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!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

If it ain't black, It ain't right!

I see I've been 'sprung' on the 6029 blog. Bugger- The luxury of not being watched is that you only have to update once in a blue moon (As evidenced by the last post, date 15 of Feb).

Moving on, I spent much of yesterday assisting with the repainting of 3016. After 2 years, its "temporary" paint job of all over plain black was starting to look just that....Temporary. So, the engine has now been repainted into glossy.......Well, I'm not going to say, just to keep you guessing.

The vexed question of livery is one that always sparks heated debate where ever it crops up. The ARHS is no different and every man and his dog sticks an oar in. "It ought to be blue", "Why don't we make it green like 1210 with a brass dome?", "If it ain't black, it ain't right" (with apologies to I Riley) and so on. In 3016s case, I think the last one prevails - black is definitely her colour.

There is nothing exactly "Pretty" about 3016s final form. You can polish up all its copper\brass, paint it pink etc but I think that unless you cut off that drumhead smokebox, its always going to look like mutton dressed as lamb (Take Dubbos 3144 green and red livery as another example- No offence to the blokes who did it but it looked simply ghastly) . In black, however, she just looks right. Not sure why\how. It just suits her profile as a good, hard working engine.

Anyway, thanks to D Malcolm’s efforts above the frame and KBJ Mellor’s below it, she now looks a lot better with not a hint of blue, grey or red!


3016 will strut her stuff for the first time in 2009 on Saturday the 11th of April, running CBA-QBN shuttles. 1210 will also be in attendance, and in steam for inspection at Canberra Railway station.


A Duffy, author of "The Down Home", is a raving lunatic who views are not representative of any organisations that he might choose to associate with.