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

Jan 15, 2015

Maintenance, Stabilization and Getting Ready

The New Year has brought renewed vigor as we are challenged to identify, log and correct various items that the testing, load and training runs have identified before we consider ourselves (painted and polished) for the Thirlmere Festival of Steam late in February. So much to do and so little time!

There have been various people providing support, helping to tackle jobs since Christmas. This has included replacing the normal un-sprung bolts holding the rear tank on with new sprung bolts. This is not a simple process as a small jig is required to compress the spring and thus provide enough thread to start the nut on the end of the thread. Various clamps and other tools appeared from time to time as the day wore on.

The air compressor also had an issue recorded in our logs that was addressed. The crews had noticed a knock had developed and this had progressively become worse. So the lower head on the compressor as removed and as predicted by Ben, two valves were blocked preventing air passing into the second stage of the compressor, building up pressure in the low pressure cylinder and causing a knock in the high pressure cylinder due to the lack of air that normally acted as a cushion. The removal and replacement of the lower head was as always noted as being awkwardly positioned and darned heavy on the Garratt's!

Up the other end, the cab lighting has received some attention. Over the years, several of the original electrical fittings were either used on operational locos, or just broke due to age. Some new connectors have been made to replicate the originals and these have been fitted, along with the remainder of the instrument lights that were missing. There should be no issues now in tunnels and during night operations. Given that the new lights are LED based and able to be battery powered, light-ups and general maintenance at night will also be much more pleasant as well.

The front buffer beam has seen a major clean and paint job – again some readers may note as it has been painted many times before – red for the beam and regulation black for the remainder of the visible frame. The hind buffer beam and metal work was also cleaned and prepared for painting. The presentation of the locomotive is of major importance to us as we prepare for the Festival of Steam and the first public outing of the loco.

There were of course some minor mechanical problems to address as well. The piston rods were noted to be running low in their stuffing boxes where they enter the cylinders. Essentially, as explained to the novice author, the slide bars and shims out of position and have likely been like that since the 1960's or even longer. I just thought they were stuffed! To replace and align the rods for the immediate future required the removal of shims, careful and precise measurement and re-attachment. This task would be something you might ignore for a while, as clearly the loco has performed quite well during our shakedown runs, but as the new piston and valve rings have been ordered and are to be delivered within weeks, we need the pistons to be properly located sooner rather than later.

Readers may remember that the Garratt is heavy and therefore all components have a heaviness commensurate with its size.  Add to this the fact that the design engineers did not always think beyond their own drawing boards, worked with slide rules and paper, not computers and modern drafting programs, and its not surprising that bolts cannot always come out unless another item is removed. Couple this with the problem of age, bolts that have not seen the light of day since they were first installed before many of us were born and we were in for a long day.

We should have realized we were in for a difficult and bruising day when even the split pins failed to come out after 10 mins of wrestling!. The slide bars are held to the frame by 8 bolts in total and all we wanted to do was simply add shims on one side and remove some from the other to return the cross-head to the proper position. The correct tools for the job have long since disappeared and we noted that four of the bolts were going to be a challenge. Cutting to the chase, and with a few choice words, the oxy was able to remove all bar one nut. Note that is nuts, not bolts!

The bolts are countersunk and sit just short of flush in the top slide bar. These were, and still are at the time of writing, not one of the author’s best friends. They remain firmly and solidly embedded in their location and do not want to come out. They are not nice bolts and will suffer for thier resistance! Removing these will be next week’s job.

Work will continue for a number of weeks at a feverish pace as there are many jobs and tasks that are interesting, educational and some would suggest fun to complete – brake block replacement, piston rings to install, new gaskets to replace leaking ones on the Cardew isolation valves and so forth, but other locos and rolling stock need our attention as well so its all hands on deck. there is stuff to do for people of all skill levels and most fitness levels, so escape the house and lend a hand if you can.

The Festival of Steam is the 28th of Feb - 1st of March and its going to be a great weekend. If you want to be on the train from Canberra to Thirlmere that will be Garratt hauled from Goulburn to Thirlmere on the 28th, secure your ticket today, not tomorrow as they are selling fast and there are limited seats... get them from CanberraRailwayMuseum.org.