6029 is owned by the Australian Railway Historical Society, ACT Division and the restoration is proudly supported by their tourist operations and by the generous donations of members and public supporters.
The society operates rail tours out of Canberra with our heritage fleet of steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock every few weeks.
To travel in style on any of our tours, or to learn more about our collection and operations, go to Canberrarailwaymuseum.org
Oct 12, 2014
Last Saturday was 8 years to the day of the first workday of Project6029 and the start of an 8 year journey that saw us achieve something that many people said couldn't be done, restore Australia's largest steam locomotive to operational order,. Slim tells the story of the day...
We started at a reasonable hour by lighting the Garratt at around 8 am – a leisurely start in deed as we had no timetables to keep. Some cleaning was commenced on the front engine and it was soon recognized that with the length of this beast, it was going to mean we either had to start 24 hours earlier or get more help! The light up crew and assistants rapidly worked out that the target of a total clean and polish was going to have to be limited to a spotless cab and a light wash of the boiler and front tank.
The initial team were assisted later in the morning as others turned up but it quickly became apparent even to blind Freddie that if we are to turn out a spic and span locomotive that is a credit to the team and the society, that we need to very much work as a team, focused on delivery, stepping up and taking on those often dirty and often thankless tasks. They are actually fun – yes truthfully, fun!
As the loco had been pre warmed Friday afternoon, the lightup was fairly quick and the boiler started to “sing” about 9.30/10.00 after throwing what felt like all the sleepers from Canberra to Queanbeyan through the fire door. The fire became very hot initially and it shortest route to the atmosphere was via the fire door not the chimney so care and respect of the fire was the order of the morning.
Note to author/self ...do not put head in or near fire door when throwing in wood, with no blower operational before steam is raised, there is a tendency to ruin ones hair cut by burning off the outer layers!
Once she had reached the 50 PSI mark at about 10.30 it was surprising how quickly we doubled that and by 11 we could start planning and then moving around the yard shortly after. Our target.., move over to the platform road, couple up to 3016, move her out of the way and return to platform road and couple up to the short two car set that was waiting. What fun using the Garratt as a shunting engine. For the author a rather daunting shunting experience considering the size involved. With skilled driving, the shunt was achieved without incident.
The order of the day was for short runs up and back along the north shunt. This gave the present contingent of volunteers an opportunity to ride in cab, firing and driving. This locomotive is big, bigger still when you start throwing in wood and realize the fire grate is bigger than some bedrooms. Bigger still when you hold the throttle but biggest yet when you can actually feel all 250 tons accelerate – yes accelerate, this engine is powerful.
Visitors to the museum got a huge surprise to find that their presence at the museum would see them getting short trips up and down the north shunt behind a Garratt for nothing more than the entry fee to the museum, and given that the carriages were pretty much full of families and smiles all afternoon, its pretty easy to see that they enjoyed themselves as much as the volunteers.
The experience of firing and driving is perhaps what all had dreamed of – actually being in the cab after so many hours working in Canberra and man caves, each contributing what they could, there were some very large smiles. The help of Ben and Carl in guiding us through this never to be forgotten moment is appreciated. Regrettably, Alan had to leave early for a family holiday so he missed the smiles on many of the faces.
As usual there were lots of great photos happening care of Howard but he does stand out with the world’s biggest grin on one shot that probably says it all for us all. WOW!
Unfortunately being volunteers some of the team could not participate as they had family or similar commitments and hopefully they too will have a similar experience in the New Year. Speaking of which we need to prepare and fix all those minor things on the Garratt and start in earnest on carriage work that so badly need to be done, so the regular work days are in place - first Saturday and third Sunday... See you there!
Sep 5, 2014
Tuesday saw the braking tests and detonator testing completed between Fyswick and Canberra and Wednesday saw the load test to Bungendore completed.
The load test was required to prove that there were no issues hauling a train over the grades that are to be encountered in service, and meant that we had to take a train, at slightly more than the maximum rated load to Bungendore and back to prove that the load was well within the locos capabilities. In this case we took several of our stainless sleeping cars, two diesels and a couple of power cars to make up a load of almost 600 tons. The maximum load for 6029 in railway service on the Canberra branch was 650 tons. In order to reduce wear and tear and reduce maintenance issues, a decision has been taken to reduce its maximum load by a small amount.
