News update May2014

The 4 months that have past since the last report have been very busy, with 2 major events along with several other smaller events  and the preparation that goes into  making sure these days were a success. Our small team continues to be able to prove that our railway can still be successful, over 45 years after the idea was first mooted. The takings from these events totalled well into the 5 figure range, meaning we can continue to develop and maintain our assets for future generations to enjoy.


L509: After the last boiler inspection, the inspector picked up a small issue around a washout plug below the firebox door. Repairing this involved puddle welding over the affected area followed by Magnetic Particle inspection and a hydro test. This work had to be done to ensure the locomotive could take part in our 150 event and was completed the week before the event. Over the Christmas period it was decided to strip the valves and valve rods from the loco to assess there condition. As expected they were in quite poor condition being quite worn. The rods were undercut and overlaid with austenitic ferritic weld metal and machined to a highly polished finish. All of the rod guides were worn so the old bushes were removed and new bronze purchased, machined and fitted. The valves them selves were also in poor condition especially the fireman's side that was well undersize as well as having a deep score in the valve face. Various methods of repairing the old valves were discussed while a search for a pattern was undertaken. Fortunately Ocean Beach Railway in Dunedin held such a pattern. After finding out the price for casting a new set (which was extremely favourable) the lead time was going to make the locomotive unavailable for the Children’s Day event in early March. A great outcome was Ocean Beach Railway making a newly cast set available to us that they had cast for F111. These arrived and were machined to the original blueprint. New spacers and minor work on the valve buckles completed the work and after repairs to the face on the locomotive they were fitted. While there is still a small amount of work to do the locomotive is not leaking any steam from around the valve rods, a problem that ha plagued it for many years. Special thanks are due to the team at Ocean Beach Railway for making the valve castings available at very short notice. The side tanks have started leaking due to corrosion (the current tanks being fitted when the locomotive was working at Portland) so a grant application was made to The Lion Foundation who have contributed the full amount to purchase new steel plate for a brand new set. This has now been purchased and will be sent out for cutting and rolling followed by assembly at the railway. 

Fowler #5: This locomotive was run regularly through January and February while 509 was out of service. Some further work is planned on #5 in the coming months.

Barclay 1749 . After many attempts and almost as many disappointing results , a new set of replica makers plates have arrived, been painted and fitted to this locomotive. Drawn from a photo of an original plate, the pattern was computer put and sand cast in bronze, retaining features of the original including the crooked 9 in 1749.

C847. After the repairs outlined in the last issue, the boiler was successfully steam tested and the locomotive reassembled and participated in our 150 celebrations over the weekend of 30th November and 1st of December. Some repairs were made to the front of the smoke box to improve the seal between the front plate and the smoke box its self.

De’s. Over the Christmas break a set of original style cow catchers were fabricated for eventual fitting to 505. One was fitted to the rear of 505 and the other to the front of 508 in time for the very popular Royal Train Anniversary Special. The front step of 508 has been cleaned up and straightened whilst it was off and is now in the process of being painted before it will be re fitted so the catcher can go onto the front of 505.

F678. Several years of discussion between our members and the Feilding and Districts Steam Railway Society saw us take out a lease on 30’ steel clad guards van F678 built in 1955. The van had been part of the F group based in Palmerston North before they merged with Feilding and the van had only been used occasionally since. Several members donated money towards having the van trucked to SSR and unloaded by crane. After inspection a few minor repairs and a clean the van débuted at our 150 event , even taking part in a goods train for a low key photographic evening on the 30th of November. A set of new railings were fabricated and fitted to the 2 large sliding doors to enable the compartment to be used as a viewing platform, something that is proving very popular.

F139.  The rear bogie frame has had all of the required weld repairs and has been sandblasted and primed ready for painting. The brass bearings have been repaired and remetaled and are now ready for reassembling. The timber work has seen both door posts at the rear repaired and the new bogie bolsters shaped and drilled.

Compressor: The diesel compressor that is used for a large number of jobs around the railway including mainly track work received a fully overhauled fuel pump prior to the Christmas break track work project, along with a new rocker cover gasket, oil and filter change, and engine air filter clean. These improvements will ensure that this machine continues to be available for use.

Track. Several new sleepers have been put into the loop to back shunt turn out at the North End. Another days work saw several sleepers put into the loop south of the turn out, and the whole lot packed up. Preparations for the mainline relay over the Christmas break saw all of the fishplates removed, bolts cleaned, greased and reassembled. This made the job much easier when it commenced over the break. In total sets on the mainline at McKirdy were resleepered and ballasted. This was a major effort from all involved and has given us much safer track and a much tidier looking site. Work then turned to the loop at the North End, packing and ballasting ensuring it remains safe to use. Over the coming weeks the Loop to main turnout at the northern most end will have some sleepers replaced followed by ballasting. All of this work is ensuring we continue our derailment free operations.

Structures: With the front and doors complete on the jigger shed attention is now focused on repairing the rotten framing along the back wall. The bottom plate and lower parts of all of the studs will be replaced and then fitted with new weather board.

NZTA Assessment. Once again our procedures and policy's has been scrutinised by a Telarc auditor as part of the annual NZTA audit. As expected only very minor things were noted on the report, one being the length of time a member who is no longer active remains certified and the problems with running sheets being completed. So all in all a reflection that our operation is being safely and proactively managed.