January 5th

Tour Day 7


Today we traveled north from Thames on the Cormandel Peninsula.

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180 degree panoramic view from a rest area.

notes:   This view was generated from multiple individual photos.  If you click on this image it will not show full size - possibly wider than your screen.  If you have "auto resize" turned on in your browser the browser will shrink the photo to fit your screen.  

More Scenery ...

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The Gang" at the rest stop where the images above were taken.



Driving Creek Railway

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Entrance to Barry Brickel's Driving Creek Railway (web site).  Artist, Potter, Conservationist and Mountain Railway Engineer, Barry Brickel constructed this unique 15" gauge railway to haul clay out of the hills for his pottery and brick works at the base station. The narrow gauge mountain railway has now become the main attraction in this town with its 7% gradients, zigzag switchbacks and double decker bridge on route to EYE-FULL TOWER, the coffee shop at the summit.


Dave Giles' company is building some new rail cars to be used on the railway.  Due to the very sharp curves on the railroad Dave has designed a truck (bogie) that has a special linkage which keeps each pair of wheels exactly 90 degrees to the rail, even in the railroad's tight turns.  This is in contrast to standard practice where each truck (4 wheels) is 90 degrees to the track but, in tight curves, each wheel will be at an angle to the rail causing excess wear.


Jan05_-21_e.jpg (121913 bytes) This photo shows the multiple frames involved.  The uppermost frame (termination of the link rod at the upper left)  is the frame of the car.  The second frame down pivots on the car frame (spring at left) as a standard truck does.  The pivot of the central link bar (upper center) is attached to this intermediate frame.  The third frame has two of the wheels attached to it an this frame pivots on one end of the second frame (round pin in the center of the photo).  The right-hand linkage also terminates on this frame.  It's this three link linkage which always keeps the lowest frame 90 degrees to the rail.
Jan05_-22_e.jpg (111581 bytes) In this photo you can see that there isn't an axle between the wheels.  Each wheel is mounted on the shaft of a heavy duty hydraulic motor (like the ones used in skid loaders, etc.).  This way, each wheel is driven but it can rotate independently in the tight curves of the railroad.
Jan05_-23_e.jpg (111869 bytes) Here's a close-up of the hydraulic motor driving the wheel.


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These photos give you a little idea of how the trackage looks going through the shop area, etc.  The long trestle bridge is a track that runs to his drying sheds.


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Here is part of the shop area.  Note the unusual vice.  The offset jaws allow you to clamp a long object that hangs down below the jaws.


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Some views of the pottery area.  Up until 2000 the shop area was powered by steam.  The photo in the upper left is of the boiler (now unused) that supplied the steam for the shop.

The second photo shows one of his original kilns.

The last photo shows more of the pottery area including the device with the large rollers in it used to crush the clay, etc.


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These photos show some of the equipment used to make bricks.  The brick clay is loaded into the hopper and extruded out to the right onto the cutting table to the rear of the vertical wires.  A foot peddle is then activated which pushes a board forward pressing the bricks against the wires.  Any damaged bricks or excess clay is just tossed back into the hopper.


After touring the shops and pottery we took the train ride up the hill to the Eye Full Tower viewing platform and coffee shop.

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Since our tour director (Dave Giles) knows Barry Brickel and had made special arrangements for this tour, Barry himself took us up the mountain and did the running commentary.  Here we're getting the 'safety briefing' and a brief history of the railroad.

When I was young, my parents had a cottage in Ogunquit, Maine which was an area where many artists (painters, sculptors, etc.) lived.  Barry reminded me very much of artists I had met there in both manner and living style.


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The cars didn't allow for much head room ... :-)


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Here we're on the end of one of the switchbacks.  Note the rod (bottom center) for remotely operating the switch. This is a double deck bridge.  We are passing over the track we were on the last pass on the switchback.  Another view of the bridge. Looking down from the bridge.
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The train that was following us with another set of cars. Mr. Brickel walking up to throw the switchback switch and the train controls at the other end of the train. The track we just came off of ...
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The folks following us ... Tile work at one of the tunnel entrances. This is a bad photo but it gives you an idea of what one of the other tunnel entrances was lined with - 1,000's of bottles!  There were several walls like this ... Arrival at the top ...


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This is a view of our train (right) and the other train that was following us up the hill (it backed in at the last switchback which is why you can't see the engine).  Our train consisted of three cars.  The two dark areas are rubber sheets that join the roofs of the three articulated cars.  These cars are basically what the new cars with Dave's redesigned trucks will look like. 


At the top of the railway there is a new snack and viewing area affording a spectacular view of the valley and inlet below.


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180 degree panoramic view from the Eye Full Tower at the top of the railway.

notes:   This view was generated from multiple individual photos.  If you click on this image it will not show full size - possibly wider than your screen.  If you have "auto resize" turned on in your browser the browser will shrink the photo to fit your screen.  


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Larry caught me (in the corner) photographing the panorama above.


Afternoon Drive

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We stopped in a small town for lunch.  We had a traditional style fish and chips which came wrapped in newspaper.  We unfolded the newspaper not knowing that the "correct" way to open it is to rip a hole in the wrapping so the food will stay warmer.

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On our way out of town we spied this Laundromat with a unique roof ornament ...

Back at the motel that evening, our tour directors bar-b-gued steaks for dinner.  Everyone brought plates, silverware, and chairs from their rooms and gathered on the lawn.  Great food--Great company.



Next day:  January 6th