Here To Stay

Hello again and welcome to another VGR Mechanical Blog update. As promised last time out we continue to look at K153 as we prepare for her annual boiler inspection. As we have said previously a Steam Locomotive boiler is a pressure vessel which requires annual certification by a certified boiler inspector. No ticket, no start! K153 was due and as she is currently on loan to the Victorian Goldfields Railway from our friends at Steamrail the inspection is being done at Maldon.

Stay tuned

Following on from last weeks post the leaking stay needed to be replaced before the inspection could take place. In the picture below Mick is in the process of drilling out the old stay.  It is almost done, 7 different drill bits were used starting with a pilot and gradually stepping up to ensure maximum removal of material with minimal chance of damage to the threads in the sheets.03121



Above is the view through the mudplug hole looking at the stay from the inside. This space is between the inner and outer firebox sheets, the fireman’s seat is on the other side of the back wall as we are looking at it. This is a small and inaccessible space and is too tight to get the oxy into so Mick invented a “slide chisel” to remove the large dag which would have prevented the stay from being screwed out.

Now to the new stay which is shown below. The standard size thread for a stay is 1″ but they were made in oversizes to fix problems with worn threads. This one has been made 1″ on one end and 1&1/32″ on the other due to one sheet having been oversized in the past. As it was not going to be possible to weld the outside of the stay due to it being only 1.5″ from the frame an old Railway fitters trick was employed – a tapered thread was used on that end of the stay and it was then screwed up tight to prevent leaks.


With the new stay fitted it was time to get on with the rest of the work for the boiler inspection. All boiler fittings need to be removed for inspection, all plugs removed, gauge glasses, basically anything that is to do with the boiler. Below we see some fittings that have been removed and placed on a trolley awaiting their check up.


Darren’s Back! (again)

Gun contract welder Darren was called back once more to do some of his great work. Again as we have said previously only a certified Boiler welder can do these critical jobs due to paperwork requirements.


Above we see Darren inside the Firebox welding a throat plate stay and below he is back outside under the barrel next to the blowdown valve on the front of the Throat Plate. This required the K to be parked over the pit so access could be gained from underneath. Not a pleasant place to work, cramped, dirty and a bit damp too!


Thanks for all you help!

Monday morning rolled around and the crew assembled ready for the boiler inspection. Warren and Tim made the drive up from Steamrail, Mick and workshop volunteer Pete were on hand along with a handful of others. The first thing that everyone noticed once the shed doors flew open was how tidy the shed looked. A bit too tidy……. Some helpful person had come in on the weekend and decided to “clean up”. Problem was they cleaned up junk, tools and even parts of the loco and piled them up outside for whatever fate awaited them. One of the missing parts was the Blowdown Valve operating link that was required that day for the inspection. It took 4 people (3 paid and 1 volunteer) 4 and a half hours to find the part. So 13.5 hours of PAID labour lost for nothing, It was frustrating to say the least.


Above we see the offending article and the pile it was discovered in and below Pete in the pit refitting it after the inspection was completed.


Built like a Brick……. Brick Arch?

As we saw last week the Brick Arch was found to be a bit wanting on the structural integrity front and it needed to be rebuilt. Below we see the new bricks being produced in special moulds onsite by our crew.


After all that hard graft the inspection was completed and the crew got stuck into re-fitting all of the removed components. K153 is now ready for another year of Steaming although not for a few months as CFA restrictions prevent the Railway from running the coal burner at this time of the year. With it being such a dry year in Central Victoria the restriction kicked in a bit early this year. We are still able to run J549 as she is an oil burner but this is done under strict conditions with a Fire Patrol following all trains.

Next week we will take a look at some of the other activities which were going on during the last couple of weeks. Thanks for tuning in.


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