Home    —    Puffing Billy Online Shop    —    History of Puffing Billy

THE G42 STORY

G42 is really a 'two-in-one' steam locomotive - two engines joined together with a common boiler. With its classmate, G41, it was built in 1926 in Manchester (U.K.) by the locomotive company, Beyer Peacock, to a design developed from an idea by H.W. Garratt.

Both G41 and G42 were built for the Victorian Railways, to haul heavy trains on two of their four narrow gauge branch lines: Moe-Walhalla and Colac-Beech Forest-Crowes.

Three of these 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge lines were in mountainous districts and had numerous steep gradients and tight curves. The Garratt design was ideal for these conditions as it provided a locomotive which was extremely powerful, could negotiate sharp curves and spread its weight over many wheels. After G42 was built, the design became very popular and Beyer Peacock sent more than a thousand of this type of locomotive to all parts of the world.

Weighing some 70 tons and with a tractive effort of 27,600 pounds, G42 was probably the heaviest and most powerful slim gauge (sub-3ft 6in) Garratt of its time. It proved its worth on the Moe-Walhalla railway by pulling longer, heavier trains than could the original NA-class locomotives, making considerable savings in operating costs. When that line closed in 1954, G42 was reconditioned and sent to join its brother, G41, on the Colac-Crowes railway in the Otway Ranges.

G41 was virtually worn out by then so G42 carried most of the load at Colac, hauling long trains of pulpwood and general goods until the line closed in 1962. G41 was sent to the scrapyard and G42 returned to the Victorian Railways workshops for storage. See and hear the Last Train to Beech Forest.

By this time, the Puffing Billy Preservation Society had succeeded in reopening a section of the third of the V.R.'s narrow gauge railways, the former Upper Ferntree Gully-Gembrook line. The Society's charter was to preserve all examples of V.R. narrow gauge rolling stock and, three years after it ceased running, G42 was purchased from the V.R. for display in the Puffing Billy Steam Museum at Menzies Creek.

THE RESTORATION PROJECT SO FAR ...

G42 was placed on 'permanent' display in the Steam Museum. However, by the mid-1970s, the idea of restoring G42 to run on Puffing Billy's line was rapidly gaining momentum.

Feasibility studies followed and serious restoration began in 1986, when the project received a 36-week Commonwealth Employment Project grant. Labour was supplied to dismantle, clean and paint all parts of the engine. Funding was also provided to re-tyre all of its wheels.

This set the P.B.P.S. in fundraising mode and by 1989, through appeals to the membership, special events and the now-famous annual Great Train Race, sufficient funds were raised to enable the Railway to employ a full-time engineer/fitter to work on the restoration. Work proceeded well and an assistant was employed four years later.

Through their skilled and devoted efforts and the assistance of a small group of volunteers, the centre frame of the engine, the part which supports the boiler, was restored and all components of the engine units progressively reconditioned or rebuilt ready for assembly. New steel water tanks and coal bunker were built as a result of a generous donation from a Society member.

Thirty six years of hard work and minimal maintenance had taken their toll on the locomotive and, following critical examination of the mainframes in 1994, it was decided that responsible restoration would require a fresh start. G42's original, worn out and cracked frames would have to be replaced.

With new steel cut to shape through the generosity of Transfield Amecon (then Australia's largest shipbuilder), the project team embarked upon a task which entailed the drilling of hundreds of holes, hand closing of as many rivets and the making and insertion of numerous fitted bolts. By the end of 1995, the new foundation for G42 was ready to take it into the next century.

September 1996 saw the engine units ready for their wheels. Cylinders, valve gear and boiler unit pivots were in place and the tanks and bunker prepared for fitting. Since then the team has installed the pony trucks, driving and coupled wheelsets. The water tanks and coal bunker have been fitted and the cab rebuilt, installed on the boiler unit frame and fitted out. G42 is beginning to look like a locomotive again. All it needs now is completion of the boiler!

... AND WHAT'S TO COME

When purchased in 1965, the locomotive's boiler was only a shell. All brass firetubes and most of the copper firebox had been removed during a non-ferrous scrap drive by the Victorian Railways.

Not long afterwards, the Society was given a spare Garratt boiler and new steel firebox by the Australian Portland Cement Company, from its railway at Fyansford, near Geelong. These, being in better condition than the V.R. originals, are the basis for G42's new boiler.

Modifications to the Fyansford components have been undertaken and the boiler and firebox substantially rebuilt at an engineering works in Bayswater.

Early in 2002, the boiler was returned to Belgrave where the balance of the work, including the manufacture and fitting of a new smokebox, is now being carried out in the workshops of the Puffing Billy Railway by the G42 restoration project team.

All G42 components are now at Belgrave. Skilled, dedicated people are employed on the project, assisted by volunteers. The end is in sight!

Make your 'instant' contribution to Puffing Billy now! Complete the Donation Form and return it with your cheque or Credit Card details to the address provided.

UPDATE:
Puffing Billy's Big Brother, G42, Returned to service on Sunday 18th April 2004.

G42 – Built in Manchester, England, by the Bayer Peacock Locomotive Company, this Bayer Garrett entered service on Monday, 28th of June 1926 and was issued to the Moe to Walhalla line in the all over black livery, it remained at Moe until the lines closure in 1954. It was returned to Newport Workshops for an overhaul and re-issued to the Colac to Crowes line where it remained there until the line closed in 1962. It was returned to Newport Workshops and stored. In 1964 it was purchased by the Society and remained at Newport until bought to Belgrave in 1968 where it was taken to Menzies Creek and placed on static display. In 1986 a sub committee know as the "G42 Restoration Committee" was formed and the locomotive returned to Belgrave where the massive job of restoring the only Garrett locomotive left in Victoria and probably the only 2' 6" gauge in the world began. It took 25 years at a cost of $1.7 million dollars AUD to bring it back to operating condition and was finally commissioned on the 18th of April 2004. Locomotive G42 generally haul the popular Luncheon Train out of Belgrave at 12:20pm and make the 02:20pm from Lakeside arriving back at Belgrave at 03:18pm.

It takes 4 hours to prepare this locomotive for service and 2 hours to put it to bed after the days work. An Na Class Locomotive takes about 3½ hours to prepare and one hour to put to bed after the days work.


Web site design by