Rebuilding a NSWGR 900/800/700 Class “DEB” Railcar Set – Train Restoration

Update posted by Ross Jackson On Oct 04, 2018

Good morning, as most of you know it is going to be a big month for the DEB Set. Next week the train will be moved to get access to the pit on site to make inspectons easier, and by the end of the week we will see the team from Lithgow Railway Workshop get to the Hunter Valley and do the final engineering checks for the transfer movement out.

From here we finish our applications for a TOC waiver with the ARTC, Sydney Trains and John Holland then arranging a date and time for LVR’s 47 Class locomotives to come and take the set for the journey to the Central West.

Once the set is in the Central West we can begin basic bodywork repairs (that i am going to Rothbury today to photograph).

Don’t forget we have a raffle ending tomorrow, small one to build up the war chest for the Inspection and Transfer of the set. Prizes are a DEB set hat and a pen (7).

We have raised $3500 in the last week alone, the project is very greatful to those who have contributed financially and with time.

Thanks again, tickets can be purchased off this site.

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Apr 14, 2017

We are getting close to a move of our set, support us by purchasing some raffle tickets!

First Raffle of 2017, please support the cause by “Sharing” this Raffle to give us the best exposure. All prizes are donated so anything made off this is clean profit for our restoration. We are getting close to turning a wheel out of Rothbury so every dollar counts.

Please understand that this raffle is to support the restoration and operation of a NSWGR Rail motor set nicknamed the DEB Sets. None are currently in heritage service. Though you may not know the train you can support by going into the running to win some fantastic prizes.

Over $36,000 has been raised over the past 2 years towards the restoration.

First Prize –

Brand new Peco track, points, catchpoints and curves.
Included is a track layout of what it would create 4.5 x 2m Layout - or make whatever you please!
Included is;
10 x Peco Code 100 Flexi Track
5 x 95 Medium Radius Right Hand Turnout
7 x 96 Medium Radius Left Hand Turnout
1 x 88 Large Radius Right Hand Turnout
1 x 89 Large Radius Left Hand Turnout
2 x 85 Left hand Catchpoint
3 x 84 Right hand Catchpoint
10 x ST-235 Curve Pieces
36 x ST-238 Curve Pieces
5 x SL-10 Rail Joiner packs
3 x SL-11 Insulated Rail Joiners Packs
3 x Track Joiner Pin Packs
It is worth around $900 (Based on ebay prices)

Diagram attached to show the track configuration it will build.

Second Prize –

State Rail watch with Tanagra second hand

Donated to raffle by a member this fantastic piece will be at home in any NSW Rail collection.

Apparently they were issued at corporate functions around 1989
The case is a little beaten up but the watch is in excellent condition.

Third Prize –

The set comes complete with a speed controller, is Ready to Run and is a perfect train set for beginners and hobbyists

• HO Scale GE Dash 8 40 CM BHP
• 4 HO scale ore cars
• Speed controller with wall pack
• 12 Pieces HO scale 18" radius curved E-Z Track
• HO Scale 9" straight terminal rerailer E-Z Track
• HO Scale 9" straight E-Z track
• Illustrated instruction manual

To purchase tickets please follow the below links –
One Ticket ($2.00)…

Three Tickets ($5.00)…

Twelve Tickets ($20.00)…

Twenty Four Tickets ($40.00)…

Forty Eight Tickets ($80.00)…

Thank you to our supporters, we hope to bring good news soon.

Want to know more about us? please follow the link and Like our page.

To be drawn Saturday 1st July 2017.

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On May 25, 2016

Get in with a once only chance of securing a HO Scale DEB Set.

This fantastic (and rare) set is built and detailed professionally by Ian McIntyre, generously donated to the DEB Set Restoration to raffle.

Anyone in the model railway field will know how rare the model is, plus the value of one professionally built.

The set is set up for DC, but will easily be converted to DCC (I'm sure Ian will give advice to the winner)

The raffle begins now, so be sure to get tickets to this sensational model that will compliment any model railway.

Tickets can be purchased at the Albury Model Railway show over the weekend or online via the following links.

One Ticket ($2.00)…

Three Tickets ($5.00)…

Thirty Tickets ($50.00)…

Sixty Tickets ($100.00)…

The Raffle will be drawn on Friday 19th August.

Thanks to the people involved in the donation of the model, it can be viewed tomorrow at the Albury Model Railway Show, and I will post more photos soon.

If you have any questions about the model, ask away!

Thank you for supporting Rail Heritage!

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Mar 16, 2016

The topic for today is the 900 Class DEB Set, which was a reliable and well regarded daylight Rail Car set used on the New South Wales Government Railways.

