Update – July 2022

Rather than words for the July update we thought we would do something different.  See the attached video.  Our plans for the contract fitter have been delayed and we are still looking for anyone interested. This has the potential to slow progress so we are looking at contracting out quite a bit of the work.  If you are interested in the fitter position please ring Michael Vines on 0417 561 545 or email him on michaelv@vineslawyers.com.au.

Update – June 2022

During June we have continued to have good volunteer numbers at our Saturday work days.  To accelerate the project a contract fitter has been engaged who will work one week on one week off at least until the end of this year.  The work on the smoke box is now complete which involved new plating around the top and installation of the internal ring.  This was done by our contract boiler maker. Work to complete installation of the internal steam pipe has commenced and we have been attacking the build up of scaling inside the boiler. The driving wheels have been moved in readiness for priming and painting. We also took delivery of the donated steel plate which will be used on the cab. We are turning our minds to the condition of the tender and work needed to be done. The pictures with this blog show some of the progress occurring during June and as previously advised if you wish to attend as a volunteer on our Saturday work days please contact John Hoy Ph:  0419 372 696 or Stewart Phemister Ph:  0427 867 412.

Update – June 2022

The latest news is that on 1st June the boiler was lowered off its stands to ground level.  The smoke box door was removed and preparations made for the smoke box repairs.  This will involve replacement of wasted areas of plate work and replacement of the angle ring behind the smoke box door.  The previously formed plate and angle are for this task.  The driving wheels are being cleaned down and prepared for painting.  The new drag box has been mated with the old one to use as a drilling template and drilling of the various holes will shortly start.  The ash pan at Maldon is nearly finished and as previously advised will be moved to Newport for installation.  There is still plenty of work to be done for people who don’t have mechanical skills in such jobs as painting of the smoke deflectors and the cab top.  They have been needle gunned to remove many layers of old paint and require final cleaning and priming.  As previously advised our volunteer work days are on a Saturday and if you wish to attend please contact John Hoy or Stuart Phemister.

Update – April 2022

There has been steady, though not necessarily visible, progress on K160 during April. We have also set about some planning for work in the next couple of months. The ashpan which is at the Maldon workshop is nearly finished. A big shout out to Keith and Wayne for their work on this and it now needs to be turned over so that the sliding panels at the bottom fit and once this is done it will be transported to Newport. As for progress at Newport the springs are still with the contractor for assessment and refurbishment as required. Steamrail are shortly to engage a contract fitter to speed the work on the loco. In the next week or so the boiler maker will be completing the smoke box. The boiler itself is virtually complete save for final installation of the internal steam pipe. Once this is done the boiler will be refitted to the frame. The main driving wheels will be turned once the boiler is fitted. Work on the cab and drag box continues. The donated steel sheet will be measured and used for the cab sides. We have turned our thoughts to the tender and this is being assessed for work needed but it is believed to be largely in good condition. We continue to need volunteers coming on a Saturday so if you want to come please contact John Hoy or Stuart Phemister. Warren Hall continues to oversee the project and in the latest Steamrail news there was mention of VGR’s arrangement with Steamrail on K160.

VGR Mechanical Update – March 2022

During March steady progress has been made on K160.  The cab area metal work has been attended to which is a slow and time-consuming job.  Other works have involved re-bushing of the compensation beam brackets attached to the frames.  These are being worked through and worn bushes replaced from the stock of spares on hand at Newport.  The pony wheel is being needle gunned to clean it down prior to repainting.  We continue to have good numbers of our volunteers at Saturday work days.  We will be engaging a contract boilermaker to start work on the smoke box and plans are afoot to complete and fit the internal steam pipe.  If you wish to attend as a volunteer for this project as previously advised, please contact Stuart Phemister John Hoy.

K160 Update – February 2022

Work on K160 during February has progressed well.  We have had good numbers at our Saturday work days.  The pictures with this blog show some of the progress on the locomotive.  The smoke box metal, rings, and piping is there.  The wheel springs have been sent to a contractor for refurbishment.  The ash pan which is at the workshop at Maldon is nearly finished.  Last Saturday’s work included attention to the pony truck and cab floor.  To generate momentum the K160 Facebook page has been cranked up and we now have approaching 200 members.  If you want to attend work days please contact John Hoy or Stuart Phemister.  We also believe we have received a generous donation of steel from a company which will be important to both us in this project and Steamrail generally.



