Volume 3 - Power of the Pacifics
Pacific locomotives have had a firm place in my heart ever since I was a teenager.  Queensland Railways Pacific No. 1089 used to be on a plinth at the Redbank Railway Museum and she was in my charge for several years as I slowly cleaned and painter her.

I had always dreamed that some day I might once again ride behind her, and fortunately a sympathetic railway Chief Executive decided that he might too.  So in the late 90s she was pulled out of the Museum and restored to working order so Queensland Rail had the honour of running the oldest (A10 0-4-2 No. 6) and the newest (1089) steam locomotives in Australia.

While QR’s pacifics can put on a show when called for, there is nothing quite like New South Wales Government Railways 38 class Pacifics.  Fitted with trick ported valves, which give twice the valve opening for a given length of travel compared to a conventional locomotive, they have one of the sharpest exhaust beats around and are always a treat to ride behind and truly define “The Power of the Pacifics”

This album is dedicated to one of the best railway recordists around, Peter Handford, whose original album “Pacific Power” was the inspiration for this album.

13 Tracks - 70 minutes Full CD Quality Steamsounds with full track notes (see them below)


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Volume 3 - Power of the Pacifics
Track List

Track 1 - 3801 on train departing Maitland 22/4/06 Listen! (shortened for the web)
Track 2 - BB18¼ 1089 at Dakabin Bank 4/2/06
Track 3 - BB18¼ 1072 on train Bottom to Top Points 13/4/06
Track 4 - BB18¼ 1089 near Beerburrum 4/2/06
Track 5 - BB18¼ 1072 In cab Top Points to Clarence 13/4/06
Track 6 - 3830 Departing Central on North Mail 29/9/06 Listen!
Track 7 - 3112 and 3801 on train up Illawarra Escarpment 30/9/06
Track 8 - BB18¼ 1079 turning at Yandina 1990
Track 9 - 3801 Departing Central on Cockatoo Run 1/10/06
Track 10 - BB18¼ 1079 Departing Grandchester 17/9/06 Listen!
Track 11 - 3112 and 3801 on train up Illawarra Escarpment 30/9/06
Track 12 - BB18¼ 1079 Climbing Little Liverpool Range 16/9/06
Track 13 - 3801 Departing Maitland for Sydney 22/4/06
Track Notes

Track 1 - Maitland, in New South Wales, is home of Steamfest, one of the biggest steam events in the country.  This year, there were dozens of trips on offer, including shuttles to Newcastle behind pacifics 3801 and 3830 plus tank engine 3112, and longer trips up the mainline to Branxton, Dungog and Singleton.  Our first trip for the event was a ride behind Australia's most famous steam loco, 3801 on Saturday 22nd April 2006.  Now in her original colour scheme of works grey (the first few 38s came out in this colour during wartime), and sporting new tyres, she took us to Singleton in double quick time.  Fortunately, 3801 Limited had their rebuilt passenger car with the observation platform marshalled next to the tender, so we were very lucky to score seats in the lounge at the back, and in no time I had my microphone out on the platform.  This was one of the best on-train recording spots I have had, as it was reasonably protected from the wind, though the sounds of the carriage "raking" or bumping the drawgear, can be heard as our speed increases.  Still, there is nothing quite like the sound of a 38 steaming hard with those trick-ported valves giving them such sharp beats. (22nd April 2006)

Track 2
- As you can probably tell after listening to a few of my CDs, one of my favourite recording spots is Dakabin bank, just north of Petrie.  Thankfully the railways have not installed any sound barriers here (yet!), so after a very quick trip from Northgate where I had made an earlier recording, I managed to just get to a spot in time to catch 1089 making easy work of her train up the hill. (4 February 2006)


Track 3 - In mid April 2006, we had a family holiday to New South Wales and while there, visited the Great Lithgow Zig Zag, home to the Zig Zag Railway.  The trip over the railway is spectacular and we though we had travelled over it several times previously, it is always a treat.  This time, the regular service was behind former QR BB18 1/4 Pacific No. 1072 on Thursday 13 April 2006.  Now painted black after a recent overhaul, she has also been fitted with a whistle off a South Australian Rx 4-6-0.  These whistles are very loud and don't have the most pleasant note around (in my opinion anyways), but I suppose it made a difference from the QR 3 chime she had originally.  Well, we jumped on the train for a ride down the railway.  As we were travelling downhill, the loco didn't make much noise, but the run up the Zig Zag was another story.  By the time we had reached Bottom Points a light drizzle was falling, so the trip back up was a very slippery affair.  With only 4 cars, this didn't present 1072 with too much bother, but I don't think the wheels actually gripped the rail properly for most of the ride to Top Points.  This is how the trip up sounded.