The story of rail motor development in NSW is a great story, but one for another time. Interestingly the story of the DEB Sets begins with Australia’s home front engineering throughout World War Two.

During World War Two, the Australian Government selected the New South Wales Government Railways Chullora Workshops as the site for a wartime manufacturing plant. The Chullora Railway Workshops are located adjacent to Liverpool Road in Chullora (Western Sydney) and still exist today.

The Chullora site is known as Australia’s largest secret manufacturing plant of that time, which was used for the production of various types of military weapons. During this period over 2000 men and women worked on site on a daily basis to keep our war effort moving. Chullora was responsible for parts of the Beaufort Bomber, Beau Fighter and Lincoln aircraft. General Lee and ACI Tanks were also constructed at this site, whilst turrets for the British Matilda tanks were also manufactured on site.

Post War After the end of the war, the NSWGR invested in the design of new generation rail motors to begin modernising passenger fleet, and the designers adopted the construction techniques employed in Chullora for the construction of aircraft in the previous years. Specialists used in Chullora for the construction of aircraft were absorbed back into the railway pool after aircraft construction was transferred out of Chullora to Fisherman’s Bend (Victoria). By 1946 the NSWGR hierarchy approved the construction of ten two car diesel trains to work on branch lines. These were called the 600 class rail motors.

The 600 class were the first rail motor predominantly constructed of aluminium similar to aircraft. This significantly reduced the weight whilst maintaining the integrity of the cars. They were constructed as a power car, the 600 class, and a trailer car, the 700 class. These could be operated from a cab at both ends of the set, consisting of a capacity to hold 70 passengers and eight tons of freight. Once constructed, the 600 class were deployed to country branch line rosters across NSW to a successful working career.

DEB Sets Parallel to the development of the 600 class was the 900 class coded as a DEB set. The DEB set was a main line, air conditioned daylight express service which had a unique setup including a Power Car – Trailer Car – Trailer Car – Power Car configuration (Power cars were 900 or 950, Trailer cars were 750, 800 or 850 and Parcel trailers were 350). This set was designed to work with two sets together to create a seven or eight car set. On the 2nd November, 1951, the first DEB set entered service on the North Coast Daylight Express from Sydney to Grafton. This DEB set was plagued with mechanical issues and was withdrawn from service in 1952; less than six months after its introduction. After the withdrawal of the first DEB set, construction on the remaining DEB cars were suspended pending the outcome.

The solution came from trials in Canada and America from the ‘Budd’ cars of similar heritage. The Budd cars used a GM engine, which proved more reliable than the original Hercules engines employed on the DEB’s. Construction continued and after 1955 a further 9 DEB sets were introduced onto the Canberra Monaro Express (replacing the steam hauled Federal Express), Far West Express and Northern Tablelands Express.

After previous issues were identified and corrected, the DEB sets had a reliable career and were well regarded by crews and passengers for their comfort and reliability. During 1973, the Canberra Monaro Express was reduced to a single four car set due to a fall in passenger numbers. In August that year, the spare DEB set was assigned to work the Riverina Express. This set was usually worked by new Tulloch railcars, which were proving troublesome and unreliable.

The DEB sets worked the Riverina Express until 1982 when the XPT was introduced. Slowly, the new XPT’s removed most of the DEB sets from their usual rosters. DEB sets were then used on the Junee to Griffith connecting services, and also in the Werris Creek to Moree services. The South Coast was also serviced by DEB cars during the 1980’s. Sadly, the once popular Canberra Monaro Express ceased operation in 1988, displacing a further DEB set. In April, 1989, all remaining DEB sets were reallocated to State Rail and placed on the South Coast, Moss Vale and Goulburn services. By 1995, all sets were retired due to the introduction of the Endeavour Rail Cars. DEB sets saw 50 years of service on the NSW Rail Network.

On the 5th January 1986 PF908 was totally lost due to a fire near Dombarton, as a result of the fire DEB’s were suspended from use on heavily graded the Moss Vale – Dombarton Line. PF902 was also the victim of an in service fire while in the Yerrinbool to Mittagong section during 1994 and consequently was condemned. Trailer TB802 also suffered a fire in July 1992 and was also condemned.

During the DEB’s Service life no passengers were ever involved in a fatality, but unfortunately a driver and a fitter lost their lives in PF906, as a result of a level crossing collision with a stock truck near Gunnedah Abattoirs on the 13th May 1975. PF906 was condemned as a result of the collision but was rebuilt and re-entered service as HPF959 9 years later due to a rolling stock demand at the time.

