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

Fundraising Appeal

We need your help to put 6029 back on the rails.

$70,000 is the target we need to reach, before we can fund all the materials and services we need to complete the project. The next big ticket items on our shopping list will likely be piston and valve rings... Don't forget about nuts, bolts and other sundry items that we buy almost every week to keep the project moving.

If you can spare a few bucks, please help us reach the target by clicking on this button.

If money is tight, why not come down and get your hands dirty instead. And remember, the more help we get, the sooner the Garratt will again grace the rails, for the enjoyment of old and young alike.
Don't forget that people who donate over $500 in total to Project6029, will qualify for a cab ride once 6029 is back in service. What an incentive! Anyone can qualify for this bonus, and those that have already donated are in the running. Just donate a total of $500 or more and you are in the queue...

Apr 24, 2014

Easter Steam Spectacular

So Easter has come and gone, but what a weekend... Some of us would be looking forward to the Easter break, and with all the work achieved before the event, there may be a well deserved break afterwards for those who went above and beyond in the preparation for the long weekend, with planning and preparations around the site and the gargantuan effort to have 3016 and 6029 in steam.

The weeks leading up to Easter 2014 saw so much work done and some still to do. The 30 class boiler work was almost completed  a week ago when tests were undertaken, but as always, there are things to be done after tests are completed. The 30 class needed the brick arch reinstated in the firebox, and the spark arrester to be refitted before any loads were attached. In railway service, the arches would have been made from specially shaped cast bricks which would have been easily installed following maintenance, but they have long gone, and these days, the common practice is to cast in place, meaning that you create a temporary structure from timber and then, like pouring concrete, mix up a batch of material and create the arch... Sounds simple,but working inside the firebox is never the easiest, and this job is no exception... Add to this also, that the arch has to be properly dry before you can make a fire, so this job was attended to very early in the week.

Alan took the opportunity to fit one of the Garratts pistons in order to check to the overall assembly procedure and to check the fit of the hard packing on the rod. Intent may have been to leave it in, but the packing is all going to need machining to suit the new size of the rod following its hard chrome restoration. It must be noted that the old rings are past due for replacement, and will all need to be replaced, at the cost of a mere $30,000 a set, so the existing rings will be only be usable for the purposes of testing and proving all the locos systems under steam, and for light engine trials.

Friday saw the steam spectacular start in earnest, 3016 was hauling shuttles to Queenbeyan and return all weekend with the help of 4807 in control of the return trip, 3112, a privately owned tank engine was on display along with 1210 and the CPH railcars. Most importantly, it was the occasion of the first public showing of the Garratt in steam. Percy Forrestor, one of our long term supportors, and in some ways the most important one as far as the restoration project goes, made the trip down from the warmer climates of Queensland and was on hand all weekend to pass on the knowledge he has of the 60 class. He was a driver of these machines when they were in regular service, and it shows... his knowledge will be invaluable as we once again have to learn how to use and maintain this wonderful example of engineering from days long gone.

The footplate was open to the public for the weekend and so many young children, and the young at heart took the opportunity to climb aboard and have a look around. Percy and others were on hand all weekend to answer the questions as they were posed, and for the lucky, there was even the chance to blow the whistle... you can be pretty sure that a good portion of Canberra knew we were here...

Even with the loco in steam, and the requirements of keeping the weekend rolling, some time was still found to perform work on the Loco.The fact that we had steam all weekend gave us a great opportunity to test many of  the subsystems, with notes being made of everything we found not quite up to scratch. One of the important tasks was to get the rocking grate into order. Most of the parts were located, with the exception of one actuation rod, and bolted into place... Also missing, but soon to be located, I suspect in a carefully stored bucket, are the original pins, so bolts were used to hold it all together for now. All the systems that could be tested were tested and notes made of what was good and what needed work. After a tear down like we have done, there are bound to be some loose fittings and things that don't perform like they should. One of those things was the lubricator for the air compressor. It works, but sticks in one spot needing a hand to get moving again. Best guess is that a shaft has been bent in storage after it was rebuilt, so it is one of the jobs that wont take long to correct. Also on the list was a bunch of air leaks to attend to, not surprising really as this was the first time we have had the compressor running for any period and most of them were relatively minor.

We also had the time to throw a piston back in with a view to leaving it in. Alan had test fitted the same piston earlier in the week, and taken it back out for adjustment, so one task was to put it in and connect it to the cross-head. A relatively easy task, with the help of a few people and a little improvisation, and one which we will have to repeat a few times. We did however strike a minor issue.... The taper that connects the rod to the cross-head would not seat properly, so it needs to come our again... It is suspected that there may be a little extra material on the taper following the hard chroming process, so some investigation will be in order.

