By Geoff Courtney
THE controversial and much-delayed restoration of one of the world’s flagship streamlined steam locomotives has been hit by new problems that have led to its eagerly-awaited return to the main line being put back yet again.
New South Wales Government Railways’ C38 class 4-6-2 No. 3801, built by Clyde Engineering of Sydney in 1943 and saved for preservation by the state government in 1962, was taken off railtour duty at the end of 2007 for a £1¼ million overhaul that was initially expected to be completed in 2011.
More than 10 years after it last steamed, and seven years after its anticipated return however, the Pacific is still in pieces in Chullora works near Sydney, with no end in sight to a project that has been a repeated embarrassment to the state government and its department, Transport Heritage NSW, which has the locomotive under its wing.
Problems first arose after the delivery in October 2010 of a brand-new £600,000 boiler built for the locomotive by DB Meiningen of Germany, the manufacturer of the boiler for A1 Peppercorn Pacific No. 60163 Tornado.
After examining the boiler, Australian officials declared it “not fit for purpose” and, 13 months after its arrival in Sydney, sent it back to Germany for rectification.
DB Meiningen returned it to Sydney more than three years later, in January 2015, but it was still unusable. By this time there were rumblings of discontent among state taxpayers – who are paying for the restoration – and preservationists, many of whom had expressed surprise that the restoration involved a brand-new boiler rather than the overhaul of the old one removed from No. 3801.
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