Creamy Kate and Trailer - Background

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Background

The CPH rail motor was originally developed as a more economical replacement for locomotive-hauled passenger trains on lightly trafficked lines with a low patronage. With their popularity, patronage had increased beyond the normal operating capabilities and it had become clear that a larger and more powerful railmotor was needed.

The main problem standing in the way of development was finding a suitable large internal combustion engine to power this larger vehicle. A larger engine with enough power would lower the power-to-weight ratio and consequently defeat the purpose of the Rail Motor. This meant that existing steam trains and Rail Motors would have to be alternated to meet service requirements.

A solution was found in building a Rail Motor with two engines. The opportunity to test this idea became possible after a rather unfortunate accident at Bowning on the Main Southern railway line, in which several passenger cars were damaged. Two underframes were salvaged and the design of a two-engine rail motor and its companion trailer proceeded.

The Rail and Road Motor Engineer, Mr N. E. Stafford supervised the building of these new vehicles in the Eveleigh Carriage Works during 1934 and the new Rail Motor No. 38 dubbed "Creamy Kate" and its companion trailer No. 81 emerged from the workshops. It is understood that the nickname came about from its initial colour scheme of all-over cream with blue lining.

The under-frame had to be strengthened to support the weight of two power units slung under the floor. Externally, the body bore a strong resemblance to the 42-foot (12.80 m) CPH Rail Motors, but was substantially larger at 55 feet (16.76 m) long. The general layout shows design heritage with the CPH railmotors, with a most useful addition of two small lavatory compartments, which must have been appreciated on longer journeys. Total carrying capacity for Creamy Kate was 2 crew, 24 first class passengers and 24 second class passengers (4 of which were seated in the guard's compartment) and 2+1⁄2 long tons (2.80 short tons; 2.54 t) of luggage and out-of traffic.

The vehicle had a centre corridor stretching the length of the body and this provided access to adjoining vehicles through end doors. This meant the drivers' cabs were positioned in the corner off to one side of the aisle and the toilet was positioned on the opposite corner. This was a break from the practice of positioning the driver's cab in the centre of the 42-foot Rail Motors.

Turnover type seating was fitted which allowed passengers to change the seat so they could face the direction travel. The first class seating was arranged so that two passengers could be seated on either side of the aisle. The second class seating was arranged so that two passengers could be seated on one side of the aisle and three on the other.

The vehicle was powered by two 150 hp (110 kW) six-cylinder 4.625 in × 6 in (117.5 mm × 152.4 mm) Leyland petrol engines, and each engine drove only one bogie. The power was transmitted through Leyland torque converters to final drives on the inner axle of each bogie by cardan shafts. Slightly different gear ratios were used to prevent synchronous vibration of the two engines, particularly when operating in direct drive. Direct drive is where the torque converter is by-passed by a clutch and the engine drives directly to the axle via the final drive. Reversing was carried out in the final drives.

Twin radiators positioned on the roof, one for each engine, used natural air movement as the cooling medium. Sandboxes were fitted to the outermost corners of each bogie to assist traction on up-hill grades. Interestingly, the bogies used on Creamy Kate (and the CPH railmotors) were modified G-type bogies originally found on various goods vehicles including the BMT Bogie Milk Tanker. The modifications included additional gussets for strength and sand-boxes.

Driving controls were the electro-hydraulic type with separate control handles for each torque converter. Switches for starting and stopping the engine, a control for selecting direction of travel together with a switch for selecting magneto or coil ignition were mounted on the main console. The engines were usually started on the coil system and switched to magneto when running. An instrument panel indicated to the driver the condition of each prime mover and gave due warning if any malfunction should occur.

A dual-throttle system allowed both engines to be controlled simultaneously by either hand or foot. A straight air-brake valve was within comfortable reach of the driving seat, and a hand brake was installed in each cab.

Creamy Kate was also unique in its petrol-powered days, because it could be clutch-started when flat batteries could not crank the engines. Clutch starting was done by a flick of the converter controls and a helping push from a passing steam engine, which meant the old Rail Motor could be ready for service on even the frostiest morning.

