Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway Inc

Boiler being readied for transport
Boiler tubes being removed by volunteers
Boiler being prepared for transport

The Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway Inc is a not for profit volunteer based organisation operating a small heritage railway at Tullah. It is based on part of the former North Mount Farrell Tramway and operates as a heritage/ tourist attraction for the people of Tullah and surrounding areas and visitors to the West Coast. The original tramway was the only means of transport for the mine and its people from 1902 until roads were built to the Tullah area in 1961. Wee Georgie Railway commenced operations in 1987 utilising some 1.8 kilometres of 610mm gauge track and the restored 1924 Wee Georgie Wood locomotive and rolling stock of that era from other West Coast tramways. 

To comply with the Boiler Code of Practice, the Wee Georgie locomotive boiler needed to be stripped of internal fire tubes and fittings and have all accessible surfaces and riveted joints grit blasted to enable crack and thickness testing to be carried out. The boiler, which was built in 1935, was assessed by the Wee Georgie Railway members and the inspector, based mainly on its service history and its robust construction, to be in reasonable condition and that once testing was satisfactorily completed, it would have a further service life of at least 10 years. The Tasmanian Community Fund grant for $7,500 paid for around half of the costs of the refurbishment work on the boiler. The remainder of the costs were covered by the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway maintenance fund which has been accumulated from donations over several years.

Unfortunately, after initial grit blasting a series of cracks were found in the front end plate of the boiler between fire tube holes. The cause of the cracking was metal fatigue from many thousands of pressure/ temperature cycles during its 75 year life.

The tube plate was removed for replacement as its shape would not permit repair by welding. Further grit blasting and testing for metal thicknesses was possible and this work revealed that long term corrosion of the boiler internals had resulted in serious metal wastage on many internal surfaces. The boiler was subsequently assessed as being beyond economic repair. After seeking permission, the remaining Tasmanian Community Fund monies were redirect to the design and registration process of a new fully welded boiler.

The community has always been supportive of the railway as they can relate to the time when the tramway was the only means of transport, other than walking, for the Tullah mines and the townsfolk. Whilst the project has been running the Wee Georgie Railway group have received added assistance with working bees and have received some donations of tools and equipment and some financial assistance towards the construction of a new boiler.

Members of the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway group have also become active with the activities of the Tullah Progress Association which is the lead community group for the Tullah area.

As a result of the publicity received from the project, some assistance has been offered from industry and government to develop a full business plan and feasibility study for the railway. In addition three new members have joined the volunteer group and two fundraising events have been well supported by the community.