What a weekend! for those that were there, you will know what I mean, and if you were not, well, maybe some of the images will give you a sense of how big it was... Definitely put it in the diary for next year.
Like most big events, it takes a lot of work in the background to bring them together. For us, the Festival was no exception. We had two locos to prepare, several carriages that needed to be spruced up and that was just the start. 6029 was close to ready, having already been on a few test runs last year, but the list of tasks to be addressed was as long as your arm and then some.
First up, a huge thanks to the organizers and volunteers at Trainworks for making us feel so welcome and making it a great weekend, as I can only start to imagine how much planning and effort work went on the background to make the weekend great for the visiting loco crews and the public alike.
Our prep started months ago at the end of the steam running season, but like most things, the closer we got to the start of the festival, the more it seemed we had to do, and at times, it seemed like we had run out of time.
Before I get into the weekend proper, its only fair to share some of the effort that went into getting ready in the weeks beforehand and some of the to-do list that had to be completed before we left Canberra.
On the Garratt, it had been noted that the air compressor had developed a knock, the new piston rings had arrived and there were all manner of general maintenance tasks to do, not least of which was replace all the brake blocks on the hind unit, lots to polish and paint, and that was just the Garratt. Carl replaced a stay and addressed some other issues in 3016's boiler, the side rods were off to have the bearings re-metalled and we even had to fit a new train control radio to the loco. These things and regular maintenance on the diesel and carriage fleet and its easy to see that we had lots to do in a very short period of time. Its worth saying again that if you want to help out, there will a job you can do, and it doesn't matter what skill level either, there is always lots to do from pushing a pen or a paintbrush, to changing sleepers and working on locos or cleaning carriages, we can always do with more help around here.
Weeks ago, Ben had started work on the slide bars in preparation for the arrival of the new rings, and Alan had started to fit insulation to the cylinders and other steam pipes as now that testing had been completed, it was safe to do so without the risk of having to remove it in the near future. While the serious jobs were going on, so were the important jobs of polishing and painting anything that was not up to scratch. A team of people went from one end to the other polishing brass and copper and painting whatever was left. The results of the work pretty much speak for themselves, both 3016 and 6029 looked great...
In the last week, we pretty much got down to the last tasks, brake blocks on the hind unit were at condemning limits so had to be changed before we went anywhere, packing on a number of cocks needed to be replaced, and issue with the fire grate needed to be addressed while the new name plates and a cover for the main steam pipe had to be fitted. A warming fire was lit Monday afternoon while most of this work went on in the shed.
The pictures pretty much tell the story, but don't forget that there are carriages to maintain and prepare, a pretty much thankless task that was undertaken by another small group of volunteers, who managed to paint and generally refinish 2 of the fleet on a couple of weeks, and the results were pretty good, and I am sure appreciated by the passengers, who would spend a day in them going to and from Thirlmere.