Cooma is a fitting location for the preservation of CPH railmotors, having been the proving ground for the reliability of the design prior to the type’s entry into service with the NSW Government Railways (NSWGR).
In 1923 CPH railmotor No. 3 was the first of 37 42-foot railmotors (numbered 1 to 37, with the later-manufactured CPHs numbers 1 and 2 replacing earlier types of railmotors) to be produced at the Eveleigh Carriage Works. Originally know as the ‘RMC Class’, on December 7th 1923 No. 3 was sent on a return trip of 1,064 kilometres from Sydney to Bombala to prove the reliability of the new railmotors. The the reports afterwards back to Chief Mechanical Engineer Mr Ernest Edward Lucy were glowing, and the economy of the railmotors proved to be very satisfying – it was estimated at the time that they cost the equivalent of six cents per kilometre to operate compared to 14 cents per kilometre for steam trains (using 1986 dollar-values).
The CPH railmotors served NSW faithfully for over 60 years and the majority have been preserved. Their durability owes much to their lightweight and robust design, with considerable care taken in the selection of materials used in their construction. Innovative for its time was Warren Truss design used for the underframe, fabricated entirely by electric arc welding, while the body was of timber construction, using mainly Queensland yellow wood, pines and cedars.
The CPHs earned the nickname “Tin Hares”, having come into service at the same time as the mechanical lures used in greyhound racing in Australia. The design was modified over the decades, most obviously with the replacement of the external tongue and groove timber below the windowline with flat panels and changes in paint schemes. Below the floorboards the drive chain evolved from petrol engines and a four-speed mechanical transmission to diesel engines and hydraulic transmissions.
The CMR fleet are finished in the Indian Red paint and flat side panels of the later years of their service, being from the 1960s to the 1980s. Our CPHs also feature the much sought-after front seats beside the driver’s cab, allowing passengers to have the driver’s rail view of the track ahead.