Andy has been busy also, running a temporary power line from the turbo to the front headlight. He has also fitted the new LED marker lights made by Mike Ridley and they look a treat. The loco was scheduled for a night photo shoot, and you can see below that it really has come along. The photo shoot was a fund raiser to help us finish the loco off, with quite a good turnout. In the early evening, 3016 and 6029 were moved to another location in the yard and a small display put on for the assembled cameras... There is one shot below by Howard Moffatt where you would swear the 60 class was leaving the yard... Have a look and see what you think...

As always, and yes, it is a broken record, we do need more money to finish the job. We are so close now that you can taste the celebration drinks at the end of the restoration, but we can not make it without a little more support, so dig deep and remember that you can secure a cab ride for the mere sum of a $500 donation. There is a growing list of people who qualify for the cab ride, so why not join them and get a real feel for what this machine is like in steam and working hard.

Apr 15, 2014

Giant Leaps, A Lot of Effort and a Little Steam

For those that have been following our progress for a while, you would realize that the restoration of a steam engine like this, or any steam engine for that matter is always going to take time, and a lot of it, particularly when you doing the job properly. Our last post showed some of the work going into the preparations for the Easter Steam Spectacular that is on this weekend, and when you see what has been achieved by a small group of people in the last few weeks, you will, like me, be amazed at what can be achieved in such a short time.

Touching firstly on the 30 class, some pretty major boiler work was undertaken, with most of the fire tubes removed and replaced for the inspection of the barrel, repairs to the smokebox floor, boiler fittings freshened up and a full paint job were just the start. To say that it looks a million dollars is one thing, but look at the pictures of it taken on Saturday and you have to agree, Ben and his helpers know how to paint a locomotive, in a hurry!

Then if that's not enough, have a look at the Garratt... Both paint jobs were achieved in record time, without any compromise in quality either. Alongside the painting, huge efforts have been made on a multitude of small, but essential jobs allowing us to have the independent boiler inspector back onsite yesterday afternoon to witness the first full pressure accumulation tests on coal. The stoker system was tested and proven to operate as intended, with Karl and Ben easily setting all three safety valves and performing the accumulation tests that were necessary to have the boiler signed off as serviceable.

There are still a number of things to achieve and complete before she is moving under her own power, and even more before we can get approval from the regulator to start trials on the network, but that day is not far off either. We need to finish repairs to the ashpan, re-install it and re-install the steam exhaust lines from the hind unit, install the electrics and lighting, purchase the new piston rings and so many more little tasks as well, but excitement is building, and building in a hurry.

Without wanting to sound like a broken record, we still need to raise more money for the rings, a substantial purchase without any doubt, and one that needs help from anyone that can. It doesn't matter if its $20 or $2000, if you can spare a few dollars, help us out and send it our way, the faster we can raise the money for the rings, the sooner we will be back on the rails for the enjoyment of young and old alike, and if your in the area this Easter weekend, come on down to Kingston and have a look at what we have achieved so far... The Garratt will be in steam most of the weekend, and you will be able to get up close and personal with 6029

Apr 6, 2014

DOUBLE HEADING – preparing two steam engines and car or two in 4 weeks

Yep we've stretched ourselves. We have committed ourselves to showing off not only 6029 but also to have 3016 in steam around the same time that the Easter bunny does his rounds.

Numerous cries for help have gone out and the results have been fantastic. The paint job on 3016 is magnificent, leaving some speechless – just a superb job that makes the engine stand out. There have been feverish activities taking place on this beautiful locomotive by an industrial few, who committed to and have simply over achieved to get this far. Some of the attached photos show the paint work that the team undertook.

The 6029 logistics team (aka Malcolm) proved himself invaluable delivering some very important items back to us from Sydney... the 4 pistons, sporting freshly chromed rods courtesy of Diamond Hard Chrome, are now ready and waiting for new rings and reassembly in their bores. The appreciation of the team for this effort by Malcolm and his Father is enormous. Two trips carrying pistons to Sydney and bringing them back is just the start, as after delivering the pistons, Malcolm was very quick to load tubes from 3016's boiler for a visit to specialist welders, L&A Pressure Welding. 3016 has been ailing lately and needs a transplant of boiler tubes. These vital organs have been donated by the Powerhouse Museum from the recently deceased, original boiler of 3265. However, before the transplant, they need to have an extra portion welded on to replace material lost in the process of removing them from the old boiler. Once the tubes are returned, 3016 should make a speedy recovery and be back in steam for Easter.

The work day saw a good turnout of team members, some long termers and the rest of us gathered under shelter – morning rain was to indicate the rest of the day, drizzle.

