It's great to get some real information in lieu of everyone being treated as mushrooms (or worse).
There are many who are interested in a level of technical detail and are competent to understand at least some of it. Not all are foamers in need of 'feed water treatment' should they see or hear a 38 class.
TPTB* need to take a lesson from the latest unfortunate Tornado incident in the UK so far as available information is concerned.
Unfortunately, so much in some areas of Australian Preservation comes over as either 'cover up', 'what would you understand' or 'conspiracy'. I am not suggesting that this is deliberate but that is the way it emerges.
* The powers that be I assume.
EDIT at 1438 on 18/4 - just tidied it up a bit.
Yes, TPTB is correct.
It might be unrelated, but to explain:
Sometimes there's good reason behind "TPTB" keeping quiet. Good TPTB know when to tell all, and when to shut up. Bad TPTB just stay quiet all the time.. and sadly let the rumour mill freewheel to their own detriment.
The main reason for "cover up" is usually because projects are often on the receiving end of unstated benefits that "TPTB" don't want other Government divisions or even ministers to find out about. Without these "benefits", the project would just stop.
The 3801 project is a good one to quote in this regard because quite a lot of $ is not coming out of that $5m handed to THNSW every year by the NSW Govt. There are separate money streams for the 3801 project currently coming out of (gawd knows what column) in TfNSW's books. There's also favoritism being shown to it by some other entities. Entities who might not really want to have that fact known widely otherwise "trouble makers" will no doubt make a fuss about it, cry "unfair!!" and have it stopped. So those lovely three letters "CIC" come out. ("Commercial in confidence").
"Officially", The NSW Govt spends $5m per year on transport heritage. However "unofficially", this figure is much larger. Favours may also not be financial. They can often be simply allowing use of land, personnel, all sorts of things. This sort of thing has always been at the centre of rail heritage in NSW. Without it, we wouldn't have any preserved trains at all or (more importantly) anywhere to put them.
Another area of cross pollination most would be unaware of (and it needs to stay that way) is the position of Sydney Trains. While on the surface everything has its price, underneath there's still quite a lot of stuff that gets done with people scratching each others' backs. ST has long recognized the valued contribution of the rail heritage sector in things (for example) like making "hook and haul" services available to move their stuff around which they can no longer move themselves. ST has a separate "heritage" budget (quite a large one, lets put it this way, it dwarfs THNSW's annual total budget) which it uses to manage the day to day heritage assets in it's possession which it still relies on to provide the services it is appointed by the Government to provide. Some of this budget overlaps responsibilities of THNSW (particularly in regards to land assets) but also moveable heritage (where ST uses or intends or requires to use those assets for it's own purposes).
Quite often THNSW and ST will help each other if ST think it can be done without impacting on their own primary operations. Naturally these deals are "hush hush" a lot of the time - and thats why "TPTB" are often quiet. They don't want to make it obvious (particularly to the state opposition) that there are potentially more than one set of hands in any particular cookie jar.
The story of 3801 is a sorry one, where many ministers and politicians are still likely to turn around and become very agitated that "more good money is being thrown after bad". Indeed Rail Heritage itself is still on the nose in many political circles, noting how much money was wasted on building Trainworks and useless Boilers by the previous administration.
What the Govt actually want to see is heritage trains running, drawing in crowds who then travel on them, descend on whatever towns and places they visit, opening their wallets and contribute back to the economy. It's a very different approach to the stauch "user pays" approach of the previous government.
THNSW have an impossibly enormous task. They manage and are responsible for far more rolling stock than they or anyone else could ever need. They have nowhere to store it all and they are saddled with a rapidly dwindling human resource with an average age of 67, with which to do anything with it. It's no use having a wallet full of cash if there's nobody who can carry out the work.
The 3801 Bearing and Boiler / Firebox situation is very much this in reality. The expertise and infrastructure is gone and so they are having to start again from scratch. I can think of at least five key people in this field who have died within the last three years. They took all that knowledge with them.
Our situation at HET (Heritage electric set F1 et.al) is similar. Whilst we appreciate the assistance of THNSW and Sydney Trains in the work that was needed to get the train back up and running, these are the facts: Our principle electrical engineer is 82. Our principle mechanical engineer is 74. Even their principal electrical tradesman (me) is now 50. We are the envy of some other preservation groups in that we now have a growing band of young volunteers coming on board, but the opportunities for training them are still slow and few. The two key fitters responsible for F1's certification at present within ST are also similarly aged and make me look young.
The track outside our workshops has holes you can put your shoe through. To move anything in or out of it is akin to trying to make the planets align, restricted to Saturday nights when we need to have three other ST divisions cooperate and just agree to be there. The 3801 project (and most other THNSW projects) face similar challenges. Where we once had five accredited heritage main line operators we now have only three, and with one of those teetering.
This Sunday I will go to work on 4 car electric set W3 which only two years ago, was tested and apparently "ready for operation". Every cover we remove tells yet another horror story. We then devise methods we _hope_ will resolve problems we never knew were there and then toil for hours to make it happen, trying desperately to teach new hands how this stuff works before the old ones are no longer around.
There are no conspiracies. All I see all around me are good people busting their guts and trying their hardest to do something before everybody dies.
Please help us.