Farm Collector


We learned a lot about steam in Australia this past spring,
through the courtesy of a number of persons, some of whom we saw,
others of whom we talked to by telephone.

Australia has many preserved steam traction engines; a number of
active associations of collectors and restorers, and several
notable museums. Any steam enthusiast visiting Australia can find
plenty to see and do among followers of the hobby in addition to
enjoying the wonders of this vast continental nation.

My wife Margaret and I made Sydney our headquarters for our
Australian visit. Later we flew to New Zealand, where we also
visited engine people.

Brian Burke, who is well known among steam collectors in both
Australia and New Zealand, took me on a full-day trip to visit
Australian owners of engines, plus the headquarters of the New
South Wales Steam Preservation Co-Op Society Ltd. at Menangle

Brian seeks aid in the U.S. in finding engine builders’
records for dating these makes: Buffalo Pitts, Buffalo Springfield,
and New Bird-sail. If you have such data, send it to him at 72
Roseberry Road, Killara 2071, New South Wales, Australia

One of Australia’s best known historians of engines, Brian
estimates that with portable steam engines, and steam rollers,
there are about 2,000 steam engines in Australia. ‘Not all are
going,’ he comments. ‘Some are in parks, or on farms, or
grounded.’ He is making a compilation, so if you are an
Australian owner, get in touch with him.

Brian Burke and John Norris made one compilation in 1978 which
showed 974 engines. The New South Wales society published it.
Listed were engines from 55 manufacturers, primarily British and
American. U.S. names included Advance, Bird-sail, Buffalo Pitts,
Buffalo-Springfield, Farquhar, Frick and Kelly. Most entries were
Marshall, from England. While names and types were listed, the
authors stated they would not give locations of engines a very
considerate reservation.

Clubs listed at that time were at New South Wales, Lake
Goldsmith, Melbourne, Queensl and and Tasmania.

Many rallies are held, and the collectors seem to be in constant
communication with each other. Because of the size of the
continent, this is not always an easy matter.

One person we talked to by telephone, but did not meet, was Mary
Wear, wife of Colin Wear. Both are active in the New South Wales
group. Mary sent much printed material to the Russell Hotel, where
we stayed. Among the Wears’ restorations is a steam launch,
which they put back on the water in 1982. The project took five
years, two to plan, and three to do.

Among the publications from Mrs. Wear was a program for the
spring 1983 rally, printed on glossy paper as a booklet. It
included these recommendations for visitors who came to the

1.  Do not stand too dose to engines or tractors moving
under their own power.

2.  Keep clear of working internal combustion engines and
wire ropes used for hauling.

3.  Ensure that children are kept under control and clear
of wheels it is not always possible to see them from the driving

4.  Qualified first-aid staff in attendance.


The society also has a printed set of Rally Safety Rules for
participants. Putting these on paper is a very good idea. It can
prevent injury or worse, and make for a rally or show free of

Boulton and Watt beam engine, restored at the Power House
Museum, to be put back into steam July 22, 1985, during celebration
centering on steam technology.

While in Sydney we also visited the Power House Museum, a
showplace of the New South Wales government We were there during
Stage 1 of the Power House, which is the first completed section of
what will become Australia’s largest museum.

A special event is set for July 22, 1985that is the day for a
200th anniversary celebration in the history of a Boulton and Watt
beam engine. The engine was first put into operation on July 22,
1785, at Whit-bread’s Brewery in London, England. It continued
in service for 102 years, and was then donated to the museum which
was the forerunner of the Power House.

The engine will be steaming again, for the first time in nearly
100 years, next July 22. The Museum states: ‘It is now the
oldest surviving Boulton and Watt rotative steam engine in the
world. Its restoration to steaming condition is a landmark in the
conservation of the world’s engineering heritage.’

Events for the bicentennary will include: An international
symposium on steam technology in the Industrial Revolution and the
conservation of engineering heritage; exhibition,

‘The Driving Force the art of the engineer’; steam fair
and traction engine rally; festival of steam and engineering films;
guided museum tours, and tours to steam displays and industrial
archeology sites in Australia.

For further information, write to Dr. Louise Crossley, Power
House Museum, PO Box k346, Haymarket, Sydney 2007, Australia.

Margaret and I were shown around the museum through the courtesy
of Tim Hobson, design coordinator, and Fred Denholm, workshop

During our visit to Australia, I also talked by telephone to
Bruce McDonald and Barry Tulloch, both of whom have volumes of
information on the movement which saved so many engines in their

Australia is a very stimulating place to visit for everyone, and
for the person interested in steam, it is even more exciting. We
recommend it.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1984
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