As the weather has been overcast and windy, lighting for pictures was less than favourable, however Howard does have some nice pictures for us, and Bevan's video is as usual, is very nice. An added bonus was a picture taken from a slightly unusual vantage point by Bevan's son, Ross... See if you can work out how he did it. I was told that the train went up the hill so fast that it was hard to get ahead and set up for the next photo, so that alone would suggest that there was no issue with the load.
There have been a lot of inquiries as to when we will be able to start hauling passengers. There is unfortunately, still no way for us to say when this will happen. With the tests completed, we are now in the hands of people whose job it is to sign off and issue us with the necessary approvals and paperwork. The time that this will take is an absolute unknown, and it has been known to take several months. It is now spring in Australia, and if the approvals were to take too long, we will be up against another problem, that of our summer and the fire bans that prevent us from using any steam locomotive for a period due to the risks of starting fires.
As soon as we know of any dates or information relating to when we can start running, it will be posted both here and on the museum's site, Canberrarailwaymuseum.org
Aug 18, 2014
We stabled overnight in Goulburn workshops and it was a very cold start to say the least, at minus five degrees C. Getting out of a warm bed at 5 am was not a good start but the light up crew had to start even earlier. The reward was the start of the run at 8am with the exhaust steam putting on a spectacular sight as we left Goulburn on the way home.
The two day run was a succession of testing and gradually increasing the speed as each test parameter was proven. The last part of the run home was at full speed and we are happy that all went well. Having said that we still have a way to go but at this stage it’s a cautious thumbs up at this point.
We have received some criticism that we were not able to advertise in advance that we would be out on the network. We don’t apologies for this as the testing is a critical element of ensuring and demonstrating that all is well to network and industry standards. We have advertised on our web page that tickets will be on sale soon but we can’t pencil a firm date until the notification of change is completed including testing and network registration.
I have been asked "how do you guys seem to just get the job done with no fuss" both in terms of the rebuild and the roll out of operations. The fact is I am very fortunate to lead a team that is well qualified in engineering, training and operations. That’s not to say things won’t go wrong as they most certainly do and often when you least expect them. Having a team that can fix the issue whatever it might be is critical, but the key word is team.
So what's next? For me, it’s countless more hours in front of a computer completing all the required documentation. We have a full load adhesion load test planed on the Canberra branch in the next few weeks. Again this won’t be advertised and we would like to remind all to please observe the network rules of trespass.
The first runs will be on the Canberra branch and tickets will be available at http://canberrarailwaymuseum.org/ . If you are interested, regularly check our web page and this blog for details as they come to hand.
Our next workday is Saturday 6 September at the museum. Please keep an eye on the web page for advanced ticket sales and please support us by purchasing a ticket or several.
Aug 14, 2014
There were many aspects to the trial that I will let Alan explain in a future post, but we can be very happy that the Loco got there and back with very few issues, and none of them are major.
The primary purpose for travelling to Goulburn was to prove the locomotive was 100% compliant with track circuitry systems. A signaling engineer was on hand and along other officials from John Holland, performed testing both in Canberra yard as well as on the way to and at Goulburn.
Tunnel clearances were high on the list to be tested and were found to be greater than expected through the Pine range tunnels which is great news for us. Remember that the trials we are doing are no different to what a new loco must perform and pass before being granted permission to run on the network.
As we work through the testing programs laid out for us, we are incurring some rather large direct costs and as such, we are still very much open to donations. As an example, we used some three to four thousand dollars worth of coal on the return trip to Goulburn and that is just the start... This Loco will never be cheap to run and the sooner we have revenue earning trains behind us the better, but that can only happen once we have completed the testing program and have the approvals in place...Still a little way to go.
Aug 5, 2014
If you think it looks cold, it was... in some parts of Canberra it was snowing, but not in Kingston... Would have made for great images of it had. With a few miles now under the wheels, a list of small issues has been created and many have already been crossed off.
We have made it a very long way with this project, and for us, the ride is not yet over. Now as we start the testing that is required to satisfy both the regulations and our own internal procedures. We need to be satisfied that the loco is ready for service and need some time to train the crews that will operate the loco and the maintenance crews how to move from the restoration phases into the operational maintenance.
