Featured Locomotive for June 2012

The Great Sydney to Eskbank Train Race

Have you heard about the Great Bathurst Train Race of June 1887? No, well everybody loves a train race, don't they?

It all started with two Government railway engineers, whom to put it mildly loathed each other. The two were William Scott and his overseer, Thomas Midelton. The antagonism going back many years - Scott, the ditherer - Midelton, the larrikin. Scott had supported the Vulcan (UK) No 373 Consolidation. Midelton supported the 304 Class Mogul by Baldwin (USA).

Scott proposed a race from Sydney to Bathurst, but Midelton had it altered to Sydney to Eskbank on the grounds that it was the time across the mountains that mattered not the race across the plains (actually plateau). Al Smith and Tom Roberts, senior loco engineers from Victoria and South Australia to adjudicate. The public were invited to join in so each loco hauled six loaded Redfern Cars.

Sydney to Erskine Race

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Day one saw 373 run to Mail train schedule; ie. Economically with coal, Midelton told the crew to get to Eskbank fast, both engines beat the mail train schedule. 373 burnt 14kg/km, 305 18kg/km.which 373 cost 2479 pounds ($4958); 305 cost 2960 pounds ($5920). The 305 Baldwin won by 56 minutes but at a cost of 608kg of extra coal.

The times are impressive

    373 Vulcan Consolidation       305 Baldwin Mogul  
  km hour minutes km per hour hour minutes km per hour
PENRITH 55 1 16 43.2 0 50.5 65
KATOOMBA 52 2 3 25.1 1 36.5 32
MT VICTORIA 18 2 1.5 49.4 0 21.5 49.4
ESKBANK or LITHGOW 28 0 40 42.3 0 36 47
TOTAL 152 4 20.5 35 3 24.5 44.6

The winner 305 became the standard mountain loco until replaced by the 'P' Class but the story does not end there. The Government wanted the locos manufactured in NSW. All tenders were considered too high until the designs were highly modified. They became 'austerity engines'. The Mogul (304 class) 2989 pounds ($5975) each and the Consolidation (373) 3000 pounds ($6000) each. Atlas built 25 Moguls, Thomas Wearne 25 Consolidations.

In closing, both engines were designed by either Scott or Midelton, but initially manufactured overseas. See The Greatest Public Work - R. Lee pp 139-142 & Early Aust. Steam Locos 1855-1955- J. Turner & Locos of Aust - L. O. Burgess pp50-56.

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