Friday, December 9, 2016

Dowerin Railway Centenary - 10 Years Later

 Dowerin 100 Years of Rail Celebration
Photo - Phil Melling
Its hard to believe that 10 years ago, S549 traveled from Bassendean to Dowerin to help celebrate 100 years of railways in Dowerin, where have all those years ago.?? It all resulted from an inquiry by Greg Ross, the CEO of the Dowerin Field Days Committee, as to the possibility of us being able to supply a steam loco for the event.

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;
  • Boiler
    • 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.;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.
Cartazi Axle Box Bearing
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.
We were pretty guttered by the news, but we realised that there was anther S class down at East Perth Terminal and if the bearing on her was close in size to S549 then there may just be a chance that all is not lost. Jeff and myself headed down to see S542 "Bakewell" the following Saturday and after some careful negotiations with the Terminals security officers, they allowing us to remove the bearing. We carried out the same operation in removing the bearing as we had done on S549. S542's bearing looked good, we replaced it with S549's bearing and headed back to Bassendean.

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.

Connecting Rods
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
 The first stop would be Midland station to check all the bearings, once all was seen to be OK the train again got on its way up the Avon Valley. The train would travel up the Avon Valley at a slow pace, around 30 kilometers per hour but it may have been even slower.

Leaving Midland - Courtesy Perth Trains

Passing through Brigadoon
Murray and myself decided to catch up with the train at West Toodyay just to make sure all was good with the locomotive bearings. I can't recall exactly what time the train arrived but it would have been around 1045pm. It was quite a sight seeing the train appear out of the darkness and pull up in the still of the night. The bearings were behaving themselves so it left us and headed towards Avon Yard.

We followed the train onto Avon Yard, S549 would be watered and oiled here and also the crew would change over. We left the train at this stage and headed back to Perth. A Flat-top was later added to the consist to serve as the stage for the Saturday evening concert in Dowerin, and the train departed Avon at 0400 Friday, stopping at points between there and Dowerin for further checks. The train arrived at Dowerin some hours later and was stabled in the town siding.

Saturday, 9 December 2006
Jeff was the first to arrive at the S class and proceeded to reignite the fire in Greenmount. The crew from Thursday night arrived later in the morning and prepared the engine for traffic. Greenmount would then run up and down the yard solo for the majority of the day to show off her good looks. Great to see her out by herself again.
S549 Greenmount cruising past Dowerin Station - Philippa Rogers 

The S was finally put to bed later that afternoon. Later that evening a street party type festival was put on by the Shire of Dowerin, to celebrate 100 years of rail to Dowerin, with speeches and other formalities and followed by a free Neil Diamond tribute concert.  

Sunday, 10 December 2016
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.

Hats 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
ARG also brought a spotless P2516 'Shire of Coorow' and their driving simulator. Also the free 'ARG a QR Company' frisbees, pens, stubbie holders, baseball caps, rulers, bottle openers, pen knives, drink bottles went down well.

On one of the many small trips - Phil Melling
The ARG crew for the day, Paul and Roy
Its hard to describe the atmosphere that was in the town that day, but what I think lines up is "What a great day was had by all".

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.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Project Report - 3 December 2016

Over the last few weeks, the team has been extremely busy manufacturing the new clothing panels for the firebox, some may refer the clothing as the boiler cladding. We are about a third of the way through this task but as you can see be the following photo's the workmanship is first class by the team.
Firebox crinoline bars and angles in situ - the before shot.
Alec and Kirk processing a component.
Alec and Kirk again cutting a component to shape. Note the personal protective equipment being worn by both.
John and Alec fitting one of the large side panels.
The after shot, panels fitted with minor fine tuning required.
The original panel (manufactured in the 50's or 60's) is fitted to the new crinoline bars and then measurements are taken of the differences to the alignment of the crinoline bars. The original panel is then fitted on top of a new sheet, the differences are then transferred to the new sheet and then the panel is cut out. The new sheet is then fitted to the boiler and the bolt, handrail, mounting holes are transferred to it for drilling. Each sheet is put onto and removed from the boiler around half a dozen times for fitting to ensure the accuracy of the new sheet is the best possible we can achieve. The sheeting is the clothing and I feel we are tailoring a new suit....

