« go to the 2008 diary
John Bremner and I made good progress on POEM over the
holidays and we're almost ready for a steam-test to make
sure our modifications are OK. If so, and they should be
fine, we are then ready to strip her down for a repaint. All
being well, we should have her back on the rails in a
I just ordered
some new brass gauges for POEM from
Miniature Pressure Gauge Ltd.
They were the only company I could find who would do a 3"
diameter, 0-150 psi steam gauge. Their prices are good too.
Whilst on holiday
Pip and I went to the
Live Steamers over the New Year holiday and their
track is superb. I have an open offer to take POEM down
there whenever I want; which would be fun!
Neither John B. nor I can
TIG weld, but a friend of mine
can. TIG welding would make a much neater job of welding
up the chassis for my tipper wagons than MIG would.
Maurice is busy tearing out his old bathroom at the
moment and his wife has threatened him that he needs to
get that done before he does anything else! Which is fair enough
It looks like the owner of the piece of land we were
interested in may be moving a bit on the "issues", so
perhaps we'll be getting it after all. Watch this space.
I am researching options for
building a Garratt with John Bremner.
We steam-tested POEM last night after her overhaul. There were a few
minor leaks around fittings but nothing serious. Once these are
rectified, it is time to strip her down for painting.
Change of name of the
railway and website
Pip has found that Raglan is a bit too far for her
clients to come to her and moving back closer to
Hamilton or Cambridge would make sense; and this is
where the majority of our friends are too. Raglan is a
also a long way from a lot of the public if we
want to run the railway it for the public now and then -
which we would. Taking it all together, we have decided that we'll look to buy a piece of land closer to
Hamilton later in the year and not try to find land in
Raglan. We're not sure yet where we
will buy, but we need somewhere where Pip can setup her business on the same
A petrol-hydraulic 'utility' loco
I made a conscious decision not to embark on the
until POEM is finished. As POEM is now nearing completion, I
am starting to "doodle" ideas on what I'd like to build.
I'll use this to "cut my teeth on" in preparation for the
We noticed that the side tanks on POEM were less than
flat. This was a problem because I wanted to move the
nameplates to the tanks. We got a panel-beater to have a
look at it and after a few knocks with a hammer all is well. Apart
from sorting out the rust on the tender, we're all ready
to paint her (OK, a bit more complicated than that).
I just spent a pleasant couple of hours with AutoCAD.
Stefan Lipsey drew up the frames for L'ilLima as intended
(he's building one), then I took all his work and played
cut-and-paste seeing how the chassis would work as a
I especially like
the 2-8-2 + 2-8-2.
This 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 works out at 3.5m
long (over the frames and excluding whatever pilot or
couplers go on the ends).
The 2-8-2 + 2-8-2 works out
at 3.73m. Not much longer and I think it looks more in
proportion seeing as it needs a cab much larger than
normal to sit inside.
If this project goes ahead,
it'll not be until 2010 as I want to get my
petrol-hydraulic working and John B. needs to finish his
CLICK HERE for
more information on the Garratt project.
Glenbrook Vintage Railway (3' 6" gauge) have their
"Steam & Vintage Country Festival" over Waitangi Weekend
(Fri. 6th - Sun. 8th Feb.).
More AutoCAD evening classes
started my "AutoCAD Intermediate" class.
I really want to get on to three-dimensional (3D)
drafting, but you have to complete two classes of 2D
first. One down (last year), one to go (this one), then
it should be on to 3D. The instructor
is building a live-steam loco so he's sort-of a kindred-spirit.
POEM has gone to the paint
shop. Once she is completed I can concentrate on my
the Garratt (if it happens)
is a project for 2010.
barrel and domes are back from the paint shop and they
look great. Also, the trailer is nearly finished. John
Bremner reckons we should have POEM running in about a
It is a VERY small
world. I got an email from someone I know in Croatia,
who had read the newsletter of The Hutt Valley Model
Engineering Society (don't ask me how or why!). In their
February 2009 edition POEM and I get a mention.
The trailer is off to the galvaniser
The cab and
tender are back from the paint-shop. The green is a bit
brighter than expected but it looks great. I am so glad
I got it done by a professional rather than trying to do
it myself. It'll b a push, but we might get her back
together in time for Manu Ariki on the 7th/8th March.
It turns out that the instructor is far more of a
"what do you want to get out of this course" kind-of guy
and he's tailoring it to our needs. As several of us
wanted to learn about 3D, we're spending some time on
that rather than some of the more obscure 2D concepts.
Land for the railway
I know what I said a few weeks
ago, but there may be hope for a railway in Raglan yet -
but not on the piece of land I had been looking at.
annual running weekend at the Manu Ariki Railway near Taumaranui is
Sat. 7th - Sun. 8th Mar. (POEM was originally built for the Manu Ariki
Railway). The railway is
only open by invitation so if you are interested contact
The Hamilton Model
Engineers have their open weekend on Sat. 14th - Sun. 15th Mar.