There were a number of tasks to work on – and the team divided evenly amongst them. The covers to the valve casings were removed so that the surfaces could be dissembled and access gained to the sleeves that support the various components that allow a seal to be made around the valve stem and yet allow full sliding movement. They needed a lot of cleaning as years of accumulated muck had gathered. Persuasion with kerosene and a scrapper allowed the four sleeves to be cleaned and made good. Access, of course, proved the major hurdle to overcome.

The levers and associated cradle for the rocking grate mechanism which had been cleaned and painted last work day was targeted for mounting in the cab. It sits on the fireman’s side under the valves controlling the individual steam jets that carry the pulverised coal into the and across the fire bed. Various items needed moving and relocating. The major item was the steam pipe for the stoker motor. This had taken some considerable work to persuade into position before the cab floor was fully installed and join up to the stoker motor. Now the floor was in and considerably more paraphernalia had been installed around it, there was no way around it – gentle persuasion was not on the agenda and brute force was needed. Most of the day was spent swearing and banging from behind closed cab doors. Those of us below, working at ground level smiled with confidence that all would be good soon. And in a biblical sense there was indeed reason to smile as then there light and all was quite. The cradle and steam pipe were back. Nothing left to do except paint over various areas of the cab with “gremlin” green.

There were other important tasks also happening while the enlightened team in the cab toiled away. Painting is high on the agenda for the appearance of 6029 at our Easter steam extravaganza and at a recently announced photo opportunity, so the rear tank received vigorous sanding and preparation work. A vast area that took most of the day to cover even with mechanical assistance but none the less necessary, as it is to receive various coats of primer and the top coats. The prep had to be good as we could not afford to let 3016 out shine our pride and joy! Again a tough job but well underway by end of day.

Finally, a cover for the fireman’s side rear cylinder and valve case had been fashioned and required mounting. This had been fashioned some time ago using a somewhat suspect template. To no one’s surprise the template did not accurately reflect reality and thus ensured a minor coming together of metal and mind to solve various angles and hole placements. At one stage it appeared that metal would win this battle however with cutting wheels and grinders to hand, a not too ugly change to the plate was made. Painting and washers and a bit of grinding will hopefully allow it to pass the keen eye of the approval team.

During the last few weeks, others who could not make the work day had been appearing at the shed and from the pictures it can be seen that the ash pan has been moved to the workshop and some cutting out of rust patches for replacement has started. There is much cutting, grinding and welding required. Carriage work has also seen progress where sanding and bogging of the sides of various carriages has proceeded in preparation for much needed priming and top coat application. A spray finish will really see the panels and the carriage stand out.

Mar 18, 2014

Late February and March 16

New and Old Tasks – the start of some routine work

These two work days saw a vast number of intricate and small tasks being tackled that various individuals attacked singularly or in pairs.

Two of the team decided that the rocking mechanism and various levers and arms was worthy of their attention. The mechanism allows the grates to be rocked under the fire and move clinker and ash into the ash pan which is suspended under the firebox. The ash pan, when in place also carries a system of water jets that can be opened and shut by the fireman. The water supply comes off the water feed pipe that readers may remember gave the team some frustration as it connected to the main water feed pipe that also fed the fireman’s side injector. It basically leaked a month back but now is secure and water tight.

The rocking levers and arms were in need of significant grinding and polishing to remove years of grime and old paint. By end of day this had been removed from the frame and redistributed, though not evenly, across the faces of the people doing the grinding and the surface of the workshop! None the less, the job was done and primed before quitting time.

Lighting and electrics has raised itself as a much needed activity. Locating and repairing the conduits has been a challenge as will running the wiring harness. The old junction boxes and much of the old conduit will require replacement, so much of the of February was involved in sorting out the useless from serviceable and then how to use it! With a turbine ready to power the circuits there are many issues to solve and manage such as complying with modern standards wherever possible, but also the ability to see various components like the motion and mechanical oilers – in the dark. The complexity of powering the various circuits and various voltages needed to do so are best left to the electricians.

A new cover for the air compressor was fashioned from a flat plate. The original serving as a template and its curves served as a frustration to the author and after much cutting, trial and error, the new cover and said bends were prepared and primed.

The team also focused on the sanding and smoothing out the old paint work on the front tank. 6029 is now housed back in the shed – luxury accommodation compared to outside now that the rain and colder weather is starting return. Being in the shed also means that the priming and application of top coats can proceed.

There are countless rivets on the front tank and each needs cutting back as much as the smooth surfaces so there was much sanding and clouds of sanding dust hanging around the tank. Fortunately one side and the top had already been sanded so these sections will require a light sanding with fine emery to be ready for spaying. The front sloping sections of the fireman’s side and the rear of the tank were attacked and by day’s end only the rear needed serious attention before painting will be able to start.