We have decided to outsource the rolling of the upper side sheets (for the exposed or grey area in the photo above) as the rollers in possession of RHWA are not wide enough, hopefully this wont take too long so we can finish the sides.

Check back to the Blog next weekend as there will be a interesting chapter on S549's history, all shall be revealed....

Monday, October 10, 2016

Project Report - 8 October 2016

Its been a while but here is the latest news from the S class group.

Well we finally got there, all the crinoline hoops, bars and angles are now complete. The amount of work that was put into the manufacture of these by the team was enormous, we cut, joined and formed the flat bars and then drilled and tapped or countersunk approximately 400 holes and that's not including the welding up and redrilling plenty more because the locomotive was not exactly built to the drawings, we'll call this fine tuning.

I'd like to thank Greg, Brayden, John & Alex in seeing this almost never ending job to the end.
Greg doing a bit of fine tuning
Brayden and Greg drilling one of the 400 holes
The last two bars complete, smiles tell the relief of a job well done.
Brayden and Greg making sure they both fit like they are supposed to.
Firebox Ashpan
Kirk has been working like a Trojan on the repairs to the ashpan, every possible escape path for a hot ember has been sealed. The doors still require a bit of work and also the mounts for the grate support bars prior to the installation of the grate. I'll include some photo's in the next report of Kirks fine work.

John W. has taken on the task of restoring the steam regulator. The steam regulator is operated by the driver and its the valve that allows steam to be released from the boiler to the cylinders making the engine go forward or backwards. An extremely important valve of the engine.

Unfortunately when the parts were being located to put the regulator back together it was discovered that a vital component; the crank ark (fork) was missing. Luckily the drawing of the component was located at the State Records Office and a new replacement was manufactured by Pressform in Bassendean.

John is currently matching the operating spindle to the square in the crank arm by filing the square on the shaft to make a good fit. The valve seats also need to be lapped in the make a good seal.

The new Crank Arm (Fork)

The regulator components, left to right, the valve operationg spindle,
the crank arm and the valve spindle.
As assembled, when the driver pulls the lever in the cab, the rodding pulls the lever on the left,
the operating spindle then rotates which then rotates the crank arm lifting the valve spindle
opening the valve releasing steam to the cylinders.
Next Steps
Probably the most important task to do next is the installation of the regulator. Once this is complete the clothing can be reinstalled on the barrel and the fittings reassembled onto the locomotive. Whilst the regulator is being worked on there is still plenty to do, all the clothing for the firebox needs to be made and fitted which will also allow all the fittings to be reassembled onto the locomotive.

Well that's it for now, keep checking for updates.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Project Report - 18 June 2016

Over the past several weeks, the team have been working on various projects for S549, listed below are those in detail;

Crinoline Hoops and Bars
So what the bloody hell is a crinoline I hear you say..... Well thanks to our friends at Wikipedia, here's the explanation;

A crinoline /krɪn.əl.ɪn/ is a stiffened or structured petticoat designed to hold out a woman's skirt, popular at various times since the mid-19th century. Originally, crinoline described a stiff fabric made of horsehair ("crin") and cotton or linen which was used to make underskirts and as a dress lining.

So how does 19th century fashion relate to a steam locomotive.? Well the outside sheeting on the boiler is called the "clothing" hence the connection.

Well back to what we are up to;
Due to the condition of the original crinoline hoops and bars, we decided to manufacture replacements. To enable us to manufacture them to the original specifications, we sourced the original drawings from both the Rail Heritage and State Records Office collections. Thanks again to Peter Dimarco from the SRO. Peter worked as a boilermaker at the Westrail Midland Workshops up until it closed and with him now at the SRO it makes it a lot easier requesting particular drawings as he knows exactly what he is looking for.

Drawing of the hoops sourced from the State Records Office
Initially we sourced pricing for full replacements ready for painting and fitting, however due to the volume of work involved in these (pressing, rolling and drilling/tapping holes), the price was outside of that budgeted for. We then decided to sub-contract the bare minimum and do the remainder of the work at Bassendean.

Orders were raised with Pressform for the supply and rolling of the hoops and for the flat bar joggles required for the crinoline bars, the remainder of the flat bar were purchased from Di Candillo Steel city. As Pressform turned around their order within a few days as they are aware of the importance of the project, Kirk kindly offered to pick the components up late on a Friday so they would be ready for the commencement of work the following day.

