After the sterling work so far on the Cheese Store Roundy Layout I had to face the fact that at some stage I would need to get to Patea (somehow) and get some photos from the correct angles and resolution that would allow them to be used for the "photo building" method. A set of decent photos for the backdrop were also on the shopping list.
A chance comment by Drew a few weeks back spurred me into action. He announced that the DL invasion was imminent and the chance to ride a DC might soon be gone. Right then! Operation "Last Chance to See" was underway!
Tuesday night found me ensconsed in the salubrious confines of the Capital Connection to Palmy where I had a midnight connection with freight 522 to New Plymouth. After a pleasant evening playing trains in the ManSion, I was duly delivered to Milson depot at 11pm ready for the nights adventure. Luckily the heater in the cab of 7186 worked well and with 7158 and 4692 on behind we made short work of getting to Whareroa and the joyous reunion with Drew who was down to take the train the rest of the way to New Plymouth.
After dropping off 7186 (which was down to run 537 back to Palmy in the afternoon) we headed to all points north. Another stop at Stratford has us dropping off 4692 which was slated to run 52 shunt before heading back to palmy that evening on 521.
It was around about here that I fell asleep for 30 minutes or so, not having slept for the previous 24 odd hours. Oddly enough, I'd slept through the same bit of countryside the last time I was through as well! Apologies to all Inglewood inhabitants, but it possibly doesnt say much for the scenery....
The plan was for Drew to tie up 522 then drive back to Stratford to run 52 to Kapuni, but a complete lack of tonnage killed that plan.....so after service 7158 we headed for home and breakfast.
With the weather looking threatening, I made the call to pass on the chance to sleep and to head to Patea while we could. As it was the weather was freezing, overcast and a bit damp, but I still took the chance to get the photographs that I needed while Drew just basically ran riot, occasionally yelling from a different part of the complex "I feel like I'm on Time Team!" and imitating ghost noises.
After getting the photos, we went on a general fossick trying to work out where the old buildings were and their uses. The engine room took a bit of nutting out, and I still dont think we worked it out. There are remnants of where the boilers poked through the walls, but where the attendant stuff went (coal piles, chimneys etc) is still up for debate.
Treasures found include
...finding the trolley tracks along the loading bank at the front of the complex were to the weird gauge of 2'6".
and this old wagon door with the intriguing lettering "R E" on the top.
After a bit of siteseeing (Patea river mouth, Tawhiti museum which was closed, Normanby diary factory, Te Ngutu Battle site where Von Tempsky was killed) it was back to Drews place for a few hours kip before being dropped back at Whareroa around 5pm for the trip back to Palmy on 521....and that elusive DC ride.
After 521 came a quick dash back to Welly on 229 with 4191 and crawling onto the couch outside my lab at around 2am for 6 hours kip before work Thursday morning.
SO.....that was the easy bit, now I've got to use the photos to make the backdrop and buildings! ARGGHH!!