Monday, September 5, 2011

Wheely good news

For sometime now, we've been chasing around trying to get the cracks in 1210s wheels fixed so it can head out on trains again.  A stumbling block has been that no one quiet really knows what the things were made of and in what fashion, which rendered any attempt at repair useless from the paperwork and bureaucratic point of view.

Fortunately, thanks to some good intergroup co-operation, we've been able to discover that the wheels are steel.  A sample of wheel material was sent to a company in Melbourne who provided an analysis which, somewhat unpromisingly on first glance, was headlined "We have not been able to match this to any alloy in our database!".

The reason, of course, is that the company database doesn't extend to items made over 100 years before!  However, its fairly clear from the analysis that the wheels are made of a steel typical of the early 1800s and late 1900s, with a high phosphorus content.  The refining methods of the time were obviously less refined (excuse the pun) then those of today and there was little in the way of quality control (Again, compared with todays standards).  Of course, a slightly more famous example of this is RMS Titanic, which was in the news in recent times for being made of 'substandard' steel.  For the reasons already listed above, this is utter bull and according to the company that did our analysis, the same 'substandard' steel turns up in items like bridges and buildings that date back to the turn of the 19th century.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Morning Read

Food for thought
There is an interesting article in the latest Railway Digest regarding the business development\life cycle of a not for profit organisation, which of course, covers just about all of NSWs rail heritage operators.  Whilst true in all its facts about why NFP groups are often required to change and diverge from their original intent\purpose over time due to legal and (more often) finacial reasons, its fails to acknowledge the key fact that quite a few groups see no requirement to change their approach and commit to long term business planning (Ie, what worked so well 20 years is still applicable now).

Whilst this does not mean that all in the organisation are oblivious, it does mean that the task for those who do recognise it is all the harder and in most cases, it becomes a case of not just selling the product to the consumer, but also to the organisations own members!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finding time

I've recently found the time (Aww heck, it was always there really, I just couldnt be bothered) to get stuck back into 'Jerrara". Not sure whats brought this one- Perhaps the need to see the 15 locos and 30 pieces of rollingstock I own actually doing something or the fact the paving man covered the layout in dust when he was cutting last week. Either way, thanks to this sudden burst, Im beginning to think I might actually get the darn thing finished and be able to begin to enjoy it.

My approach to modelling has always been akin to a scattergun....start an infinate amount of projects, make a mess and never really actually get anywhere by the time I've lost the time again. This time though, Ive tried to get a little organised by sitting down and writing a couple of lists. Although these are getting progressively longer as the day goes on and I see more things to do, its on the whole worked quite well. For instance, today I tackled 2 jobs Ive been long putting off, this being the repair of 3076 and 1301.

These two engines were my first NSWGR steam locos, 1301 being a DJH kit and 3076 being a Lloyds.
3076 came 'off the roster' about a year ago after and Im afraid I committed the ultimate sin and left her disassembled pending maintenance. Low and behold as I examined the instructions and parts prior to beginning reassembly, some bits had gone missing, namely an fibre washer and the spring from the rear bogie. The missing washer is used to insulate the body of the loco so its a fairly important bit of kit of which I have no spares. In the end, I fashioned a pad made of cork to fill in temporarily until I can locate a suitable spare.
The missing spring, however, was a little more tricky. Again, I have nothing that resembles a spare spring of that size. What I did have, was a pen. The springs inside a pen are, with a little adjustment, just the right size for the bogie, provided that its properly tensioned. Again, I its a temporary job until I can get my hands on a better solution (Baring in mind, that the shortened pen spring is open ended at one end) but after cleaning and a dab of oil, it ran quite satisfactorily. One down one to go.

1301 thankfully was complete having sat in a display cabinet for the past 12 months. I supected it just required a decent clean, but the fact is that the poor old goat is probably the worst performing loco on the roster, bar 48116 (Having sold my extremely reliable and excellent running 4806 some years ago, I purchased this indian red 48 instead. Unfortunately, it seems unable to do anything but spin its wheels) . Ever since it arrived, it will simply not run smoothly in the fowards direction. Ive had it apart time and time again but cant seem to locate an obvious fault, although my suspecion is that the worm gear on the driving axle may be crooked. Anyway, the loco was incredibly dirty for one thats rarely entrusted with a train, with fluff and oily residue all over the place. Once cleaned up and with some tinkering to its pickups, its performance is now ok and it runs without stalling, abeit quite noisely.

So a productive day for locos and two jobs off the list!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The best damn looking engine in the world.

A rather big claim, I know, but how can you disagree....?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A visit to the dentist......

Wow, has it really been 3 months? Time flies when your not writing blog entries evidently but hope is at hand, heres a new one about my trip to the dentist today.

