|Photo - Phil Melling|
The weekend was a huge success and went off without a hitch and I'm sure for most that attended over those couple of days know very little of the amount of work that went into the S to get it there. I'll try and describe below of what lead up to getting her to a condition in which she could travel safely and the stresses on the team also, it was a hard road but the team needs to be congratulated for the end result. This is all based on my memory so excuse me if I omit any detail, it has been ten years. Also an outline of what she and the train did during the visit.
The Lead Up
Five weeks out from the event, word was out that the Shire of Dowerin wanted S549 at Dowerin to help in the celebrations. At first, doubts as to whether there was enough time considering all that needed to be done on the engine to ensure it would not fail en-route to Dowerin especially in the Avon Valley which sees all the traffic to and from the Eastern States, heaven forbid if something went wrong up there holding up trains with precious cargo.
A task list was quickly drawn up noting all the major and minor works required, it went something like this;
- Leaking boiler tube; one of the small tubes had a hole in it which allowed boiler water and steam to escape and run backwards to the firebox or into the smokebox - not good.!
- The boiler had ran out of certification and had to be renewed.
- Boiler additives (Soda Ash and Tannin) also needed to be procured.
- Spark Arrester and Ash Pan repairs.
- Connecting Rods - As the locomotive was to be towed to Dowerin and not in steam, the connecting rods were to be removed so the pistons would not be working without lubrication.
- Cartazzi Axle Box Bearing - The drivers side axle bearing that sits below the cab had ran hot during S549's visit to the Midland Workshops two years earlier to help celebrate the centenary of this facility. The condition of it was unknown and could be a show stopper. https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4700664901499493589#editor/target=post;postID=7108504077759938498;onPublishedMenu=template;onClosedMenu=template;postNum=15;src=postname
- Axle Box Lubrication Pads - The locomotive axles are lubricated by a pad that sits in a oil bath, it is extremely important to ensure they are in good condition as if the axle doesn't get lubricated then the bearing gets hot and cause damage to the engine.
Although all the tasks above were important, one could have been the show stopper, the cartazzi bearing, if it had ran hot enough to damage the white metal or even worse damage the journal surface on the axle then four weeks would simply not be enough time to rectify the problem.
A call was made to Murray Willmott to see if he wouldn't mind giving assistance in removing and inspecting the bearing, thankfully he agreed. Murray had worked around steam locomotives for a large percentage of his working life so his experience and knowledge in this field was priceless. He advised of the tooling required, mainly a hydraulic jack big enough to lift the axle box and compressing the spring above it and taking the locomotive weight off the bearing.
Hydraulic jacks were borrowed from work and we all met at the museum on Saturday, 11th of November to start work in preparing the Sammy. A large hole was dug under the axle box, a timber block positioned at the base of the hole and the jack then positioned in-between the block and the axle box. Slowly but surely the axle box was raised giving clearance to remove the troublesome bearing. Murray removed the bearing, turned it over and then our hearts sank, the bearing had a large section of white metal missing (had melted away due to limited lubrication), we felt that the show was over, S549 would not be going to Dowerin.!! We simply did not have enough time to arrange for the bearing to be repaired.
|L to R Mike, Jeff and Murray remove the troublesome bearing.|
Murray commenced fitting the bearing the following day; it was found that S542 had a larger diameter journal so a fair amount of scraping of the white metal on the bearing was required to make it fit. A bluing paste is rubbed onto the axle journal and the bearing is then placed in position, it is then moved from side to side allowing the blue paste to mark the bearing surface. The bearing is then removed and inspected, the contact surface will show bluing, a perfect bearing should have a wide strip of blue along the crown of the bearing. S542's started off with a very narrow strip so hence some of the white metal needed to be scraped away over the following couple of weeks until Murray was happy with the end result.
As mentioned previously, one of the small boiler tubes was leaking, at first it was thought to just replace it however a suitable tube could not be sourced and even worse expanders were not available to install it. Doug, the boiler inspector gave directions on how to plug the tube, this consisted of a tapered plug for each end of the tube and a connecting rod fitted between them stopping them from simply falling out. A local machinist was contracted to manufacture two sets of plugs (1 set as a spare) and these were then fitted.
Doug returned to the museum on the first day of December and carried out the boiler inspection. This included a visual internal inspection and after sealing the boiler up, a steam test to ensure all the equipment was in good working order. She passed with flying colors.
Repairs were also carried out on the ash pan to ensure hot embers could not fall from the locomotive causing fires. The spark arrestor in the smokebox was also repaired ensuring any sparks would be reduced in coming out of the chimney. Both of these jobs were carried out by Roy and Tony.
Axle Box Lubrication Pads
As seen by the damage on the cartazi bearing, without proper lubrication to the axle can cause enormous damage to the locomotive. So all the lubrication pads were needed to be removed, cleaned and inspected prior to the locomotive going out on traffic. Jeff volunteered to crawl under the locomotive and retrieve the pads. When I say volunteered, I think he was the only one that would fit.! It is a dirty, stinking, uncomfortable job but it still needed to be done. Once all the pads had been removed, several needed to be repaired prior to replacing them.