Everything is starting to come together now.
I am not sure why, but the green has come out somewhat
brighter than I anticipated. I checked the colour samples
carefully, but it is a bit "green". Anyway, It is not so
bright that it is "bad", and it is growing no me. I guess
I'll just have to wait for the Kermit jokes!
the tender back together. The seat will need to be recovered
as blue doesn't go with the new colour scheme, but this is a
job we can sort out later.
is John Bremner sorting out the plumbing to the vacuum brake
valve. One sidetank is back on. Boiler cladding, domes,
chimney all painted.
I am going to make the buffer-beam a
shade or two darker. Not sure why both the green and red
have come out brighter on the loco than on the colour
samples; very odd.
a lot of polishing, all of the brass and copper pipework is
now nice and shiny. Not sure how long it'll stay that way
We need to fit the new gauges, but we may have to use the
two old vacuum gauges just to get us running for Manu Ariki.
John Bremner, Brett (a friend of John's) and myself almost pulled
an all-nighter getting POEM and the trailer ready for the weekend -
I got to bed a 2:15am.
We did a steam-test on POEM and everything was fine. The
only thing we have left to do is to put the cab back on
(about a dozen bolts), it was just easier to do the steam
test with the cab off. There's still some jobs to be done
later on, but 99% of the rebuild is now complete. JB also
repainted the buffer-beam a darker shade of red - it looks
much better now.
Here's a summary of the work we've done to her over the
last 6 months:
- Raised the sides of the footplate by 75mm
- Trimmed the cab sides to match the raised footplate
- Trimmed the cab roof so it doesn't hit your knees on
- Moved the water valves and all associated pipe work
- Made new water valve handles and fitted them to the
- Modified the regulator so it works the "normal" way
- Fitted new steam and vacuum gauges
- Lengthened the chimney
- Moved the headlight
- Rerouted or replaced all the pipe work - do not
underestimate the effort involved!
- Changed the cab handrails
- Raised the chimney clear of the dome
- Modified all the steam valve handles - we got tired
of burning our fingers
- Repainted (done professionally)
- A friend made a tray to go in the ash pan to help in
dropping the fire - for some reason Murray didn't design
it so you could simply drop the fire (grate and all) out
the bottom. Might have to fix that.
Jobs still to be done:
- Connect up the new vacuum gauges - they are just
sitting there looking pretty at the moment - we were in
- Improve the way the tender water hoses are connected
- Put the nameplates on the side-tanks
- Re-upholster the seat so it matches the new colour-scheme
- Connect up the headlight and fit cab and water level
sight glass lamps
- Paint the outside cranks red - only if I can do it without
taking the valve gear apart
I can't wait to see people's reactions to her after the
rebuild; JB and I both think she looks awesome. She didn't
have a lot of "street cred" in blue and purple, but she
looks like a totally different loco now.
Oh, and the trailer is finished too - except for the canvas
Running weekend at the Manu Ariki Railway
POEM to Manu Ariki and had a "mixed" day. After about three
runs round we noticed that she was "fighting" against herself and
after having to push her back to the shed we found that one of the
keys had come loose on an eccentric causing the valve events to be
all over the place. The annoying thing was that we didn't even touch
the valvegear during the rebuild! It is all fixable, just
Until the key came loose she worked great, so that is good news. JB
reckons we should be able to sort that eccentric out tomorrow at our
weekly workshop evening and hopefully be at Hamilton next weekend.
The trailer worked flawlessly too and my Mazda didn't complain too
much about towing over 1 ton - apart from some of the hills around
Te Kuiti that is.
As I was rather pre-occupied with POEM I didn't get the opportunity
to take many photos of the railway itself. Oh well, there'll be
[Click here to see more photos of
JB and I had a look at POEM's valvegear. A key on
the back of one of the cranks had come loose and appeared to be the
cause of the problem. There was not a huge amount of play in the
valvegear, but when I had trouble at the weekend I found that
pushing the reversing lever as far forward as it would go made a
noticeable difference. The play or slop in the valvegear caused by the
loose key was about five times as much as the movement due to
pushing the reverser hard forward, so it is quite likely the cause
of the problem.
I also noticed that in full forward gear the
radius rod was not in-line with the lower
eccentric rod. This means that the loco is effectively
running with no more than about 50% cutoff, or not being
able to utilise full power. It turns out that the slot in
the footplate where the reversing lever goes through wasn't
quite long enough. We made a few adjustments and it is a lot
better, but if this doesn't solve the problem I'll need to
modify the reverser slightly to get more throw in
But, she's running
on air fine and we'll be at Hamilton at the weekend.
