Steam locomotive 342

No.342 New Sth Wales Govt. Railways Z12 Class (1877) 4-4-0 steam locomotive details: 1:5 Scale 8 feet 2 inches long including tender. 9¾” driving wheels. Cylinders (2) 2⅞” x 4⅝”. Slide valves. Allan valve gear.

No.342 was built in Kogarah, Sydney, NSW in about 1926. It is one of two very similar locomotives built in Sydney at about the same time. These are the earliest 12 inch gauge steam locomotives from Sydney still in circulation. (The St Kilda 2-2-2 is thought to pre-date them by about 10 years.) Historically, No.342 is representative of the amusement park miniature steam locomotives of about 1920, having a design with these features:
• Having capacity to haul a modest train while having a manageable weight for loading on a small truck for transport between carnivals.
• Based on the design of a well-known local locomotive.
• Showing external features capturing the chief characteristics of the full-sized locomotives.
A special engineering feature of this model is the Allan valve gear. Stephenson’s valve gear lifts and lowers the expansion link requiring a high vertical space below the boiler. Gooch developed an alternative to this arrangement keeping the expansion link at the same level and lifting and lowering the radius rod. Allan combined the Stephenson and Gooch arrangements, so the expansion link was lifted when the radius rod was lowered. This arrangement used a straight expansion link which is much easier to make. In May 1966 at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains this locomotive featured in a Streets Ice cream TV commercial. From the mid 1960s during seasonal holidays the loco operated commercially, on a portable track, around the Sydney area. Venues included Roselands Shopping Centre, fortnightly on Saturdays, and Miranda Shopping Centre at Christmas. In 1971 Gerardus Mol bought No.342 and it went to Canberra with him in 1973. Over the next 20 years it had little use because of the lack of a public track in Canberra and the great distance to the model engineer’s track in outer Sydney. It was offered for sale in 1993. MSTEC member Ian Ruscoe, bought it and delivered it to MSTEC, Scoresby on 18-July-1993. A copy of the boiler design drawing came with the loco, together with boiler inspection records. Passenger trains had started operation at the March, 1993 Steam Rally and the train only ran on the last Sunday each month. No. 342 ran a few times but never hauled all four of the club carnival carriages. Soon afterwards, Ian and Margaret Ruscoe moved to Magnetic Island, Queensland. They sold the loco to member John Davies. The loco was considered to need some significant maintenance work. John engaged model engineers to recondition the loco. This arrangement only managed to achieve partial restoration and in about 2000 the loco was returned to the Steam Club in bits and was stored. Late in 2017 ownership of the loco passed to the Steam Club. This loco had a history of boiler inspections and a verbal report of the boiler still being in excellent condition. In 2019 amember of the Thursday railway team took on the completion of the reconditioning of this locomotive and by early 2023 had it close to running.