From 1995 to 1998 the remaining DEB cars remained in storage, pending a breakup of the fleet to several rail heritage societies.

The Codes for DEB sets

* PF – Power Car (901-5 and 907-10, 906 was rebuilt as 959 following a level crossing accident)

* HPF – Power Car with luggage facilities(951-959)

* TB – First Class Sitting Car (801-803)

* TFR - Second Class Sitting Car with Buffet (851-852, TFR 852 converted from TBR 852 Dec 1956)

* TBR – First Class Sitting Car with Buffet (851-857)

* TCR - Composite Sitting Car with Buffet (861-862)

* TC - Composite Sitting Car (751-753)

* TM - Second Class Sitting Car (853 & 857 were rebuilt from TBR 853 and 857 during 1990)

* TP – Parcels Trailer (351-353)

Out of 36 DEB cars built during the 1950’s (18 Power Cars, 15 Trailer Cars and 3 parcel vans) 9 have been scrapped during service or after withdrawal (Power cars 902, 908, 951 & 956 and trailer cars 801, 802, 351, 352 & 353). 2 DEB Cars are in private ownership (PF904 was last seen on a property south of Sydney and TFR851 is on display at Walcha Road)

Of the 27 remaining DEB Cars;

- 4 are with the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum (905, 955, 752 & 854)

- 5 are with Transport Heritage NSW at Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot (910, 952, 954, 753& 856)

- 16 are with Lachlan Valley Railway (901, 903, 906, 907, 909, 953, 957, 958, 959, 803, 751, 851, 852, 853, 855, 857, 861 & 862)

Of the original DEB Fleet almost 70% remain in preservation in some form, but none are currently in service. Lachlan Valley Railways DEB Set Collection represents 44% of the entire DEB Fleet and 64% of the preserved DEB Fleet.

The Rothbury DEB Set was secured as part of a new southern chapter of Lachlan Valley Railway in April 2014, the secured cars include - PF903, TC751, TBR855, TB803, HPF957 & HPF958. Power Car 903 ran the Final Far West Express in September 1975 and the final Cooma service in November 1988, quite fitting given that 903 was introduced onto the Canberra Monaro Express in May 1955. HPF957 entered service on the Northern Tablelands Express in November 1960 and also spent time on the Canberra Monaro Express, Riverina Express and the Orange – Lithgow – Mudgee service in the mid 1980’s. HPF958, like 957 entered service in November 1960 allocated to the Northern Tablelands Express. 958 also spent time on the Canberra Monaro Express post 1974. Trailer Car TBR855 entered service on the Northern Tablelands Express in June 1959. TB803 entered service on the Canberra Monaro Express in April 1956. TC751 entered service on the Far West Express (as it was built for) in September 1957.

In June 2014 a team of sheet metal workers, mechanics, carpenters and labourers hired a bus from Albury and travelled to Newcastle to do the first technical assessment of the 900 Class over a single weekend. Through the assessment it was identified that all Motor Cars required an aluminium reskinning around the drivers area, a result of corrosion caused by reactions with iron bars around the front of the train. Also quite a few windows were removed for safety reasons. The Thurgoona Men’s Shed in Albury have been manufacturing temporary windows that were taken to Rothbury and installed on the DEB Set cars in December of 2015 when another working bee was undertaken.

The first challenge faced by the new southern chapter of LVR was finding new wheels for the Power Car PF903 and Trailer Car TC751. At the end of the DEB’s service life the wheel sets were at a condemnable level and inappropriate to use for revenue passenger service. For 12 months a search was made across NSW to locate replacement wheels, finally in late 2015 four new sets were identified, and through negotiations a price was established for the wheel sets and they were secured for the restoration. In July 2015 an online fund raiser was established to raise funds for the restoration of the DEB Set and as of 6th February 2016, over $21,000.00 has been raised.

The interiors of the cars are close to immaculate, this is attributed to clever planning by the previous owners to cover all the windows in the train that did not allow sun light to enter the cars. At the moment we are waiting to sign an agreement on a location to restore the DEB Set closer to home on the main south. Very shortly after this agreement is signed we will look to transfer the DEB’ Set to that location.

Because on ongoing negotiations we cannot let the cat out of the bag early, but by the time you read this the DEB could be shifted and restoration underway. As I am writing this, the set is being inspected to be moved from its 20 year slumber at Rothbury. All things considered we expect the DEB set to be operational by 2018/9, servicing the Riverina and beyond on tours. Benefits of the DEB Set are a top speed of 115km/h and driveable from both ends of the train.

