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"The engine man’s lament" - Stephan [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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"The engine man’s lament" [Jun. 7th, 2008|11:47 am]
My brother finally came good on a years old promise to bring me a copy of the below poem from one of his railway books (I believe the author is R.G. Preston, but that's just off the top of my head).

Just in brief: The New South Wales 41 class was IMHO the worst diesel locomotive ever imported into Australia (though one of many mistakes). Not only was it poorly designed to begin with, but entirely unsuitable for our climate and found that it would only operate a short time before overheating. Ultimately these locomotives were relegated to track and overhead wiring/catenary maintenance; the only possible role for them.

Batty and DHLawrence, I hope you're reading. This also might prove amusing to Mark Stanley and Scott Kellogg with their engineering skills.

(The engine man’s lament)

When you’re signing on at DELEC, (Diesel/Electic locomotive centre)
And you hear a GM roar;
But he Chargeman meets you laughing says,
“Take 4104”

The fireman howls in terror,
And the driver gives a wail,
For of all the diesel locos,
This one’s favourite to fail.

You climb aboard the engine,
And then you give a frown,
For although you have touched nothing,
Both the engines have shut down.

You call out Tony Bergin,
And straight away smells a rat;
“Well mate, I think you’ve had it,
Cause the battery’s just gone flat.”

So they get another “Beetle”
After just a two hour wait;
And you finally leave the depot
And you’re only three hours late.

The load meter is missing
And the tacho’s just a hole,
And then you get her moving
And then she starts to pitch and roll.

The hot plate’s non existent,
But that is nothing new;
So you try the old compressor
To warm your pot of stew.

The voltages are haywire,
And the carbons burnt jet black;*
You say to your poor fireman
“We’ll be lucky to get back.”

The batteries then start boiling
And the fumes the firman stun;
The bloke at Delec tells you
“Pull the battery switch and run!”

A glow from the control stand
And you get an awful fright;
But it’s just hot engines warnings,
Blinking like a lighthouse light.

The air is getting lower,
And so you have to linger,
Till you look at RCRB,#
And you help it with your little finger.

Then with F.8 fuses blowing,
And the blowers up in smoke;
The compressor’s throwing solder,
This really is no joke.

She collapses at the ‘Harbour,
It is then you lose your head;
You ring up Enfield asking
“Will I tow the old girl dead?”

They drag her back to Delec,
And the old dear try to fix;
There is no doubt about it,
The best one's 4106.**

This poem was written following the failure of 4104 hauling an employee works train. The failure successfully blocked three lines in peak time until a rescue unit arrived. This poem was placed in the cab of 4104 for a short time.

Tony Bergin was an electrical mechanic who specialise in 41 class.

 The carbon blocks in the voltage regulators were notorious for burning and altering the output voltages of the auxiliary generators.

# If RCRB, a reverse current relay, did not close, the voltage from B auxiliary generator did not reach the motor driving the air compressor.

** The remains of the burnt-out 4106 had by this time, been abandoned.