February 2014, and Project 996 has again come out of winter hibernation. With the warm weather departing, work outdoors on the engine came to a halt at the end of November 2013. Now into year 2 of work, our effort on 996 is clearly noticeable. 2014 is hoped to be another rewarding year, which will hopefully end with the loco taking a greater step forward in its cosmetic restoration.
In the absence of any updates, work at the end of 2013 has been mostly wrapping up as much work as possible, and give protection to anything exposed.
When we left off, the majority of the tender itself had been finished in dark grey undercoat, and is ready to receive its final matt black topcoat. This includes the tank, bogies and frame. To give the best effect however, we have decided to postpone painting it until we have more ideal weather conditions in the early spring. In the meantime, much of our work consist either of needle gunning, or the removal of manageable components indoors for restoration. The interior of the bunker has been mostly needle gunned, and received a coat of primer.
A lot of the needle gunning work on 996 usually includes a small compressor on hand to supply the air flow. Being only small, this compressor tends to run down on pressure quite quickly when two people are working simultaneously. To overcome this, we’ve intended to place a larger compressor semi-permanently in the tender bunker. The opportunity therefore has also been to add a built up frame to cover over the bunker to protect both the compressor and the bunker itself from the rain and corrosion. When the time comes for this operation to be taken, we shall also take the opportunity to remove the locomotives brake compressor currently stranded on top of the tender for examination and restoration.
Aside from needle gunning, smaller components are being removed and taken away for restoring. The first pieces to have this honour are the engines mechanical lubricators, of which there are two. Aside from the fact the workings of one is ceased, both lubricators share a similar condition. The first has already been taken apart into its individual components, and is undergoing treatment in cleaning it up back into prime condition.
Both sets of the engines inside and outside connecting rods, as well as the eccentric rods have also been temporarily taken indoors for cleaning up. Utilizing needle gunning and wire brushing the old red oxide away, before safeguarding them in rust treatment and green primer. When in operation, these rods were left exposed, with the fluted insert painted black. For the cosmetic restoration however, we have decided to paint the rods entirely in black for protection purposes.
Now that the tender is beginning to show its colours, we have gradually turned our attention towards the engine itself. Since the boiler lagging is likely to still contain traces of insulation, we have taken the action to steer clear of this section until it has been addressed by specialists for removal. Instead, we have begun work on the engines smokebox and front buffer beam, which is the first area visitors see when approaching the locomotive. Needle gunning has started, and the work, identical to that carried out on the tender (rust treating, priming, undercoat, and topcoat) is expected to eventually work its way backwards towards the cab. The cladding along the boiler has rotten to a point where entire replacement sheets would be needed.
2014 hopes to be a big year for 996 but only if we have the workforce, we therefore encourage anyone who is willing to help to come along too. We commonly work on the locomotive on Saturdays in Railworld. And no matter how often, any extra hands would be greatly appreciated!
Update by Lewis Morrisey