It was decided early in the piece that the S would be towed in light steam so the removal of the rods was not required. A huge relief once this was confirmed.
Whilst the loco team was busy getting S549 in order, others at Bassendean were also busy in making sure the event was successful. The carriage team was busy getting the rolling stock in operational condition, this included the reconditioning of brake cylinders, body timberwork repaired and batteries charged to ensure the train had lighting. Then there was the provisioning of tools, lubricants, spares and the like. The "Heritage Train" as such had not run for decades, so the whole "travelling kit" had to be rounded up and re-assembled.
While the administrative arrangements (and battles) were mainly delft with by Greg Ross and ARG, the locomotive and coaches would need inspections to ensure they were safe to travel. Innumerable hurdles were jumped along the road to making this happen, not the least of which was gaining permission from FESA and other authorities to run steam through the Avon Valley and into the wheatbelt during the fire ban season. ARG came on board in a big way and were responsible for all the train movements, with the "Sammy" moving to Dowerin and return under steam but being towed by a DB class diesel.
If I remember correctly, the red tape was finally cut through only days before she was to travel. A credit for all those pushing the boundaries to make it happen.
Thursday, 7 December 2006
The day commenced with the lighting up of the S class, the ARG steam crew arrived later in the afternoon and moved her under her own power out of the museum and onto the UGL siding coupling up to the carriages already in position. DBZ2313 'Shire of Dowerin' arrived mid afternoon and coupled up to the front of the S, all was now set for a departure at 6.18pm.
Quite a crowd had arrived to see the train leave, and right on schedule and with a blast of the whistle the train proceeded on its way across Railway Parade on its journey to Dowerin.
|On its way - Leaving the museum crossing Railway Parade|
|S549 Greenmount cruising past Dowerin Station - Philippa Rogers|
Today was all about giving the visitors to the event an opportunity to ride on a train; many, especially local children had never been on a train before, especially one hauled by a steam locomotive. S549 'Greenmount'/DBZ2313 'Shire of Dowerin' top n tailed a rake of three WAGR coaches on four or five trips from Dowerin about 1.5-2km up the line and back again. Each trip made two runs up and down the line.
Video by WATRAINSHats off to ARG/Westnet Rail/ARHS/Dowerin Shire for making the event happen, but it was noted at the speeches that the whole event would not have happened without the Minister for Planning & Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan 'pulling the necessary strings'. After lunch Alannah climbed in the cab of P2516 (after being made to put on safety boots and hi-vis vest), posed for some photos and then went for a ride to Goomalling (light engine).
|Alannah giving a wave on her way to Goomalling - Trains of WA|
|On one of the many small trips - Phil Melling|
|The ARG crew for the day, Paul and Roy|
Monday, 11 December 2016
Whilst most headed back to Perth on Sunday afternoon, Jeff stayed overnight and prepared the locomotive to return to Perth. In the afternoon The train was moved down to the Dowerin grain silo sidings and assembled into order for the return trip.
The Sammy and train left Dowerin at about 8pm on Monday night. Arrival at Avon was at midnight, after letting Northam know in no uncertain terms she was passing through.
Waiting for clearance of the passing grain train prior to departure.
The DB went down to loco for a quick drink, the Sammy dropped off the QUA flat top and then was spun on the turntable. Water was then taken, bearings on loco and coaches checked and oiled, crew changed and the DB placed back at the lead.
The train left Avon about 01 30. It had all of the lights in the coaches and vans turned on, so it looked much more like a passenger train as I paced it s way across to Toodyay.
We got her in the gate at Bassendean at 04 20, and after shunting and putting the Sammy to bed the DB left the Museum property at 05 45 and got away onto the mainline about 20 minutes later.
It is amazing what can happen when everybody gets together with a common goal and no matter what hurdles are thrown in front of them, and believe me there were more than what is written above, they achieve success, this is a classic example.
- Dowerin Shire The spotlight should be on Greg Ross from Dowerin who had the drive and energy to push through the many obstacles. Also generously provided accommodation and meals for the RHWA personnel who assisted at the event.
- ARG were terrific throughout the weekend, and we express our thanks to the many ARG staff who were involved in the event, from the planning stages through to the steam crews from Avon who couldn't wipe the smiles off their faces all weekend.
- Dept of Planning and Infrastructure -Jo Stafford from the who worked tirelessly behind the scenes co-ordinating communication between the authorities involved and ironing out the wrinkles.
- The many people that provided snippets of the above being photo's and text on the Web, hope you don't mind me including these in the above, please leave a comment if you want anything removed or credited.
- Last but by far not least, the RHWA volunteers and friends who ensured the S class and rollingstock was in a good and safe condition to travel to Dowerin and return without incident. It was bloody hard work with sleepless nights but in the end extremly rewarding.