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

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!