Running weekend at Hamilton
POEM misbehaved again. The hydrostatic lubricator doesn't
seem to be working very well and as such the lubrication
isn't getting to the cylinders. This could be the root cause
of some of our problems.
We'll get these things fixed but it is annoying.
here to see more photos taken at Hamilton]
The 2009 convention of the
Australian Association of Live Steamers (AALS) is being held at the
Castledare Miniature Railway in Perth, Western
Australia over the Easter weekend (Thu. 9th - Sun. 12th Apr.).
North Live Steamers have their "visiting locos" event over the Easter
weekend (Fri. 10th - Mon. 13th Apr.).
2009 AALS Convention, Perth, Australia
Due to circumstances beyond our control, Pip couldn't
come with me to Perth, but she insisted that I go
without her. In the end I was not alone as John Bremner and Alan Ure
came too! This meant a boys, railway weekend in Perth. I
decided to leave the tourist-stuff 'til Pip and I go back
Please check out the
gallery I have setup for photos of the event.
John Bremner and I put the reversing quadrant back the
way it was before we rebuilt it all (not that big a job
actually) and measured up the movement in the expansion
link. We then put it back as it was post-modifications and
measured it all again. It looks like we had slightly too
little movement in forward gear to get the full valve
events. It was so small we never even gave it another
thought but it might be enough to explain a few things. We
just need to test POEM under steam now. As we are moving
house this will not be for a few weeks yet but we are
John and I put everything on POEM back together and
measured the valve travel as per Murray's original drawings
and we're now ready for a steam test.
There is a definite design fault in the return cranks.
With the outer crank fixed to the inner crank the load on
the inner ones is effectively doubled. As it stands the
cranks are a bit small for the job and over a period of time
the inner one comes loose. We can tighten up the grub screws
but they will come loose again. I am seriously considering
making new, larger cranks - which should overcome the
POEM will definitely be going to Grant Alexander's
mid-winter steam up, though she'll probably be running
without the cab on as it is easier for us to get to the bits
Oh, and we piped up the new vacuum gauges too.
Grant Alexander has confirmed his mid-winter steam-up at his
Squirrel Valley Railway for the weekend of the 13th-14th
Grant Alexander's Mid-Winter steam-up
After we got off to a bit of a shaky start (derailment
coming off the trailer), POEM ran well all afternoon. For
some bizarre reason the vacuum brakes are sticking on
(something else we didn't actually touch during the rebuild)
and the lubricator is still causing grief - we think we'll
put a mechanical one on there instead!
Other than that, it was a great day, and the weather held
The lubricator is now working fine - we suspect there
was a blockage somewhere. Now all we need to do is sort out
We have sold our house so
we can now begin seriously looking for a piece of land. For
various reasons we didn't settle in Raglan so have decided
to move back to the Cambridge / Hamilton area where all of our
friends are - and it's also closer to work.
John Bremner took POEM down to the Hamilton club
track over the weekend and she ran well all day. The brakes
are still a bit lame so we'll look at why and do some
rework, but otherwise she's running well.
Mike Orange from the Manukau club suggested that one of
the problems with POEM's valvegear is that the steam ports
are too wide; he apparently saw POEM being built and
wondered at the time. Because the vales themselves are so
big there is a lot of load on them (steam pressure x surface
area = a lot) and this is putting a lot of strain on the
valvegear. He suggested that the ports could be halved in
size and still work well.
It'd be a simple enough job to make two new valve plates
and two new valves to try them - and if it didn't work,
change them back again. This is a job for when things get a
bit quieter in "my life outside trains".
Havelock North Live Steamers have their "visiting locos" event over Labour weekend (Sat. 24th - Mon. 26th Oct.).
Had a superb weekend at Keirunga Park - though not with POEM (read
why). The whole weekend was blue sky and sunshine and we were
made to feel really welcome.
Over the weekend I got to drive:
- Alan Ure's 5" gauge 2-8-2T - a lovely little loco
- John Romanes' ALCO PA1 - up
- John Heald offered me a drive of his 0-4-2 but I didn't
manage to fit it in over the weekend - this is also
up for sale
My life outside railways has been pretty hectic recently so haven't really made any progress on any miniature railway jobs.
We have however managed to work out a quick, simple and
robust way to anchor POEM down on the trailer. Gone are the
days of fiddling-about with shackles and turnbuckles.
2010 is going to be a "biggy" for my wife and I as her business is picking up and we're going international
This means less time to think about a track of my own in
NZ but I will be doing a lot of travelling, so we've put
house (land) unting on hold for now. We'll be visiting
Colorado for a month sometimes next year and I have already
penciled-in the Cumbres and Toltec, Durango and Silverton
and the Manitou and Pikes Peak.
go to the 2010 diary »