Long ago, there were many tasks performed in the engine shed that were routine but necessary to keep these engines running. One of maintenance routines that the team and management will need to put in place to maximise the engine’s availability to the public and enthusiast was the task of cleaning, more specifically the process of cleaning the rods and various components of the valve gear. The team started the first real official operational style cleaning activity by commencing to polish the rods, removing some months worth of grime and protective grease. The sight of these rods at slow speed is just magical and when at speed will present a great blur of shiny steel and steam!

The electrical work continued also during the day – locating and assessing the parts and various light fittings that in one case if fitted would have add probably too much bling! So that fitting was not used.

Aladdin’s cave, aka Ian's shed has not been quiet in recent weeks – with Ali Bab sneaking in and out delivering various lengths of pipe and the remaining parts of the stoker system – and fitting them to the loco. One was the cleaning and re-instllation of the oil reservoir for the stoker motor which needed some serious attention. Additionally a large external baffle appeared from the bowels of his ute and was fitted to the blow down exhaust and then painted in black. This baffle prevents steam and muck being blown over the front bogie under the smoke box and saves the bearing surfaces and other components from unnecessary abrasive material falling onto their surfaces.

The last main task of the day was cleaning the cylinders and measuring their diameters. This is in preparation for making the all important piston rings. We still need help with donations to allow these to be made, so please, see how you can help.

Lastly, the whistle. This was heard far and wide last time we had steam and it was very pleasing to hear comments from visitors that they had heard it across Canberra. No matter what, it seems that the whistle of a steam engine is unmistakable to any one and just draws out all age's and walks of life. It will not be long before our whistle will be a regular sound not only across Canberra but on the rails around New South Wales!

Mar 7, 2014

Update for January and February

Heat and Sweat – the joy of steam engine work!

The weeks have flown past with what appears to be ever increasing speed as the progress on our project has geared up a couple of notches – notch 5 perhaps?

Yes, January produced one of the hottest days for working in the sun but some of us ventured forth with hat, sunscreen and water bottles to the proceedings of the day. Key areas of focus during January were the preparation of the front tank for spraying, focus on water leaks and sorting out the remainder of the parts that have been stored away.

The front tank needed smoothing and sanding so that the spraying of primer and top coat can be a close to perfect as possible. This meant sanding and sanding and sanding of the black and rapidly becoming very hot surface. The team managed an almost complete sand of the driver’s side and the top leaving only the fireman’s side to clean up. Despite the fact that this seemed t make the tank look very odd and un-kept it was recognized that the sanding was necessary. Spray of the tank will happen in the next month before the ugly wet periods set in.

The pool of odds and sods was reviewed and an inventory completed of parts that make up the glands and seals for the piston and valve rods. These were last seen basically some 6 years ago if not longer when they were removed to allow extraction of the pistons and valves. Much gnashing of teeth was witnessed some months before when it was noted there were only 3 buckets of goodies when there should have been 4. However as with most things on our project and as is often commented by our project manager “they will turn up somewhere”. And he was correct – they appeared and all was not lost in an almost magical like moment. Only one pin was missing for the hind valve rod. It is important to note that not all parts are serviceable and these will be outsourced to be machined form new stock.

The steam pipe from the super heater header to the side of the smoke box and out to the connecting pipes for the rear engine needed attention. In the earlier hydraulic testing it was noted there was some leakages in the joins. These joins require careful attention when assembling as the “O” ring is bevelled to allow for uneven alignment but too great an alignment is naturally never going to be overcome and this was the problem. The assembly as it passes through the smoke box side needed to be loosened then the joint could be loosened, re-aligned and tightened and then the join through the smoke box could be tightened home again. This sounds easy but in the heat of the day, heavy rattle gun in place and working in a space that was tight to say the least made the process arduous and long. None the less the job was done!

The grate working assembly was magically found and noted to be in need of the old wire brush and cleaning department’s attention. This was the next job of the day and was started. The day was quite hot so a call to the lounge ar was made slightly earlier and the team adjourned for the day.

The next week or so saw a tremendous effort by the team of knowledge experts and qualified workers in creating strategies to put in place the full hydraulic test of the boiler. Using the loaned water pressure pump they were able to take the boiler up to pressure to the satisfaction of the boiler inspector. This was a major milestone and meant that whilst the volunteer force were building their strength for the next major achievement a clear path to a full steam test could be achieved.

February Sun, rain and a whistle!

During February many of the volunteer force were engaged in study for SafeWorking which consisted of 2, 3 day sessions and one 2 day session.

During these weeks though the permanent and odd volunteer were able to assist collected various items, corrected various problems – completed joins in steam pipes, blocked off various items that would not be tested in a planned steam test and generally performed checks of lots of pipe work and connections. In particular the guys started connecting the various oil and steam lines to the power reverser mounted on the driver’s side of the boiler. These lines were a bit of a “spaghetti junction” so study and review of the engineering drawings were made to ensure that forward on the wheel actually resulted in forward! Also oiling of the various parts need to be check to ensure oil was being delivered.

