Its been a frustrating weekend full of dodgy locos this weekend.

Friday night saw a shunt crew shortage for night shift, thus 541 was cancelled and 544 only came up with 12 OM so that it could be unloaded in time to go back south with 523. 

544 had 5120 and 5108. After lining up the milk train for unloading, its "best practice" to shut down the lead loco as per the companies fuel saving edict. Being the good employee I am, I dutifully comply and hit the stop button on 5120. The engine revs fall and the loco is making all the right noises as it shuts down, but not long before the engine stops rotating, the revs start picking up again..... chug.....chug.....chhugchuggg cough slputter hack...... the engine comes back to life, but not to back to the regular engine speed at idle. The revs then start fluctuating as the loco coughs and hacks. None of the cab controls would respond and the loco was stuck in a state of limbo. Muttering away I had to stick my head in the long hood and push down hard on the lay shaft in order to physically force the engine governor to the stop position, and hooray the engine shuts down...... silly thing! 

Later on after the train is empty and we are back out in the yard I change ends and set up 5108 to be the lead loco. As I head down to the south end of the yard I find the speedo and head end monitor have stopped working. Much flicking of switches and wiggling of wires proves futile and left only one option, shut the loco down and pull the knife switch out to completely kill eveything, then restart. Bingo... the good old "railway reboot" works a treat once again and the speedo is working properly again.
(technology eh!??) 

We begin shunting the empty milk tanks and container wagons around at the south end when all of a sudden the alarm bells start ringing and the Brightstar display panel is in fits dishing out all sorts of fault codes as we dive into the murky depths of a "power circuit problem". The computer digs its toes in and the loco refuses to work (this is turning into a bad episode of Thomas the Tank Engine!!), reset squences do SFA so I have to stop the shunt mid movement and go back to start 5120 again, which it does so without issue. Its now howling with rain and back in the sancturay of the cab I put the sulking 5108 offline and we finish the shunt using 5120 as power.
Once everything was done and we were waiting for 523 I set to work sorting out the issues on 5108. Much pushing of buttons and many resets later the loco comes back to the land of the living. *sigh* Silly thing!

A while later 523 Rolls in with 5097 (dynamic brake not working) and 4283 (trail only, vigilance fault) so we slap 5108 and 5120 on the front and I hand it over to the 523 driver. Not two minutes into the shunt and the other driver is crowing over the radio that 5108 has spat the dummy again...
Long story short - we had a big phone conversation with the fitter on duty at Palmerston North, ended up cutting out a traction motor on 5108 to isolate that part of the power circuit and using 5097 as extra grunt to help get 523 to its destination!

Saturday night I was southbound on 549 heading down to get 548 and everything was going well until the lead DX on 546 blew a traction motor coming into Wanganui. With a crook loco the decision was made to leave 12 of the loaded milk tanks at Wanganui for 548 to pick up. 548 was then reduced at Palmerston North to make room for the OM's, which made everything somewhat late. 546 scooted past me at Patea with only 4 milk wagons and I went on down to Kai Iwi to get 548, which had 5137 (no dynamic brake) and  7241. No real drama until I got to the bottom of the hill between Mokoia and Whareroa on the way home and had no driving amps when I went to climb the hill! Looked back the the Brightstar display and the thing was all cross eyed and swearing at me, saying that there was a "power circuit problem" and that it was out to lunch...  Coming to a stop I had to spend a few minutes convincing the old girl that it could have lunch once we got to Whareroa.... and soon enough it came back and I was away again... 

Sunday and as I walk in the office door to start my shift, the day shunt driver tells me that 7186 conked out coming up on 542 that morning and he has not been able to revive it. I head down to the loco and after a while we find that the fuel pump has dropped its guts, causing it to short circuit and trip everything out as soon as we try to use it. Dead as a duck I am thankfull that the boffins who dreamt up the the standard 28 wire ARR trainline control system included the capability to power loco control circuits from another loco connected via the jumper cable. This meant that I could still have 7186 on the front of 547 (albiet dead) and run the train with the trailing DXB without worrying about the batteries going flat and causing loss of engine control etc etc...
This also saved having to take the DX to Stratford to turn it to run as lead loco.

So I had a very quiet ride down to Patea on 547, and thankfully had no problems with 544 (5114 + 7213) on the run home. But, I did have to run them back out as 549 to go and get 548, which had 5137 and 7241 on it again. Half way to Kai Iwi and control calls me, informing me that 548's locos have bombed out and I will have to go through to Wanganui to do a loco swap....... FEK!!!
But joy oh joy the Palmy driver managed to coax the old chook back into life (same issue that happened to me the night before on 548) so our scheduled crossing at Kai Iwi took place as planned.  It was a bit later than normal and I didnt get back to Whareroa untill after 1am, 548 being a monster 640m long full of empty containers for loading at Whareroa.

Today I have another go at running 528 to New Plymouth and returning with 529. Fingers crossed I can get through this shift without a loco wigging out on me :-)

2/26/2012 09:57:30 pm

Thats some level of patience you've got there Andrew. Sounds like there arent many loco's about on the Palmy allocations that are in a reliable full working order

2/28/2012 06:15:57 am

Just lost a couple of hours playing catchup here, I must add it to the daily trawl so that i don't have to do that again. Good reading, thanks :)


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