Blog Archive

Friday, November 17, 2017

Garratt Happenings: The NG/G16 129 August Update

Work moves on apace with NG/G16 129, including the following tasks:

  • Removal of boiler from the cradle to enable final installation of all the steam, exhaust and water pipework, as well as insulating and cladding the boiler.

  • Superheaters and main steam pipes have been fitted in the smokebox (above and below).

  • Work on the sanding gear; sandboxes, air sand traps and pipework.

  • Overhaul of cylinder and linkage for the rocking grate, including manufacture of new components as required.

  • Refurbishment and manufacture of components for the lubrication system, including overhaul of the Wakefield Lubricator (above) and assessment of dividers, atomisers etc. for the lubrication lines (below).
  • Manufacture and fitting of blowdown valve linkage.
  • Riveting of the running boards to the boiler cradle, and grinding back of rivet heads.
  • The manufacture of pins and bushes for the valvegear continues, with many parts trial fitted to the engine units.
  • Installation of tank support timbers, engine unit footplates and lubricator mounting plates.
  • Final assembly of steam and exhaust pipework on the engine units, including steam expansion joints.
  • A custom-designed lifting bracket for the rear of the boiler has been fabricated and load tested, reducing the time and effort required to sling and balance the boiler when lifting.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Neat Space Saving Feature

One of the things we have an eternal struggle with at Puffing Billy is a lack of space, whether that be offices, workshops or just undercover storage in general. 

Nowhere is this more evident that the carriage workshop at Emerald; with barely enough accommodation for 3 carriages, this facility is responsible for the annual mechanical and body maintenance of all the railways rolling stock.

With a heavy maintenance schedule, it was thought desirable to improve the way components were stored before being refitted to the carriage or wagon. Bogies in particular take up a lot of space, particularly when they are complete with wheelsets.

This simple frame was developed as a means to stack bogies for storage.

Manufactured from profile cut steel plate, lengths of tube and threaded rod, the design is simple but effective, allowing pair of bogies to be stored in stacks, freeing up floor space for the staff working on maintenance.

Above, one of the frames assembled and ready for use, and below, two frames in use as intended, storing bogies.

The frames have even come in handy when transporting bogies between the workshops at Emerald and Belgrave!

216 NQR; The Finishing Touches

Hugh Markwick and the workshop volunteer team have now completed work on the restoration of 216 NQR. Above, 2 of the team pose in the sun at Emerald with the finished wagon.

The bodywork, drop doors, drawgear and fitting up of the air brake pipework all took place in the Belgrave workshop.

Once complete,  the wagon was transferred to the Emerald car shops where it was lifted for an undergear exam, after which it was passed for traffic.

After a final coat of paint, sign writer Colin Campbell visited Emerald to apply the finishing touches; historically accurate Victorian Railways style numbering and lettering, and a fantastic job he made of it.

The above series of photographs show the process of marking out, prior to applying the lettering.

The following video shows Colin applying the final layer of paint, all by hand - No stencils here!

216 NQR has been out and about recently, helping share the load on wood collection trains, and is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the Rolling Stock branch volunteer team, and the staff who helped out along the way…..a job well done!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scavenging The Last Remaining....

Mention has been made previously of the need to manufacture more bogies for our rolling stock. Many are now approaching the end of their useful life, with frames and axleboxes being condemned after a lifetime of wear and tear.

The new rolling stock project involves the manufacture of 12 new carriages, and therefore 24 bogies, onto which we have added a further 8 to ensure we do have spares available as old ones are progressively withdrawn from active duty.

This however is still some time away, and we needed a more immediate solution. With a critical shortage of serviceable axleboxes, attention soon turned to the bogies sitting under off-register rolling stock. These would be able to provide our immediate requirements, provided we could come up with a suitable substitute, which didn’t involve rolling stock on stack of sleepers littering the railway.

After sketching up a few ideas, the engineering office produced a concept for a quick, cheap and easy substitute axlebox, which would be perfectly adequate to keep our off-register rolling stock portable, whilst freeing up valuable Fox bogie axleboxes.

The design uses profile cut steel and nylon plates, with a minimum of machining, to replicate all the interfaces of the existing axlebox, including the horn slots, axle journal, and spring locating spigot. 

Two profile cut nylon plates are sandwiched between two steel plates to the same profile, and a hole to receive the axle journal bored through the middle.

