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

Dec 23, 2014

Big News!

23 of December 2014.

It has been sometime since our last blog report and we have received many enquiries asking for an update. It may appear that not much is happening however this is most certainly not the case.

The last of the testing was competed in September and since then the engineering team has been hard at it completing the test data and repots to finalized compliance with regulation and network standards.

We are now very pleased to report that approval has been forwarded from the national rail regulator (ONRSR) advising that 6029 may now run. After almost 8 years of hard work we are now ready to go, and in some way we are now pinching ourselves... is this actually happening?

To get our overseas friends in the loop, summers in Australia can be extremely harsh and fires are a natural disaster that cannot be under-estimated. Our Christmas is celebrated around the BBQ, and the beach is where a lot of Australians spend their holidays.

The 6029 team won’t be having a break this year as we will spend January 2015 finishing of the list of small jobs to get 6029 roadworthy. We are asking for all available to help out during this time.

We can now announce that the first shakedown run will be on the 28th of Febuary 2015 from Goulburn to Thirlmere. We will be running to the annual festival of steam that by all accounts will be a big event. As this is in effect a running-in trial, available seats will be limited. Tickets will go on sale on the 8th of January from the Canberra Railway Museum ticket office. Visit http://canberrarailwaymuseum.org/ for details.

The purpose of the shakedown runs is to fine tune the locomotive and to iron out any bugs as they arise. We will then plan the first official run most likely at the end of March, dependent on how the weather is shaping up as we come out of summer.

We have penciled in Goulburn as the staging point to run on the main south and we will run a series of short shuttles in May. This will allow passengers to connect with the local services from Sydney.

Our first sleeping car tour will be on the June long weekend to Junee in Southern NSW. This part of NSW features main line operations including the Bethungra spiral. We will also feature local runs between Junee and Wagga Wagga.

I will close off by thanking everyone for their well wishes and support during the testing trails, the interest has been overwhelming.

We would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, that will no doubt be an exciting one for steam preservation.

Alan Gardner

Oct 12, 2014

Taking the Company Engine for a Spin!

What do you do to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the first workday on 6029? Well for those of the team that could make it, you take the company engine for a spin!

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

Load Trials

For those that haven't already heard, Tuesday and Wednesday saw 6029 performing what we hope are the last of the testing completed which will allow us to submit  the change notification paperwork which in turn will allow the network owners/regulators to get on with the process of approving the loco for regular service.

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

6029 is now back in the shed having run the 200km round trip to Goulburn. The purpose of the run was to complete the necessary signal interface testing. Goulburn is controlled by signal circuits and it had to be proven that the locomotive can be seen on the track and that it activates the interface circuits. The good news is that the signals engineer was happy with the results and the testing will now move onto the next stage of the plan.

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

Goulburn Trials

By now, some of you may have heard that the Garratt has made it as far as the mainline in Goulburn. ...Tuesday saw light engine Canberra-Queanbeyan and return with no issue and Wednesday was Canberra-Goulburn with the return trip to Canberra performed Thursday.

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

A Few Miles

As with any restoration, the first few miles are often the most critical, and this is no different for us. On Friday, a week after the first moves around the yard, we had the first of several scheduled visits from the network inspectors to have a look at the loco and to demonstrate to them some important aspects of the loco and its performance. Howard, our master behind the lens was around as well and took the below images....

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

Friday was the day, it really was!

With just a little fanfare, and a huge amount of work by Alan, Ben and Sean along with many others in the last few weeks, 6029 moved under her own steam for the first time since the early 1980's on Friday the 25th.

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

Lights, Valves and the Pits!

Last weekend was just another balmy winter’s day in Canberra – 4 degrees at sparrows, 7 by smoko and 10 at lunch and that was about as good as it got. The wind was lazy – it went straight through you rather than around and some genius had parked our beloved Garratt in the shed right by the door to create a fantastic venturi effect (those on the boiler course take note of the learning and ability to use new words recently learnt!). But this did not deter the hardy team members who fronted up.

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

Progress and More Progress

Planning for the first network steam testing is progressing well and we now anticipate starting testing in early August, subject to approval of the network authorities. We still have to fit a Hassler speed recorder and an ICE radio for network communications, but we don’t anticipate any problems here.

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

MKR and Master Chef vs. 6029 Cooking Master classes and other stuff!

The cold has hit Canberra; snow has reached the mountains and frosts the windscreens of the cars. Of course not all is lost – the shortest day passed last weekend and so have a few key milestones on the path to our first inspection.

