A 2,158,895-kilometre checkup
Ninety-year-old locomotive strippedJOHN BISSET
If you think going to the doctor for your regular checkup is a hassle, spare a thought for Pleasant Point's steam train, AB699.
The 90-year-old locomotive has been stripped and left naked in a cold shed while engineers poke and prod her every crevice. Her mid sections have been ultrasonically scanned and her internal workings probed with microscopic cameras.
The 10-year inspection is mandatory for steam engines and involves removing the exterior cladding, lagging and pipe work.
Mind you, she has travelled 2,158,895 kilometres since 1922.
Engineer Dowell McLeod is overseeing the project and says it's a huge undertaking.
''Once stripped, an inspector will visually check the firebox and boiler for any signs of corrosion or leakage. This also involves an ultrasonic scan to determine the thickness of the boiler's steel shell,'' he said.
Once inspections are complete the boiler will be pressurised to 220lb (1400kpa) with cold water. If any leaks or cracks are detected they will be repaired by a certified welder.
The final test for the locomotive requires a full head of steam at maximum pressure to test safety and relief valves.
Mr McLeod is a volunteer at the Pleasant Point Railway and is familiar with steam engines, having purchased a traction engine at the age of 21. He travels from Christchurch most weekends to ensure the train will be up and running for the Christmas holidays.
He expects the whole process to take around four months to complete.
Mr McLeod believes AB699 is in good condition for a 90-year-old and has plenty of life left in her yet.
- © Fairfax NZ News