Steam engines are a labour of love for Mike Gallagher and his wife Judy, who dedicate keeping the old-time machines in top condition.
“I was born into a family of steam, my dad was a steam roller driver for the Brisbane City Council, and so I guess it was inevitable that I was going to end up with it in my blood,” Mike said.
“I inherited dad’s 10-tonne steam roller.”
Mike and Judy shared their passion for steam at this year's Yesteryear Machinery Rally held at the Tegege Recreation Reserve over the weekend.
“I am a steam enthusiast, and I want people to know all about steam.
“Steam is consistent – night-time and day-time. I am passionate about steam.
“We are taking water, boiling it, creating the steam, capturing the pressure and turning it into power – and we have done that for hundreds and hundreds of years and I am still doing that now.”
With the machines powered by nothing more than burning wood and boiling water, Judy said it was fascinating to know just how much energy was produced with such little equipment or time needed.
“We love to show people what steam can do,” Judy said.
“Steam is very powerful, and it has lots of energy.
“Steam boilers like this (Alpha Dixie), were used in dairies and this one was used for cutting wax in beehives.”
Mike said the 10-tonne steam roller passed on to him by his father was still functional, and he cared for it with a passion.
It took almost four years to restore the near 100-year-old steam machine, which is kept at Mike’s home.
The steam roller was built in 1924 by British firm John Fowler and Co of Leeds, and it was used by the Kyogle Shire Council before Mike’s father acquired it.
“Steam has played such an important part in our past, and I enjoy telling people the history of it,” he said.
“I like my brass and I polish it all up, I spend hours polishing it actually.
“No matter where we go, whether its Clairmont or Sydney, I am always the only one there with steam. It gives you a little bit of a thrill knowing I am here carrying the steam flag.”