This normally isn't a big issue for me- I go every year for a check and its always been quite painless financially, physically and mentally. Not today. For starters I had a call at 9am to remind me that I had an appointment at 2am. A reminder call is an excellent idea, especially given the next appointment is normanlly made straight after the examination and that its made a year advance. The problem was, my working hours had shifted slightly from last year meaning I no longer have Mondays free. Could I re-schedule? Sure, if I was willing to wait another 6 months.......

Anyhow, I duly turned up at the appointed time, at which point the receptionist told me I was meeting with the Hygenist (Glorified tooth brusher) as opposed to my regular Dentist. Hmmm.

One thing that does tend to bug me about visits to these places is the constant torrent of chit-chat and small talk that eminates from those doing the work and perhaps more problematically, the questions. This particular GTB (Glorified Tooth Brusher) had this done to a fine art and proceeded to launch a barrage of lifes questions at me the moment the mirror and scraper\poker was inserted into my gob-
"Where do you work?"
"Erugh urk or a wailay useum"
"Wow, that must be fascinating, my sisters brothers cousin blah blah blah etc carrot yap yap inserted etc you think?"
"Ugh huh"

After several minutes of scrapping and poking around (Any areas I said felt slightly sensative got a extra through going over just for the effect of seeing me flinch I suspect) the mirror and instrument were withdrawn-
"It all looks very good in there, you've been doing a excellent job flossing and brushing. I'm just going to do a little detail cleaning now. This device uses a combination of high pressure water and a brushing action to clean those hard to reach spots. As I work by myself (Can't imagine why this would be) I need you to hold the suction tube in your mouth for me"
I thought things were turning out pretty well at this stage- I'd effectively been told my visit wasn't really neccesary but the wax in my ears had been comprehensivly loosened, I'd invented an entirely new language and now I had the opportunity to add "Dental Hygene Assistant" to my resume.
Still, could be worse and with that attitude I closed my eyes and thought of something else. Something nice, maybe a Z12 surrunded by several nak......JESUS CHRIST WOMEN, YOU"VE GOT TO CLEAN THE TEETH NOT REMOVE THE GUMS!!!
"Sorry, I lost the light there for a minute at the back"
This ordeal lasted for several minutes before we were rudely interupted by the man himself- Ah, my screams of pain (Not really, just added for dramatic effect) had roused the attention of a professional dentist. Excellent.
Unfortunatly, he was evidently a busy man as his visit lasted precisely 1 minute during which time probed all the spots which had already had the once over and confirmed..."It all looks very good in there, you've been doing a excellent job flossing and brushing........"
He then left me to my fate and the 'detail cleaning' recommenced.
After some more attention in this fashion my GTB (Still chatting away about the meaning of life, whether I thought Hitler did a better job in Norway and Denmark then he did in Russia etc) withdrew and I was allowed to rinse- Oop, no sorry, better have a floss as well, not enough blood on the gums yet ("Its perfectly normal for this to happen"). Following a minute or so vigerous rope work, I was annouced "Hygenic", issued with toothpaste and marched to the front counter. With her standing over my shoulder I somewhat relunctantly paid the $240. I felt like argueing that the figure was ridiculous- I could have scraped, poked, cut my gums and sucked my mouth dry for nothing- especially given I had done some of the work myself but with the Hygenist snapping her gloves menacingly behind me, prudence dictated a hasty retreat.

So, the question is, will I go back there in 12 months time? Quite frankly, yes, although this isn't down to some absurd customer loyalty- I frankly can't be bothered trying to find another dentist to give my money away to.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Probably the best blog entry in May...

Just back from a weekend away. As with all my trips these days, it was a very train oreintated trip, enjoyed in good company. The main attraction upon leaving Canberra (aside from catching up with some very good friends) was a visit to the Zig Zag Railway. I had visited before a number of years ago (Before I became involved with preservation) however this time was going to be somewhat different.

All in all, I found it quite a pleasent, if not somewhat isolated and disregarded setup. You cannot but commend the work that has gone into the infrastructure over the years- The look and feel of the place is just right for a heritage outfit.
I've never been fan of Queensland locomotives, however, after a trip behind the DD I can now say I appreciate that they do have some merits, even if they are somewhat on the small side (I felt the BB was roughly the same dimension wise as 3016!).
One thing that came as quite a shock was the lack of volunteers about the place. Perhaps Im just used to the ARHS Saturdays which are generally the busiest in terms of people on site, but aside from the train crew (D, F, G) and those manning the signal box and stations (I counted 3 in total for Clarence and Bottom Points), the place was utterly deviod of people.

