On test runs with new locomotives fresh from the manufacturing factory, a technical officer from the company rides in the cabin. This is critical as it can be established first hand whether any adjustments are necessary. On this day a Clyde Engineering officer was travelling in the new 81 Class cab, a diesel of 3,000 horse power.
Everything was working well, the engine and its sundry equipment – another Clyde Engineering success story. Clyde Engineering have a long history of locomotive manufacturing, perhaps their most famous steam locomotive was the huge 38 Class steam engines that hauled such famous trains as the Newcastle Flyer and their diesels are legend with the huge dog nose designs such as the 42's (NSW), S, B's and A's (VIC) and G's (COM).
This was their latest for the NSW fleet. The cabin setting in the 81 Class is something to behold. The seats are beautifully cushioned and hydraulically balanced, they move forward and back in addition to up and down. The windows are designed to prevent the hot summer rays and the windscreen blinds are so placed to keep out direct sunlight without obscuring the view ahead.
Cabin controls at finger tips
The cabin is carefully designed to have working equipment and controls at finger tip distance. Other items occasionally utilised are at arms length. The whole package is a steam engine's loco crews' wildest dream come true. For example, the fireman on a 38 Class steam engine was working full pelt without a break firing the ever hungry coal fire and nothing was at one's finger tips. After a shift the fireman would be dirty and gritty and exhausted.
The driver suggested to the fireman that he make a cup of tea on the hot plate situated at arms length from the fireman's seat. The fireman, who had never seen, let alone fired a steam locomotive, began to complain. The hot plate was too far away, he had to move forward from his seat. He complained that he had to bend to switch on the hot plate. He moaned because he had to lean forward to pick up his cup from the "cup cubicle" and, worse still, he had to reach for his sandwich pack.
The old driver and Clyde Engineering technical officer watched all this in disbelief. Finally, the Clyde Engineering representative exclaimed, "All those things will be corrected in our new model!"The very green young fireman responded, "And what Class might that be?" The old driver smiled broadly as the Clyde Engineering fellow responded, "The new 38 Class!"
Many similar stories
The Footplate Padre it reminded me of his my four seminary years at Morling (Sydney) followed by my years of post graduate studies and how in the seventies we had electric light so as to study late into the night. We had a full and exciting library from which to assist in the writing of assignments and moreover, the comforts of a motor car to get there and back.
All this was a far cry from a 100 years before where ministers in training did all their study by candlelight, and they walked. A horse and carriage was for the wealthy, and libraries were limited. Yet the Gospel was preached faithfully and earnestly and with as much blessing and responses as today with our computers and the Internet.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html