.

woodford
  michaelgreenhill Administrator That's Numberwang!

Location: Melbourne
We're getting a little off-topic here, but it's safe to say that attitudes at Puff have improved since those days.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Well Woodford, after I left PB I became very active in an entirely different hobby. The organisation that I joined and subsequently became president of had just under 1,000 members of whom over half were quite active. Yes there were a few egos, yes there were a few incompetent fools who puffed themselves up who but were hopeless at things at anything that required skill or concentration. But overall 95% of people in that organisation (and other organisations in the same field) were pretty good.

This was in stark contrast with PB which seemed to attract the dysfunctional, the dumb, the antisocial and those who had bullying tendencies, especially to positions of minor authority. There was something about the culture of the place that in hindsight, strikes me as both weird and worrying.

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