Monday was on at 2235 to run the 0015 Ballarat, train 9101. On the depot through roads were X41 coupled to T320, although the T class was going of no assistance on the uphill climbs as it was being hauled dead, so actually more of a hindrance. Working from no. 41, we departed the depot and were directed, by the West Tower signalman, to the Yard where the train was made up for us. Coupling on, the train was examined and on completion of all tests we were ready to depart. Getting underway we travelled through the Bunbury St tunnel and past Tottenham before joining the main line at Sunshine. Once through the junction, on the South line, we got up to near train speed before entering the single line section at Deer Park West. We would have been on the auto exchanger as much as possible from Rockbank to Bacchus Marsh, which would have kept me moving around the cab, getting the staff and its holder from one of the coat hooks, setting up the exchanger, lowering it, recovering the new staff, reading the station names, restoring the exchanger to its stowed position and hanging the new staff on a hook. We tackled the grades to Bank Box with no recorded problems and, just prior to Ballan, I set to work to collect the staff there, then exchange it at Bungaree and drop it off at Warrenheip. We descended the bank into Ballarat and were relieved at that station, although at what time went unrecorded. We had no train rostered to return with so we were booked to travel per the 0515 up, the ‘Vinelander’. It rolled into the platform and we boarded to find somewhere to sit and, more than likely, have a nap. On arrival at Spencer St we made our way back to Dynon, riding the loco off the ‘Vinelander’ would have been the easiest way to do that but I’m not sure that was what actually happened, to sign off at 0750.
Tuesday’s rostered job was on at 0015, which was actually Wednesday morning, to run the 0100 Traralgon, train 9405. Taking L1152 off the pit, we backed into the East Yard to couple to our loading and go through the usual tests, which detected no problems. We departed the Yard and headed across the viaduct towards Warragul. Nothing out of the ordinary happened as far as Dandenong, when, passing through that station, the air went from the brake pipe and we ground to a halt. I’m of the opinion that Driver Sweeney went to investigate and discovered that the train had broken in two, due to a high/low coupling. This means that one coupling was lower than it, probably, should have been and the other was higher, resulting in a serious mismatch that enabled the two couplings to separate, vertically, without the jaws opening. Driver Sweeney would have returned to the loco to send me back to attempt to re-couple, which must have worked, since we were able to continue our journey towards Warragul. Clearing Dandenong station after the delay, which would have included pumping the brake pipe up again, we worked our way eastward to eventually drop into Warragul, where a local crew relieved us to take the train on further. Our return train was the 0323 Warragul, train 9472, which was over 1,000 tons entitling us to the tonnage allowance. L1160 was in charge of this train, which was obviously a load of briquettes, based on the location we left it. Climbing the grade out of Warragul, we worked our way back to Dandenong, without suffering any unexpected division of the train, and then took it on to Caulfield, where we tied the train up, either in one of the middle roads or in the yard adjacent to the Frankston line, where I uncoupled the loco and we then ran ‘light’ back to the depot. We had the L class in the Fuel Point, having its sanding boxes topped off, by 0700 as we signed off at 0715.
Wednesday was technically off roster, although we had worked the whole, previous, shift earlier that day. This was unquestionably the worst type of night shift roster where a break in the middle of the week totally destroyed any success made to establish a consistent sleep pattern during daylight.
Thursday was on at 2350 for the 0030 Seymour, train 9303. The fitters had coupled B75 and T395 together and left them in one of the through roads ready for us. Departing the depot in the T class we made our way to where the train was assembled for us to drop on to. Shifting ourselves to the B class, we worked with the train examiner while he did his thing while the guard tallied up the load and advised us that we were earning the tonnage allowance with this load. With guar din his van and the all clear from the examiner, we were cleared to depart and set off for Sunshine via Tottenham. Joining the Albion Loop line, we ran to Broadmeadows to join the main line north. We weren’t rostered to change over with any up train so continued on our way to finally enter Seymour Yard at 0515. Here I separated no. 75 from no. 395, since we needed the T class for our return train which was the 0625 Melbourne pass, running as train 8304. Transferring our kit bags to no. 395, we dropped it onto the waiting rake of carriages, although whether they were in the platform or somewhere else I can’t recall. As passenger rakes were rarely separated, post the ‘New Deal’ a continuity test was all that was required to prepare the train for the up run. Given the ‘all clear’, we set off, to cross the Goulburn for our first stop at Tallarook. Getting underway once more we then ran to Broadford for the stop there and then did ran on to Kilmore East for that stop. Moving on we stopped at Wandong before the brief trip to Heathcote Junction and then dropped into Wallan. Getting underway, once more, we bridged the distance to Donnybrook before moving on to Craigieburn. After the ‘set down only’ at Broadmeadows, we ran down Oliver’s Bank, through North Melbourne and into one of the platforms at Spencer St at 0811. It wold seem that we shunted our carriages before making our way back to Dynon, probably in no .395, to sign off at 0920. A long shift on night shift with a broken sleep pattern due to Wednesday off; a wonderful combination!
Friday’s job was on at 2330 for Fuel Point duty and so we spent the early hours of Saturday shuttling locos around the depot until sometime around 0700 when we packed it in to sign off at 0730, being paid equal to 1145 for our efforts.
Saturday was off as well, although why only four shifts for the week, I can’t explain, not that I would have complained particularly, as these were not my favourite shift as I think I might have made obvious.