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

Sep 18, 2013

PROJECT 6029 Update 17 & 18 August and 7 September

Pins, Paint, Valves and Water Test N0.1 – (the pain and the ecstasy!)

The last few weeks have seen some great turn outs of volunteers and this has been reflected in some marked progress. Painting has once again returned to, or near to the top of tasks needing attention, additionally attaching ancillary pipes and linkages have proven challenging and the all important stoker motor, coal auger and trough all needing bolting and painting to ensure they are correctly fitted.

During the last two work days a number of items were started and completed. A few articles back, mention was made of a clam shell that covered the universal joint in the coal auger where the auger dips downwards and under the cab floor on its way to the firebox. This is a very awkward two part cast fitting that takes two to handle and a third to help jostle bolts and nuts and spanners. The usual easy of access that 6029 is renowned for was also the cause of some mild frustration.

None the less the housing was put in place and tightened up sufficiently to work out it was upside down, soooo … off it came and with more juggling, some swearing and some good hearted banter from behind and under the cab, the team had it turned around and up and over, only to start tightening it down again...guess what “I think it is really upside down this time!” In deed it was, locating lugs and a small protrusion were clearly not where they needed to be. The reader could be forgiven for thinking all hell would break loose and a general call to arms would happen – but no, it simply indicated we were learning and understanding this engine. Yes we were a tad upset but we knew we had gained some knowledge and the next day the shell would be put right – did I mention it took about 4 hours from start to upside down to upside right again and they only started after lunch? – so the work team involved called it quits for the day. The next work day saw it bolted into place and even painted!

We are a little light on new photos as Howard, our "staff" photographer has been tied up with his day job following the elections, so it is that a few images, not before published are presented, of works undertaken by Bruce in his Camden based workshop over time. He has done a lot of machining as you can see, and saved us on several occasions with "that part" that  we needed to complete an assembly. We cant take the machining he has done lightly, as most of what you see there starts out as steel bar stock 1 1/2" or 2" diameter and ends up mostly as swarf, all done with care on a manual lathe... No modern CNC stuff here.

Now where were we... There were some areas mentioned previously about sunshine and darkness requiring painting. First order of the day was cleaning the area to be painted – the area is of course under the hind tank and bunker in the spots meant to be painted when there is no tank in place. As all painters will tell you preparation is the key to a great job, so it was back to scrapping and wire brushing. Angle grinders with wire wheels can be quite frightening at the best of times, but when they take off or veer off course while held at the extreme limits of your arms’ length they can be quite different. All this whilst performing the act in a confined space that would make the average contortionist proud and it probably should be listed in the top ten positions in the Karma Sutra! We achieved about fifty percent of the area scrapped and primed ready for the top coat. Next work detail will see the other side scrapped and primed.

The pins oh the pins (this is the ecstasy bit) – two remain to be fitted to the rear wheel locking hubs but until we rock the engine a meter or two each way we cannot gain access properly. That’s another job to be tackled next work day.

The chimney received a coat of long overdue black paint and the spray gun came out to tackle the cladding on part of the boiler. We will discuss how best to tackle this job as it is a prime piece of viewing real estate to the public and therefore will probably require some specialist attention.

The dome has long sat askew on top of the boiler slowly weathering and peeling. Having time to kill – about 3 hours actually, that being the time to fill the tanks for our hydraulic test – we brought it down and tackled it with wire brushes. Three people and 2 hours later it was clean and ready for some panel beating that when completed made it look almost as good as new again. Primer applied and it sits now in the shed ready for top coats. Nice job!

The blow down valves were receiving significant attention whilst all these other shenanigans were going on around and below them. The valves were cleaned and the reseating process started. Clearly these valves which reside on top of the boiler just behind the chimney need a good seat and free and easy movement. The process of cleaning the area was also complicated by the fact that a feathered family had created a nest around the valves and the dirt and general muck was quite significant and difficult to remove. A vacuum cleaner did part of the work. By the end of the day the valves were almost completed and bolted home.

There was also an annoying pipe joining the compressor to an exhaust box. It seemed OK on the ground but needed considerable persuasion from the blue tipped spanner(read Oxy Acetylene torch) and much leaning to get it into shape. Seems that the old boiler was just simply like all other boilers in class - unique in small ways (this is one of the pain bits). So next work day will see this being measured, fitted and tightened home.

Lastly, and the best part of this update is around the first test since we tested the boiler many years ago (this is the real ecstasy bit). The whole day had been planned around the first of many tests to check for water and steam integrity of all those lengths of tubing and pipe work. We had a new brass plug recently cut and finished so all drain holes could be sealed. So early on in the day an excursion was taken inside the front tank. Due diligence around safety was important so a watch on the adventurer was maintained. Three new holes were found in the front tank. These were drilled round and plugged with a ¼ inch bolt, washer and nut plus some sealant. Once all done as best could be determined we started filling by turning on the hose and then set off to do all the other work already described. But, we did have some spotters keen to see if there was a leak or two. The results were disappointing. The two tanks front and back are joined by two large diameter pipes which lead to a valve assembly just under and forward of the cab, driver’s side and then into two smaller pipes that attached directly to the injectors. These pipes all demonstrated a propensity to leak and leak they did (this IS the pain bit). We need to now remove, strip, clean and re-apply new gasket material and reassembly and “rattle” gun home the bolts. A set back yes but this is what this restoration is about - learning and understanding.

Someone said as the sun started setting “It’s a steam engine – what do you expect?” Looking at 6029 I wondered... It was designed by some very clever and talented people, built by equally talented fabricators, resulting in, quite frankly, an engineering marvel where coal, water, grease, oil and metal combine beautifully to create forward motion and enormous tractive effort. Why then can it be so hard to join two pieces of metal together with 4 bolts, in the  expectation that it will seal, and while applying only the force of a short column of water, have it LEAK! Well may we ask and there is really only one answer – a lot of what we are doing is based purely on experience and these experiences formed the skills of those that spent theit life maintaining these mechanical marvels in the age of steam... Skills that have been largely lost through time, and that we are re-gaining each and every work day.

Come along next work day and see if you can have a go at learning something new or using your knowledge and experience to help move 6029 to the next test day!