Steamtown's Section Car Meet and Country Music Night 1997

Having moved to a new house recently, I had not been able to do the work necessary on one of the motor cars I had borrowed for the Section Car Meet. So at the crack of dawn, I hitched up the trailer and headed off to Peterborough to get ready for the 3rd Annual Meet.

I have always enjoyed the drive to Peterborough, although I don't travel it as much as I used to. The scenery is always changing, and it is never the same at any one point in the year. This year, the crops didn't look too bad, and after some rain, will probably scrub up OK.

After checking in and completing a few odd jobs for Audrey Rann, who had taken on responsibility for the Country Music Night from Don Smith, the M15-B I had borrowed was unloaded and tipped on its side in the Gang Shed in readiness for a new drive belt to be fitted. Some two hours later, the car sat on the rails for the first time in six months, and was given a full grease up and service.

My M19 was rolled out of the back of the shed, by which time Ivan Wood had arrived, and had began doing some work on getting his ST-T ready to roll. Although several of us worked feverishly on it, it turned out that the clutch pressure plate was the wrong one, and the car would not be able to run the next day.

It wasn't long before almost everyone had turned up, with only a few stragglers arriving on the Saturday morning.

The "Railway" threw down a fair meal, as it usually does, and after a couple of hours, several beers, and a few trolley yarns, it was off to bed.

I was surprised to see most people were down at the Depot by about 9.30, preparing their cars for the run. A couple of people arrived a little later in the morning, but were soon ready to go.

After a visit to the Turntable, a snag or two, a photo and a bit of a delay, the cars were rolled back to the Quorn mainline, and we were off on our annual pilgrimage to Eurelia.

The fleet didn't see the record numbers of cars of the previous years, but there was a bigger range of cars than before.

John Page was at the controls of Russell Savages Beast, Dave Moulden ran the Steamtown M15 he had done up years before (now replete with new crankcase seals), Frank Belcher and his wife rode on a newly restored Steamtown M15, I had my M19, Steve Bottroff ran Peter Revalls' M15, Gary Davey and his mates rode on an ex-QR contraption with a funny drive belt, Ivan Wood and his guest rode on Steamtown's Cockroach, and Stan Hucks took out Steamtown's N99. Following behind at a leisurely 25km/h was Dennis Naughton on the former standard gauge motor quadricycle he had restored and converted to narrow gauge.

The dedication some have to their hobby is probably best evidenced by the work Dennis did on the motor quad Steamtown had had lying around for years. Amongst other things, the engine was rebored and reassembled, the gearbox was stripped and overhauled, the wheel bearings were replaced, carbie reconditioned and the frame repaired.

Dennis's interest in the quad started back when he was younger, and used to go for a ride with his dad on a similar car in the early forties. His dad was a fitter on the Coast. The opportunity to restore the car rekindled a childhood passion for motor quadricycles.

The late departure ex Peterborough meant we had little time on track before we had to clear to Eurelia, so that Stan could run back to Walloway for the train to come through.

Reasonable time was made to Black Rock, where we all posed for the standard bridge shot/ group photo, before plodding on to Black Rock itself.

Bud Stephenson paid us a visit before we headed off to Orroroo. Sadly, I may never enjoy a coldie over the bar of the Black Rock Hotel. It seems Bud isn't interested in relicensing it as a public house.

Not long after leaving Black Rock, Steve's car spat the spark plug, and promptly ground to a halt. About the only thing I didn't check yesterday!

Just behind the Orroroo airstrip Dennis's quad coughed, spluttered and came to a disappointing standstill. After having a bit of a bash to get her going, I towed her into Orroroo and set her off so that I could catch up to Stan and let him know what was going on. I eventually caught up to him at Walloway, so we all rolled on to Eurelia in an attempt to ring back to Peterborough before the train departed.

Dennis later came up behind the train, having got the quad running. Problem; dirty sparking plug!

It didn't seem that long before Damian Hall turned up with NC1 and the train. It wasn't overly loaded with patrons, but it did have the Bar. With little effort, the necessary equipment was unloaded and set up, and the bar ready to trade.

With the Music well under way, the night settled down to be a great show with music by Misty Mountain, Andy Sayer and John Sullivan. The entertainment was intruded only by the blasting of the trains horn at 11pm, a bit different to last year when the poor little NC screamed its guts out for what seemed an eternity. Numbers were a little down on last year, but by all accounts the night was a huge success.

It was great to see numerous locals come over and join in. At one stage all but one of the Eurelia citizens were present, along with Malcom Beyerly, the Goods Shed owner.

After the Bar was secured most stumbled off to bed, to enjoy the nocturnal cadence of one of the section car enthusiasts.

A reasonable rising time allowed the MCN van to be packed up, and the Eurelia Town Hall to be readied for the Barbeque .

The balance of the morning was spent making the usual adjustments to cars, and comparisons of running experiences. My timer bar was bent into a rather artistic shape by John Page, but it did overcome a couple of minor operating problems, mainly over-centering of the timer lever and not enough advance when running at speed.

Sadly, Frank's nicely restored car had to be towed home, as it had popped one of its crank seals the day before. Not an uncommon problem on Fairmonts left standing for long periods.

After the train left, the cars were started and the trip home was commenced.

The attention to detail Dennis had made on the motor quad showed through on the way home, when I ran the car down to Orroroo. It sat on a comfortable 20km/h, any faster it would cough, fart and backfire. I thought it was a little scary running over Pekina Bridge though.

Two delightful ladies, who had been staying with Reece and Gloria Bennett at Eurelia, joined the fleet for a ride back to Orroroo. Mavis Clarke, and Betty Fevyer both from small villages in Northhamptonshire, had been in Australia since early August, and were over for a two month holiday. It was a first for them, both to come to Australia and on a section car. Whilst we waited for the train to sort itself out at Walloway, I had a bit of a chat with them. They both commented on the pleasures of a section car ride, as well as the previous night's entertainment not to mention good old fashioned Oz hospitality.

A third lady, Susan Wright, took her first trip on a section car during the meet, and was given the opportunity to run an M15 for a short distance, until we caught up with Steve's M15B, running somewhat heavier home than on the way out. Steve had ground to a halt, as among other things, the drain cock off the bottom of the carbie had dropped out, and he was loosing fuel everywhere.

With the cock replaced, the car continued on to Peterborough without any further problems.

Sadly, the arrival at Peterborough heralded the end of another great weekend. The trip down always seems to take less time than the trip up, regardless of breakdowns.

Will we be back next year? Yes, and before, if it is at all possible. But don't forget, if you own or have access to a 42" car or just like a great night out, you're more than welcome to come and share this great weekend.

The photograph shows Denis Naughton and the former SAR Motor Quadricycle he restored for Steamtown. This car had previously belonged to the S.Kilda Tramway Museum. Information on these cars is located here.

Originally published in "The Partyline" Magazine of Steamtown, Peterborough No 68, Summer 1997

Written by Nic Doncaster

Steamtown Meets | My Runs | The Section Car Page

Page developed August 15, 2003 Updated February 2, 2014

© Nic Doncaster 2003, 2014