The wiring for the electrics has really been underway for some time but the last week has seen some accelerated progress. As mentioned by Alan we are rapidly approaching testing days and certification so, everything needs to be ready. This has provided incentive to the electrical fitter, aka Andy to deliver some critical steps in the wiring harness fit out. The critical lengths of wire running from the generator to the main bus have now been fitted. Previous wiring to head and tail lights already completed. The bus must carry all power to charge batteries, run lights and fittings and also the critical ICE radio. Clearly, most of this gear was never even dreamed of when 6029 was in the foundry being cast and beaten into shape. As a consequence there are many electrical engineers and experienced people engaged to advise of their needs for the specialty equipment and what power and voltage they need. So Andy is running lots of thick cable down conduit that is narrow and restricted – lubricant has been required.

The radio aerials and connecting wiring has been installed on the coal bunker and the metal sides and ends for the radio and battery box delivered.

Passing on from the electrical components we moved to the steam side of things. The air compressor some may remember at Easter showed a lot of leaks around the glands and the lubricator (for those with a good eye and memory) seemed to stick at the 90 degree position in its rotation. So the compressor was tested and pushed and shoved and finally it revealed its problems and spoke by belching steam from a gasket. The low pressure cylinder was only generating about 15 psi rather than 70 psi. This was causing the lubricator to fail – simply not enough pressure! Secondly why was the pressure so low? The gasket had blown and allowed steam and water to never fully move to the next stage of the pump and the exhaust. This finally came to a head when the pump just stopped and sent steam and water out through the gasket. A minor setback, but better to happen now than later when we are out on the road. A new gasket will be laser cut from the original drawings and all will be replaced.

Some heavy work has been conducted in the smoke box over the last week or so. Ben has been aligning, replacing and repairing the mounts and screens for the smoke box. To do this, alas, we had to take the chimney and blast pipes out so combined with the compressor on a pallet we do not really look like an engine any more. But only temporarily! There are many pieces to fabricate in the smoke box and having no pattern, Ben has had to make the components based on cardboard templates. The boiler if you remember is an authentic 60 class boiler but it had been converted for use in a saw mill so many unnecessary fittings had been blue tipped and spanned away. This has meant some extra holes and cutting and use of the English language in ways some thought very creative.

But the fun work just does not stop coming! And not to be out done by some  TV shows the 6029 Cooking Classes commenced last week with the recipe known but the scope and extent of the effort not fully realized. Chef Shaun took to the challenge so well that he offered a master class last weekend on how to make fire arch bricks. So in front of a number of keen house bound chefs watching on from bar stool and to the dulcet tones of 4403 shunting back and forth, Shaun showed his skill in mixing the required batch of mortar garnished with stainless steel sprinkle to add that strength factor. What a mix it was! A heavy duty mix master finished the mix and with a deft hand Chef Shaun demonstrated why he is a class leader in this art by plopping the mix into 4 molds cunningly prepared earlier. There are 6 to 7 rows of bricks spanning the fire box plus a cast in place in the base row. Shaun and Ben have and will be busy! Those chefs still able to stand after this demonstration will no doubt remember this master session for many months to come when they see the coal spraying in and reaching to the back of the brick arch that Shaun built!

So some truly good progress has been achieved over the last few weeks, with lots of fabrication, lagging and painting being performed. The driver’s side needs paintings so hands on deck for sanding and preparation work.

Steady and deliberate steps are happening even between official work days and this is keeping the whole project on track – great work from every one.


Jun 12, 2014

A bit of a double header today with some info from the last two workdays. Lots has been happening and many thing have been completed, so pull up a chair and check out what has been happening...

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.

Alan Gardner.

May 12, 2014

Smoke Box Cleaning and Other Stuff

The cold weather on Saturday and a team consisting of all Sydney based and out of town volunteers, save for one Canberrian, were in for a bit of a temperature shock. The first glimpses of winter had settled in and numbers were affected by colds and man flu. Sympathies to those partners managing this type of situation.

Our days task list consisted of a couple of manual jobs along with the odd strategic one. The ash had been dropped out of the fire box just after the Easter steam extravaganza and this left the team with access to remove the grate and rocking arms. Knowing that the task of cleaning the firebox took about 6 hours, the team worked out that 3 of us could remove the grate in 1 hour. Removal of the grate had to be accomplished by climbing inside the firebox door then lying flat on the grate so one did not accidentally rock ones foot through an opening and then commence to remove the grate. Regular readers may remember this technique being used in reverse and the associated photos when we were installing the grate. Removal was necessary to allow the ashpan to be re installed under the loco, as clearance for the task is , well, limited!

