Steamtown Meet 1994

The worst thing about any weekend is heading home.

I was sitting on my little M19 as we all headed down through the Walloway Hills and enjoying the camaraderie, scenery and sore blisters that the weekend had entailed. It seemed only like last week that I had written my letter to get this weekend off and running, and it was now in its final hours.

Many people ask me why I have such a passionate interest in motor cars After all, they are noisy, smelly and cantankerous machines. Some have endured a ride with me, and have a little understanding of this hobby, and my enthusiasm for it.

I had been pestered by several of my fellow enthusiasts to organise such a meet for quite a while, something I had been wanting to do for a long time. I had written off to several operators in the past, and all had presented blank walls.

Steamtown replied quickly, and subject to certain conditions, okayed the idea. The first legal section car meet in SA and possibly Australia was under way.

After liaising with Rob Yates, formal approval was forthcoming. As I had access to the experience of Motor Car Collectors of America, through my membership of this group, rules and regulations, and other documentation was adapted for the local situation.

Next stage was the organising. Letters were sent to most of the groups who run on 42", the larger museums and societies, and anyone I knew who owned a 42" gauge car.

By the Friday before the meet, a total of five had indicated that they would be coming, plus a few passengers, for the ride. In the end, cars came from as far afield as Melbourne, and as near as Bruce.

The numbers were small, but it was a start.

The first car to be unloaded was my restored M19, mainly because I was early and keen to get underway. It wasn't all that long before the yard was cluttered with cars, trailers and people.

As each car was inspected, I became more and more impressed with the work that had been done on them. A gauge converted A5 was well engineered.

By the time I had finished all the inspections and appropriate documentation, the others were ready to go.

With Don Smith leading out in Steamtowns M110, the cars stretched out over about a 1000m as the Fairmont cars poured out their distinctive blue smoke.

Not far behind Don was N101, Denis Naughton and Ivan Wood next with their STT, Russel Savage and his "train" of an A5 (with Chris Wurr and Gary Davey as passengers), Tony Gwynne-Jones on his M15 M112 and me and my passenger on my M19, M7.

I protected the rear of the collection, and acted with Don to escort the group through crossings. But my real reason was to be able to linger back, so M7 could get up a bit of speed.

A trip would not be right without the customary stop on Black Rock for the usual photos, and some time was spent doing just this.

It was all too quickly that we arrived at Orroroo (not that we exceeded the 20km/h limit), our destination for the day. Don spent some time inspecting a bridge just out of Orroroo, but it gave us all a chance to sit back and have a yarn.

After turning around, a group photo and a short break, it was time to head back. Being tail car on the way out meant that I was the lead car, and pace-setter, on the way home.

With Sunday came another early start. for some, probably a little too early!

Unfortunately, Tony could not make the second days event. However Fluffy Boots Hucks assisted with safe working, acting as tail car on the way out.

With the addition of Stan, and an ST2, all models of the Fairmont range that were used in South Australia were represented, as was a very wide range of respectability.

A trouble free day previously meant a not-so-trouble-free day was likely. And it started before we had even put our cars onto the turntable.

After some consultation with others I changed my spark plug to something a little cooler.This gave me some trouble with starting and carbon build-up. So much trouble with start-up that two huge blisters soon appeared on my hand.

One car died at Orroroo, and had to be push started. Luckily, mine had burnt clean, and was running perfectly.

The best section of track lay ahead, and it was with some enthusiasm that we rolled down onto Pekina Bridge, our cars barking their way up the opposite grade.

A brief stop at the Walloway disaster site for a run down on the local history prior to regrouping in the Walloway Yard gave all a chance to have a quick break.

Instructions were issued for the run to Halls Well. Each car set off a few minutes apart, keeping a vigilant eye in case the car in front had problems.

The beauty of the Hills, in my opinion anyway, is best appreciated from a section car. It is the one chance along the line to stir the wildlife, and if you're on a business run, to pace alongside the many kangaroos and emus that live in the Walloway Creek.

Halls Well, once a watering point for "up" trains became a regrouping point for all the cars. After a quick debriefing, the cars were fired up and quickly powering up the last grades to Eurelia.

The long lunch allowed a few gremlins to creep back into N101, but a new plug soon had it running.

Prior to leaving, a couple of new members who were in the area visited, and were given a ride on some of the cars on the way home.

Despite stopping for a few photos and videos, time was made up on the way back to Peterborough, as some had a long drive, as well as work, the next day.

Our arrival back at Peterborough heralded the end of a great weekend.

Having the opportunity at various times to operate each of the cars I was impressed as to the amount of time and effort that some had put into getting their cars ready. Ranging from the not too tidy Steamtown cars (my fault, I should do more work on them) to Russels' Limousine smooth A5.

One thing we all agreed on was, it being such a great weekend, to do it all again next year.

And they did.

Steamtown hosted the "section car rallies" untill 1998, after which no-one would organise them, but the events gave the car owners an opportunity to prove this hobby could be managed safely. The council of Steamtown reviewed its policies so that members could go out with their cars to "work on the track" (some believe that "work-for-ride" [5 mins work for 7 hours 55 minutes bashing] approach is fair and equitable)

This article was first published in "The Partyline"in 1994. I wrote it as a summary of the first (known) legal section car meet in Australia.

Steamtown Meets | Section Car Page

Page developed August 12, 2003. Updated February 2, 2014

© Nic Doncaster