September Railway Update

A brief rundown of what has been happening around the railway since our last update.

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L509: Continues to perform well. The valve drains that have become necessary after the valve re-facing work last year have been machined and are now almost ready for fitting only awaiting bushes to fit the valve chests and the linkages. Years of accumulated oil and dust is being progressively chiselled out from between the frame and the valve chest before it damages something. In late July the boiler was stripped and washed out prior to its annual inspection prior to reassembly and steam testing.

C847: Having sat out of use since October last year, work on returning 847 ramped up in June and July prior to the boiler inspectors visit. The balancing pistons on the regulator valves were built up to decrease the gap between them and the cylinder these pass through, to hopefully decrease effort required to open the regulator. The newly CNC’d ball ends were welded onto a new set of Saturator elements along with a new set of spherical washes and the best set of bridges we could find. With no way of making spiral flue gas retarders, the set of old Ww elements were shortened and fitted with new bands and spacers. These were fitted into the flues to slow the gasses down and are pinned through the saturator elements. The boiler was inspected at the same time as 531 and 509 and passed with no problems clearing the way for its final year of operation prior to requiring a 10 year boiler overhaul. The modifications to the flues and regulator appear to have been successful, steam pressure was maintained much easier on its first outing on the 16th of August. In preparation for the 10 year overhaul, some parts of the loco are being drawn up to enable them to be manufactured while the loco is still in service. So far the smokebox has been done and a start made on the ash pan design.

Barclay 1749: Also inspected at the end of July this loco is ready for its first engagement for a while, the Father’s Day event in September.

Price 221: A new set water pump and fan belts have been fitted to the motor, just awaiting the compressor belts to arrive in the country before these can go on. A slightly more involved job as the radiator pipe passes through the centre of these belts.

De505: The long shorted traction motor lead has been replaced giving us two full power De’s for the first time in a very long time. Just the oil leak to trace and repair before the locomotive can be considered for service.

F139: Some good progress on the doors, the inside cladding was all painted and attached, and the exterior cladding was then painted and nailed. Once the overhauled rollers are fitted the doors will be put aside to concentrate on the framing rebuild. Work on removing the duck out windows has commenced along with the cladding at the enclosed end allowing access to fit the new headstock

Crane Tanks: Another new arrival, the water tanks that were once fitted to the support wagon that once kept our steam crane company. This wagon in later life accompanied F163 on many outings prior to being scrapped in the early 1990’s. The tanks survived and were transferred to Feilding along with F163. Thanks to Feilding who made them available to us and to Clive Davis who picked them up from Feilding and delivered them to SSR. They are stored on the Ub wagon at present.

Uc826: The BP25467 Bogies obtained for use under 826 have arrived from Ferrymead. In time the wheel sets from the bogies previously obtained from the Bush Tramway Club will be fitted as the tyres are in much better condition before they go under the wagon.

Digger:  The main part of the digger and the cab has now been primed, sanded and painted in the new yellow livery and the cab has been refitted along with most of the panels previously painted. All that remains is a few small parts to paint and to overhaul the buckets prior to it entering service.

Eb26: The long awaited arrival of our new locomotive took place on the 8th of August. There are still a couple of minor things to do along with the paint job and fitting of the cowcatchers before it enters regular service. All of the work on the loco has been performed to a high standard, and it will give trouble free service when complete. Thanks to the locos previous owners for first saving it from the scrap heap, along with all the work they have put in to returning it to its former glory and for deciding that SSR would be the best home for the locomotive.

Operations:  The first of our new operating days have been very successful proving that if you restrict supply you increase demand. Revenue seems to average about twice what we were making while running every week. The new sign was designed and printed prior to being installed in the front paddock and has drawn many favourable comments. It includes a changeable date depicting our next operating day. A new brochure has also been designed and will be printed in September a big improvement on our last brochure designed over 10 years ago.

Structures: The jigger shed flashings have arrived and once fitted will complete this project. The Member’s Room stairs are the last part of the Engine Shed entrance/Members Room make over. The ceiling has been cleaned and painted, the walls repaired or tidied up and the light fitted in a more conventional position. The member’s room itself has had a major tidy up, the table being cleared of accumulated papers, which have been sorted into tidier piles or boxes. Some new cupboards for the remaining folders and papers will make this area tidier, but it is up to everyone who uses it to ensure it remains this way.
The final part of McKirdy platform was completed in time for our Father’s Day Special. New sloped moulds were fabricated from 3mm plate to allow the last two sections to be placed in one hit. The service box containing water and power supplies had to be cut back and the lid removed prior to the placement of the forms. New drainage has been installed from behind the platform info a new collection sump which will also take the runoff from the platform once it is sealed. The grass area beside the old driveway was dug out and removed and once the platform wall was poured the area was backfilled with base course and compacted. This now gives a much tidier useable area, a big improvement from the muddy mess that was once the end of the platform. The area will be allowed to consolidate before it is sealed next year.The location box that was refurbished for use on the gantry signal is now in place on one of the posts.The tenant who had been living in the railway house for the past 8 or so years moved out in early July leaving us with a rather tired and messy looking house. In quick order the house exterior was washed, the inside and carpets cleaned from top to bottom, the window sills painted along with the bathroom, new light fittings, extractor fan and bathroom heater installed, new curtains put up, the grounds cleaned, a layer of shingle spread over the driveway, along with a multitude of other tasks. A new property manager was taken on and had the property rented out after only a few weeks, along with a 20% increase in net rental.

Track: An extensive track inspection in July revealed a number of critical faults that required urgent repair along with a large number of less critical but still important repairs. So far 100 new spring washers and many new bolts have been put into the track around McKirdy station and yard. Treescape visited with their hi-rail excavator in July and gave the tracksides and around the shed at the North End a trim. Also in July several crates of track fittings were purchased and these are now awaiting sorting prior to being stored ready for use.

North End: Over several weekends in June and July the mass of scattered rail and expired sleepers were tidied into orderly positions to enable the track base to be prepared for approaches into the new shed. Several afternoons were spent chain sawing up hardwood sleepers that were spread far and wide, the resultant piles of firebox length pieces are progressively being fed to the locomotives. With the mess cleaned up Linked Earthworks were engaged to strip the vegetation of the marked out shed approaches and to tidy up the dump site on the hill side of the track. 400 cubic meters of quarry overburden were supplied at extremely good rates and this was shaped and rolled into shape for the new shed approach. The dump site was leveled and all material moved back away from the track. We hold sufficient track and fittings to allow construction of the first road into the new shed once it is erected.