The rings required a considerable amount of work, so a layout (template) was developed on the work bench so the connection holes and the correct lengths could be transferred onto the rings. Each ring was manipulated to be the correct radius, marked out, drilled, countersunk and cut to length.

On the work bench - manufacturing a half Crinoline Hoop
In parallel, the spacing brackets were drilled and tapped. We also manufactured the crinoline bar that connects the rings together along with being the foundation for the shroud that sits between the dome and chimney. These long pars were pieced together with joggles and straight sections then drilled and tapped.

Drawing of the Joggles
The joggles allow for the crinoline bars to pass under each other allowing the front face to stay flush for the exterior clothing.

Under the supervision of Kirk, John and Alex drill one of the hundred holes required for the crinoline bars
We trial fitted the first ring and noticed it sat quite loose, upon closer inspection of the brackets that hold the rings away from the boiler we discovered that they were short so we extended the legs by welding a small piece to the brackets and ground them back to the correct measurement.

We finally completed the rings and trial fitted them as a complete set, all went well with only a few minor adjustments required.

Alex, Greg, John and Thing (from Addams Family) fitting the rings

Alex making final adjustments

Greg and Jayden - Happy crew after the trial fit.
Now that the barrel hoops and bars are nearly complete, our next task is to manufacture the firebox crinoline bars (in fact we have already made quite a few).

Firebox Ashpan
As with all coal or wood fired steam locomotives, once the fuel is burnt, the ash fall through the grate and into the ashpan where it is collected for further disposal at a loco depot. The ashpan needs to be a fully sealed container to ensure that the hot embers stay on the locomotive. As the grate has been removed, it gives us the perfect opportunity to check for holes in the steel plating and ensure the ashpan doors fully seal.

Kirk has been given this task and over the past weeks he has been heard but not seen, banging and clunking inside the firebox patching suspect areas caused by corrosion. He is also modifying the corners so the ash doesn't get hung up there and making it easier to rake out.

Radios and Electrics
The time when Alex isn't on site helping the crinoline hoops and bars, he's at home researching on what requirements are needed to comply with Brookfield's communication policies. The locomotive needs to be fitted with radios so the crew can keep in contact with train control. Different types of radios are required depending which area the train is working.

He is also doing the same with the locomotive lighting, moving away from incandescent lights to a more energy efficient LED system.

Smokebox Concrete
With the hydrostatic test out the way the concrete in the smokebox could be re-poured. John was given this task and firstly the area in which the concrete would sit against the tubeplate needed to be wire buffed and painted with the same high temperature zinc rich primer as what had been applied to the boiler barrel. The concrete was then poured in the area removed for the boiler examination.

With every hour spent on the locomotive's restoration is an hour closer to seeing S549 back in steam.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Vale Merv Inions

Mervyn Inions
It is with great sadness that the S class has lost another one of its long time friends, that of Merv Inions. Not many would know Merv, but without him the road to restoring S549 in the 90's would have been that much more difficult.

Merv was a boilermaker who started with the WAGR in the 1950's and retired when the workshops closed in 1994. In the later years after steam died, he looked after the workshops boilers which included the four ASG locomotive boilers and the workshops air receivers also assisting the boiler inspector with annual inspections of these vessels also.

He also helped with the various preservation groups in the state and his score card goes something like this, but not limited to;
  • Worked on the two G class overhauls in the 70's
  • He returned the boiler of DD592 to operating condition in the 80's
  • He assisted with re-tubing a couple of Hotham Valleys W class boilers
  • Assisted Bennett Brook Railway with various projects including work on the Mallet boiler and another locomotive possibly the Perry, Betty Thompson
So where does he fit into S549's story.?

Once Merv found out about the work on 549, he assisted with the loan of tools and equipment to get the boiler up to spec. Most of all, he allowed access to his wealth of knowledge which was priceless, he unselfishly trained and passed on his skills to me (whilst assisting him on the projects listed above) of which I have now been passed onto others with the current S class re-tubing project.

He was also responsible for restoring various parts of her (at the Midland Workshops) in the early 90's including various boiler fittings and the spark arrestor components prior to them being installed into the smokebox.