Prior to Xmas the VGR Board made the decision to appoint former president Michael Vines manager of the project to restore steam locomotive K 160 which remains located at Newport Workshops. The task of restoration is being contracted out to Steamrail under the direction of Warren Hall who is well known in the heritage railway movement and particularly for the recent restoration and return to operation of steam locomotives K 183 and not long before that A2 986. Those previously involved in the work done on K 160 will continue to be utilised under Warren’s guidance along with VGR volunteers. The plan is to return K 160 to operation and capable of both branch and main line work within 18 months.. As we go along there will be monthly blogs on this site with photos starting late February. The VGR continues to be grateful for the generous donation it received some little time back which will fund the restoration of the locomotive and is excited at the prospect of the planned return to operation of K 160.

K160 Workshop Update 8/6/2020

Since our last update, works on K160 have been progressing at a good pace!

Some of the works have included;

– The Drag Box top plate being removed which revealed heavily corroded C channels all requiring replacement. With the top plate removed, we inspected the bottom plate and found it to be in good condition where it can remain in place.

-The new Main Internal Steam Pipe and J Pipe have arrived at Newport ready for installation as well as the driving wheel axle boxes ready for measuring and re-metalling.
-Works continued on all of K160’s number plates with the first coat of black being applied.

– The rivet heads on the C Channels have been ground off and now need to be punched out.
-The remaining ash pan studs have been drilled out and removed awaiting the newly machined studs to be fitted.
-Mounting studs on the boiler have been removed for replacement. Some of which include the Superheater header studs, safety valve studs, regulator stuffing box studs, shaker mount studs and the butterfly door studs.
-The driving wheels are continuing to be wire wheeled and needle gunned prior to paitning
– The remainder on the paint on the cab has been needle gunned and wire wheeled. This allowed us to prime the inside of the cab, and paint the Cumberland Stone top coat. With this completed, the wiring conduits can be refitted and wiring loom roughed in ready to be dropped into the loco at a later date.
-Commencing the overhaul of the Turbo Generator
-The mechanical lubricator has returned from Maldon and received a paint job and will very shortly be refitted to the running board.
-The pony truck axle boxes have been removed, which have revealed a few damages, but nothing too major.
-Cab mirror brackets made up ready to be welded to the cab
-Drivers side injector refitted

We are always looking for more donations to keep this project rolling and progressing quickly, if you have anything to spare, please donate!!
We estimate another $75-80k is required to get K160 back to her former glory.

Click the link below to donate:


Working bees are also held each Saturday and most weekdays/nights.
Contact: yvg@vgr.com.au or mechanical@vgr.com.au if you’re interested in helping out.


Hi Folks,


It’s actually me doing my own Blog Post this time, so please excuse the bad grammer & spelling mistakes.

After years of building up a handy crew, I’ve been a bit lonely for the last few weeks. I’m not complaining because I’m lucky enough to still be employed in this pandemic period, but I think Baz & I are starting to get sick of hearing each other from opposite ends of the Workshop.

I have been able to catch up on a few things whilst there are no trains running, like the long overdue repairs to one of our 4 wheel tankers, some “A” exams on Goods vehicles & finally had time to give a good effort on K160’s new Ashpan. I’ll let our normal Blogger tell you about those jobs, as he writes a much better story than I can.

Last Friday I was able to grab our truck & take the Main Internal Steam Pipe with a brand new Cone Joint, & the J pipe down to Newport for K160. I checked K160’s progress, issued a few instructions, & came home with some old Steam Delivery Pipes to be dropped off at our local foundry, & the Whistle Stop Valve off K160’s boiler which needs to be serviced. Monday was drop off the pipes & some old brake blocks, check out a possible brake issue on the truck & clean up my own mess from last week. The next day, I arrived at work, checked for emails, then thought to myself “Right. It’s Tuesday. What will I do? I know, I’ll service 160’s valve & blog the process.”


First up was clean a work area on the bench & give the whole valve assembly a bit of a clean up with a wire brush to remove years of built up grime. Then start on the outside & disassemble my way in. The handle nut was easy, but the handle was stuck on the square drive of the spindle, so a wedge & hammer were used to gently lift the handle. The stuffing ring barrel union came easily with a 1″ Whitworth ring spanner, but the stuffing ring was stuck by dried Gland Packing that had oozed out between the clearances & it wouldn’t move. Lucky I’d already got that wedge out of the Tool Store.


The valve job was going easy, hard, easy, hard. Great, I thought. I now have to separate the main components & I’m up to easy. Wrong! Maybe even very wrong. The valve assembly had been left untouched for such a long time that is was frozen solid. Time to change to the metal bench & fire up the oxy. 5 minutes later after a thorough warming around the thread, the tap body & valve body separated with a loud crack & a lot of effort. Time for a morning coffee because now I had to let things cool down before I could carry on.