I know that you would all like to know when we will be out there hauling trains, and I wish we could tell you when that will be... Unfortunately, at this point we really don't know. There are so many tests that have to be completed and signed off, unfortunately, many of these tests are dependent on outside factors and the successful completion of prior tests. Keep a close eye on the blog and as soon as we know anything new, it will be posted here. In the meantime, there will still be updates and info on what is happening and I am sure, many more photos as well.
Jul 26, 2014
The ABC News team were on hand and produced a news article that is certainly worth a look... Click here to have a look... There is a video clip there to watch as well.
Here are a few photos as well... It goes without saying, that the loco looks absolutely wonderful, just have a look at the gloss in the paint, and it will be improved on before long as well, as this current coat of paint is temporary, so you can imagine how good it will be...
More info of the day and extra photos will be posted very soon, there are a few having a very well earned rest to celebrate the day, they have earned it!
Jul 23, 2014
The Cardew valves are automatic water release valves designed to prevent damage to the cylinders if water was to be carried over from the boiler and trapped in the cylinder while the loco is moving. The valves have been lovingly reconditioned by Ian and Glenn and now awaited refitting. They also had received a degree of polishing that the author is sad to say has raised the bar significantly in what has to be done to the rest of the bronze, brass and steel fittings around the engine.
Each valve (there being 8 in total) sits on a bracket that is a sense a spring. The spring looking something like a “C” on its side is bolted to the base of the bunker. This provides the ability for the valve to move and still remain attached to the pipe that is attached to the cylinders – in other words without the spring the pipe and fittings would be under stress whenever the frame and bunker move in different directions, which of course they do.
So 3 bolts/nuts each, one pipe per valve and two large nuts to clamp each pipe we were set the task. As is usual, trial and error produced the best way to mount these heavy valves. Each pipe’s tapered unions were both polished and cleaned, black Dixons required for sealing was applied and then tightened. The hard part was aligning the pipe to the valve and the fitting on the cylinder head. It took an hour for the first so things were not looking too good at smoko. The lads however had worked out the best way and by lunch 6 were on and 4 of those were tightened down. It was looking good for afternoon smoko, what could possibly go wrong? for a change, nothing! All 8 valves are now sitting on their brackets and tightened down. When hot steam for the testing comes along these will be tightened further.
While one team were busy on the Cardew valves, others were engaged on equally important tasks. New sand pipes needed bending and fitting and painting. More painting! The cab roof vent frame needed welding to complete their fitting – this required sanding and prep work before welding. It also called for lounging on the cab roof while holding a welding torch. As the roof is timber lined we could not run a full bead down the length of the slides so strategically placed welds and sealant will seal out most of the precipitation we may encounter.
In 1952 the mention of ICE radios in the steam world would have been looked upon by those in the cab as very alien. Ice would not have had any connection to a radio/location device and the use of a radio for a steam locomotive would not, most likely, have never even crossed anyone’s mind as being a tool of trade. 6029 had electricity in those halcyon days, but only for a few dim cab lights and the almost equally dim front and rear head lamps – the old steam turbine was both 32 volts AC and only capable of around 500 watts, or about 15 amps...
In this modern world with modern regulations and safety concerns, we need modern radios, lighting and more before we are able to hit the road, or in our case the track. The ICE radio needs a shade under 20 amps when transmitting, and if we had retained incandescent lighting around the loco, we would simply have trouble generating enough power.
With that in mind, modernization was the only path forward, and to that end, LED and HID lighting has been sourced and fitted along with control systems to allow control and monitoring of the systems from the cab. The modernization has allowed us to stay well under 500 watts during night operations, while having much more light available to us than ever before. The old wires and conduit on the loco were completely shot, and so to feed the new lamps front and back plus the associated paraphernalia we have rewired the entire machine.
Attentive readers may remember some mention of a large box being mounted to the coal bunker with wiring harness and other cables running through a feeder pipe. It was to house batteries, radios and other key elements of the electrical fit out. Well that idea looked and did become a functional nightmare so plan “C+” was hatched and put into place.