Rubber engine mountings were used to reduce vibration inside the car, and the floor was padded with felt to reduce the noise level in the saloons.

The external wooden body frame was sheathed in sheet metal below the windows and on the end panels. The cedar woodwork was varnished to give a deep shine, for which N.S.W. rolling stock is famous.

Electric fans were installed to suit the hot weather conditions, and suitable electric lighting was mounted from the ceiling. A small headlight together with electric marker lamps, screw draw-gear, full-width buffer plates, cow-catchers and air horns were provided at each end of the vehicle.

Rail Motor No. 38 weighed in at 27 long tons 14 hundredweights (28.1 t; 31.0 short tons) 0 qtrs and was limited to 70 mph (110 km/h).

Rail Motor No. 38 and its companion trailer No. 81 were trialed on 29 May 1934 between Sydney and Gosford.

Sunday, 10 June 1934, saw these vehicles enter revenue service, being based at Dubbo to operate the Coonamble, Molong and Orange connections.

The local press reported that the 'new high speed rail motor' would cut 50 minutes from the tri-weekly passenger train service, 3 hours 20 minutes from the mixed train service and run six return trips per week.

In addition, runs to Molong would be made, saving 15 minutes, while on Sundays the journey to Orange would cut 32 minutes from the existing services.

The Railways intended to run CHP-38 with Trailer 81 and a third vehicle HT-76 to handle parcels. HT-76 was a trailer rebuilt from rail motor CPH 9 after it had been involved in an accident. This parcels trailer also had end doors and diaphragm buffer plates; however, traffic requirements did not warrant the use of these three vehicles.

Consequently, Rail Motor CHP-38 entered the Eveleigh Carriage works in 1938 to have all the second-class seating removed and the slotted floor of the guard's compartment extended into the second-class area. The vehicle was re-coded BPH-38 and had a tare weight of 27 long tons 10 hundredweights (27.9 t; 30.8 short tons) 0 qtrs with a luggage capacity of 7+1⁄2 long tons (8.4 short tons; 7.6 t). Second-class seating was provided in the companion trailer.

The Leyland petrol engines were subsequently replaced with the more modern two-stroke 6/71 GM diesels which developed 165 hp (123 kW). These engines were similar to those used in the 42-foot (12.80 m) Rail Motors and the future 400 and 600 class diesel cars. Electro-pneumatic controls were fitted while the vehicle was being upgraded to diesel power. The controllers were mounted on a desk directly in front of the driver's full-width bench seat.

The new diesel unit was trialled in August, 1958.

In May, 1964 Rail Motor 38 underwent an overhaul and a heavier cow-catcher was fitted.

In 1967, Rail Motor No. 38 was re-coded to FHP when it entered the workshops for more structural changes. The first class section was re-coded to second class and the new classification of FHP brought it into line with the 400 class vehicles. Gas heating was installed and the interior panelling was replaced with Laminex. To ensure further service from the of the 65-year-old underframe, partial rebuilding and strengthening was carried out. During this reconstruction, the toilet was removed from the front adjacent to the driver, to a position in the passenger compartment and a window was fitted on the end of the vehicle affording better driver vision at level crossings.

Creamy Kate was retired from revenue-earning service in 1980 and was subsequently acquired by the Dorrigo Steam Railway Museum, where she is stored under canvas pending restoration.

No. 38 pioneered the use of two engines which led to the development of the modern streamlined two-car diesel trains. Diesel trains developed were the 400, 600 and 900/950 class and these were used extensively throughout the state of New South Wales.

Many railway reference material cites Creamy Kate as having 36 in (914.4 mm) wheels. However, at some point in Creamy Kate's service life she was fitted with larger 42 in (1,066.8 mm) wheels, verified by field measurements made by preservationists at the Dorrigo Steam Railway Museum. It is unknown when this change was made, but this previously overlooked fact goes far into explaining why Creamy Kate was one of the faster rail motors in her day.

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