The all important compressor also needed priming and preparation for a long awaited run. This pump had been reconditioned and serviced some years back and mounted approximately a year early to the boiler mounts so it was important this was inspected and oil flow confirmed. Of course the oiler is based on steam pressure to operate so manual priming was the only possibility at present.

The team (minus those studying) on the ground assembled on February 15 and it was approved by the boiler inspector to warm the boiler and bring it up to 50psi to test the turbine generator, the compressor and injectors. Naturally boys being boys also wanted to test the whistle!

Those in the academic sweat box received a text that a fire had been lit and there was about 5psi in the boiler this was after approximately 3 hours of slow and deliberately cautious warming. But this soon changed as the hours went by the pressure grew much more quickly. By about 3pm various items were being checked and confirmed to operate. The turbine emitted a wonderful howl as she wound up to speed. Some fine tuning and a load test will confirm current – sorry, but someone needs to start wiring up the engine, any volunteers who can thread wire?

The previously mentioned pressure pump – two stages – was next in line for some steam. A bit reluctant at first but after correct priming and draining of condensed steam she started pumping with that wonderful chumpf sound. Like a heartbeat.

The injectors were tested and despite some leakage and reluctance to function properly from the driver’s side injector, both started, stopped and restarted perfectly. We had water flow to the boiler now!

The regulator valves and a cleaning of the front engine’s steam pipes were next for a blast of steam. With faces gleaming and eyes bright the team stood back as the regulator was at first gently opened past the pilot valve and onto the running valves. With no valve or cylinder end covers we did not know what exactly to expect but what happened was a stupendous geyser, volcano like eruption of dense clouds of wonderful steam! And a magnificent deep bellow that seemed to come from the bowels of the engine. An awesome sight and sound!

Then like manner from heaven for your ears the whistle blew loud and strong. It wailed, it sang, it blew and it really heralded a start of a new era for this engine. IT WAS LOUD AND WE WERE PROUD!

Project Overview

We are pleased to announce the boiler inspector witnessed the first steam test on the 15th of February. The preliminary testing went well and we will now work towards setting the safety valves for the accumulation test.

Work will now focus on completing the ash pan and smoke box fit out. We also now have a lot of cosmetic work to prep the loco proper for painting.

In the coming weeks we will shunt 6029 back into the shed for the painting stage. Steaming will now be restricted for the final safety valve set and certification of the boiler with Work Safe ACT.

On the publicity side, 6029 will be on public display (in steam) at the museum this Easter and on 24 May to celebrate the arrival of Canberra’s first train 100 years ago. We will use both these events to help the fundraising activities.

The big question is when she will be moving under her own steam. At this stage we estimate, it will be midyear, just in time for winter. It won’t be public running, but testing and crew training. All of this won’t be rushed, as we must certify 6029 for compliance to safety legislation and network standards. There is still the question of the new network ICE radio system that we still have to purchase and install.

So how can you help? We are always saying ‘please keep the donations coming in’ and at this stage we need about $30,000 to complete the job. You can also attend any of our workdays at the Canberra Railway Museum. These days are held on the first Saturday and third Sunday of every month.

Jan 28, 2014

Sunscreen and Water – getting wet!

The weather has turned hot so this second workday of the New Year required the time honored routine of “slip, slop, slap”. The previous day temperatures had reached scorching levels so all were prepare with hats, sunscreens and suitable clothing.

With hats and sunscreen application happening we divided the work into three sections. The cab flooring, the cylinder and valve head stud refurbishment, pin replacement (yes they are back for attention...) and prepare and execute a hydraulic test (with the aid of a very clever water pump on loan from Thirlmere). Oh, and two pistons needed to be loaded and sent to Sydney.

The cab flooring that covers the coal auger is not wood like the rest of the floor. It is made of thick steel plate which has complicated bends, inspection hatches and attachments to be fashioned. Last workday the section covering the auger closest to the firebox was fashioned. This work day the section joining to this piece and reaching to the rear of the cab was created. The cut out and creation of the inspection hatch were painstaking to make sure they aligned and presented no tripping hazards. So fastidious was the team that the cross hatching on the upper surface of the plates were aligned! Nice work. Once completed the new sections were disassembled, carried to the cab and re-assembled. Naturally most of the attaching bolts needed some significant juggling of hands, bolts, nuts and spanners due to the normal accessibility issues that are now par for the course.

Naturally there were more awkward positions to get to – the supports for the auger had to be bolted in too and these were only accessible from lying on your back between the bogie supporting the cab and the firebox and the cab floor itself. Needless to say job done and we were happy!

