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

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.