BACK IN BUSINESS: Volunteer Russell Watkins inside Red Fred.
BACK IN BUSINESS: Volunteer Russell Watkins inside Red Fred. David Nielsen

Red Fred bringing back the memories out at Rosewood

WHEN the word started to spread Red Fred was back at Rosewood, the question on many lips was Who is Red Fred?

While some thought he was a fire-headed former coal miner, the truth is much simpler, yet more exciting, Red Fred is Ipswich's answer to the famous Gulflander train.

Built on a 1920s AEC 507 truck chassis, Red Fred is one of only two 'trains' built in its class in Queensland, and was a regular sight on the Grandchester to Ipswich branchline.

Rosewood Railway Museum volunteer Russell Watkins inside Red Fred, a 1928 RM 55.
Rosewood Railway Museum volunteer Russell Watkins inside Red Fred, a 1928 RM 55. David Nielsen

"They tried it closer to Brisbane, but found the platforms were too high, and the doors wouldn't open properly," Rosewood Railway Museum chairman Lindsay Bishop said.

Red Fred returned to service on Sunday, August 28, after an extensive overhaul in the Rosewood workshop, Mr Bishop said.

"To keep it running, we are applying modern technology, we had to reverse engineer a number of components that are no longer available."

Rosewood Railway Museum. Inside Red Fred, a 1928 RM D55.
Rosewood Railway Museum. Inside Red Fred, a 1928 RM D55. David Nielsen

Mr Bishop said while the Gardiner diesels are very long lived, they will eventually need a rebuild.

"For this reason we document all our process, to make sure the information is available for the next generation to work with.

Ipswich City Councilor David Pahlke, a self-confessed fan of Red Fred, said having it back in operation was a major coup for Rosewood.

Cr David Pahlke and Rosewood Railway Museum's Lindsay Bishop.
Cr David Pahlke and Rosewood Railway Museum's Lindsay Bishop. David Nielsen

"It is our Gulflander, not many people know about it, and we should be very proud of it," Cr Pahlke said.

Mr Bishop said the museum's goal was to keep 'Red Fred' running forever, no easy feat when it was only intended to have a limited life.

"It never had windows originally, they were fitted for the cooler climate when it entered service here."

Despite using a four-speed truck gearbox, it is easy to drive, Mr Bishop said, with some training and practice to learn the brakes.



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