Progress Report 71: Preparing for Boiler Inspection

Hunslet locomotive “Torpedo” (B/n. 1187 of 1915) was booked for a boiler inspection to take place on Easter Saturday, 16th April 2022. This date had been nominated by our Boiler Inspector as he had a spare date in between a major commercial inspection and testing in Wagga Wagga over Easter. The previous Certificate of Inspection had expired in October 2020, however problems resulting from COVID restrictions had resulted in the locomotive being kept in under-cover dry storage until such time that restrictions were eased, allowing our Boiler Inspector to resume travelling for inspections.

“Torpedo” had been prepared for this inspection for some time, with wash-out plugs extracted, dome cover and safety dome removed, ash pan and fire-bars all also dismantled. The locomotive boiler and firebox surrounds had received a pressure water washout, making full use of PHR’s newly constructed external de-ashing pit facility. The works required in the preparation of the locomotive for the inspection had been somewhat extended owing to the current COVID epidemic.

Image No. 1 (2022.0055): Bill, with his young apprentice looking on, argues with a recalcitrant wash-out plug. Bill won! Friday, 14/01/2022.

Last item to be removed was the fusible plug, located at the top interior of the firebox, undertaken on Good Friday, 15/04, with the assistance of Lucy (his other half – SWMBO!).

Our new inspection pit allowed for easy access to the firebox (especially with the ashpan and all the fire-bars previously removed!).

My thanks to those who have assisted in these works, including two young volunteer apprentices who were able to settle into the smoke box, together with spanners, etc., to undo to wash-out plugs in the front tubeplate. When they emerged, they were somewhat covered in coal soot and cinders, requiring a “deep clean” of both body and clothes on the return home with Grandpa.

Finally – the Boiler Inspection

Originally set down for Easter Saturday 16/04, the boiler inspection had to be laid back until the following afternoon owing to complications with the commercial inspection. It had seemed that the inspection would need to be delayed even further, however a time-gap became available at the commercial job and one hour later, our Boiler Inspector was finally on site.

And a very different site to the previous inspection, then carried out in the open under adverse weather conditions.

Image No. 2 (2022.0624): Bill looks on as the Boiler Inspector has a gander inside the boiler at the condition of the tubes. Easter Sunday 17.04.2022.

The day was sunny and warm, so the Ruston diesel hauled “Torpedo” out into the open, with the cab and firebox over the external de-ashing pit. Here the sunlight facilitated the inspection of the front tubeplate and then the boiler internals through the open dome.

Image No. 3 (2022.0627): The boiler Inspector and Bill discuss the intricacies of the firebox internals. Easter Sunday 17.04.2022.

This part completed, “Torpedo” was propelled back into the Shed and over the inspection pit. The pit lighting was not required as the Boiler Inspector set up a mini television camera on a lengthy umbilical cord which, through the washout plug openings, gave access to the internals of the firebox shell.

Image No. 4 (2022.0629): A camera mounted on an umbilical cord allows for an internal inspection of the firebox through an open wash-out plug hole. Easter Sunday 17.04.2022.

Two conditions had been laid down at the time the now-expired Certificate of Inspection for a two year Certificate had been issued – A Log book had to be maintained detailing each filling, firing and washout, and secondly, the boiler must be kept dry stored when not in use. The Log Book, which had been commenced immediately on issue of the Certificate, disclosed that “Torpedo” had only been steamed on three occasions during the two year certification period for a total of 441⁄2 hours. COVID, combined with Matt’s relocation to Bathurst for full- time employment, had been the cause for the minimal steamings, the last being in September 2020.

While I am yet to receive the new Certificate of Inspection, I am led to understand that there were no problems found and in fact, the Boiler Inspector was more than happy with the overall condition of the locomotive. I am anticipating a two year Certificate (or up to 200-hours steaming) to be issued, with a requirement that the Log Book to be maintained.

With Matt unable to be present for the inspection, his father Bill (who resides locally and is also a very experienced steam fitter/maintainer) was on site during this time. I am most grateful for his liaisons with the Boiler Inspector.

Now, “all” that needs to be undertaken is for “Torpedo” to be re-assembled and steam-tested. Then the locomotive’s Na type (“Puffing Billy”) whistle will again be heard around Junee! Oh … and the Log Book noted accordingly.

A Special Public Viewing and Operating Day?

The October long-weekend later this year will see local celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the official opening of the Junee Locomotive Roundhouse, the last major work of the Cootamundra to Junee rail duplication project which also involved the construction of the gradient-easing Bethungra Spiral. As well as celebrations and displays at the Roundhouse itself, the Junee Shire is looking at other ways the district can be involved. Pete’s Hobby Railway is considering a special operating day on one of the three days. Unfortunately, as specified under the “hobby railway” provisions of the National Rail Safety Law and the conditions of PHR’s Council Development Consent, the Railway would not be able to offer public rides or physical entry to the property. However, as on past special operating days, the public would be able to view and photograph the operation of the railway along with the replica 1915 Loftus station from the street frontage.

Postscript: This “Train Spotting at Pete’s Hobby Railway” day took place on Sunday October 2, 2022 and will be the subject of a separate Progress Report.

A General Clean-Up, or KISS!