The set can carry up to 170 people with buffet facilities on board with a range of over 800km. With 170 Passengers on board the train will consume approximately $1.70 per head of fuel per 100km. We are continuing to fundraise and spread the message of the DEB Set restoration. We are also continuously looking for volunteers to assist, skilled or unskilled.

I would like to personally thank all the donators and volunteers for the confidence and effort they have given to this ambitious project. I personally have enjoyed the relationships created by this project, rail preservation has some fantastic knowledge within its ranks and also people willing to give you their time for little return.

A few Key points on the restoration to date –

* $21,180.00 Raised.

* 2015 saw 611 volunteer hours on the project.

* Bogies and 8 new wheels secured for the set (2 with final drive equipment)

* All smashed windows replaced by temporary window frames for transfer

* Graffiti removed

* All car interiors cleaned out of waste

* Compilation of a DEB set database full of technical schematics of the DEB set

* DEB set is ready for final inspection prior to movement

* 507 members on DEB set restoration Facebook Site and growing weekly

* Every dollar raised has gone to the DEB set, no admin!

We have a Facebook site on the restoration to keep members and contributors up to date on the progress of the restoration. This can be found at Or search NSWGR 900/800/750 Class "DEB" Sets in Facebook.

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Jan 11, 2016

What is What is The Albury and Junee Railway Wall of Honour?

The Albury and Junee Railway Wall of Honour is a permanent exhibit of individuals that will be permanently featured in a restored rail car set (900 Class). It will be the only place in New South Wales where an individual can honour his or her family heritage within a moveable monument - that will travel within NSW and interstate as a tribute to the men and women of service who were employed in Albury and Junee. Every passenger that the restored 900 Class has on board will have an opportunity to inspect all inscriptions.

Is my family member or friend eligible for inclusion on the Wall of Honour?

The Albury and Junee Wall of Honour is open to all entries. It is open to all career roles for railway workers, year of beginning work and year of retirement (if not current). The Wall of Honour is for both living and deceased. The common element that ties these names together is the celebration of railway heritage in both iconic railway towns of Albury and Junee that will tour around NSW once restored.

How can I place a name on the Wall of Honour?

The names of individuals inscribed on the Wall of Honour through donations will help restore and maintain the 900 Class DEB set. You can place a name ($35.00) on The Wall of Honour using our online order (Link Below) or you can contact us on our Facebook Site to request information which will be sent via mail. For each contribution of $200, your name will also be added to the supporter Wall of Honour in the Buffet Car as a Major Contributor plus an Invitation to a recommissioning trip.

What else can you tell me about the 900 Class DEB Set Restoration?

The 900 Class is a 1950’s lightweight daylight running train that was once native in Junee and Albury on the “Riverina Express”, it was replaced in 1982 by the Riverina XPT. Once restored the air conditioned “Riverina Express” will hold 180 passengers with a top running speed of 115km/h with buffet facilities on board.

Thank you for considering a contribution to the 900 Class Restoration. We are relying on kind financial support of our community to ensure the future of this iconic train.

Through the generosity of people like you we have already saved the train from being scrapped and have now secured its future. We are also sourcing new parts and original documentation to begin the faithful restoration to put the 900 Class back to service.

Albury Inscriptions will be displayed in Power Car 903 & Junee Inscriptions will be displayed in Power Car 957

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Jan 11, 2016

Please see the extra pictures taken to show the update on the restoration ! Thanks!

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Dec 20, 2015

Glad to be home! Rothbury was ridiculously hot place to be on Saturday with temps of 36..... In saying that i just got home in Albury and it is over 40 with a bushfire raging just south of the Murray River, my best wishes to anyone affected by the weather/fires.

An update on our DEB;

The DEB is still in good condition, but areas are deteriorating quicker than others. We need to look for a transfer movement in Mid 2016.

All of the boarded over windows have been fitted with a flush mount cover that is placed from the inside the car rather than hang off the outside. Sadly PF903 has the most amount of missing windows (probably have something to do with its isolated storage location). I will get some pics up of them shortly. Thank You again for the Generosity of the Thurgoona Men's Shed for making these.

A full clean out of cars was undertaken removing bits that were stored in some of the cars from other dismantled locomotives and other rubbish. This made all the aisles and vestibules manageable for all persons on site.

Some riveting work was undertaken to areas that showed deterioration since the last time we were on site. HPF957 and HPF958 are showing rapid deterioration in body work compared to the other 4 cars. Possably because they never had a SP2 upgrade?

When the afternoon heat rolled off we decided to have a play on the nose of HPF958, which is not even close to professionally done, but good enough for a night pic. It sparked a couple of arguments on detail, but all part of the fun!

