Mechanical failure caused coach fire

The fire that destroyed a Lodges Bus Service coach on the Hume Highway while carrying Xavier High School students on March 20 was due to unpreventable mechanical failure.

The bus caught fire after the main oil supply line to the turbocharger worked loose, a report on the accident released last week said. That had allowed oil to escape under high pressure and spray the hot turbocharger and exhaust. Oil had leaked for several kilometres before the back of the bus exploded near Wodonga.

Students, teachers and the driver escaped unharmed, but the Volvo coach was written off.

The Office of Transport Safety report found Volvo had no procedures to recheck the turbocharger oil supply line. It said the turbocharger had never been serviced nor had its fixed bolts been rechecked for tension.

It said Lodges Bus Service did “most of the servicing on the coach, guided by the Volvo maintenance program”.

Lodges told the safety office that had Volvo had a retensioning program in its servicing regime, they would have carried out that procedure.

Owner of Culcairn-based Lodges Bus Service, Brad Lodge, said the report confirmed the fire was an accident. “As the report concluded, it was an unpreventable mechanical failure involving the turbo. We’ve got very high safety standards and we’ll continue to uphold those standards. The manufacturer’s specifications are all we can go off as operators and we’ll continue to take advice from manufacturer’s specifications.”

The coach had passed a NSW Roads and Maritime Services heavy vehicle check for re-registration eight days before the fire on March 20.

The report said a check on the integrity of the turbocharger and oil line during routine servicing, and the use of a thread-locking system, was appropriate to prevent a similar fire.

Volvo Bus Australia general manager Peter Duncan said the company took findings from investigations seriously and would look closely at the report’s findings. He said it was too soon to say whether Volvo would change its servicing procedure.

The report said no further investigation was required. Its findings have been passed to the Independent Transport Safety Regulator and Transport for NSW.

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Motoring history rolls into Forbes

Members of the Milton Ulladulla Classic Car Club at Forbes’ McFeeters Motor Museum.A small, but diverse part of Australia’s motoring history rolled into Forbes this week, as the town prepared to host another car club rally.

While the Milton Ulladulla Vintage and Classic Car Club is probably not the biggest to bring their annual rally to Forbes, the members had assembled an impressive array of vehicles at McFeeters Motor Museum yesterday morning.

About 60 members of the South Coast-based car club are in Forbes for the rally, which started yesterday and will continue until Thursday.

The age of their vehicles varies, with cars manufactured in the 1920s right up to the late ‘80s. Vehicles that have been brought to Forbes range from a rare 1935 super-charged Auburn, made in the United States, to a Volkswagen Beetle, owned by the club’s events director, Tom Turner.

Mr Turner, who grew up in Forbes, said the car club members planned to spend Monday visiting Forbes attractions, before setting off for Orange today, via Eugowra, Canowindra.

Tomorrow the rally will head to Parkes Museum and the CSIRO Radio Telescope, north of Parkes, and also visit Ootha’s Utes in the Paddock.

Thursday has been set aside for the members’ own activities.

“Thursday is a free day in town and no doubt we will inject a bit of cash into the local economy,” said club president Garry Baker.

Mr Baker said the car club was 21 years old this year and had chosen Forbes as the destination for the milestone ‘annual run’.

Every two years the club hosts the ‘Harbour Classic’ where other car clubs from all around Australia are invited to celebrate.

“It’s all about the cars and the preservation of our Australian motoring history,” Mr Baker said.

“Our motto is ‘let’s have fun’ and at these rallies we get together and do that as a group,” he said.

The club were welcomed to Forbes yesterday by Forbes Shire Councillor, Michael Malloy, before setting off on a tour of town attractions, including the Forbes Museum. Last night members gathered for a dinner at Forbes Services Club.

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Success for Forbes dog

With $12,000 on offer for the winner, it was no wonder the 2012 Bathurst Cup was one of the closest greyhound finishes in recent history.

Forbes dog Irinka Luca took out the prestigious 520 metre Bathurst Cup at Kennerson Park on Monday night and only a head separated first and third.

Irinka Luca didn’t have the best start jumping at number six, but he came home strong and won by half a head in front of Chenzhou Boy and Good Thing was another half a head behind.

Trainer Ray ‘Jack’ Smith said the win was one of the most valuable his dog had run.

“We were not expecting to win, he is a good dog and had a bit of luck, but we are very happy that he did,” he said.

Irinka Dennis x Sussudio is highly regarded at the Bathurst track and his father holds the Kennerson Park record for the 520m distance in a blistering time of 29.72 seconds.

Irinka Luca ran the Cup in a quick 30.16.

Kyl’s Me Girl ($13.10) jumped first from box four and held the lead into the first sectional with a time of 4.30 seconds.

Chenzhou Boy ($6.40) and Irinka Luca then made their moves and Chenzhou Boy lead the field and was just out run in the final 30 metres.

Mr Gazmick ($4.90) from box eight jumped well and got into fifth early, with 300 metres to go he found the next gear and powered home, only missing the win but a head.

Bathurst Greyhounds Operations Manager Craig Townsend said the final lived up to the hype they expected.

“Bathurst racing really is some of the best racing in the country, the race on Monday night was so close and exciting and it is great we have the calibre here in Bathurst,” he said.