I last saw Merv around 6 months ago when I went to see him to obtain advice on the selection of new tube expanding equipment and beading tools to be used on the recent re-tubing of 549's boiler. Like always, very willing to help where and when he can.

He will be sadly missed.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Project Report - 9 April 2016

A fair bit has been going on with the S class since the last update.

Boiler Preparation For A Hydrostatic Test

Now that the tubes have been installed, the boiler needs to hydrostatically tested, our friends at Wikipedia explains;

A hydrostatic test is a way in which pressure vessels such as pipelines, plumbing, gas cylinders, boilers and fuel tanks can be tested for strength and leaks. The test involves filling the vessel or pipe system with a liquid, usually water, which may be dyed to aid in visual leak detection, and pressurization of the vessel to the specified test pressure. Hydrostatic testing is the most common method employed for testing pipes and pressure vessels. Using this test helps maintain safety standards and durability of a vessel over time.

So the next step was to seal (plug up) all the other holes in the boiler so the vessel could be pressurized. The holes were in the form of washout plug holes and boiler fitting mounts such as safety valves and clack valves.

The washout plug holes are a tapered threaded hole of which a bronze (Leaded Gunmetal) tapered plug is fitted. Some of the threaded holes required cleaning up to ensure a good seal is formed when the plug is fitted, to do this washout plug taps were borrowed from Bennett Brook Railway and Ian Willis, we are extremely grateful for the loan of these. Once the threads were restored, the plugs were sorted for the correct size and refitted.
WAGR drawing of a washout plug

Washout plug tap
For the boiler mounts, special blanking plates were required. Each mount was measured, drawn on AutoCAD, cardboard templates produced to test to ensure the dimensions were correct and then subcontracted out for manufacture. The blanking plates were manufactured by Pressform using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mill to ensure accuracy. Unfortunately on a couple of mounts the pitch between studs varied slightly and the plates for these required some fine tuning by Kirk with a KOHF (Kirk Operated Hand File). A gasket was also required between the blanking plates and the mounts, John manufactured these out of rubber insertion. The plates and gaskets were then fitted and the securing nuts and washers tightened up.

Blanking plates fitted to the safety and clack valve mounts
As the boiler required to be pressurised a pump was necessary to carry out this task, luckily enough there was one in storage. John took on the task of getting the pump operating; new fittings and pump to boiler hose acquired to ensure there were no leaks for the test.

The last task was to replace the fusible plug leads, these are a safety device in the event of the water level in the boiler dropping below the firebox crown, the leads melt and the pip drops out allowing the steam to put the fire out minimizing warping the firebox shell and other damage to the boiler.

Fusible plug assembly as fitted 

Fusible plug mounting nut with conical plug removed 
There are four fusible plugs fitted to the S class locomotives, roughly one in each corner of the firebox. They consist of a mounting nut, conical plug with the fusible lead and a pip (tapered brass plug) fitted.

The conical plugs were removed and the leads/pip (gently) punched out, the lead is then gently knocked with a hammer to stretch/deform it, allowing the lead to slip off the pip. All parts were then cleaned up to remove any contaminants. A replacement lead was then slipped onto the pip and then fitted into conical plug and then firmly knocked into position to seal. The conical plugs were then refitted into the mounting plugs.

Fusible plug assembly,
Left - water side - showing the pip & lead
Right - fire side showing removal socket

Fusible plug assembly
Left to Right - Conical Plug, Pip, Fusible Lead
Rear - Completed Assembly
Upon completing the sealing up of the boiler, the plan was to carry out a trial a low pressure hydro test to ensure any slight leaks could be rectified prior to calling the boiler inspector. We did this and unfortunately the studs that were fitted in the steam dome that hold the dryer and steam pipe in position leaked. The studs were removed by Dom and with assistance from John Wearmouth drawings were located of the originals. Dom arranged to have replacement studs manufactured by Verriers Engineering in Bassendean who generously offered to provide at no cost, thanks Verriers. The new studs were then fitted by Dom and the blanking plates reinstalled.

A trial low pressure hydro test was then carried out and the studs sealed this time. The tubes were inspected and only one weaped slightly at the smokebox end. The pressure was dropped and the tube was lightly re-expanded, finally we're ready for Doug (Boiler Inspector) to run his eye over her. Doug was contacted and arrangements were made to carry out the hydrostatic test on Saturday 9 April.

