Re: tomato/strawberry railway at Port Macquarie?

Chris Stratton

eoliverau <> wrote:

In the travel section of the SMH for 27-28/11/10 there is mention and a
photo of Ricardoes Tomatoes (and strawberries and lettuce) on Blackmans
Point Road. The photo on page 21 shows what MAY be a railway with widely
spaced sleepers - gauge is very hard to estimate but maybe about 18
inches to 2 feet. But again it might just be some strange sort of path.
Any knowledge about this please?
I've now been to Ricardoes twice to pick strawberries (they are really nice). There are now railways in the strawberry building, all picking is done by hand as they grow an A-frames about 2 metres high. The public can pick strawberries but not tomatoes.
I didn't go into the tomato building but you can see in through large windows from the cafe. The tomato vines hang from the roof and grow to over 3 metres high. Between each row of plants is a type of railway. The rail is made of steel pipe around 40mm diameter, at each end of the rows the concrete floor is higher and the pipe rests on the concrete, between the plants the floor is lower and the pipe is supported on legs which are welded to flat plates which act as sleepers. at the ends the pipes are bent and welded together so it makes the shape of a very narrow and long rectangle. I would estimate the distance between the pipes to be 450mm to 600mm.
I saw two types of rolling stock:

1. a small flat tolley which is pushed by hand and used to carry containers when picking from the lower part of the vines.
2. a trolley with a scissor lift mounted on it and used to pick from higher up. This one is self propelled by chain drive from a small electric motor similar to a large wiper motor or wheelchair motor. It is powered by a couple of truck batteries carried on the trolley. I didn't see any pumps to power the ram used to raise and lower the platform, maybe a fixed pump somewhere sets it to the height required.

The trolleys are moved along the rows by a hand pallet trolley which places the trolley onto the concrete, the trolley is then driven or pushed onto the pipe rails.
Almost forgot the wheels. They are fairly small, approx 150mm diameter with a flat tread about 75mm wide and a flange on the outer edge so the flanges run along the outer edges of the pipe rails.

I hope this info is what you were after, I'll upload some photos when I return home, it would take too long on the mobile broadband I'm using.


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