In the (Alphabet) Soup

Yes, I know. We said we would have a bunch of content to share with all of our loyal readers out there but once again the service was cancelled. Track Fault? Signal Fault? Staff sickness? None of the above. The workshop has been dealing with what the Rev W would never have anticipated – not troublesome trucks but troublesome carriages!

The ABC of XYZ

As some of you may know the Victorian Goldfields Railway currently has custody of a very special set of carriages known as the XYZ set. This set of fixed wheel carriages date from the mid-late 1800s and are the oldest pieces of Victorian Railways rolling stock still running. First restored by VR in 1954 for their centenary celebrations the set otherwise known as The Veteran Train are only used on a few special trains each year currently billed as the Colonial Express. At other times this set needs to be kept under cover so they are stored in the Carriage Shed at Castlemaine.

The Royal Pain

Earlier this year it was announced that the VGR in conjunction with Seymour Rail Heritage Centre would be running another very special set of carriages known as the Royal Train from Castlemaine to Bendigo (and a couple of times to Maldon) over selected weekends to coincide with the Tudors to Windsors exhibition at the Bendigo Gallery starting in April and running through to July. This was a huge success as your blogger can attest to having worked on a couple of the trips however these special carriages also needed to live indoors at Castlemaine so it was decided to move the XYZ set to Maldon for the duration and house them in the Loco shed.

Crowded House

The XYZ set took up all the room in the loco shed and some which meant that all work normally undertaken in the shed such as servicing and repair of steam locos had to be done outside. In the dirt. In Winter. In Maldon. Accordingly things have been a bit hectic over the last few months with things taking longer than usual due to the extra running around and the need to try to keep warm against the bitter Central Victorian winter! To say the workshop crew was glad to see the back of them would be an understatement and a half!


While we are here…….

While the Veteran Train was in the house it was decided to give it a once over. This happened over a period of many weeks as the work was done in between other more pressing jobs. This was a pretty interesting side show for the gang because the brake equipment on these old carriages is not the same as we are used to – there are some pretty major differences in fact.

While in the shop 69YZ and 309Y had a full PV exam. The PV covered removal, cleaning, inspection and and refitting of the brake piston and valve, greasing and adjusting all brake rigging, tightening Buffer bolts and a leakage test which were both AOK.

40X got a PV exam (2 pistons, one cylinder which was interesting for all involved as most had not seen such a setup before), greasing and adjustment of all brake rigging, tightening buffers, spring mounts, body mounts, brake rigging mounts and replacing and tightening many other bolts. In the shot below we see a shot of the under frame and brake rigging. Note the lovely spoked wheels, this set would probably have had Krupp Cast Iron spoke wheels at one stage but most of those were removed MANY years ago due to their high failure rate.


Things got really interesting after that as Mick and the crew had to replace a body mount bolt which was rusted through in the middle of the frame timber – the bottom of the bolt turned, the top didn’t! This can be a bit confusing for the novices among us until it dawns on you that the bloody thing has sheared halfway down it’s length! The experienced hands of course worked it out straight away. Next up was to raise & tighten underneath tank support straps. Finally onto the leakage test and the result was – FAIL! Unions, taps, Brake Pipe taps, release valve etc were attended to and 9 repairs later – Pass. Happy Days! Below we see the view through the timber to the broken bolt.


All received an A exam as well and all Screw Couplings were given a thorough greasing and going over.

Fast forward to the 16th of July and the XYZ set was attached to the back of a transfer train and hauled back to Castlemaine. Your blogger was on hand to capture the movement as it passed over the Midland Highway crossing under a leaden Winter sky.


With the workshop freed up once again there was plenty to get on with in preparation for Steamrail’s Maldon Steam Spectacular which took place last weekend. Hopefully we will cover some of this in an upcoming post but after the last few months we are not making any promises!

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