The components were first passed out through the firebox door and then later when an opening had been made lowered through the grate to someone on the ground under the grate. That person then passed to the stacker who loaded them onto the one and only pallet that could be found. This meant a couple of trips for the forklift to relocate the filled pallet to the storage area for unloading and return. The tedious actions of sliding to the center, rocking and lifting of all the cast grate components took approximately one hour and this included the removal of the support braces and rocking arms.

The electrical conduit has been in Andy’s care for a while now and he noted with some glee or was it dread that about a million miles (OK an over estimate but lots of it) of special wire had arrived ready for wiring up the lights and everything electrical. He continues to cut, align and thread pipe and makes interesting anecdotal observations about lights being mounted differently from the original position. If we write a history of this restoration Andy is one primary source for a number of facts and stories. 

Wiring is a challenging task and given the length alone it is a feat to get your head around, but let’s not forget the need for new, never fitted wiring to support devices such as radios, work lights and batteries, and this is not a role that can be taken lightly as demands on turbines and switching require significant technical knowledge. The work on site and from those behind the scenes is significant and needs recognition.

Next on the agenda was removal of a water pipe – the one from the injector on the driver’s side to the clack valve on the top of the boiler. This needed some clever alignment and precise handling with the pinch bar to extract, being made of copper, it needed delicate hands. Delicate is relative though to the size of this pipe and other pieces. All this work was in preparation for a key piece of work (the strategic piece) – refitting the ash pan back under the firebox. To quote “some say, that many years ago this was done with a forklift and delicate balancing...” (Some myths are true by the way) so much to the astonishment of the team it was agreed that a similar technique would have to be adopted to replace it.

Welding of the ash pan has proceeded well with the ashpan being repaired with the addition of new material to replace the gaping holes from years of use and abuse. 

Having cleared the grate away to temporary storage we realized that jobs associated with using the loco are starting to reappear...Following the four days of steaming over Easter, the job of clearing the smoke box has returned. As it turned out, and because of the static nature of Easter, the boiler tubes were full of un-burnt coal and ash, so we needed to blow these out with compressed air.

Two of the team took up this challenge and suitably clothed (NOT!) and wearing dust masks they ventured into the smokebox. A credit to both the team members – John and Bruce – check out the color of their faces and clothes in the photos. As John put it, the smokebox would be good enough to eat off when he finished – and it was. Bruce decided that he wanted to take up the job of blowing the tubes with the air line. Either he felt this was a cleaner and easier job or he simply wanted to cover the rest of the engine and cab very fine black coal dust. Not to worry he was wrong on the former and correct on the latter. After two solid hours the team became a bit worried he might be lost in the bowls of the smoke box as no sign of him was evident except for the odd dark cloud of dust coming from the firebox end of the boiler. Come knock off time these two apprentice firemen were satisfied and proud that they had cleaned the smoke box and flues from a proper fire for the first time in countless years... Thanks guys – truly solid and hard work and done with a smile!

Towards the end of the day we cast our eyes around for some challenges and our eyes fell on a valve – so the driver’s side hind (LH) valve was located and inspected. The bore was lovingly polished and polished and polished and then polished again just in case. Roger worked out that an oil soaked rag on a stick was great for oiling the rear of the valve bore and he also did the piston bore for good measure to stop rust accumulating.
The valve’s rings were oiled along with any thing in close proximity including clothing so that the valve would slip into position easily. Lifting was awkward but positioning to get the rod aligned with the hole at the rear of the bore was harder. Lucky Ben has strength and stamina – with a gentle push from behind he was able to persuade the valve to go in. As luck would have it, it went in too far, so out it came a few inches and to allow us to insert the spring, seal and associated rings, then with gentle persuasion it was pushed back in! The cross head pin took the most persuasion even to the point that it was discussed we may have not cleaned the taper well enough. But all was saved by the persuader commonly called a hammer. We now have two valves in! Yippee!

There are many more things to do like inserting 20 new studs into the front steam chest face for the valve covers, attaching the exhaust steam line under the ash pan, fitting the grate, again, and attaching the water works to the ash pan, fitting dampers to the ash pan (readers might note that the ash pan was is on the critical path) and last but not least is the rings. At the risk of boring the reader – we need your assistance on these as we cannot go anywhere without them. Please see how you can help.

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.