No Job Too Big (or small)!

Hello and welcome to another belated update from the Maldon Workshop at the Victorian Goldfields Railway. Firstly an apology, yes, it has been a long time between blog posts. As usual a combination of circumstances has seen a lot of work to be done and not enough time to do it in! This tends to mean that the Blog gets put on the back burner.
Last time we checked in with out heroes they were celebrating one of their own with Pete’s Train being run to say thanks to a tireless workshop volunteer. As someone who spends a bit of time around these guys (while trying not to get my hands dirty) I think I can safely say that after transitioning to retirement 12 months or thereabouts back Pete is busier now than he ever was! That seems to be a bit of a common theme among volunteers on Heritage Railways like ours!
With Steamrail’s K class having returned to Newport in late August for Suburban Shuttle duties our own J549 has had to do most of the heavy lifting during the latter half of the Steam Season. I say most because the Railway has been so busy recently that we have had to run more than a couple of double headers with Heritage diesel Y133 providing valuable assistance. All this extra work for 549 brings with it the usual niggles, loose bits and bobs and worse for the workshop crew to deal with.
One of the jobs which needed attention was the Regulator which had been playing up for a while. While it was nothing serious Regulator issues can be a bit unnerving for loco crews and the quiet noises from tired footplate pairs were turning into rumbles so it was decided to take her out of service and repair take a look at it. Pulling out the regulator is a complex task which as well as the in cab work requires accessing the other end through the dome. So off came the handsome black cover which exposes the swag of nuts holding the dome cover on and once the jumbo rattle gun dispensed with them the cover comes off with a specially made lifting tool. It is a 2 person lift as it is HEAVY and once it is off there is the small matter of trying to find a place to rest it on top of the curved boiler! The Cab roof is normally the best bet.
Once that was done it was just a ‘simple’ matter of disconnecting the regulator and then Baz & Mick pulled the Reg out. Once removed from the loco Baz got to work machining the lift rod to recover our travel, while Mick lapped the main valve also finding and repairing a steam burn in the Pilot valve seat.
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Once everything was deemed fit for purpose the re-assembly could get going but it was also decided that it was a good time to flush out the foundation while the loco was off the road. Just as well too as the photo below shows what came out, the scale buildup a result of a going a bit too heavy on the tannin in the boiler treatment. To add insult to injury the dome cover had to be done twice as the gasket didn’t seal correctly the first time. With a steam loco these types of things are often only discovered after 3 or 4 hours spent getting the boiler up to steam!
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While the loco was in the shed it was also time to treat her to a new set of brake blocks. The shot above shows one of the (well) worn items on the left and it’s replacement on the right.
With J549 out-shopped and back in service it was time for a bit of work on ex Victorian Railways Heritage Diesel Y133. These top little locos were ordered by VR in the early 60s to dieselise shunting operations and replace steam locos on branch lines like ours which runs for around 18km from Castlemaine to Maldon. They soon became a favourite with crews and they were very well used during their service with Victorian Railways.
Our Y133 is no exception and although looking resplendent after being repainted last year by the VGR’s Young Volunteers Group the radiator had been in need of some work for quite a while. A leak had been discovered in one of the cores a couple of years back but as time and money didn’t allow for a replacement it was repaired as best as possible by Baz and crew. The Treasurer must have had his attention diverted elsewhere, I’m not sure, but somehow the gang got the circa $5K needed for the new unit. Below we see Baz  posing in the the big hole (or radiator compartment) ready to receive the unit while Mick plays the proud father.
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While all of this work which is crucial for our operations is going on time also needs to be found for the ongoing work on K160. As we have mentioned before the new ashpan is being fabricated at Maldon before being transported to Newport for fitment. Progress has been slow due to the heavy workload but has been gathering pace recently. It must be morning smoko because we can see below that tools have been downed and the lads are taking a break from the mentally draining task of marking out the new backplate from old plans and drawings.
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With all these big jobs (with apologies to Vyvyan and The Young Ones) going on it is easy to overlook the little tasks that are a constant feature of life in the workshop. Volunteers are often press ganged into these sorts of jobs and below we see a batch of T bolts for Super heater elements which have been cleaned up on the wire wheel. Not sure who got the job this time but your blogger has done this task once or twice on other locos and it is always rewarding to see the tubes going in and being secured with ease due to freshly cleaned threads.
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And that is as good a note as any to finish on with a reminder that the workshop is always looking for new volunteers. There are usually a small mountain of tasks to do and you don’t need a Mechanical Engineering degree to do them. The sense of satisfaction is what keeps many of the stalwarts coming back so why not give it a go!
I hope to bring you a cheeky little post next week showing a real piece of ingenuity that I stumbled across in the workshop. Turns out it was for work on K160’s Ashpan but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. Till then keep it on the rails.

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