Emergency Surgery For Thomas

During 2016, the decision was taken to trial moving the Day Out with Thomas event to Gembrook, starting with the spring season, thus inaugurating Gembrook as the railways new centre of special events.

Locomotives and rolling stock were transferred in the Down direction on a Friday evening, and back again on Sunday evening at the conclusion of the weekends shows. Peckett No. 1711, which usually masquerades as the cheeky blue tank engine, began to suffer from the extra mileage; overheating bearings on the rear axle being the problem.

Sadly Thomas’ arthritis continued to play up, despite the workshops continued efforts to cure it. At his lowest point, he was lifted onto a tilt tray and trucked from Belgrave to Gembrook, where he was only able to trundle around the yard and pose for photos with his many visiting admirers.

If dropping wheelsets out of a locomotive was an Olympic sport, the Belgrave workshop team would have it in the bag; the brake rigging, motion, valve gear and wheelsets were being removed and replaced 3 or 4 times in a week while measurements were taken and rectification work carried out.

The problem was bought under control so that the autumn season could be completed, at which point the decision was taken that Thomas would spend Christmas at Belgrave undergoing a ‘D’ exam.

On top of the usual tasks involved in this level of exam, the wheelsets were removed, and following detailed measurements, machining of the axleboxes and horns was carried out to rectify some misalignment which would have been a contributory factor to the overheating.

Coupled with a revision of the lubrication regime, the problem seems to have subsided for now, and the little blue engines performance during the Autumn 2017 Thomas events were much improved.

Above, Pistons and Crossheads have been cleaned and crack tested, and below, the Slidebars, Connecting rods and Coupling rods have all undergone the same treatment, and await reassembly to the locomotive.

After all parts of the motion had been cleaned, degreased and crack tested, they were given a fresh coat of red paint before refitting.

The opportunity was also taken to make some improvements to the spark arrestor (below), which was beginning to show signs of wear; the results of a hard life!

With everything cleaned, tested, painted and reassembled, 1711 was steamed for a test run back to Emerald. 

Following a successful run to Menzies Creek light engine, an NAL carriage (a dining car, originally from the Mount Lyell Railway in Tasmania) was coupled up, as it was destined to undergo maintenance at the Emerald Carriage Workshop.

The engine steamed well up the notorious Emerald bank, suffering no overheating issues, and with an improved lubrication regime, the Autumn Thomas season presented no further issues.

For the future, a CAPEX for an increased capacity mechanical lubricator has been approved, which will allow for forced lubrication of the axlebox crowns, reducing the chance of further hot-boxes being caused by a lack of sufficient lubrication.

Latest News From The NG/G Corner

With 4 fitters now employed full time on the restoration of NG/G16 129, momentum is gathering and what has, until recently, resembled a large kit of parts, is slowly coming together as this latest progress report shows.

The piston valves have been assembled and trial fitted into the valve chests (above).

Following overhaul, the 8 Bypass valves have now been painted and fitted to the cylinder blocks.

Cylinder drain cocks, operating cylinders and all their associated operating linkages have now been completed and mounted to the engine units.

The crossheads are now complete, including re-metalling and machining of the slippers, and fitting of side liners, and have been installed onto the slidebars.

Much of the valvegear has been reconditioned (above and below), with holes centres being restored to as-built dimensions.

Additionally, a large number of new bushes and pins have been manufactured, and these are awaiting case-hardening prior to assembly.

Lifting arms have been fitted to the weighshafts, and these have been fitted to the engine units following final alignment of the bearing brackets.

Above, the side rod bushes have been whitemetalled, following which they underwent final machining and have now been fitted to the rods. Retaining bolts and all the pin feed lubrication components are also to hand, ready for final assembly.

Work has begun on the lubrication system, including overhaul of the oil feed check valves and pressure testing of the mechanical lubricator oil pumps.

The Injectors (above) have now been dismantled, cleaned, overhauled as required, and re-assembled.

The profile cut plates for the running boards on the 2 engine units have arrived, and are ready to have holes drilled for fitting. The 2 smaller, thicker plates will becoming mountings for the 2 mechanical lubricators.

The auxiliary reservoir has arrived from Britannia:Jahco and awaits painting (below) before it is mounted to the boiler cradle between the 2 main air reservoirs.