Keep K163 Going

November Update – 2021

It has been a little while since our last project update. The gap is not due to a lack of progress,
but rather the author juggling many commitments and getting back to COVID-normal life.

Since the lifting of lockdown 5.0 in Melbourne our team have been working every Sunday at
Newport on K163. Initially this was for social distancing and COVID safe plan reasons. However
now the restrictions have eased, generally our team are finding Sundays involve much less
traffic on the way into Newport, so we have stuck to this pattern for the time being, with extra
days mid week when required.

Since the last update the tender tank repairs have been completed. After much patience,
perseverance and lots of MIG wire, the tank is now water tight. While we were working on the
tender tank, we also repaired the damaged tender headstock, which had been bent in a
previous collision (presumably that occurred during VR days). Although the headstock does not
have any structural purpose beyond the tender chassis, we thought now would be the time to
repair this before the repainting commenced. Initially repairs were attempted with lots of heat
and force, however those attempts were unsuccessful. In the end a section was cut out and

Following on from the tender repairs, preparation for and painting have taken place to repair the
damage all the welding has done. The paint job dating back to 2010 was starting to show it’s
age anyway, but the recent repairs to the tank meant the time had come to get around to this
job which we had not planned on doing as part of this project originally. Our team has done an
excellent job of this very time consuming task. Final touch ups are currently underway, but we
hope to share some pictures of the end result in a future update once completed.

In parallel, work continues on adjustment of the coupling rods and fitment of these back onto the
engine. The left hand side of the engine is progressing to the test fitting phase this coming
weekend. ⅔ of the right hand side coupling rods have been adjusted and are ready for test
fitting. As soon as the left side is reassembled, the locomotive can be shunted back to place the
right side on ‘back dead center’ for test fitting of those rods. The results of our efforts correcting
inaccuracies in the coupling rod dimensions will be that our bearings will have their ‘new’
clearance (0.015”) tolerance restored, and the engine will run concentric for the first time in
many years. This will maximise the lifespan of the bearings and crank pins and reduce knocks
meaning trouble free operation for many years into the future, we hope.

Once the coupling rod adjustments are finalised the next steps will be to fit the eccentric cranks
to enable us to take the final measurements for the big end bearings to be machined to +
clearance. Then the process of fitting the connecting rods will take place, including shimming
the bearing halves for correct piston clearances. Then the locomotive will be ready for steam
tests, boiler certification and weighing on the heritage listed Newport railway workshops

Exciting times ahead and hopefully K163 will return to the rails in early 2022. Thanks for your
continued support.