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

Jun 25, 2010

Wednesday 26 June 2010

As with any large engineering project the rebuild of 6029 is being tracked against a project Gantt chart. Today’s review of the chart showed a commencement date of 16 June 2007. So its three years to today’s date that we actually started the planning process. Work on the ground didn’t start until October of that year as it took a few months of preparation before we could start getting our hands dirty.

To celebrate this anniversary I thought I would take the opportunity to post an abridged overview in general terms. So after three years what have we found and what is the actual damage to date.

From day one 6029 was complete but looked very tired. It last ran in 1981 and was withdrawn with boiler issues, around the thermic siphon area. The initial assessment included the spare boiler the society sourced 1n the early 1990’s. It was found to be in almost new condition with little or no thinning of all plate work etc. The main problem was the smoke box area that had been modified for use in a saw mill, which has seen a new floor fitted along with the reworking of the steampipes, superheater header and not to mention 50 new elements. The elements looked to be in good condition externally but were found to be full of water. When pressure tested they started springing leaks to the point that they could only be used as a water sprinkler. So the decision was made to go for a complete new set and to date 30 have been fitted. The final twenty will be fitted in the next couple of months while the boiler is on the ground.

At the fire box end the extraction of the life expired ash pan mounting studs continues. At the back head, the foundation ring studs are almost completed and must be screwed in place before the boiler is placed in the frame. The reason being that one of the lateral cradle beams is a L section that would not allow access under the foundation ring of the boiler if it was in place. The sheet metal cladding is best fitted to the boiler while it on the ground. As previously reported it can be likened to wrestling an octopus while standing on your head. This is further complicated when the boiler is placed in the frame and is 10 feet off the ground. Ian Senini has completed all the cladding around the fire box before the anticipated boiler lift, well done Ian. Mike Reynell overhauled all of the boiler fittings and to his credit all have been tested and work well.

The boiler cradle yielded no surprises but as suspected some plate wastage around the cab area was found. This is very typical on all steam locomotive restorations as the mixture of coal dust and the cab hose make for an acidic mix. Fortunately this had not progressed far and the whole area was de rusted and repaired. The same cannot be said for the cab and the team at Eveleigh have welded new sections into the side sheets and all is well. The fire bed drop grate was completely seized and further investigation revealed that the coal dust and water had done its job here. As a consequence of this the decision has been made to replace the manual level system with one that is actuated by air cylinders. Our older firemen(project manager included) will be most grateful of this decision. Not to mention that the crew will have more room to place their feet comfortably on the foot plate without getting tangled up in the shaker levers. The timber cab floor was found to be in poor condition and will be replaced with new.

The cab was transferred to Eveleigh in 2008 with the help of our friends at Goodwin Alco. The rebuild of the cab has been very time consuming but the end result speaks for itself. We have had an offer from the team at the Powerhouse Museum to assist with the re riveting in putting the cab back together. With a look at 3265’s coal tender we anticipate a superb job that will ensure the historic appearance of 6029. We are also very grateful to 3801LTD for allowing us to do this work at the very place where the 6029 was put together all those years ago.

Both the bunker and front tank have required some patchwork to bring them up to standard. During the 1990’s the previous maintenance team had the foresight to have the interior of both tanks sandblasted and coated. The new patches will require the same treatment while there is still more work to be completed on the internal baffles. An interesting observation was that we found the original shipment stencilling on the back side sheet. It reads 'Loco 6029 consigned – Syd Australia'. The amusing part of this story is that it is one of a small number of original parts of 6029. We have now identified parts from almost every member of the class.

The engine units have been a challenge that cannot be described in glowing terms. The amount of coal dust, cylinder oil, brake block dust and road grime found is almost unbelievable. It is estimated that the removed grime would easily fill a small dump truck. The team has vowed to never allow the accumulation of this much crud again. Having said that, it highlights that these locomotives were work horses and did thier job well, but were not pampered with the same love as the high speed express locomotives. The area around all the cylinders was covered in up to one inch of that crud. Our team has been beavering away on this terrible task and the project manger has also shared the pain to try and prevent a mutiny. Anyone who comes out of the area at day’s end usually has a case of black oil spot fever.

Very early in the project all of the axles were ultrasonically tested by a specialist contractor and were all given the green light. Before this took place we were all holding our breath as this could have slowed the project significantly if the results came back with that word, 'fail'. Grease samples from all of the axles boxes were sent away for analysis and all drivers are ok. One of the bogies axle boxes has shown signs of overheating and will be investigated further before it is reassembled.

The four bogies have been one of the most significant challenges and now that we are up to number four, we have become very proficient in their strip down and rebuild. To date we have replace four broken main and three lateral control springs. All had at least one broken leaf and in one instance the retaining collar could not be found. Each bogie has two Nathan four way distributers and Ian Senini is progressively reconditioning them. The bogies are fitted with eighteen flexible high pressure grease hoses, all have been replaced ($$). Many of the steel bushes on the spring equalising beams have been replaced as most were worn over specification.

So after three years and many thousands of hours work we can start to see that light at the end of the tunnel. After we have completed the four bogies we will start and have a serious look at the engine units. The team has already started on the top end of the leading unit but this is only the start. The horn stays were known to fracture in service and the microscope will need to be applied here .As previously reported the valve gear has been removed and found to be in good condition. The connecting and coupling rods are next on the list after the big end bearing extractor has been completed.

Interesting times ahead

Alan Gardner