Track 4 - Queensland Railways BB18¼ pacific 1089, my favourite loco, headed north to Palmwoods and Yandina on 4 February 2006.  The day wasn't all that successful for recordings, as the North Coast line is now lined with fences, sound barriers and no tresspass warnings rendering most of my old recording spots useless.  It was lucky that the tour even ran, as the AFULE (enginemen's union) called a snap 24 hour strike the day before that ended a little early (thankfully!).  That being said, I still managed to salvage a couple of recordings.  Here we listen to her coasting into a 60km/hr curve before the driver opens her up for the long straight section ahead on the approach to Beerburrum Station (4 February 2006)

Track 5 - Back to the Zig Zag Railway now.  At Top Points, the loco ran around and I was fortunate to get an invite into the cab for the ride up the top road to Clarence, the current terminus.  It's been a while since I was last in the cab of a full size steam loco, and I had "calibrate my bum" as some drivers say to get used to the ride again.  The first thing I noticed was the deep hum of the Stones turbo generator, not the higher pitch whine of the Pyle National that QR use.  Everything else was the same though and it was hard to keep the grin off my face as we steamed up the Zig Zag.  As you can hear again in this recording, that Rx whistle makes your teeth grind, but as it is so loud, even the crew are a little reluctant to blow it any length of time so it is not too bad.  So, here is what it is like in the cab of a Pacific for the entire run between Top Points and Clarence.  (13 April 2006)

Track 6 -
I wasn’t long in this world when steam came to an end, so whenever there is something approaching what it may have been like in times gone, I am always interested.  In this case, 3830 is at the head of the North Mail, a re-enactment of the sleeping car trains of the steam era.  We are at a vantage point between Central and Redfern, just near the road overbridge where we can hear 3830 leading 5 cars on it’s northward journey into the night. (29 September 2006)

Track 7 -
The very next day after 3830’s departure, I was fortunate to travel on 3801 Limited’s “Up the Escarpment” tour.  While sounding a bit like a  “Carry On…” movie, the title related to the tour heading up the Illawarra Escarpment, a steeply graded and curved section of line.  This tour was double headed by world famous pacific 3801, with a little help from a diminutive 4-6-4T 3112.  While the tank engine doesn’t quite fit on a CD about Pacifics, I hope you can forgive this as we listen to the big engine working hard starting the climb.  The driver had taken it a little easy, so difficulties were soon experienced, and it was only the hard slogging of the little tank that prevented us from completely stalling at the foot of the grade.  How did we go for the rest of the trip, well listen to the later tracks to find out!  (30 September 2006)


Track 8 - When running tours, operators always have to find destinations at or near locations where engines can turn and/or be serviced.  With the modernisation of railways, these locations are becoming scarce with angles (wyes) being removed at most locations and turntables confined to the scrap merchant or the occasional preserved railway.  Fortunately, a few still exist, and at Yandina, north of Nambour on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, QR pacific 1079 is heard shunting around the angle to get ready for her trip home to Brisbane (1990)

Track 9 - The Cockatoo Run is a regular service run by 3801 Limited from Sydney, via the Illawarra Escarpment to Robertson and sometimes Moss Vale.  Usually diesel hauled by heritage locomotives, on this occasion steam is rostered for the service.  At the same location as 3830, this time 3801 blasts under the road overbridge as she heads south. (1 October 2006)

Track 10 - Grandchester or Bigges Camp was the original terminus of Queensland Rail’s first railway, back in 1865.  Moving to the present, we can still hear steam calling at the station, as it one of the few locations that still has a serviceable water tank.  The Australian Railway Historical Society run an annual tour to Toowoomba for that city’s Carnival of Flowers which is always so well patronised that a second train is usually run the next day.  On this occasion, QR Pacific 1079, which recently celebrated 50 years of continuous service (never having been retired by QR), makes a concerted effort to get stuck into the start of the climb up the Little Liverpool Range, so much so that the driver is able to notch up fairly  well with the second train of the weekend, another load of happy passengers to visit the garden city of Toowoomba.  (17 September 2006)

Track 11 - Back in Track 7, we left 3801 and 3112 to their fate, battling it out against the gradients of the Illawarra Escarpment.  Did they make it?  Well, we rejoin the train for the last eight minutes or so of the climb to where the top of the continuous climb ends.  It was touch and go there for a while as we heard in the first part of the climb, but this time the two locos have the measure of the hill and while there is the occasional slight slip, the sure footed little suburban tank at the front makes sure that the big pacific continues the climb.  (30 September 2006)

Track 12
- We go back to the Little Liverpool Range again now, this time to hear 1079 working the previous day’s Carnival of Flowers Tour to that in Track 10.  We had set up near the top of the range, as I was hoping for another long recording like one I made the weekend before with QR’s only mikado, AC16 221A.  Well, fate and circumstance took their hold, with a derailment up the line causing an hour’s delay, plus gangers working on the line to assess damage caused by dragging a bogey all the way over the hill.  That, combined with a couple of overzealous railfans and a few errant aircraft wanting to have a closer look at the derailment further down the track, meant that instead of 14 minutes of recording, I managed to salvage only the last couple of minutes as the train came by.  Anyway, all was not lost, as you can hear when 1079 comes past easily handling her heavy train.  (16 September 2006)

Track 13 - At the end of Maitland Steamfest’s Saturday festivities on 22nd April 2006, 3801 took day trippers back to Sydney, so here she is leaving Maitland late in the afternoon.  We had a vantage point near the yard at the Eastern end of the station, so as she passes, the sound is quietened by some coaches that were left behind for the next day's tours.  After 3801 passes, the rumble of one of the many coal trains passing through Maitland can be heard.


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