Up, Up and Away!

Hi and welcome to another update from the Victorian Goldfields Railway’s Maldon workshop. The focus of most attention for the last month or so has been finishing the ABC exam on our oil burning steam loco J549. As detailed in our last post this is a major exam requiring a lot more than the “regular” A and AB exams and the biggest part of it is to jack the loco frame off of the wheels to get to the Woolpads in the axle boxes on the driving wheels. In order to do this there are many other parts that have to come off first.

The preparation for the lift had been going on for a few weeks with various parts being removed to allow the frame/boiler/cab to be hoisted free of the driving wheels and motion gear. All brake blocks and rigging had to come off plus the long rods had to come off as we found some worn bushes. Springs, keeper plates including those from the pony trucks, wedge adjusting bolts, wedge clamps and adjusting bolt clamps also had to come off. When all this was done the loco could be jacked up enough to access to the spring hanger pin lock bolts. Then the spring hangers could be removed finally allowing access to the cellars.

On the left we see the view from underneath as the loco is almost ready to hoist and at right we see Mick giving it his all as she begins to rise.



In the photo above left we see the wool pads as they came out. Clearly not enough material had been used last time around and you can see the metal of the Cellars where they should be covered by the wool. On the right we see them after a lot of work ready to go back in with a lot more material this time. Not exactly Vegan friendly these locomotives!

Another problem area was the wool trimmings which were extremely dirty. Much of this is a result of dirt and muck getting in when the oil cans are inserted to top up the oil. These are normally accessed through the spokes of the wheel, everything is very dirty and the nozzle of the can drags in muck from the wheel spokes and surrounds and mixes it in with the oil. Below we see some of the dirty trimmings and at right the detritus that was left behind after 3 hours of cleaning or so.


Other faults found during this work included worn brake bushes, suspension bushes, springs, spring buckles and 2 suspension legs which were seized so badly that they could not be moved even with a sledge hammer. Not good for ride quality! There was a lot more as well which we will cover in a later post.

Of course while all of this is going on there are still other duties to attend to as and when required. Our freshly painted heritage diesel loco Y133 has been on the point of all trains since the J came out of service in mid January and it needs attention from time to time to ensure reliable running for our passengers. In the photo at left below we see a leak in the engine protector which sprung up and had to be attended to by the workshop crew. In the other shot Keith is on duty cutting more door stops to be painted and sold at our shops both at Maldon and at Castlemaine.


Well that is about it for this time. As I type the pieces of the puzzle have been put back together and the loco was steamed on Friday ready for her return to service. In the coming weeks we hope to have an in depth post from Mick covering the more technical aspects of the exam for those among our viewers who have an interest in the more complicated aspects of keeping a heritage steam loco in service on our tourist railway. 10031

But remember it’s not all about hard graft – in a lull between jobs (and probably just before morning Smoko) the crew had a discussion about the chemical makeup of coffee which is a vital part of Mick’s day. And anyone who has worked in the big shed at Maldon for any length of time will know that meant a chemistry lesson! The workshop is always looking for more help so if you would like to lend a hand (or get a chemistry lesson) please contact us via the website at vgr.com.au.

Till next time, thanks for taking an interest in our blog, our workshop and our railway.


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