One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Hello all, as promised we have part 2 of this post about goings on in the Victorian Goldfields Railway’s Maldon workshop. In last weeks part 1 we focused on the efforts of the Young Volunteer work who are prepping our heritage diesel locomotive Y133 for it’s repaint.

However while that goes on it is business as usual (or unusual as the case may be) for Mick, our new “fitter” Banjo Baz and the team of volunteers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.

The Never NN Ending Story

The last time we checked in with the workshop gang they had been sidetracked by a request for work on our QR wagon. Now we move forward two weeks and a couple of things happened at once, just the way you don’t want them to. First of all a request came in from on high for work on a long delayed project to be fast-forwarded – that being our ballast wagon NN 114.

NNs were built at Newport Workshops from the early 1900s in a couple of different body styles. They were re-classified VHWA in 1979 and some are still in service. The VGR has a few of these wagons, NN 40, NN 68 and NN 106 among their number, these last two were even hired out to John Holland Rail in 2004 for the Regional Fast Rail project. NN68 (VHWA 68-P) is shown below on the Main line at Castlemaine during these works which is pretty cool.


Enter the Banjo

This particular NN arrived on our railway a bit later than the others. It was the roughest of the lot requiring a fair bit of rusty metal plate to be cut out of it and some new steel welding into it’s place to ensure that the ballast drops out when it is required instead of at random spots on the line. This job was started more than 3 years ago but now the wagon is required in traffic so it needs to be finished. Yesterday. Long time VGR volunteer Banjo Baz was recently lured from his job in the mining industry to come to work full time at the railway and currently splits his time between Civil and Mechanical work and he was just the man for the job. Some of his handy work is shown below.



Y Indeed…….

While all this was going on we got some bad news on the Y class front. Y133 as regular readers will know has still been running driver experiences and works trains while the paint preperation is underway. Radiator leaks have been plaguing her for a few years and they have been patched up a few times with the plan always being to remove the unit while the paint job was underway to get a proper look at it. Now it became apparent that coolant was getting into the #3 Cylinder so Mick and Baz stopped work on the NN and took a look. That is to say they took a look at the myriad nuts and bolts which hold the thing together as well as undoing the 90 or so holding the radiator in place! The radiator is now out and being attended to by Baz who is being unusually shy around the camera.


Getting to the source of the coolant leak into the cylinder on the other hand is proving to be a difficult ask. Hours of work trying to release the Crab Nuts was to no avail, these are done up to 1400 ft pounds and more on some EMD motors. A hydraulic crab nut torque wrench is pretty much a must have to tighten or loosen these bad boys so it was decided to get the correct tool for the job instead of wasting any more time.

In between all this major work there were ‘little’ jobs like Carriage Safety inspections to be done plus Mick has returned to school for his 3E Advanced welding ticket so he can weld stays & tubes on boilers. As well as saving money on outsourcing the work this will be a huge time saver for the workshop as we will not have to down tools and wait for a contractor to turn up and do the work. As we have discussed previously pressure vessel welders need certification and in the past we have had to wait days for our preferred bloke to turn up to maybe do 30 minutes work, all the time the loco sits idle in the workshop.

Well once again we seem to have too much material for one post so we will be back next week with another update. If you have made it this far then thanks for reading! See you next time.



Y, Y, Y Delilah?

Hello again, time for another update on happenings in the Victorian Goldfields Railway workshops at Maldon. Well actually not one but two updates as there is too much going on at the moment for just one post!

For Part 1 I am going to hand over the Fletcher Cole from the VGR’s Young Volunteers Group. As if they didn’t have enough to do prepping the Y class for painting Fletcher kindly took some time out to take a few snaps and even provided his own commentary for this one. Sure makes my job easier so over to you Fletch!

As we continued to work on the nose of the loco peeling off more bog revealed that is was all severely rusted out. The photo below is of the Fireman’s side of the nose.



