Progress Report 36: Boiler Inspection Time

It is hard to believe that it is almost twelve months since PHR’s steam locomotive “Torpedo” (Hunslet 1187/1915) received its initial boiler ticket following its major overhaul during 2015/2016.

With the visit from the Boiler Inspector slotted in for next week, it was necessary for “Torpedo” to be prepared internally, and this meant a really thorough wash-out. At this stage of the construction of Pete’s Hobby Railway, we don’t have a covered workshop and/or inspection pit – although these are on the drawing board, provided the funds hold out. Luckily, because the recent overhaul (covered in earlier Progress Reports 29 and 30, ) had seen the locomotive dismantled down to its component parts, the Boiler Inspector did not want the ashpan dropped or the dome removed, but we are prepared for the latter should he see anything during the inspection which requires an internal inspection of the boiler. However, next time!

The preparation commenced on Saturday 14th October (our local State bi-election day, so we all had to find time to vote as well). It had been decided that “Torpedo” would be prepared for its inspection near the front of the house, adjacent to the plinthed Fowler and Perry locomotives. This also made it easier for vehicle access with the necessary equipment. With the aid of the Ruston diesel, “Torpedo” was shunted from the back of the property, through Loftus platform and around to a location at the rear of the plinthed Fowler and Perry steam locos for the necessary preparation works to be undertaken.

So thorough was the preparation that the wash-out took two days! All wash-out plugs were firstly removed – around the firebox and the front tubeplate. Each was numbered and recorded as to its location, for reinstatement afterwards. Matt and his Dad Bill did the honours, assisted by Ben, Rhys and Caleb while I basically supervised, well – looked on, took a few photos for this Progress Report and got the lunches.

Image 2017-4806: Matt marked the location of each individual washout plug as it was removed.

Image 2017-4806: Matt marked the location of each individual washout plug as it was removed.

Being the thinnest, Rhys was encouraged (or coerced, I’m not sure which) to put his head and arms through the Firehole door to extract all the firebars. The fun will be getting Rhys to reinstate the firebars after the inspection.

A portable fire-fighting pump was used to supply the necessary pressure, drawing water from the Hunslet’s own side tanks – replenished ever-so-slowly through a one-inch garden hose and a low mains pressure. Believe me, it doesn’t take too long for the fire-fighting pump to suck out 240 gallons from the side tanks!

Image 2017-4817: The fire-hose is poked from the washout plug opening in the lower part of the front tube plate

Image 2017-4817: The fire-hose is poked from the washout plug opening in the lower part of the front tube plate…

Image 2017-4819: Wash-out water pours from the open plugs as Bill checks for contaminants.

Image 2017-4819: Wash-out water pours from the open plugs as Bill checks for contaminants.

Image 2017-4822: The opportunity was also taken to test the quality of the local water supply used by the steam locomotive.

Image 2017-4822: The opportunity was also taken to test the quality of the local water supply used by the steam locomotive.

Matt pushed and prodded the pressure hose through each of the plug openings in a methodical order so as to “force” all the grit and metal flakes inside the boiler to be expelled. Let’s just say that at the end of each day, Matt, Ben and Rhys were a much darker colour than at the start of the day, as was their clothing.

The Hunslet still has to be cosmetically prepared with an external clean so that it looks presentable.

A second operating steam locomotive for Pete’s Hobby Railway?

As mentioned above and recorded in greater detail in past Progress Reports, apart from the operational “Torpedo”, Pete’s Hobby Railway possesses two other steam locomotives, both currently plinthed on static display – an 0-6-2T built by Perry Engineering of South Australia in 1939 and an 0-6-0 tender/tank from John Fowler, B/n 8766 of 1900.

The Perry is currently without side tanks (they had rusted through) and is in need of a major rebuild. Inquiries to the other operators of preserved 0-6-2T Perry locomotives have disclosed that the minimum curve radius around which the loco can operate is approximately 30m, as the swing of the railing truck is limited by its position within the loco frame.

On the other hand, the Fowler has no trailing truck and was fully overhauled as a standby engine back in 1965 by CSR’s Victoria Mill in North Queensland, but rarely used. Since its arrival at Loftus, two new side tanks were built and are currently attached to the loco.

A basic boiler inspection shortly after arrival at Loftus back in the 1980s disclosed that the loco was indeed in excellent condition, although it has deteriorated over the subsequent years. Never-the-less, the boiler, frame and motion appear to be in a condition to again be made operational. Most of the plumbing is on hand, although the tender is beyond redemption and so any restoration would be as a tank type locomotive.

Image 2017/4835: Fowler B/n 8766 of 1900 – the water is from the boiler wash-out. Its rusted tender is in front of the loco.

Image 2017/4835: Fowler B/n 8766 of 1900 – the water is from the boiler wash-out. Its rusted tender is in front of the loco.

Image 2017/4812: Having removed the firebox sliding doors from the Fowler, Bill checks for any pitting around the Firehole door.

Image 2017/4812: Having removed the firebox sliding doors from the Fowler, Bill checks for any pitting around the Firehole door.

Image 2017/4828: Rhys looks on as Matt and Ben undertake the washout on the Fowler through the front tubeplate.

Image 2017/4828: Rhys looks on as Matt and Ben undertake the washout on the Fowler through the front tubeplate.

Accordingly, the locomotive has been given a washout and prepared for the Boiler Inspector to undertake an initial inspection. If he finds that the boiler is in satisfactory condition so as not to require removal from the frame for overhaul, the next stage would be to prepare it for a hydrostatic (water pressure) test.

My sincere thanks to Matt and his dad Bill, Caleb, Ben and Rhys for undertaking the washouts and otherwise preparing the two locomotives for inspection…

Now… counting down the days until the inspections… no problems anticipated with “Torpedo”, but here’s hoping for the Fowler. Watch these pages.

Cheers,
Pete.

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