Re: 1890s cane trucks


Hi John and everyone,


Thanks John for all this lovely help!!!


Glad you offered some advice on the Terranora ‘funicular’/ ‘balanced incline’ terminology topic as I have seen a few versions of that in Tweed Museum and CSR records and so will eventually need to settle on a standard term for my LR articles. John Armstrong’s 1976 Tweed ARHS Bulletin article used both funicular and self-acting incline for the Cowan/ Joubert one at Terranora. Caleb Marks was born in NSW South Coast mid 1860s and so trips back to visit family etc meant he was familiar with what he termed in his 1945 memoirs (see following Trove) as the self-acting coal tram at Mount Kiera and then put in what he termed a self-acting (sugar) tram at Terranora. Thomas Fraser asked CSR for ‘Trucks and Wire Rope for Incline’. An 1892 newspaper terms Cowan’s one as Cable Tram. So John, the ‘balanced incline’ term will solve that terminology problem for me!


Marks’ 1945 memoirs   


John, you asked if I was sure these bogie trucks had been purchased by CSR for cane haulage? Yes I am sure and I saw that at the end of the handwritten Duranbah Tramway League’s 6 July 1894 letter to cane inspector Dowling. That was the one with Duranbah tramway route details and from CSR’s Tweed ‘Letter Book’ and I emailed that letter to you last year and will send again later today as I now suspect you were in the UK at the time so maybe enjoying that trip. I’ll also email Thomas Fraser’s handwritten letter, also from CSR files, with his comments that the picture I posted to this LRRSA group was from Fowlers Catalogue and was the style of Truck used by Marks and is the design the Terranora farmers preferred. As you wrote John, maybe Fraser was not referring to the trucks being braked when he referred to ‘the style of trucks being used by Marks’, and so it was the wagon construction style Fraser wanted. That makes sense and thanks for the suggestion!


Now the question is what the handwritten Duranbah Tramway League’s 6 July 1894 letter meant by the bogie trucks that should suit Mr. C. Marks and the single trucks with brakes now used by him, especially the term bogie and single trucks, where single is written in the context of being opposite to bogie.


No locomotives have been identified with the Duranbah line which evidence suggests lasted around 10 years from 1894.


John, liked your suggested method of gravitating the loaded trucks down downhill on the brakes and thanks for pointing out braked trucks would most likely have to be crewed to be used effectively.


One 1895 Trove describes a Terranora ‘balanced incline’ operation but does not name the farmer



Peter Cokley


From: <> On Behalf Of John Browning
Sent: Saturday, 26 January 2019 9:00 PM
Subject: Re: [LRRSA] 1890s cane trucks


Dear Peter


> Need a bit of background advice please regarding 2 foot gauge 1890s cane trucks and how common was the fitting of brakes and the difference between bogie trucks and what were termed in 1890s as single trucks?

Cane trucks with bogies did not see any general use in Australia so must be regarded as unconventional.

Bogie wagons were often used by sugar mills for the transport of bagged raw sugar and large items such as machinery.

Cane trucks with brakes would be used with horse haulage (and potentially for gravitation).

As braked trucks would most likely have to be manned to be used effectively, it would be doubly expensive to purchase them in the first place and then operate them.

The traditional use of sprags where necessary would have generally overcome the absence of brakes in most cases, particularly where locomotives were used.


> The CSR line in question, Duranbah Tweed River, included a 1 in 46 grade for a continuous distance of 94 chains (1891 metres) down ‘alongside’ Cudgen Rd from its junction with Duranbah Rd, then across to the wharf near what is now Tweed Valley Way , formally the Pacific Highway. Then a 11km barge trip to CSR’s Condong sugar mill.

I take it that no locomotives were in use on this line. If it was a continuous down grade and horses were used, it would be tempting to gravitate the loaded trucks down and haul them back with horse power. Brakes would have been advantageous.


> Naturally the funiculars mentioned below were also steep, so the question of brakes is of interest. I understand the funiculars also had a brake device on the cable drum gear.

I am not sure if ‘funicular’ is the correct term. It usually applies to a cable incline railway with a passenger car permanently attached to each end of the rope and equipped with a powered cable reel, as either car could be the heavier depending on traffic.

I think ‘balanced incline’ might be a better term for the cable inclines at Terranora where the descending loads would usually be heavier than the ascending empty trucks. These inclines would only require braking on the cable reel.

Vehicle brakes are irrelevant to such inclines but could well have been useful if horse haulage was in use on the line beyond the top of the incline.


> I am almost finished preparing an article for LRRSA on the 1890s Duranbah CSR tramway in the Tweed River area. The CSR Tweed Letter Book (6 July 1894) notes the trucks ordered for Duranbah were bogie trucks and Duranbah farmers wanted to swap them with what they termed in their handwritten letter as ‘single trucks, with brakes’, that were used by Caleb Marks who was one of the Terranora funicular cane tramway farmers.

> The same CSR Letter Book has a letter from another Terranora funicular cane tramway farmer, Thomas Fraser, to Condong mill manager William Isaacs, dated 30 March 1895. The letter included a picture taken from what Fraser described as ‘Fowlers Catalogue’, of the type of wagon Fraser wanted. More to the point, Fraser states it is the style of truck used by Caleb Marks. The Fowler catalogue labelled the wagon as ‘Colonial Type, with bracket ends, load 20 Cwts’.

As Peter Neve has diplomatically pointed out, the type of truck illustrated has no brakes so if the story is correct, Fraser was not referring to the trucks being braked when he referred to ‘the style of trucks being used by Marks’.


> Forgot to mention the bogie trucks originally ordered for Duranbah also had brakes, so the proposed swap was for Duranbah’s bogie trucks with brakes for Caleb Marks’ single trucks, with brakes.

Are you sure that these bogie trucks had been purchased by CSR for cane haulage?


Looking forward to seeing the article.




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