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

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.