Travelling Back In Time

Hello and welcome to another update from the Victorian Goldfields Railway’s Maldon workshop. Being a heritage railway we are used to giving the appearance of time travel as our Ex Victorian Railways Heritage rolling stock plies it’s trade over our 1950s era branchline from Castlemaine to Maldon. This time however we are travelling all the way back to March 28th – the last time we posted an update!

The March / April period is always a busy one for our Railway as fire restrictions ease and the Steam season gets underway, This combined with some good old fashioned tech issues meant we have been a bit quiet. That’s right, we lost all the photos!

In the last post we covered J549’s return to service after her big exam. With the J now back on the ‘point’ of our trains and fire restrictions still meaning we were unable to run a coal burning loco attention turned to Steamrail’s K153 which has called the VGR home over the last few months. The K had been sitting in the Carriage Shed at Castlemaine since here boiler inspection late last year but as she was required to run a couple of Main Line trips to Echuca in May special permission was obtained from the CFA to run her back to Maldon.

The trip back to our workshop showed up a few issues, some due to her sitting around in the summer heat baking in a tin shed and others just the types of things that crop up when trying to maintain a heritage loco in regular service. Firstly the gland packing around the regulator needed attention. This was quickly attended to and we turned to other issues such as clack valve cap, isolator valve and steam valve leaks which were attended to. One of the Dump Grate shafts was seized where it passed through the frame and this needed attending to as well. There were a few other niggles as well, too many to cover in detail.

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In the photo above left we see the Fireman’s Side Gauge Glass Boss replaced because the outlet thread was . . . . past its use by date, & would shower the crew! While on the right we see the turbo drain outlet which required repair (AGAIN!!!). This time Mick fitted an elbow to try to prevent further damage.

Next on the list was the compressor. Loco Crews had been reporting problems with the Westinghouse unit fitted to K153 for a while. Nothing that a quick knock or 2 with the hammer wouldn’t cure but as she was venturing beyond our tracks it was time to have a look inside. So off came the Fireman’s Side Elephant’s Ear and the crew got to work. The unit was found to me in need of more than a little repair. One of the heads from our own K160 was grabbed from Newport as a short term replacement for a worn out part but that was not all!

The shuttle valve that controls the movement of air in and out of the various parts of the compound compressor unit was well beyond it’s service limit. Workshop Manager Mick machined up some new rings for it, no easy job as they are made from Centrifically cast iron tubing which needed to be machined inside and out to obtain the correct size. Luckily some material was on hand to get the job done with more sourced to replenish our stocks. The compressor unit will get more attention later as it will need 3 new shuttle valve bores. These will need to be machined up, ports cut into them and then they will need to be shrink fitted into the unit. A big job.

Below we see the usual suspects removing the smoke deflector to enable access to the compressor.

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With time rapidly running out before the twin trips to Echuca, firstly for Steamrail’s Echuca Overlander on May 11th and then for a private charter the following week, K153 was pressed into service on VGR services from May 4th with fire restrictions having been lifted at the start of the month. Your blogger was on hand to snap a shot of her on a test trip powering over Castlemaine’s Midland Highway crossing under leaden skies before the deflector was refitted making her look a bit ‘unbalanced’.

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Well that is about all for this week. We are aiming to bring you a stream of updates over the next few weeks, time and technology permitting so please stay tuned. We will leave you with a couple of shots – on the left have a delivery of 30 tons or so of finest NSW black coal to power K153 to Echuca and on the right we see Mick after a hard day’s graft. When asked for a byline for the shots Mick shot back “Fresh black rock, fresh black me”. So there you have it! If you fancy coming down and getting dirty remember the workshop is always looking for volunteers to assist in their never ending endeavors – at least it’s warm inside the smoke box!

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