Earlier this year, I received the OBE Award – no, not that one, the other one – “Over Bloomin’ Eighty”! As such, I have slowed down considerably and am now not able to undertake many tasks that I was previously able to do. Accordingly, some works have been carried out under the KISS principle – to simplify matters around Pete’s Hobby Railway and to tidy the Property generally.

Preparatory to the departure of (formerly) PHR’s 0-6-2T Perry locomotive and the Fowler/Hudswell Clarke tender for pastures new, a clean-up of this area was undertaken during March. A four-wheel side-tipping wagon (previously used for ash-removal by the New South Wales Government Railways at Cullen Bullen, together with a small internal combustion inspection vehicle (now very much the worse for wear) were relocated to siding space off the PHR turntable.

Image No. 5 (2022.0442): The underframe of the side-tipping skip is conveyed by Josh’s Dingo past the flat wagon bearing the Fowler’s cab roof. Friday, 17/03/2022.

The cab roof from PHR’s Fowler locomotive, which had been laying in the grass near the Perry, was also moved to the turntable area. It had been planned to move two “new” (actually, built about 20 years ago!) Fowler side-tanks from adjacent to the Perry to a new site close to the PHR storage shed, however were found to be too heavy for the small vehicle we were using. Accordingly, this move will wait until we have a local crane on site, at which time the Fowler boiler will also be relocated and possibly placed within the Storage Shed until such time as retubing with new boiler tubes (currently on hand) can be undertaken.

Image No. 6 (2022.0473): Looking rather worse-for-wear, the former (regauged) Beaudesert Shire Tramway rail-car (known by the PHR volunteers as “Speedy Gonzales”, is propelled by the Dingo towards the turntable area. Monday, 21/03/2022.

A Point for PHR

This was also briefly covered in the previous Progress Report.

Image No. 7 (2022.0614): The former 60-lb standard gauge point has been carefully laid out to await modifications for 2-ft gauge use. Thursday 06/04/2022.

Some years ago, PHR purchased what were thought to be the components for (almost) three 60-lb rail points. Many years later, when PHR “experts” sorted out the collection, it was found that we had one 60-lb right hand point, while the other bits and pieces comprised components of differing heavier weights. The single 60-lb right hand point, when installed, would allow the inner main line to be extended, with the turnout leading to the turntable, storage shed and external tracks off the turntable. The other components, if they had been compatible, would have allowed for the assembly of a left and a right hand point. It is had been proposed, in the longer term, to lay these in near the first point, so as to provide a cross- over between the inner and outer tracks. Use of this link would have almost doubled the length of a single journey as the train would reverse direction and eventually return to “Loftus Station” facing the opposite direction from which it started. A fresh locomotive (from the depot) would drop on to the rear of the train while the lead engine would detach to proceed to the shed, and the process would be repeated.

Are you interested in participating in work-days to assemble, then install this point into PHR’s main line track? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated! Please drop an email to the Stationmaster Loftus using our Contact Form.

Additional Bogies Obtained

Some months ago, PHR was given the opportunity to obtain a couple of additional 2-ft gauge bogies, similar to those under our former Innisfail Tramway bogie container wagon. Whereas two of the wheel-sets under the existing bogie wagon have, to say the least, very thin wheel flanges, all four under the newly offered bogies are in good condition.

PHR had been looking at various alternatives to improve the use of our two-track storage shed, having particular regard to the dismantled Fowler locomotive frame occupying one of the tracks and the need to relocate the Fowler boiler currently laying in the open near the Perry steam locomotive.

Image No. 8 (2022.1746): The two “new” bogies on the deck of the delivery vehicle, on arrival at Pete’s Hobby Railway. Tuesday 13.09.2022.

One proposal is to utilise the worst of the bogies as “workshop bogies” to temporarily support the Fowler locomotive underframe… thus allowing it to be moved out of the Shed to outside storage on one of the turntable roads – and back inside again if being worked on. Another, not by me, is to sort out the individual wheel sets to make up two “good” bogies to go under the former QR Innisfail Tramway H-wagon which would be rebuilt to provide the underframe for a “de-luxe” carriage along the lines of the Burrinjuck Tramway’s passenger carriage No. 1 — the “State Car”. I’m continuing to purchase Lottery tickets to finance that one!!!!

ImageNo.9(2022.1752): OneofthenewlydeliveredbogiesiscarefullytowedbyBenusing the Ruston, to its temporary (?) storage location. Tuesday 13.09.2022.

The bogies arrived at Pete’s Hobby Railway on Tuesday 13th September (along with the ballast wagon covered in the previous Progress Report), being unloaded using the hi-ab crane on the delivery vehicle. Ben was on hand to assist – and to use the Ruston diesel to tow each bogie separately for placing on the turntable storage roads. Thank you, Ben, for your help on the day.

That’s all for this Progress Report… Now, waiting for that ever-important “Certificate of Inspection for “Torpedo”!

Cheers, Pete
SM Loftus


[Postscript from Editor: Another apology from Nicholas! Just like Progress Report 70, Peter has written and supplied this article months ago (we aren’t discussing just how many months ago) for publication, but due to work and personal commitments, I’ve been delayed in getting online. There is still one more Progress Report in the backlogged queue, which should come out next week… plus a few short posts with coverage of PHR from the Junee Roundhouse 75th Anniversary weekend, so stay tuned.]

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