The International Steam Pages
FERROCARRIL AUSTRAL FUEGUINO,
No.2 completed a steaming cycle of 194 days at the end of July, at which point the engine was shopped. Following boiler washout winter maintenance began in the form of an exam C. Much of this work has been focused upon finishing off many items that were not attended to during No.2's rebuild and first stage modification of 2001/2002. Likewise a full mechanical check has been made of all renewed components in order to monitor how such have stood up to daily service. At the time of writing work is nearly complete and the locomotive is planned for a return to daily service at the end of October. A repaint has been carried out in order to balance out the various shades of red that the locomotive picked up during the past 2 years! A thorough re spray, with lining out in white, of the locomotive will be completed during its next shopping period, which is planned for May/June 2004. The existing driving wheelsets (spares from 1994 used to replace the original 1994 wheels during 2001) are already showing signs of break up due to their poor original design and manufacture and it is planned to change these during the next shopping period. Design work is already in hand with manufacture and delivery due to take place during FCAF's high season. Extra lagging has been fitted to the exhaust pipes and additional test points fitted in order to carry out full in service testing during the forthcoming high season. The standard FCAF design of fixed pilot (cow catcher) have been fitted to front and rear power units along with modified (lengthened) drawbars.
At the time of writing locomotive No.3 'Camilla' is in daily service. It received attention during a shopping period earlier this year, June/July. Most of the work carried out was of routine examination C schedule though items of significance included replacement of a new main driving axle, redesigned in order to incorporate stress discharge grooves and the design, manufacture and fitting of new front vertical handrails in order to resolve safety aspects concerning crew members climbing up and down the front footplating. At the time of writing the locomotive is being prepared for full gas analysis testing the coming high season. Stage 2 modification and overhaul is scheduled for winter 2005 and it is planned to keep Camilla in service on an exam B maintenance schedule until that date.
No.6 LVM 803. Design work continues for the third steam locomotive and budget quotes are being obtained from various potential manufacturers. One very likely candidate is a production workshop in Mar del Plata.
No.1 'Rodrigo' is awaiting repair and overhaul. It is likely that this locomotive will be taken off the island in order to carry out such work with a view to having it back in service for the 2004/2005 high season in order to cope wit the increasing traffic levels and also as part of the FCAF 10th anniversary celebrations scheduled to take place at Ushuaia during the 'Gala Weekend' to be held 10th, 11th and 12th October 2004.
No.4 'Tierra del Fuego' remains in daily traffic following nearly 4 years since delivery to FCAF. Mechanical maintenance is scheduled for winter 2004. Such will take place following the return to traffic of steamer No.2 in July 2004.
No.5 is scheduled to return to daily service by the end of the year in order to deal with engineering trains. Though trial running took place earlier this year various problems have conspired to delay its return to daily service.
All passenger stock will have undergone examination B by the beginning of the high season. 1003 has been repainted and at the time of writing 1001 and 1002 are undergoing the same treatment. The on board audio system has been given a full overhaul and renewal, the results of which have been so far much appreciated by the travelling public. The manufacture of carriages 1301 and 1302 at Mar del Plata continues apace. At the time of writing the underframe and body superstructure are complete. Wheelsets have been delivered to the production workshops of Tecnopesca' in readiness for axle fitting and final machining. The wheelsets were cast at a foundry in La Plata, Province of Buenos Aires. The design of the new carriages is somewhat different to what has been supplied to or manufactured at FCAF in the past. From the outset it was intended to use the loading gauge to the maximum whilst not affecting current stability of the vehicle. A great number of man hours went into designing for these requirements and even at the time of writing there is still some work to be completed as far as the running gear is concerned. The manufacture of 1301 and 1302 will be followed by 1303 and 1304; delivery dates to FCAF are planned for 15th November for the former and 15th January for the latter. Overall height of the new coaches will be 2,654 m, overall width 1,88 m and length over buffers 8 m. Approximate weight unladen (this is stated in this form due to the fact that weight calculations are dependant upon tread steering characteristics which are still being worked on) 6 tonnes. Features will include balcony entrance for passengers with an optional disabled entrance in the centre part of the coach. Seats have been designed to incorporate swing backs that allow 'directional seating'. 1301 and 1302 will be fitted with the 'tread steering' system as successfully applied by Murray Franz and Wim Neinhuis in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia and Mozambique. This particular design allows for the installation of single axle wheelsets instead of bogies, the centres of which are held at present stock bogie centres. Once trial running has been carried out on site the required adjustments will be made to the system and such refinements incorporated in carriages 1303 and 1304 at production level. Watch this space for a progress report! There is no news to report on bogie or skip wagons during the past 6 months.
Infrastructure and track.
Track maintenance has continued as climatic conditions have allowed. Maintenance and repairs have been carried out at bridges 1, 2 and 3. The A end turnouts, lines 1 & 2 have been lifted and repacked so as to restore alignment. A facelift at Estacion fin del Mundo has been carried out along with the long overdue provision of an external booking office and enlarged toilet block. The works rear yard has been given a clear up whilst at the same time health and safety matters have been attended to. A number of outstanding items require clearing off the pre inspection list prior to our visit from INTI which is planned to take place during January 2004. Once this work is complete track maintenance will continue in accordance with the long term plan of work.
Traffic & Operating.
Passenger figures during the past 6 months have been up on the same period for 2002. High season begins early this year on 15th October with the first cruise liner booking scheduled for 2nd November. Some operating practices have been amended for this season including provision for third train set workings as dictated by peak traffic flows. A top shunter will be provided according to motive power availability. One new diesel driver has been added to the list in recent weeks and another steam driver is due for passing out at the beginning of November. Two new trainee drivers are working in the department at the moment whilst another three members of staff are undergoing training as locomotive drivers.
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