What’s Happening To 3801

Why They Abandoned The New Boiler

As many of you will know iconic NSW steam loco 3801 has been the subject of much controversy throughout its life (and afterlife).

According to the Transport Heritage NSW website, it was withdrawn from active service in 1962.

The picture below was taken in 1966 at Leumeah near Campbelltown.


I am not sure about the withdrawal in 1962, as I saw 3801 a few times on regular trains.

3801 was seen at Moss Vale on an up freight when I was on a tour with 3526 and 2705. There is a very nice shot of this on page 129 of “Lenses South”, where she is double heading with 3818. Here is my not so great shot at Moss Vale, taken in March 1967.


You would have to agree that the green used at that time is far more palatable than that of later years!

Anyway after a great fanfare by the NSW treasurer late last 2014, the new boiler returned from Germany only to find it wouldn’t pass muster in Australia.

After considerable lobbying, some funds were set aside to get the Jolly Green Giant working and now they are repairing the original boiler which is expected to be back in service late 2017.

The following is an FAQ taken from the Transport Heritage Website.

Why was the original boiler taken out of service to start with?
The original boiler required major repairs in 2007 which caused locomotive 3801 to be removed from service. At that time, options to both repair the original boiler and to manufacture a new one were considered. It was then decided to seek bids to manufacture a new boiler via an open tender process.

Will the original boiler be safe to operate again?
Yes. A team of specialists has thoroughly reviewed the original boiler condition and has developed a scope of work to return the original boiler to full operation at 245psi. This will include ensuring the boiler complies with the relevant safety and certification requirements under Work Health and Safety regulations.

Who will be fixing the original boiler?
Transport Heritage NSW will undertake the work required to fix the original boiler employing a mix of paid staff, volunteers and contractors.

What work actually needs to be done to fix the original boiler?
Work will include the removal and repair of some parts, the installation of newly manufactured parts, as well as refitting the boiler to the locomotive. New parts will be manufactured in Australia subject to availability of suitable manufacturers and parts.

What are the issues with the new boiler constructed in Germany?
There are a number of technical issues with the new boiler which was constructed in Germany which meant that the boiler is not consistent with current Australian Standards and without further work will not meet WorkCover certification to operate as a steam pressure vessel in NSW.

What will happen to the new boiler?
The new boiler will remain with Transport Heritage NSW and will undergo further works after the original boiler has been repaired and locomotive 3801 is back in service. Transport Heritage NSW is confident that, over time, the new boiler can become fully operational and can meet Australian Standards.

What work needs to be done on the new boiler?
The work on the new boiler involves redesign and manufacture of some of the parts, certification and boiler re-assembly and refitting.

Why has so little information about the progress of the new boiler project been released to the public?
Since its arrival in Australia in 2015, the new boiler has been thoroughly inspected by Transport Heritage NSW specialists and its condition carefully documented and analysed. Now that this process is complete, Transport Heritage NSW is now progressing with works.

Transport Heritage NSW will provide regular updates on the work program for repairing the original boiler, recommissioning locomotive 3801 and work on the new boiler.

How long will it be until the original boiler is restored?
It is estimated that the original boiler can be restored, installed, tested, and the locomotive recommissioned over a period of approximately two years.

When will the mechanical overhaul of 3801 be complete?
This work will be undertaken at the same time as the boiler restoration so all components of the locomotive will be ready once the boiler is ready for refitting.

How long will it be until locomotive 3801 is back in service?
Locomotive 3801 is planned to be back in service in the second half of 2017 – however this timeframe is contingent on works proceeding as planned.

When will the work on the new boiler be completed?
Work on the new boiler will commence after locomotive 3801 is back in service. It is likely to take over 12 months for the work on the new boiler to be completed after which it will need to undergo the usual rigorous testing and be certified as safe to operate.

What are the project stages for returning locomotive 3801 to service?

A Steering Committee comprising representatives from both THNSW and Transport for NSW undertook an assessment of the works required, timeframe and costs for options to get 3801 back into heritage service as quickly, efficiently and reliably as possible.

The Steering Committee reviewed options for both the original boiler and the new boiler, following a thorough inspection and analysis of both boilers by THNSW technical specialists.

The Steering Committee also reviewed technical, component supply, operational reliability risks and mitigations, and formed a view that the boiler works be sequenced in three stages as follows:

Stage 1 – Undertake works on the original boiler

Stage 2 – Reassemble, recommission and reintroduce 3801 for heritage service

Stage 3 – Undertake works to enable certification of the new boiler for use as a spare boiler

Who is now managing the 3801 project?

Locomotive 3801 is owned by the NSW Government. Transport Heritage NSW, a not-for-profit organisation, is now responsible for the project works and recommissioning the locomotive for service as part of the THNSW Heritage Fleet.

THNSW has assembled a Steering Committee that will coordinate works with a mixture of paid employees, volunteers and contractors as appropriate.


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