The studs holding the end covers of the cylinders and valves on the front engine (the rear engine’s studs had been overhauled last workday) were addressed. These required covering with Dixon’s and then a die passed over them. All passed muster so we are in good shape. Of course the bores will need cleaning soon to remove all the preservative grease but that will only happen when we are ready to insert the pistons back into their respective cylinders.

While all this was happening two pistons were being carefully loaded for the long and careful trip down to the Sydney suburb of Milperra for refurbishment. The piston rods will be machined, re-coated with a very hard alloy using electrolysis and then ground down to their correct specifications. A long careful and hot trip back to Sydney was their destiny. Once these are done, the other pistons will be dispatched for the same treatment.

Two annoying pins raised their ugly heads much to the author’s frustration – two long pins were need for the hind engines connecting rods. After much fear and worry that these expensive pins (these were the second attempts) would not fit, they were hammered home and their ends split. Success!

Thanks to the logistics department of the project – Malcolm, who not only transported the pistons to Sydney in the evening - we also received a very large hydraulic pump from the guys at Thirlmere. So two of us decided to get wet and remove a drain plug from the lowest part of the boiler – removing some clothing (modesty was upheld) and revealing skin that was brighter then the sun, as it had not seen such light for some time, we removed the plug and attempted to insert the pumps one way valve. Remember the boiler was full from our last test and we wanted to waste as little as possible. Lots of water, lots of laughing but we got it there. Getting wet was actually enjoyable this workday!

  • The pump worked off air pressure so with some mind numbing work on finding pipe connectors the pump was activated after the boiler was refilled. The whistle valve was closed and we awaited expectantly for the pressure to build. And build it did. We reach approximately 170 PSI and noted the following leaks: Regulators leaking – a steady but addressable leak
  • Drain plugs on the front of the fire box – weeps that were corrected by tightening after pressure was taken off
  • Fireman’s injector – the pipe leading from the water feed into the injector has an auxiliary pipe coming off it that feeds water into the ashpan sprinkler system This is not an easy fix as the large one of a kind nut had been many lives ago cross threaded causing it to finally fail. Back to our machinist friends for this one.

A good workday though in the end – as pressure builds we will find the next leak but they will become less numerous – and with the pistons travelling off to Sydney it was a great leap forward.

Jan 12, 2014

December 21 and January 4, 2014

Despite the rumous of the imminent arrival of the bearded one, we sneaked an extra work day into December 2013 just because we could! The task force were assigned basically two key tasks: attempt to fix the 3rd and closest to the cab safety valve and remove the rear engine cylinder covers.

Prior to any work though, the workshop did need some tidying up and general housekeeping. Many people using all the tools and equipment over the many work days results in each having their unique opinion on where the said tool should reside when they return it! The tools and equipment were spread across the floor and over the benches. A few hours and some order had returned although the location of some groups of tools may not seem appropriate to some, at least all the hammers were in one spot!

Over to the rear engine and with some persuasion and correct selection of wrenches the valve end covers were removed. These are much lighter than the cylinder covers and relatively easily managed by two people. The cylinder end covers are a much more different kettle of fish so once undone they were unceremoniously pushed off and allowed to land on rubber matting. Good news - the bores were not covered with any possum poop or rust, a testament to the great sealing job done on the cylinders many years ago.

The safety valve was deemed to be in need of seating and grinding to make it seat – during the hydraulic test it was noted to be weeping. After some effort and grinding the valve was replaced to wait testing at the next hydraulic test.

There was however A HIDDEN AGENDA behind the extra work day one – it was to move the pistons and valves to the workshop. Some say that these items were a myth and had been lost in the mists of time in some TARDIS like van, long since lost but as with most myths (and lucky for us) they are false. There they were safely tucked away in the end of a guards van, 4 cars from the end of the road. Safely hidden under fold down bunk beds and assorted paraphernalia they were heavily disguised. Heavy (about 250kg per piston) and not easily moved three of us managed in shifts to move the 4 pistons and 4 valves to the workshop. There they celebrated Christmas and New Year’s.

January 4, 2014. Welcome to 2014 - The New Year’s first work day saw a great turn out of volunteers. Most seemed nonchalant about the fact that the pistons and valves were now out in the workshop but silently there was a level of excitement that the realisation that the project was about to enter a very critical and important phase.

The teams divided into a number of groups. The first group tackled the studs on the cylinder ends and valve ends. The hind engine was addressed first – probably because it was closest to the workshop! The valve studs were all removed cleanly and without major drama. New studs will be replacing the removed ones after checking the internal threads in the valve casing.

The cylinder end studs were a totally different job and technique. Most were looking in poor state and seemed to be requiring replacement. Heat treatment on these studs did not produce the desired result so a strategic decision was made to re-thread the studs and have them assessed for strength and integrity. This will be done at a later date. The work was exacting and difficult and took all day to end up with a successful conclusion to the work on the rear engine. A great effort and it does make the same work easier to perform on the front engine now that the technique and results are known. This is a job for the next work day – Sunday 19 January.