Above is the “patch” that was welded in years ago…… shows what a job it’s done. Lots of little holes were opening up with just a screw driver. So we grabbed a hammer and a few whacks confirmed how bad the patch was… and ensured it couldn’t be used again!

Moving on we found some original paint behind the nose door. Even though the loco has been painted at least once since it was first out-shopped the nose door couldn’t be removed because of the “gutter” above the door.


We removed the gutter to allow the removal of the door and the photo above shows what was revealed! This will be really helpful in trying to make sure we get the colours right!

Finally after more days of hard work by the group the nose was finally stripped of all paint and ready for primer! Polished steel actually suits it!! Clear coat anyone??? Also in the shot below is YVG member Riley repairing a fitting on the sandblaster. Some people will do anything to be famous!


With the nose finally primed and the last of the doors also done and leaning on the workshop door (which is usually the job of one of the workshop Senior volunteers, Ed) all that is left to prime is the fuel tanks once a few leaks have been fixed.


Now it’s time for a rest! Well for Fletcher anyway, your blogger will be back soon with another update so stay tuned!


Huge thanks to Fletcher and the rest of the Young Volunteers Group for the pics and words for this post and of course for doing the work in the first place. Can’t wait for the next update.

Jumping the Q

Hello and welcome to another VGR Mechanical blog post updating recent activities in and around the workshops. Regular readers of this blog may recall that over the last few posts we have talking about being sidetracked. Well this post is yet another example of how things don’t always go to plan! While we have focused recently on the work being done by the Young Volunteers Group repainting Y133 there has been plenty for the workshop crew to do.

Back in early August Mick thought that K160s ashpan rebuild was going to be getting his undivided attention. New steel was ordered and rolled and the atmosphere around the project was one of getting it done. Then along came our Civil Branch manager with a small request – “Mick, can you get that QR wagon ready for traffic, we need it for infrastructure trains”. Now being a true gentleman the manager concerned would never add the words “and we need it yesterday” but the inference was certainly there. Oh well!

Enter QR272

QR wagons are 26 to 31 ton capacity bogie open wagons with wooden drop sides, used for general goods and sleeper transport on the Victorian Railways. There were over 400 constructed between 1890 and 1930, most with 3 doors per side like 272 and the last 30 (approx) 4 door. After a long life as general service open wagons most were relegated to Departmental duties carrying sleepers and dirt. And this is exactly what QR272 is now required for!


Above we see a great photo from the State Library of Victoria of a QR in traffic with a load of potatoes from Garfield headed for Melbourne.

Opening a can of Wasps!

QR272 had been sitting idle for many years so getting it ready for traffic was never going to be easy.  So over a few long days in mid August Mick and the crew stripped cleaned & refurbished the brake piston, cylinder, auxiliary reservoir, triple valve, #1 end brake pipe cock & hose bag amongst other things. The aux res had a broken mount which was braized back together and it was found to be full of wasp nests because no triple valve had been fitted for many years. The brake cylinder also had 2 broken studs to replace. Some of that work is shown below.



So after all of that the QR has had a total brake system repair & overhaul including the new studs, gaskets and had the brake pipe removed to straighten a section bent by a wheel during a derailment from its past history. I wonder if it was the one in this photo of an unknown QR derailment taken from the brilliant website


But that’s not all…….

While all this was going on Mick had to jump into J549’s smoke box and blow out the 167 boiler tubes (don’t worry folks, he had an airgun, he wasn’t using a straw!) and as if there wasn’t already enough to do it was decided that every vehicle in the yard fitted with wool pads in the axle boxes needed to be Red oiled. There was also the small matter of adjusting K190’s brakes (both long and short rods) for her trip back to the Steamrail depot at Newport!

Somehow while all this was going on time was found to remove (cut out) most of the old rivets in K160’s ashpan door castings so they can be set up in the jig so the rebuild can get going again. The photo below gives some idea of the extent of work going on at the moment with K160’s ashpan parts in the foreground, the QR wagon taking centre stage and Y133 in the background.


