Dave Mickle :
As a young bloke he was interested in cars, but later when he worked as a volunteer on “Puffing Billy” this transitioned to steam trains and steam engines. In this show Dave explains how working as a labourer restoring the engines and track of the ‘Puffing Billy” in the hills near Melbourne started a lifetime obsession. Check out the picture in the sidebar which shows Puffing Billy carrying a load of happy children and tourists.
Dave is not a young man, and the years have taken a tole on his body but not his passion. Here he talks about how the ‘Melbourne Steam Traction Engine Club’ started with four members meeting in private homes, and has developed today to owning a clubhouse and land to work on their machines and display them to the public.
The lower sidebar photos are small sample of the vehicles displayed at a steam rally I attended at Lake Goldsmith in Victoria. When you meet these giants in the ‘flesh’ it is easy to see how you can be seduced by them. The sight, the rumbling sound and the smell of the wood or coal in the firebox is intoxicating.
The steam truck Dave owns with a friend was built in England in1924, making it only slightly older than him. It was manufactured by the Yorkshire Steam Wagon Company, and weighs in around eight and a half ton. It is capable of carrying ten ton of payload. Dave outlines the work he and his mate did to restore it to operating condition. It is not absolutely as original, but as close as they were able to make it. That’s Dave on the right in the picture.
That brings me to a fascinating part of this hobby. While at first glance it is all about machinery and hard physical work, there is another side. The owners are like detectives tracing the origin of their machines, and go to great lengths to establish their provenance.
If you are interested in steam engines, history and preserving the past, it is not necessary to actually own one of these monsters. Like Dave, you can volunteer to support Puffing Billy if you are in Melbourne, or look up any steam engine organisation and they will welcome you with open arms.
The link to the website for the Melbourne Steam Traction Engine Club is here. They have a great website, which is well worth a look if only for nostalgia’s sake.
Have you ridden in a steam train? Let me know about your experiences, or any comment about Dave’s continuing love of steam.
Peace, health and happiness,