“Irinka Luca is a champion dog and he proved that today in tight racing.

“He was one I picked early to take out the race, but with the quality of the fields it could have been anyone’s.”

Townsend said Irinka Luca looked good coming into the final, he lost the heat by a nose but ended up finding space on the outside.

“He did get a bit lost in the heat and in the final he was still trying to find where he wanted to go, but he did enough to win,” he said.

“I was worried when he drew box seven, but he showed that an inside box doesn’t always mean a win.”

The Forbes trainer said he was not too concerned by the wide box draw because he is still not sure which box suits him the best.

“He does get a little lost and is not sure where he wants to run, but I think the wider boxes may suit him a little better,” he said.

Spring Blueboy was favourite paying $2 and was running from box one, he jumped well and got into the middle of the pack, but just could not find a way through the speedy traffic and finished outside the placings in sixth.

If Spring Blueboy did get up and take the win, he would have been the first dog to win the Bathurst Cup back to back and take the two major wins of the season, the Soliders Saddle and the Bathurst Cup.

The richest greyhound race in the world on March 24 at Wentworth Park, the Macro Meats Golden Easter Egg, will have Irinka Luca, along with four other Bathurst Cup finalists vying for the $250,000 race.

“This is an outstanding result, we may have had a couple before, but to have five from the Bathurst Cup in the richest greyhound race in the world, is incredible and extremely exciting,” Townsend said.

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Rugby club raring to go

Floods have forced the cancellation of another trial match for the Forbes Platypi, but the rugby club will still play its first pre-season game this Saturday.

The flooding of sporting grounds at Condobolin this week has forced the Rams to postpone the Brad Ridley Shield match until April 5, but the Platypi’s annual trial against the Temora Tuskers will go ahead as planned this Saturday.

Forbes will host the match at Grinsted Oval, which has been reopened after the flooding of Lake Forbes, kicking off at 4pm.

Forbes first grade coach Phil Prior said his squad is in good shape and were ready to play both matches, which had been planned for consecutive days.

He said the Platypi would be keen to get some match practice against Temora.

“Our schedule has been so disgruntled by the flood waters and so forth, we really need a couple of hit-outs,” Prior said this week.

The Platypi have been training under former co-coach Charlie Dwyer and Ash Hogan for more than a month and Prior said most of the players are in excellent shape.

“Ash and Charlie have been leading our pre-season training and we probably have one of the fittest squads we’ve had for as long as I can remember,” Prior said.

“The colts have plenty of numbers and the appointment of Jeff Stewart as colts coach is very positive for the club,” he said.

Stewart has played rugby in England in recent years and has returned to his home town to lead the Platypi under 19s side.

A recent knee reconstruction means he is unlikely to play much rugby this year, but Prior said his direction had already shown benefits.

Prior hopes the club can arrange a colts practice match before the Blowes Cup gets underway in mid April, but he said the wash-outs meant senior players would be given priority in any trials that do go ahead.

“The senior players will get priority simply because we haven’t actually had a run yet. The early season fitness is right up there with the last six or seven years, but we really need to get out there and hit the ground running,” he said.

The Platypi have retained most of their players from last year, apart from Murray Fraser and Chris Francis, and have gained Tim West and Jarrod Hall.

West has returned to his home town with his employment as a school teacher, while Jarrod Hall has switched to rugby after a couple of seasons with the local rugby league club.

Both would be “very handy acquisitions” Prior said.

Saturday’s game is expected to kick off about 4pm at Grinsted Oval.

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Henty on fire

NSW Firefighter MathewDavidson with his son Oliver. NSW Firefighter Dave Weston with Eliza Murphy .

Jett Weston

Having fun at the Henty fire station open day on Sunday were back row left to right: Jedd Lieschke, David Damschke, Joe Wilson (NSW Fire Brigade), Kobie Skeers, and Elsa Meyer. Front row Shaun Ripps and Fergus Meyer (wearing his fire chief’s helmet). Photo: Phil Takle

A vintage fire truck manufactured in 1938 proved a hit with the 100-strong crowd attending Sunday’s open day at the Henty fire station.

As fire stations across the state opened their doors to the public at the weekend, the inclement weather failed to deter visitors from getting an insiders look into how the Henty station operates.

The Dennis Light-4 fire truck originally helped fight fires in Sydney and Newcastle before being used at Henty between 1965 and 1975.

After it was de-commissioned, it was purchased by the Henty fire station and is wheeled out at special occasions, including their annual open day.

The truck’s open cab design proved especially popular with the youngsters who enjoyed the opportunity to sit in – and climb all over – the vehicle.

Henty fire station commander Bob Kilo said he was happy with how the open day went, despite the weather, and the strong crowd which attended.

In addition to the truck display, there were also a range of free activities at the open day including firefighting demonstrations, station tours and fire safety advice and information about installing smoke alarms and preparing a home escape plan.

The Henty firefighters also put on a free sauzage sizzle for visitors.

The Open Day, which marked the end of Fire Prevention week, proved a great way for people to get to know their local firefighters and learn how to prevent a fire in the home, particularly important in the lead-up to


Fire and Rescue NSW used the event to remind residents that prevention is the key and it is imperative households have working smoke alarms and a practised home escape plan.

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