There has been that much going on over the last month or so that it will take 1 or 2 more posts to get through it all so we’ll leave it there for now. Next time we will update some of the more serious surgery required on Y133 plus similar work on our ballast wagon NN114 which also required some rust cutting out and new sections welded in. And hopefully we’ll see some shots of K160 progress!

As usual the workshop staff and volunteers are run off their feet and help is always appreciated. If you think you have something to offer contact Mick via the website




Getting Bogged Down

Hello and welcome to another VGR Mechanical blog post. As your blogger has been busy with other projects (both Railway and non Railway) I thought I would ask the VGR’s Young Volunteers Group co-ordinater Fletcher for an update on Y133. As it turns out the youngsters have been hard at it and as with a lot of this kind of work the deeper you dig the worse it gets!

Stripping of paint has continued apace and as anyone who has ever restored a car, bike, house or pretty much anything else there is often a horror story or two hidden under all that jam. And this is certainly true for our ex Victorian Railways Y class diesel!



In the top photo you can see some lovely rust holes down near the floor on the car body. Pretty standard stuff which will need to be cut out and a new section welded in by Mick. The lower shot however is a whole lot more trouble. As the team got stuck in to it they found bog. And more bog. Far more bog than you would expect and once they got through it they found out why – it was being used to try to fade out the massive patch that had been welded over the top of some old rust! This lot will have to be all cut out and a new piece fabricated and welded in by the workshop team before progress can resume on this section.


Above we see progress on the nose a few weeks ago while below we see the replica Clyde builders plate that Fletcher has done up. This will be affixed in the original spot on the cab after it is painted. The location was discovered during earlier work shown in the previous Y class update post.


In the last week the YVG team has continued their hard work and it is really starting to show. Below we see a couple of shots taken while they were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Cruise Express Charter last weekend. After more sand blasting on the nose it is almost ready for primer and in the lower shot we see progress on the Driver’s side of the main car body with 2 more doors to go. The group are trialling sand blasting these doors instead of the hand sanding that they have used on the others. It will be a big time saver but might be a bit harsh on the more fragile door components especially if they have fallen victim to rust.




Well that’s about it for this post, another great effort by the Young Volunteer’s Group and we look forward to another update soon. Thanks again to Fletcher for supplying photos and content for this post while your blogger was bogged down elsewhere! And as we like to do we finish with a shot of our hero in action, here she is today with a Driver Experience heading towards Midland Highway Crossing on the Down hauling “the ghost of the Shelbourne Goods” a lovely rake of 4 wheelers and a Guard’s van at each end. If you look carefully you can see some of the work detailed above.


Seymour to a T

Derailed (again)


A recurring theme of ours recently has been how things don’t always go the way we plan it and this last week has been no exception. We were advised from “on high” last week that the VGR’s very own T Class locomotive T333 was to be subjected to a change of footwear and workshop staff were required to be on hand to witness (and as it turned out to help with) this monumental event. Your blogger was lucky enough to be able to join Mick as we headed for Seymour bright and early on Monday, me on the train and Mick on a long cross country road trip.

We arrived at SRHC bright and early to be greeted by none other than the President, David, who welcomed us warmly and took time out of his busy schedule to give us a quick tour of the impressive facilities including inside the Spirit Dining and Parlour cars, what a treat. We also got a look at the carefully planned running sheet for the 3 days of work which was to follow for the Seymour crew and I must say it was daunting to say the least. I was glad T333 was to be first cab off the rank!


Some of you may know that T333, a first series “flat top” T class locomotive built for Victorian Railways by Clyde Engineering in 1956, has been owned by the Victorian Goldfields Railway for many years now. She had been out on hire to a mainline rail operator earning good money for our railway but in 2013 this operator went spectacularly broke owing a heap of money and leaving our hero tired and stranded on Standard Gauge bogies at Seymour making it a bit difficult for a glorious return to our railway which is of course on Broad Gauge.