Saturday, 9 April - The team started early to ensure the area was set-up, Doug arrive around 10am and the tap was turned on to allow water off the mains pressurize the boiler, this took the boiler up to around 75psi in pressure. Doug then started his rounds, in the firebox, in the smokebox, along the sides and no leaks were found. OK let's start the pump and get the pressure up to operating pressure of 190psi which took around half an hour, still no major concerns. The pump was again turned on and the pressure increased to a higher pressure above the normal operating pressure (safety margin) to ensure the vessel would be sound in its normal operating condition. The pump was turned off and Doug again carried out his rounds.

Finally, all good was given by Doug and the pressure was slowly released. Now for the next step, put her back together again.

Other Works in Parallel

Whilst the work in preparing the boiler was going on, other work was being carried out in parallel.

Boiler Mount Gaskets - Following the Hydro test, the locomotive and all its fittings need to be reassembled, the fittings will need a gasket suitable for steam and as John had already made the rubber gaskets for the hydro test, he went on to source the steam gaskets also. Several companies were contacted and their products reviewed against our requirements, Novus Sealing Pty Ltd was selected as the supplier with their product Novus 30. Brett Mohen, Novus's Technical Sales Representative was extremely helpful as he had first hand experience in steam requirements as he is also a volunteer at the Hotham Valley Railway and knew exactly what we needed, thanks Brett.

Boiler Surface Preparation - Twenty five plus years ago, the boiler was sitting on sitting on specially built stands off the engine, the decision was made to sand blast the exterior surfaces and paint in a zinc rich primer. It actually held up quite well in some area's but not in others over the years since it was initially done.

We didn't have the luxury of sand blasting it this time due to concerns in getting the abrasive sand into the operating equipment of the locomotive, not worth the risk. John and Alec researched a rust converter and top coat for the boiler and two products were selected, Fertan Rust Converter and a high temperature zinc rich primer.

Firebox with Fertan applied

Firebox with the High Temp Zinc Rich Primer applied
John and Andrew then proceeded to remove any loose scale and surface rust and coat the surface with the converter, after the recommended period for the converter to do its work, the top coat was then applied. Andrew had the task of doing the area underneath the boiler barrel, between the frames, nice and squeezy, well done Andrew. The boiler where completed to date looks as good as new and should see it protect the boiler for the next twenty five plus years, well done guys.

Painted Boiler - Looks like new
Steam Regulator Overhaul - John Wearmouth has taken on the task of overhauling the steam regulator valve. Basically this valve is operated by the driver and when opened by him, steam is delivered to the cylinders making the engine go forward or backwards, a very important valve. John's father had previously overhauled the valve as part of the original restoration of the locomotive 20+ years ago. The parts have now been cleaned up and repair requirements noted, some new components will need to be manufactured.

Crinoline Bar Replacement - Crinoline bars are what support the exterior cladding or clothing away from the boiler shell, initially it was thought that the 70 year old items would make do for another 10 years, we were kidding ourselves. The original bars had corroded to the point that in sections were only a couple on millimeters thick, they were loose on their brackets due to the thinning of material and the threaded holes used for bolting the cladding to were void of any thread at all. Time for replacements. The existing bars were then removed by John, Greg and Kirk however the mounting brackets now require drilling out and re-tapping, Dom is in the process of carrying out this work.

John and Greg removing the Cowling Crinoline Bars

Kirk marks the Crinoline bar for tracability

A busy few months indeed, stay tuned for more updates shortly. If you would like to be informed when there is an update, simply follow by email located on the right hand side of this page. Thanks for your ongoing interest, we are looking forward to seeing her in steam once again.

Major Milestone Acheived - 9 April 2016

                    MAJOR MILESTONE REACHED

Hydrostatic Boiler Pressure at Normal Operating Point
Today we passed a major milestone with the boiler being hydrostatically tested in the presence of the boiler inspector. The final pressure was above what the locomotive would normally operate at being 190psi, (i.e. a safety margin allowed) and the end result was that no major concerns were noted.

I would like to thank all those that have been involved on the project to date, without you we would not be where we are today. The fun now begins in putting it all back together again.!!

I will update you shortly of what we were up to between the last update and today, keep checking.