Context and progress: Trains, planes and racing cars…

Posted: July 27, 2020 in Fotos, Obscurities
Tags: , , , , , ,

(JJ Dallinger)

I’ve long been of the view that one needs to see a racing car in the context of its time to be able to appreciate just how much it sat at the apex of engineering achievement of its time…

So that’s where I am going here. Trying to anyway.

Stuff is sometimes meant to be ‘doncha reckon?

I was looking for racers in a favourite hidey hole and came upon this magnificent photograph of an S Class, Art Deco styled ‘Spirit of Progress’ near Albury on the Victoria/New South Wales border in the early 1950’s.

Then Paul Cummins sent some magic Talbot-Lago T26C shots taken at Southport in 1955- Ken Richardson in Rex Taylor’s car, I popped the shot up a month or so ago.

(Cummins Archive)

 

(L Hemer)

On the same day, in response to seeing the S Class shot I sent him, our photographer buddy, Lynton Hemer sent his shot taken of ‘a couple of NSWGR Garratts north of Gosford dragging coal to Newcastle’ in 1967.

I was really surprised to see steam locos in Australia then, I thought we were all-electric close to town and diesel otherwise by that stage. At the same time I was fiddling about with the image of Jack below aboard one of his Tasman 2.5 mounts- BT22 Repco in front of the Wigram Hangars in, you guessed it, 1967.

How modern do both cars, roughly twenty years apart in conception, look in the context of, or in camparison with the trains?

Steam was at the end of a two hundred or so year reign, not a bad effort really, whilst the internal combustion engine, in its most edgy, racey form, was in the middle years of its era which will surely be at an end in ten years or so.

Then again, maybe I just have my hand on it and am merely seeking an excuse to use a couple of great non-racing car shots…

Context is everything my friends.

(Brabham Family)

Mind you, if i’m a smart-arse and some of those with strong knowledge of my inclinations may well agree with such a characterisation, the technology deployed in Jack’s 1967 Brabham is about the same or better than that used in Australia for our interstate train services NOW- none of yer ‘very high speed’ trains here that we have all travelled on in France, Italy, Japan and China.

Even the Brits with their high population densities managed better than 100 mph on my short commuter trip from Bourne End to London last year, ditto the Spaniards from San Sebastian to Barcelona, don’t even think about 100 mph plus here folks, we are well and truly rooted in train technology that Stephenson fella could relate to…

The NSW Trainlink diesel-electric ‘XPT’ entered service in 1982, the design was based on a Brit Rail High Speed Train- the current Paxman Valenta VP185 12 cylinder six-turbo engines develop 2001 horsepower. The things can theoretically do 125 mph but the tracks don’t allow it, the most recent accident in February 2020 cost the train’s driver and pilot their lives (NSW TrainLink)

I’m a big cheat really.

In 1967 that whilst Jack was sitting aboard BT23A and the Garratts were plying their trade in New South Wales the Royal Australian Air Force Dassault Mirage III’s were flying in the skies above- all of a sudden Jack and Ron’s machine does not look so edgy at all, and doubtless some of the ‘American Aviation Heavy Metal’ of the time made the Mirage look like an ‘F2’ machine.

Again, context is everything my friends.

(HARS)

Etcetera…

The S Class were the first ‘Pacific Class’ locos on the Victorian Railways, renowned for their power and speed they did the ‘broad gauge’ Melbourne-Albury run of 190 miles where passengers changed to a New South Wales train running on ‘standard gauge’- adoption of ‘standard gauge’ between Melbourne and Sydney took place in April 1962.

For international readers, Australia was comprised of separate independent colonies until Federation as a country in 1901 so lots of crazy stuff happened, different railway lines/locos/trains across the great brown land being far from the most stupid of decisions.

Only four of these three-cylinder locos were built- fitted with long-range tenders they did the trip non-stop and ran up annual mileages double that of other loco classes used by the VR. Their size and axle load made them unsuitable for regular service other than the Spencer Street-Albury North Eastern line run so within six months of the introduction of new B Class Diesel loos in April 1954 the S Class were withdrawn and scrapped.

Such a shame!- the silver lining in the cloud was the lobbying of the Victorian Government to preserve remaining examples of VR steam locos- all of us Victorian kids have had a trip or two to the Railway Society Museum at Williamstown- ‘Heavy Harry-H220’ is forever etched in my childhood mind, opened in 1962.

The ‘Garratts’ are an AD60 Class Beyer-Garratt patent articulated four-cylinder heavy goods, steam train locos built by Beyer, Peacock and Co in Openshaw, Manchester for the NSW Government Railways.

The final NSW railways steam service was operated by one of these monsters on 22 February 1973- four of them were preserved, well done!

And the Mirage.

A3-42 is a Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built (CAC built CA-29) IIIO(F) interceptor delivered on 1 August 1966 and served at Butterworth, Malaysia, then Williamtown, NSW before retirement from service in October 1987 with 4,015 hours on the airframe, it was then used for apprentice training at RAAF Wagga Wagga. All Mirages were retired in 1988 and replaced by the General Dynamics F/A-18 Hornet.

‘HARS’- Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum at Shellharbour Airport, Albion Park bought the aircraft in March 2015.

Credits…

John J Dallinger, Lynton Hemer, Brabham Family, Wikipedia, HARS, oldracingcars.com, Bob King, NSW TrainLink

Tailpiece…

(B King)

A couple of Bugatti T35B replicas at the Williamstown, Victoria Railway Museum in recent times- the blue Des Dillon and black Bob King machines.

Finito…

Comments
  1. robert king says:

    Nice juxtaposition, Mark. I spent the mid-sixties in Manchester, and there were still plenty ‘dark satanic mills’ around. If only I had known, I probably could have gone to Openshaw and seen Garratts being made in conditions not very different from the Industrial Revolution. On looking at Wiki, these all seemed to have two steam engines coupled to a central boiler; interesting construction to this steam naif.

    • markbisset says:

      Yes Bob,
      I think we ‘knowledge workers’ have been just fine in our offices/studios for a long time but in heavy manufacturing i suspect it is only in the last 20 years or so that workplaces have been ‘civilised’ and safe. Vexatious litigants and bottom feeding lawyers are enough to strike fear into the most draconian dinosaur of a CEO.
      I know nothing about trains but the two great images needed a friendly home!
      M

  2. Terry Sullivan says:

    Mark

    The car Brabham is sitting in outside the Hangar is NOT a BT22. It is a BT23A.

    There was only ever one BT22 made, and it had a Climax FPF. It was never driven by Brabham.

    This BT23A was sold to Scuderia Veloce after the Tasman Series and driven by Greg Cusack amongst others.

    • markbisset says:

      Terry,
      You are correct about BT23A, the danger of relying on memory.
      You are wrong about BT22’s, Denny drove a 640 powered BT22 in the ‘67 Tasman, I’ve no idea how many were built.
      Mark

  3. Terry Sullivan says:

    Mark
    Some reading for you in lockdown

    Here is something I wrote five years ago on Denny Hulme’s 1967 Tasman Series Car.

    Refer to post #2

    http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?1824-RORSTAN-TASMAN-SERIES-RACERS&highlight=rorstan

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Terry,
      Great to read and shows how complex chassis and model numbers can be. Maybe the most accurate in this case is BT/11/19/22. I have a small number of reference sites, some of which are ORC, F2Index, Kolumbus F1, none of which are infallible, the reason why TNF exists, in part at least, is to debate this stuff.
      Rorstan, or Bryan Falloon is interesting, i have a stash of photos in the back of the site to attack him one day, shall circle back to your piece when i do.
      Many thanks,
      M

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