Another group started work in the cab. The third safety valve was once again removed but instead a replacement valve was located in stores – a van of Aladdin’s delights stabled down the track. The replacement valve was disassembled and inspected, rebuilt and then mounted on the boiler. The next few hours were spent seating the valve in with grinding paste. Like painting it is not a very glamorous task but extremely important to get right and besides, the view from the top of the boiler did provide some benefits for the long time spent grinding away.

In the cab a number of valves and handles needed significant work to ensure a correct seal. This required grinding and in some cases machining. Also while this was going one a new metal floor plate was being fashioned. This was required to cover the area on the floor of the cab where the coal auger rises up to meet the firebox. Thick steel plate had been obtained and after many measurements was cut to size. Interestingly the measurements showed some considerable differences in length from the back of the fire box to the respective ends on each side of the auger. Nothing major and in the end a great piece of skill and craftsmanship resulted in a near as possible perfect fit.

The remaining group of volunteers proceeded to make themselves as dirty and grimy as is humanly possible by holding 4 inch grinders in both hands and applying the wire brush ends to the caked and baked-on oil that had adhered to the valves and pistons. The first items tacked were the valves. The main concern was the valve stems. There were no visible problems shown so these were polished and re-stacked onto the pallet.

The pistons presented the challenge. Whilst no one will ever see these again once they are back inside the cylinders there is a sense of satisfaction in making that metal gleam again even only for a short time until the next service. To get to this state though the oil that had accumulated whilst in service had become diamond hard and required chiselling and hammering to loosen. Wire brushes visibly wore down as they were applied to this material resulting in two errands for replacements brushes being made to the local hardware store. The photos tell the tale though, and there are now 4 pistons awaiting the next steps – transport to Sydney, machine down, build back up with electrolysis application of a chrome layer and then machining back to correct dimensions. Specialist work and as maybe guessed expensive.

Lastly the ever present need for the rings – these need to be manufactured. With the pistons cleaned and before they travel to Sydney accurate measurements of the diameters and widths will be made. This is an exacting task that requires patience and skill. Naturally measurement is one thing ordering and paying for the rings is another – please see how you can help. The rings are the major last hurdle to conquer and we need all the help we can get - big or small.

Dec 22, 2013


The day was clear and mild – excellent for the activities which were shortly determined and assigned. The painting team addressed the underside of the smoke box where large areas of unprimed metal needed to be coated. Three of the team addressed this with some degree of concern - due to the awkward access - but none the less, demonstrating a thorough knowledge of yoga, the hard to reach positions were finally reached and primed. Much of the applied paint will never see the true light of day however the priming and protection afforded by the team’s efforts will slow down the constant oxidization of the metal. Additionally we get to inspect the engine and locate missing tools etc. and the many cladding bolts and nuts still to be tightened or attached and this has been noted on the “to do list”.

Surface preparation, priming and painting have been recurring themes of the work effort and for very good reasons. The continued exposure to air of any metal will result in oxidation in one form or another and to different degrees depending on the metal. The driver’s side rear sand box is testament to the power of rust. The lamination of the rust and its subsequent expansion has forced apart the frame and the sandbox mount to the extent that they no longer allow the filler and box to meet – all this from the oxidation of the metal. Fortunately, Shaun had been using the blue tipped spanner on the other side of the engine. He was fixing a previous misadventure of the engine with a solid object that prevented the ladder on the fireman’s side matching up and meeting the frame. After his job was complete we applied the said blue spanner to the box and were able to remove it and the sheared bolts. Now we have to straighten it and align it and guess what - prime it and paint it!

The rear tank also raised its hand for attention including preparation and undercoating. The old paint brush tied to a stick was replaced with a very up-market roller on a pole which meant that the harder to reach sections became relatively easy to cover. Needless to say, the areas being attacked required preparation and this involved hand and mechanical scrapping. Some of the angles the team managed to achieve in doing this were very impressive – see some of the photos for a better understanding of just how difficult some of these sections are to prepare and paint. It was truly a great effort, persevering for a better part of the day on this important but not very glamorous task (wait to we have to polish the valve and connecting rods again!).

Fortunately there was a great turn out on the day so the team could split their work between smoke box and rear tank whilst the rest of the work crew tackled the review and removal of the regulator valve heads. These troublesome fittings were once a metal to metal seal between the head cover and the super-heater header. With wishful thinking we had use Dixon’s black as a sealant and tightened down the heads. There was a sense of urgency applied to the team as Al had designated the day to a hydraulic test at least to fire hydrant pressure (around 170 PSI). This meant that the boiler needed to be sealed and show no leaks under gravitational force and under pressure.