Now after a few years of sitting around it was time for a change back to the Broad Gauge and this was to be combined with a number of other “lifts” over a few days to offset the costs of the equipment required. On small scale railways like ours this type of lift is often done with the help of a couple of mobile cranes. This is both cumbersome and expensive. For this large project SRHC had secured a set of  lifting jacks with a central control unit for the task an it was very impressive.  The photo below shows the jacks on the driver’s side being prepared for action and the control unit near the RHS of the overhead crane.



Above – T333 sits off the turntable at Seymour with some of the other locos involved in the swaps positioned on other roads. It was a glorious sight and sound with 3 or more Diesels running and a sea of Blue and Gold all around.

Going Up

After a couple of hours set up it was time for our girl to reach for the sky. The jacks all set, everyone stood well clear as the console operator hit the go button.



After a few nervous minutes (for me anyway) the loco was lifted clear and the SG bogies could be rolled out and a set of BG bogies could be rolled back in. I say a set because this is not the end of T333’s adventure – at the end of all of this swappo chango she will receive yet another set of Broad Gauge bogies before she begins the next stage of our journey. In the picture below we can see Mick inspecting the wheels and other vital parts of the bogies that the loco will be riding when she rolls out of Seymour.


With the swap successfully completed and T333 positioned on the inspection pit on the other side of the turntable we could finally get a good look at her. Members and followers of our railway may be aware of the rumours that had been floating around for a few years about this loco – that she had thrown a leg out of bed (put a conrod though the side of the block) but we could find no evidence of this. The rods, pistons, heads and other parts had been removed but the rest looked AOK. Strange but much better that what we had expected to find.

Later in the day we were fortunate to run into one of the old hands at the workshops who set us straight. Apparently around 3 weeks before the hirer went belly up a crew running a train had stopped near Seymour as T333 had been making some strange sounds. She was taken off the train and towed to the shop where she was stripped and found to be tired and worn out causing noisy running, loss of power and a potential for a big failure. Then the operator went bust and the money to fix her evaporated so there she sat gathering dust and rumours. With any luck a new set of power assemblies for the motor will see her back in action in no time. Fingers Crossed.


Before we left Mick had a quick look over a few bits and pieces that may be making their way to our railway over the next few months. The teaser above might give you some clues.

Before I sign off I would like to thank David and the whole crew at SRHC who made our visit such a pleasure. We were made to feel right at home right down to having our lunch provided for us (these guys could teach the VGR a thing or two here) and it was a real treat for us – yes, it was work but what a place to work, surrounded by VR rail history, the Spirit runs deep at Seymour if you’ll excuse the pun. Thanks guys.




Does it come with a RWC?

Welcome to another update from the VGR Workshop. We hinted last time that this post would be a K160 update however as often happens other matters got in the way last week in the form of J549’s RSAVC or Rail Safety Accreditation Vehicle Certification (for short).

That’s right folks, just like your car our locomotives require a certificate of road worthiness if they are going to continue to operate on our railway. And like a Pinkslip in NSW or an MOT in J549’s birthplace, the UK, it needs to be done every year. This is in addition to the Boiler Test which also needs to be done annually, it really is a full time job keeping these old Steam locos running for people to enjoy!


Above; Only driven to Church on a Sunday! Our hero during restoration in 2007

Taxed and Tested

549’s Certificate was due to run out at the end of July so we enlisted the services of our friends at Traction Engineering in Seymour to come take a look at her. Overall it went pretty much as Mick had expected, the loco has been running quite a bit recently and so has been receiving regular attention. Items found to be in need of attention were as follows;

1/.. Pony wheel pivot beam mounting bolt loose drivers side. 2/.. Main reservoir balance pipe weeping oil at #1 reservoir, check for loose or cracked. 3/.. Nut missing from water transfer flange … bolt almost out on fireman’s side. 4/.. Tighten lock nut on water transfer cover on drivers side. 5/.. Replace worn cotter #1 bogie brake adjuster on tender. 6/.. Window cracked top corner on fireman’s door. 7/.. Generator mounting bolts loose. 8/..Fire extinguisher in cab is out of date.

