Maintenance and Modifications

Seeing as there has been a lot of new subscribers recently, it was thought it would be a good idea to post an enlightening article here, to reward the effort of signing up – and for our legion of other loyal subscribers who have been patiently waiting for the past couple of months for something to read. But first up, welcome to our new subscribers and thanks for joining us.

The Savannahlander got through last season pretty unscathed, once the services were cleared to run right through to Forsayth after the debris from last years flooding was cleared away. Although our line was not subject to the catastrophic events seen further south, many of the rivers maintained high levels right through to April. There was a very unseasonal fall of rain that occurred during October last year that caused the track manager to close the Kuranda Range Railway, on the very morning we were loading passengers for a trip. This caused the cancellation of that trip, and all was declared okay by the following afternoon. From the middle of December, we go into our annual shut down and prepare the rail motors for next years operations. This post is about what we are up to during our maintenance program.

One of the main jobs is to fit modern retention toilets into the two remaining units that still have the old ‘long drop’ toilets fitted. A part of this is to fit a waste tank, however, directly below the current toilet cubicles is a large engine exhaust manifold, taking up far too much room to fit the tank. Rather than re-piping the exhaust, it was decided to build a completely new toilet on the opposite side of the car from the original, using modern wet-area panels and flooring epoxies. The old cubicle will be turned into a storage room to hold spare parts, and supplies for the delicious morning teas that we serve during the trip. In fact the new storage room will allow us to remove two sets of storage cupboards, which means that we can re-install an extra seat – taking these cars capacity up to 50 seats.

When you are dealing with old rolling stock, once you start one job, you discover a few others that need doing in the process. In the case of gutting out the old toilet, we found some fairly serious frame corrosion behind the walls. An inspection of adjacent framework was also carried out, and fortunately, the corrosion was localised to just the old toilet area. New stainless steel sections were made up by a local contractor our maintenance staff welded the new items into place.

The floor area under the where the new toilet is going was found to be in poor condition. Damage and rot extended through to the last row of seats, so this had to be removed and replaced with new flooring material. This will also be useful for when the new flooring product is laid at the end of the job.

Our centre unit, 2053 has a rear power bogie which has wheels that have reached their use by date. Earlier QR National Townsville Workshops overhauled our spare final drive axle, and pressed on some new wheels. These, together with an overhauled final drive unit are being fitted to the bogie, and will be changed over with the worn out item. The leading bogie will have new wheelsets installed as well.

A part of the annual maintenance is to conduct some fairly high level mechanical inspections on the engines, gear boxes and final drives. This work has now been completed, although in one of our final drives, we discovered some broken gear teeth in the oil sump. Never a good sign. A bevel gear was discovered to have lost three teeth, and the whole unit would not be too far off being a total failure. Fortunately, we have a spare gear, and the damaged one is repairable. Incorrect setting of shaft end-float at the last overhaul has been blamed for the damage – for the benefit of those of you that are of a technical leaning.

There are some photos in the gallery of some of the work that is happening at the home of the Savannahlander. We’ll try and follow this up with some progress reports over the coming weeks.