After coffee, all the components were separated so that I could inspect everything & assess what work was needed. I grabbed a tap & die nut to clean up the whistle mounting studs & nuts, with generous amounts of Rocol hand cutting compound. I used a file to clean up where the edges of the nuts had been slightly rounded. A sharp scraper was used to remove the old gasket material. Wood workers are crazy, they keep calling our sharp scraper a chisel, but what would they know. The old gland packing had gone rock hard inside the stuffing box, & put up a good fight till I used a small rotary wire brush in the battery drill.

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It was finally time for the important bits, the valve face & seat. When luck is on your side, a light lapping with 500 grit lapping paste will usually suffice, but I had found slight evidence of steam cutting on the seat & 2 small pit holes on the valve face, so machining was required. The valve cutter was used with light pressure to gently scrape the seat & re-create the correct seat angle, but I had to put the spindle in the lathe & take 3 fine cuts to remove the pitting. Whist doing lathe work, I also had to make a lapping guide for the spindle, as we didn’t have a small guide to suit the small spindle. This was a bit time consuming because first I had to cut a thread to screw the guide into the valve body, & the spindle thread was 0.008″ under 5/8″, so I had to drill the hole then use a tiny boring bar to make the hole the right size.

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Job done, it was back to the bench, & use the new guide to lap the newly machined faces together. First with 120 grit lapping paste, then finish off with 500 grit. We use Bearing Blue to check our contact faces because it will not hide any faults, & after the first check the Blue told me I still had some lapping to do. 20 minutes & several hand cramps later, the Blue showed me a beautifully consistant & clean sealing surface. That’s a win.


Full assembly was now the last task, so a brisk walk across to the Stores to collect the appropriate gland packing was followed by a trip to our Tool Store fridge to grab the Dixons, nickel anti seize & copper grease. The Valve Spindle thread was coated with the copper grease & screwed into its housing so that I could then cut & fit 3 new rings of gland packing. The spindle housing thread, Valve body thread, Stuffing ring & barrel union & the entire exposed Whistle mounting studs were all coated with the nickel anti seize. The sealing faces of the Valve body & Spindle Housing were then coated in Dixons, & the whole lot was screwed together. The final bit of attention was to clean & paint the valve wheel in the same sparkling Stove Bright paint that we apply to our Smokeboxes.

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Done. My father used to tell me to take pride in my work & I was very happy with this job, but I don’t know how long it will be before this Whistle Isolator Valve will be bolted back onto K160’s boiler, so I wrapped the whole job in plastic to keep it clean until it goes back to Melbourne for refitting, and that was pretty much Tuesday.


So next time you are talking to somebody who asks why it takes so long to overhaul a steam engine, just get them to read this.



K160 Workshop Update 21/4/2020

Work on our workhorse, K160, has been picking up again over the last few weeks after a long break in works due to circumstances out of our control. We are also, like everyone, dealing with the restrictions placed on us due to COVID-19.

Over the past few weeks, these jobs have been completed by our workshop team at Newport Workshops:

-Frames and boiler needle gunned
-Frames painted
-Boiler Coated in Hi Temp paint
-Main reservoir tanks cleaned & painted
-Driving wheels and pony truck assembly heavily de-greased
-Driving wheels pressure washed
-Ash pan studs heated & removed
-Boiler fittings on top of firebox removed to check and/or replace studs
-Front tube plate works
-Cab tipped up so needle gun works can commence. This will allow the cab “interior” to be painted so ICE radio wiring and lighting etc can be roughed in and fitted
-Polishing parts of the motion gear

There is a lot more in the pipeline in the coming months which include:

-Axle box measuring and sizing to allow the boxes to be re-metalled -Smokebox parts cut and replaced with new rolled plate -Smoke Deflectors being needle gunned

Still a long way to go! But we are getting there! Don’t forget you can donate to the restoration of K160 here! http://www.vgr.com.au/k160appeal.php

Working bees are occurring at least once a week to accelerate the project. You can contact Fletcher (Mobile 0405 472 971 or Email- yvg@vgr.com.au)

COVID-19: Volunteers and Staff, we ask anyone who:
-May not be feeling well or is displaying any flu-like symptoms, fever and/or shortness of breath;
-Has been overseas in the previous 14 days or;
-Has been in recent contact with any high-risk persons,
To please refrain from attending Newport Workshops until they are feeling better, or have quarantined themselves for the prescribed amount of time.

At this stage we are still able to have volunteers on site at Newport, however there will need to be restrictions put in place on enclosed areas such as the lunch room, so we would ask everyone to spread out where possible remembering the social distancing restrictions. Please contact Fletcher if you plan on coming down so we can comply with the current restrictions that are in place.