Dismantled for overhaul in 1973, steam locomotive 3813 is a sister to preserved loco's 3801, 3820 and 3830, but is considered by many enthusiasts as long gone or written-off. However 3813 has been making progress towards re-assembly lately thanks to the efforts of our Museum and the N.S.W. Rail Transport Museum. The locomotive's four largest components were already at Dorrigo being the boiler, locomotive cast steel frame, tender tank and tender underframe. The remaining 60 tonnes of 3813's components that were in the R.T.M.'s care, including main driving wheels and tender wheels, leading and trailing trucks, cab, smokebox and hundreds of smaller items, were recently transported north to Dorrigo by our Museum volunteers. The vast majority of 3813's components are now in the one place for the first time in over thirty years. This will facilitate its static restoration as a tribute to the men of the former N.S.W.G.R. Cardiff Workshops. It is the sole surviving locomotive constructed at that facility and was pride of place at the 1955 N.S.W.G.R. Centenary Celebrations.
The former B.H.P. Steelworks at Newcastle used a large internal railway network as part of their manufacturing process. The large rail vehicles used to transport molten steel inside the steelworks are called hot metal cars and the Museum has recently saved one of these huge cars for preservation. TL16 is a Pollock hot metal car and weighs 156 tonnes empty, and a massive 388 tonnes loaded, making it one of the heaviest rail vehicles in regular service anywhere. The Pollock hot metal cars are often mistaken for the well-known Treadwell hot metal cars but the obvious differences in construction make it a unique exhibit.
Special Heavy Load Wagon NZZA 800, the largest rail vehicle in the Southern Hemisphere, has been delivered to Dorrigo. Comprising sixteen individual semi-trailer loads, this massive articulated wagon has been re-assembled on the display site and is an impressive piece of Italian engineering. Built by Cometto in 1982 to carry power station main generator inner stators, the wagon will eventually be displayed with its cradle and compression strut in position, carrying a dummy stator load.
The Museum volunteers are working hard towards the limited public opening of the static display, as funded by the combined Federal and State Government Grants of $320 000 from the Federal Department of Transport & Regional Services and the N.S.W. Department of State & Regional Development.
The bulk of the road transport task has been completed, including the transport of 43 vehicles from Glenreagh alone. However the rise in the cost of fuel (over 50%) has impacted heavily on the allowed budget, as this affects not just the road transport of exhibits but also crane hire and material delivery costs.
The concrete pathways for the initial exhibit display corridors, a major component of the Grant, have recently been completed. With additional funding and assistance provided by local firm Enterprise & Training Company Ltd, Bellingen Shire Council recently employed ten long-term unemployed workers, specifically to construct over 450 metres of concrete pathways at the Museum, with our supervision. Using Federal funding and Museum member donations totalling over $54 000, the 3.6 metre wide paths are an excellent long-term investment in the project.
In preparation for the limited public opening, the construction of additional earthworks for the coach parking area, the visitor toilet facility and on-site services has commenced. These projects are another essential component of the Museum development and require the submission of individual Development Approvals to satisfy Council regulations.
One of the grant-related spin-offs is the economic benefit to local businesses. The Museum purchases all diesel fuel, tyres, concrete, reinforcing mesh, timber, tooling and materials locally. The Dorrigo CSR Readymix concrete batching plant hired an extra employee as a result of the pathway construction which helped boost the local employment benefit to Dorrigo, plus the ten local workers employed by Council to lay the pathways in the exhibit area.