An added bonus of the weekend was an unexpected $600 acquisition. Id never been to the "Trains, Planes and Automobiles" Shop, so it was quite overwhelming to step into a building no bigger then my garage that was literally crammed full of trains. Wonderful.
Some might know about my slight obsession with a certain engine down here in Canberra. Indeed, I recently purchase a DJH kit of said engine type, but sitting on one of the shelves was one of those rare things that you decide you just have to have. And so I did. Brilliant way to stimulate the economy.
It still needs a bit of attention (A service, some improvements, paint and The identity), but I could not be happier. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

So all in all, it was a productive weekend. Probably the best I've had in awhile.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The engine that could....just

Whilst most of the esteamed NSW steam fraternity were up in Maitland today, down south 3016 took 196 tons and 262 happy campers to Bungendore. We had quite a brilliant day- Despite a load just 14 tons under the full goods limit for a 30T with a ruling gradient of 1 in 40, the locomotive was on top form.....well, for the most part.

The outward journey took place under clear sunny skys and, despite being 5 minutes late out of the depot, ran pretty well to time. The loco clearly didn't mind the extra load as we were into Bungendore around 10 ahead of the table with plenty of steam on the gauge and adequate water in the boiler throughout. After running round and allowing the Sydney bound Xploder service through and a quick lunch at the Gunna-doo pie shop (Super pies and service), we prepared for the homeward journey. On my part, this entailed having a good look around the engine, topping up some of the oil pots before re-building the fire. Nothing really of note here but 5 minutes before departure something happened.

It began to precipitate (Culprit No.1).

I'm not really talking heavy rain here, just a sort of light misty shower, the kind of which that lasts a couple of minutes at most and then disappears, much to the farmers dismay. Its also the kind that tends to give a locomotive trouble as it leaves a thin film of greasy water on the rails. I jokingly pointed this out to the driver to which he promptly offered me the regulator for the journey home as penance for my 'assistance'. I declined, naturally. By the time departure time rolled around, the clouds had passed, but it was direction the clouds had passed which caused some consternation....Directly over Brookes Bank, a 5 km 1 in 40 drag.
We were away from Bungendore on time and made steady progress (Tender first, 40km\h) towards the bank. Almost immediately we ran into trouble as no sooner were the engine and first 3 cars on it that 3016 lost her footing. Progress was reduced to a crawl, with the valve gear and regulator being carefully manipulated to regulate the power to such a point where we could get as much power out of her without loosing adhesion. From memory, we plodded along with the valve gear would around 1 and 3/4 turns off off full back but undergoing constant adjustment in terms of a notch here, notch there. But there was a problem-
Whilst we were still moving, we weren't accelerating and thus had no momentum to fall back on if we lost our feet again. It was that touch and go, and there was worse to come!

Thus far, whilst climbing, it had at least been straight track. 3\4s of the way up the bank theres a S bend which leads into the tunnel. We knew if we could get to the tunnel, we'd find dry rails and be home and hosed. Unfortunately though, we were half way through the first curve (12 chain) we she lost her footing again and here we ground to a halt, blowing off yet unable to convert the pressure to power.

Once the train was secured, we examined our sanding gear. Here lay culprit No. 2- The F\S rear sander was not flowing. We, of course, check these items out before we leave the depot and that morning the sands had appeared to be working fine. Not so now. A belt with a hammer and some wet lumps fell out, followed by a trickle.....better then nothing eh?

With some improvement made and some additional hand sanding to assist the other driving wheels, an attempt was made to restart.

Despite full pressure and improved adhesion she stubbornly refused to budge, probably due to the resistance in the curve. After speaking with the guard, we decided to propel back to the straight. More sander investigation followed by restart attempt No.2.
This time, we got her moving, but were still only crawling as we entered the curve.

More evoking the deity. It seemed to have some effect as the sun suddenly emerged from the clouds.

Despite being stationary\going backwards for 20 minutes now, the passengers standing on the end platform didn't seem to mind....smiles all round....lots of pointing, least someone was enjoying themselves.

I was just putting my hand in my pocket to make a call for a 48 class assistant when.....
Attempt No.3- We were moving! And it was a good, steady beat this time. In full backward gear, the driver was better able to control the power through the regulator and we were slowly forging ahead. Through the first curve....then into the second....then into the tunnel. Whew! We'd made it. From there, it was plain sailing, coasting down the gorge through Queanbeyan and back home, 'just' 38 minutes behind time.

So there you have it, the little engine that could...just. I could have gone on a bit more, told you that we really did it in the driving snow, with a load 50 tons over the limit, one driving wheel missing, firing the engine on the bits of coal and old sleepers beside the track, with a blind fold and one arm tied behind our backs, but quite frankly, Id be lying.......And it was challenging enough as it was!