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.