From TAM to CAM

TAM sleeping cars must be one of the most recognised carriage types used by the NSWGR but there is a lot more to them than most perhaps appreciate. Eveleigh, Meadowbank and Ritchie Bros all made this type of TAM, and each manufacturer had their own little nuances in the finer details.

All TAMs had berth number boards outside of each compartment, where as our old Ritchie Bros TAM has illuminated berth numbers:

Some TAMs, had elaborate curved cedar panels on the bunks, where as our TAM has flat finish panels:

All the TAM’s had berth lights, although there were several different light fitting castings and the location of the switches varied from builder to builder:

Our old girl, L516, was originally constructed by Ritchie Bros and classified as TAM502. It was released to the NSWGR for traffic in the July-August intake of 1937. When new, TAM502 had 10 compartments and could sleep 20 berths:

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When it became a works car, it was re-classified to L516, where the L denotes that its a works vehicle and 516 was just simply a number allocated to it. In this part of its life, berths 1-10 were stripped out and that area was made into an amenities and workspace for the crew:

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We’ve opted for a lounge setting in the former amenities area:

Carriage classification is a passionate topic for some and so it is important that we are sympathetic to the heritage of the carriage. It’s obviously no longer a TAM, nor an “L” works car, it’s become a composite sleeping and lounge car. The NSWGR actually had composite sleeping cars manufactured and used in service. Coded CAM, these cars combined sitting areas and sleeping areas in a couple of different configurations. Our old TAM has been re-classified to CAM502, and its nice to see that some of the CAM traits have been incorporated into the car including the traditional saloon seating against the wall in the lounge.

This old girl is a long way off from when it was recovered from storage in 2007. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe we embarked on this ambitious project. However, some years down the track and we have another quality carriage restoration completed and looking forward to seeing people enjoy our labour of our love.

The next step is main line trials. Keep an eye out, as our recently completed CAM502 will be coming very soon to a station near you!

Last Days – “The End is Nigh!”

Well it has been a busy couple of months forging towards the end of the project. The lounge is feeling more homely with all the panels attached to the walls.


The style of the panelling at this end of the car differs a little from the original “compartment” end of the car. These cute little cover strips neatly mask the joint between the panel and the shutter runner, and are a legacy of the MANN carriages that this panelling was salvaged from.

Todd stripped each of these back to bare timber and polished like new, before Alan fitted each of them.

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Husband and wife team Alan and Jan manufactured, varnished and fitted these neat cover strips along the sides of each table.

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Garry’s handrails have been fitted also. Each of the brass fittings was machined from brass stock, and Rex has done an outstanding job. Fitting and machining is a great skill to have and we’re always looking for skilled volunteers.

Our teenage volunteer Cameron has completely stripped and re-built these super panels to make them match the window spacing in the traditional fashion. The quality of this workmanship is as good as the old car builder trade back in the day.

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But young Cameron’s real passion lies with the shutters that he has been diligently fitting throughout the carriage. Over 500 hours of volunteer work has been poured into this part of the project alone, including repairs, rebuilding, painting and fitting. This has been a huge effort.

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The compartments have finally received their ceder panels on each of the bunks.

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Brian has been polishing each individual washbasin in the compartments, and they are looking great.

Bretts pet project has been the sliding door for the new retention toilet in the former attendant’s compartment. Roy has also branded it with hand written signage accordingly.

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Ross and his Tuesday team have fitted this carriage with a modified water service system, using an electric pump in place of the standard air service system. This means that the car is fully self contained and does not require an operational locomotive to provide air to run the water services. All the rusted steel water pipes have been replaced and a new tank installed also. We opted for a cistern flush system to ensure sufficient flush water flow.

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Roy has also completed the sign writing here, to match the original before the shellac was stripped.

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…while the “Berths 1-10” has been replaced with more appropriate signage in a fashion that is sympathetic to the heritage of the car. Great work Roy!

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Keith’s kitchenette has come a long way also. This space can be used to serve light meals and morning/afternoon/high teas. A bar fridge is provided also to chill food or drinks.

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The wall space has been used in the kitchenette necessitating the installation of blank windows, which have been painted to match the rest of the colour scheme across the windows.

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Outside and below the frame, Fred spent a couple weekends crawling around the bogies and running gear. His main focus was blacking out any left over exposed primer and overlooked bits.

A cruisey job, considering the boy driver spent most of it while laying about on the job!


The Tuesday group have installed the gangways and our weekend warriors Chris and Thomas have done a great job attaching the canvass curtains.

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Roy made it look effortless to attach all the stickers to the side of the carriage. SLEEPING and LOUNGE have been used at either end of the carriage according to the layout. The car has been named in honour of the late Ken Butt, long time board member and supporter of 3801 Limited.

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There are a couple of detail jobs to finish off with but we are now ready for main line trials.