The first attempt was commenced prior to midday. The hose was connected, injector valves off, blower valve off and regulator closed and finally whistle open – we then awaited the sound of nothing except escaping air from the whistle but to no avail – “Water running out at the front!” came a cry. Sure enough we had a major leak in the regulator headers after reaching only about 50 PSI. A bitter disappointment and a large wet area for the smoke box painters to contend with.

The challenge – remove the 6 covers (these cover the 6 valves that have to date been painstakingly reseated, 4 large valves - for running and 2 smaller valves – one the idler and one the pilot valve), cut brand new gaskets from steam rated material, seal with Dixon’s, tighten and have no leaks before quitting time. Challenge accepted and the first of 4 covers – the larger ones – were removed and taken to the workshop. Measurements taken and the cutting commenced. Let’s just say that the gasket material is fragile and super tough and the old Stanley knife was little chop. Even the circular cutting jig smoked and sparked when applied to the material.

After a number of attempts and the odd encouraging word all gaskets were made and located on their seats. It also soon became apparent that the act of climbing the boiler to the top, lugging a heavy set of tools to the top was tiresome work and that when you drop a socket or nut into the bowels of the smoke box you only want to do it once. After that you never do it again – just simply too much waste of time and most importantly energy. Each cover was bolted down with 4 large nuts using the power drive and with fingers crossed we awaited the sound of the clack valve opening and shutting on the top of the boiler – and what a sweet sound that is – once the water was again turned on. Pressure rose and rose – “Water down here!” was the cry. “Turn off the blower!” or words to that effect was the response and all was quiet. Pressure continued to rise. The odd drip from the clack valve, the packing gland around the regulator shaft and down at the injectors a leak or two – BUT NOTHING ELSE! The new gaskets held and we achieved approximately 170 PSI in the boiler. This may not seem a very high pressure but have a look at the pictures, they show the blower valve turned on at this pressure and the jet of water that erupted through the exhaust. OH JOY!

A great year of work with new faces and old combining to deliver an incredible amount of work! We truly have moved incredibly close to delivering this magnificent engine back to the rails and under its own steam! LATE NOTE: Have a close look at the base of the water gauge the number 3808 is the fitting number!

Dec 4, 2013

Last Workday for the Year

The last workday for 2013 is this Saturday the 7th... Come along and help get the small jobs done in preparation for the Hydrostatic test. Work will focus on the smokebox and front end throttle. Painting will also continue alongside the mechanical work, so there are jobs for everyone....

Nov 28, 2013


Since the last update there has been a MAJOR event facilitated by Alan and Shaun – they sealed the major leaks in the water feed lines enabling an unfortunate few to find the one or two leaks in the front tank next work day. The rear tank seems to be holding up well and no leaks have been seen (there was at least 2 foot of water in both tanks on Saturday 23 Nov).
The inventory of leaks so far is:

  • Injectors – slow drip from driver’s side 
  • Rear tank – driver’s side rear drain, slow drip
  •  Rear tank – fireman’s side filling flange fitting for adding water from auxiliary tank cars, very slow leak 
  • Front tank – rear or tank facing smoke box door, constant steady drip 
  • Front tank – driver’s side constant drip, now sealed Isolation valve – major leak when the valve changed from closed to open. 
  • Front tank balance pipe join with rear tank balance pipe (just above the isolation valve) minor drip. 
So the recent work means the Boiler is now full – see photos of water gauges showing the water as it moved up the glass – YIPPEE HYDRAULIC TEST SOON! (We removed the safety glass that normally surrounds the gauge to better show the level in the photos). So getting wet has never been more enjoyable!

Painting and cleaning the underside of the rear tank with the standard black livery proceeds using several karma sutra positions and a few new ones with brushes mounted on poles to facilitate some of the more awkward locations. The rear bunker has received some much needed black paint and there remains only the last half of it to be scraped, undercoated and painted.

Random spots of undercoat have started appearing over the boiler, front tank and other less noticed places as the team move around the locomotive locating missed items. Seemingly annoying and disfiguring these spots are none-the-less necessary to ensure completeness of the painting job.

Other major works completed in the last few weeks have been the installation of the blower valve assembly and the air compressor starting valve. Both of these are essential items but more so is the front end regulator, the valves of which which are now almost all fully lapped in.

The stoker cab controls have been remounted and the steam feed pipes replaced with “new” recycled pipes and these have now been fitted and adjusted. The last pipe connecting the stoker motor and the control valve is still to be located. All in all a very exciting and rewarding few weeks for the team of volunteers where that sense of completion and smell of steam and coal are tangibly close!

Next work day is Saturday the 7 December – see you there!

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.

All donations over $2 are tax deductable.