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
Oct 12, 2014
Taking 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!