The batteries will now be housed in the original tool locker that sits at the rear of the bunker, just behind the coal space. A insert is has been prepared to hold the two batteries – they are not your average “D” sizes either, designed to allow greater than 4 hours of night time running without the turbo in operation, should it fail for some reason. The battery cables – two red and two black running from them were threaded down metal conduit that is now welded inside the lip of the tender. Safe from lumps of coal and muck. They then run down the feeder pipe and along with the antenna cables into the cab by bridging the gap between tender and cab. Of course these sections will all move in while the locomotive is in motion so flexible conduit is needed. So you can imagine the effort to thread all these cables and then decide how best to route them into the cab to join up with the circuit breakers, switches and assorted other things like radios and speakers. The ICE radio is now housed, and hidden, in its own box within the cab.
So if you notice extra bits and bobs hanging down, across or between frame sections, rest assured these are necessary items required now for safe working on the main lines... a lot of care has been taken to preserve the original fabric and appearance of the loco, and most will be hard pressed to see the modern fittings, except maybe in the cab where it has been unavoidable with the addition of the safe working equipment. Our 1950’s colleagues would definitely understand these new items and the challenge of where to locate them. Computers and radios are not good friends of steam, coal and water at the best of times, but times have changed and now they must learn to live with each other.
During the previous week other items have had to be attached if we are to run this locomotive on the main line – a speed measuring mechanism had to be fitted. This is a not negotiable and required addition. A new frame has been built and small crank operates off the driver’s side nearest main driving wheel. This in turn provides the rotational force to drive the speed register. This is well disguised and viewers will see an unpainted picture in the attached pictures – a credit to welding skills and metal work in general to create the frame and achieve alignment. It is a necessary evil and might be the most noticeable external addition...some may say it changes the lines of the locomotive but none the less, tight budgets and being a donation from interstate we have moved on.
Sundays cry was “To the pit to the pit” – 3016 had left on a trip to Bungendore and 6029 was moved out over the pit for the first time in a very long time. The encrusted muck and coal was so heavily caked on that hammer and cold chisel were the tools of the day. It was time to give the underside a once over and look for things that might be out of place and as we have done so much work on the loco over the last few years, without the aid of pits and sheds for much of it, it was time well spent. Brake rigging was inspected and in some areas cleaned along with a general once to check for and identify any loose or missing bolts. Its one of those jobs that you need to get dirty doing, and it wont be the last time either.
The locomotive is rapidly approaching inspection by the network officials and then it will begin its first trials and tests under very different rules from when it first left the factory and last ran for that matter. There will soon be the heavy beat and loud whistle of a locomotive that has not traveled under its own steam since the early 1980's, moving up and down Canberra to Queanbeyan line as we test, certify and retest and make ready for its full commissioning and return to passenger duties. Exciting isn't it? We think so!
Jul 15, 2014
The critical path plan has the team focusing on the completion of all outstanding work on the firebox and the smoke box. As the static steam tests are now completed the brick arch was cast and fitted with relative ease. At the smoke box end the smoke stack was aligned and welded into place. The screens x 3 that arrest the sparks of coal were fitted with surprising ease. The end result being the boiler is for all purposes now completed.
6029 has now been shunted into the paint bay ready for an overall color of basic black. But having said that it’s the middle of winter in Canberra and the conditions are not conducive or ideal for painting. With the conditions in mind it has been decided to go with a basic black for now and to go for the full original 1950’s configuration including red pin stripes over the summer months.
This coming weekend we will be working both days with still lots to do , all welcome.
Jun 25, 2014
Jun 12, 2014
Sunday 18 May 2014
Today saw a number of things being attended to, one of which was the final fitting of the smokebox cover that covers the top of the front end throttle. This plate, which belongs to the original boiler and smokebox assembly, needed some work to get it attached properly. to achieve this, Malcolm, Ewolt and Greg spent most of the morning struggling with blunt drill bits and half charged batteries to drill the last few holes to hold the plate securely to the smokebox.
Malcolm managed to get himself into all sorts of weird positions in the smoke box between the super heater elements and the smokestack to push bolts up from underneath so that a nut and washer could be fitted from the outside... Needless to say that with the soot from recent steam tests and a bit of silicon to seal things up, the boys were just a little dirty as they moved onto the next task. Hopefully we wont have to take the plate off for a number of years. Andy was again toiling away on the electrical conduits in preparation for pulling cables in the next few weeks.