All in all we had around 20 people come along, many passed in and out. Considering it was a week before Christmas and an absolutely ridiculous temperature it was a very good turnout.

Thankyou to everyone to participated and supported the weekend - we can not do this without you.

Next goal is $5000 in the account to pay for the inspection prior to moving the train in mid next year, remember- every little thing counts.

We have raised a combined total of $11,220.00, please spread the word and share our posts!

If anyone is interested to go to Rothbury for 20 mins to do a quick couple of tidy up jobs it would be appreciated.

Link to the fundraising site;…/

Thankyou for a fantastic and successful working bee this weekend from myself and the admin team. More photo's to come

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Oct 25, 2015

Within NSW several trains of the railways were officially (and unofficially) named, Albury has its fair share grace the station facility over its 133 year life span. From the South Mail, Riverina Express, Intercapital Daylight, Melbourne Express (or MEX), Sydney Express (or SEX), Southern Aurora and from the Victorian side the Spirit of Progress.

All the glory and the romance of these once well patronised and famous services are reduced now to the XPT that services Albury daily. Not that I am knocking the XPT - it has served Albury well for 33 years but unfortunately age is catching up with the XPT fleet faster than it can be suppressed.

The Riverina Express began running on September 19th 1949, the same year the NSW railways completed the order of 30 38 class steam locomotives for use on express passenger services all over NSW. Records show the first Riverina Express departing platform 2 at Sydney Central with 3822 in charge.

The Riverina Express was a daylight passenger train, meaning it only travelled during daylight hours and sleeping quarters for passengers were not provided. Initially the Riverina express was made up of RUB carriage sets, accommodating for 74 First Class passengers and 212 Second Class passengers plus a buffet car. The RUB passenger cars were brand new at the time, and RUB set 140 was the first set to enter service and allocated to the Riverina Express. RUB Set 141 was allocated to the Riverina Express in 1950. Notes suggest that HUB passenger set 118 was briefly used during 1949 (HUB Sets were used on shorter daylight trains like the Newcastle Flier, South Coast Express and Central West Express)

The Riverina Express departed Sydney at 0815hrs, and travelled to Griffith on Mondays and Fridays. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the Riverina Express travelled to Albury. Arrival time into Griffith was 2146hrs and 1945hrs into Albury. The return trips departed Albury at 0844hrs, Griffith at 0645hrs and arriving into Sydney at 1954hrs

The 1962 Southern Timetable showed stops for the Riverina Express (to Albury) as Follows;
? Goulburn
? Yass Junction
? Harden
? Cootamundra
? Junee (Branch to Griffith)
? Wagga Wagga
? Albury

During February of 1972 the NSW Railways introduced the 1200 Class diesel Tulloch railcars to replace the RUB sets that were allocated to the Riverina Express. The Tullochs were designed to depart Sydney as a single train and break apart at stations along the line to service the rural areas as individual rail motors (such as Cowra, Tumut, Lake Cargelligo and Hillston) On the return trip the cars would amalgamate into a single train to arrive in Sydney.

The 1200 Class were known for a complicated electrical system, failures were common particularly when cars were amalgamating.

After a 1200 class suffered a distorted engine frame the 1200 class were withdrawn from service in 1973. A single set of 4 cars returned to service on the Riverina Express for 3 days a week rotating with a locomotive hauled service.

The 1200 class were withdrawn in October 1975, later it was decided to convert them to passenger hauled rollingstock for use on the south coast.

In August 1973 a 900 Class DEB Set was allocated to the Riverina Express to replace the failed 1200 Class, the set was removed from the Canberra Monaro Express after a decline of patronage on that service.

The DEB?s were built during the 1950?s and were a reliable and well regarded by passengers and crew. The DEB sets worked the Riverina Express until 1982 when the XPT was introduced.

The Riverina XPT Terminated in Albury until 1993 when the XPT service was extended to Melbourne, then a day and night service took over the roster between Sydney and Melbourne. This also saw the end of the Melbourne Express and the Sydney Express.

The Riverina Express operated for 44 years, using Steam, diesel locomotives and rail motors/cars.

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Aug 30, 2015

Hello, we are now only $3970 away from our first goal, securing replacement wheels and bogies (complete with final drive) for PF903.

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Update posted by Ross Jackson On Aug 14, 2015

So far we are looking at:

  1. 2 new sets of wheels (4 bogies)
  2. Minor repairs to the bodywork
  3. Paint shop for the 5 cars in the NSWGR Heritage "Reverse" Livery
  4. New windows to replace damaged ones.
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