Part 29: Trials—June 2003

The loco was scheduled to go to Port Augusta on 26 April 2003 for its official commissioning ceremony. Despite valiant efforts by a number of volunteers, problems with the hydrostatic lubricator and oil feed pipes caused the party to have to come to Quorn instead. The official train was headed by T186. NM25 was coaxed down into the yard for the ceremony. The lubricating problems were, despite extensive cleaning, residues of rubbish in the lubricator and pipes.

In the next weeks, all components were taken apart yet again. The lubricator was totally dismantled, boiled for several days in a caustic bath and then steam cleaned. A page full of jobs noted during the commissioning attempts have been attended to, and late in the evening of 18 June 2003, the loco was test moved in the Quorn loco depot. Despite further minor problems, the situation was sufficiently promising to operate a light engine trial to Woolshed Flat the next day.

This was accomplished, with the lubricator working perfectly. Some steam leaks showed up around the piston rod metallic packing covers, but rectification was easy once things had cooled down.

On 20 June 2003, NM25 hauled a test train from Quorn to Stirling North and return. The Traffic department had arranged for a pick up of crushings from the rock crushing plant at Mundallio, and Loco needed more firewood sleepers, so it became a work train. Interspersed with stops to check bearings, and the work train requirements, the trial progressed very satisfactorily. At a photo run by at Dog Crossing, the steam-boat type whistle echoed beautifully from the surrounding hills. Unfortunately the rebuild project manager, John Lyas, could not be in attendance due to the demands of his current employment. We let him listen in on the stack talk via the mobile phone as NM25 blasted out of Stirling North, back toward Quorn. This loco has quite a loud bark, despite its size, and will sound terrific on a cold winter’s night up in the Pass.

A long day was finally concluded when our work train slipped into Quorn under cover of darkness at around 7.30PM. There was not a solitary soul there to welcome us back home.

Whilst the job list has been mostly crossed off, further minor issues developed during the trials, so there is still close to a page of details to attend to. However, it is getting very close to the time when NM25 will once again be at the head of a passenger train.