Sean and Mike and Howard were hard at work in the firebox, re installing the grate mechanism now that the ashpan was back on the loco. The job started easily enough, with parts passed into the firebox and returned to their proper positions, but the easy stuff was soon over and the linkages had to be refitted while lying on our backs in the ashpan, in doing so, we also removed the option of exiting the firebox the easy way, though the door. Pictures show some of the process of putting it back together. Once the mechanism was back together, the only exit available was through the bottom of the ashpan.
Alan and Malcolm returned the drivers side injector pipework that had been removed to make way for the ashpan and by lunch, that task was pretty much done. Sean was also seen working on new gaskets to seal the hatch on the rear tank, something you don't worry about on most steam engines, but very necessary on this one if you want to keep water in the tank on an incline.
Next up, the task of finding and eliminating air leaks was attended to... several were found under the cab floor, in almost inaccessible places. Some contortions and a few choice words later, Alan and Mike had eliminated the biggest ones and were now in search of smaller ones. By the middle of the week, Alan was able to pronounce the air system free of leaks, which was quite a milestone... The brakes now work, properly!
Saturday June 7
The list of outstanding job has been getting smaller every work day. With the initial static steam tests completed work is now focusing on the ash pan and the smoke box. The ash pan flushers had to be fitted and drilled in position to ensure the water would spray on the hot ash in the pan away for the fire bars. The skinny guys were selected as they could fit up through the bottom of the pan. Thanks to David and Malcolm, yep the skinniest guys in the team. A test for flushing was completed by hooking up the fire hose and all went well.
Ben and Alan reworked the ash pan spark screens and fitted new mesh to the fireman’s side. The final fit proved successful with all gaps in specification. A final coat of hi temperature all over black and it all looked as good as new.
The sand system small bore piping and last remaining sand pipes were fitted. This also included the install of the flexible hoses that run from the boiler cradle to the engine units. The six pipes were made all new utilizing the old end fittings.
The sand system tested well with only minor leaks detected and repaired. De sanding pipes now have to be fitted as mandated by network rules.
Steve Preston and Andrew Bridger commenced the install of the ICE radio with the configuration issues now sorted. Some new equipment boxes still have to be made and installed. Thanks to Andrew and Steve for the expert help and the long drives from home from Canberra.
The 60 class were never fitted with speed recorders but it is a network requirement to have one fitted. A search around the country and a cry for help has yielded a good result. The 60 class driving wheels are the same diameter as the Tasmanian M class and as luck would have it the Don River Railway has a spare speedo drive in stock. Thanks to Dennis Camplin and the DRR for making this vital gear available.
In terms of the overall project the rebuild of 6029 is now coming to an end. The compliance documentation has been submitted to the National Regulator and network owners for approval. At this stage and all being well the initial trials we commence in July. However the testing phase will take some months to complete. This will also include crew training and certification. Our affiliated RTO Go Train Industries have completed the operating manual and lesson plans.
As safety is our highest priority, the testing will be rolled out progressively in line with the approved risk assessments and network rules. A friendly reminder is extended to all interested observers and photographers that accessing the rail corridor without the appropriate authority is prohibited and in fact is viewed as trespass by the regulators. We encourage everyone to enjoy their hobby while acting responsibly and observing network rules. Representatives of the network managers will be present during our trials and are likely to challenge anyone within the corridor.
If you want to get up close and personal with 6029, Canberra Railway Museum is now open every day and 6029 will be on display when not operating so you are most welcome to visit and have an up close look.
How can you help 6029 get back on the rails?
This project is self funded, the workers are all volunteers, and we need your help.
Maybe you can come to Canberra on a work day and get your hands dirty, or you have a nice workshop at home and need a reason to spend more time in it.
Maybe you can't make it to Canberra, but could do a little work in Sydney, if you think you have something to offer, contact us...even if you don't think you have anything to offer, but want to be involved in preserving a litlte piece of history, contact us and we will do our best to find something interesting and productive to suit you.
Even the simplest things can help...can you spare $5 or $10 a week? it's small change on its own, but if 20 people could donate $10 a week, that would be $800 a month that we don't have now, and every dollar will help us put this monster back on the rails for everyone to enjoy.