So we set out to repair all of the above, some were difficult to find, some required welding and some required other fixes both simple and complicated.



In the image above you can see the Main Res balance pipe which has been removed, inspected for cracks, refitted with new gaskets and refitted, it tested AOK

Below; the Cotter pin on #1 bogie brake adjuster has been replaced, the worn item is shown in this Thumb selfie taken by Mick – he must be a dab hand with a camera or did he have some help under there!?!?


To replace the glass in the Fireman’s side cab door it was removed from the loco to make the job easier. Here we see the VR Factory tool (common garden wheelbarrow) being used to provide a softish surface to get it done. Glaziers beware, our guys can do just about anything if they put their minds to it.



In the end all 8 items were attended to over the course of a few days, the results photographed and sent off to the inspector for approval. A couple of days later we had our certificate and J549 was back in business.


Well that is about it for this post, your blogger will keep hassling Mick and the crew for the K160 updates including photos. Until then stay warm and happy steaming!





K190’s a movie star, on with the show!

This past week or so Mick and the workshop team have been back on Steam duty while the YVG continues with work on the Y class.

K190 was due to do some filming work this week and the Smoke Deflectors were considered surplus to requirements so they had to come off. Easy right? Have you ever tried lifting one of those “Elephant’s ears”? Your blogger has been involved in fitting them in the past and it is a big job requiring a crane (or a handy Hi-Rail excavator in our case) and many hands to position and hold it while bolts are positioned and tightened. A big job at any time let alone on a windy Maldon day! With filming done the “ears” were back on by Tuesday in time for the K to run the regular service on Wednesday with a big train behind her.

Then it was on to J549 which is due it’s annual Safety Accreditation Inspection this week and in amongst all of that work continues on K160’s Ashpan which we will cover next time with any luck.

As we said last week the workshop gang are also required to work on Y133 when the going gets tough and recently they were pressed into action to deal with some rust uncovered at the bottom of the Cab on the observer’s side. But why just do a patch up  when you can cut out the section and replace it! Luckily Mick is a dab hand at the cut and shut, here he has removed the affected section and is preparing it to take the new piece of steel.  It really pays to have talented (and qualified) staff on hand for this kind of work, if not done properly the problem would come back in a few years.


Meanwhile work continued over the past few weeks on sanding back the old paint and prepping for the new. First inside the shed and then outside in the sun when the shed was commandeered for another job.



They say you can hide a multitude of sins under a coat of jam and a couple of interesting things have cropped up over the past couple of weeks when the paint has been stripped back. Firstly we see a couple of different Yellows clearly applied at different times in the loco’s life. Fletcher takes up the story “The small patch of yellow is the original “Gold” type colour, it would’ve been the yellow it carried when it was brand new. The “newer” yellow was a later colour, probably applied by SRHC when they painted it in the late 80’s/ early 90’s? Not really sure on a date. But, when we put colour on 133 we are using the original yellow!! “…



…and here we see a clearly defined Oval shape emerging from the bog, rust and old paint. Fletcher explains that this is the marking of the original Clyde Engineering builders plate. Personally I don’t think that someone as young as Fletch could possible know such a thing, maybe one of the old hands tipped him off!


The work being done by the Young Volunteers Group with help from Mick and the workshop team is really starting to take shape. This shot was taken last week after another days hard graft. And on Monday this week one of our volunteers snapped her on a Driver Experience running the return Down leg back to Maldon on a lovely Winters day in Central Victoria. I don’t know what our “driver for a day” thought when he saw the state of the loco but little did he know that he was part of history! Remember folks you too can drive a train on the VGR, check out the Driver Experience page on the website


Well that’s about all for this post, tune in next time when we hope to have a riveting update on K160’s ash pan and more Y class action plus any other items of interest from inside the shed. Thanks to Fletcher for most of the pics used in this post, keep up the good work guys!