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Always inspect your locomotive prior to steaming it.   Check for loose fasteners and damage which may have occurred while in storage or transit.  When the locomotive is not being operated for a period of time, rotate the drive wheels a few turns every two weeks to prevent the pistons and rods from becoming stuck.  Inspect the water gauge glass for cracks and replace it if any are found.  The gauge glass fittings should be tightened finger tight otherwise the glass may be broken.  Never tighten a water gauge glass while the boiler is under steam.  


The safety valves should be continuously inspected to assure that they are working properly.  Lift the valve stem with a pair of tweezers to assure it is not stuck shut.  If a safety valve blows at a very low pressure (ie. 1 kg/sq cm),  it may have become overheated and must be replaced.  NEVER ATTEMPT TO ADJUST OR REPAIR AN ASTER SAFETY VALVE.  CONTACT YOUR DEALER FOR A REPLACEMENT PART.


Insect the fuel system to assure that all fuel lines and wicks are in good condition.   It is good policy to replace the wicks every year. 


After operating the locomotive, empty the boiler, the lubricator and the fuel tank (on alcohol fired locomotives).  Dispose of the residue in an environmentally safe manner.  Refill the lubricator with steam cylinder oil.  Wipe the surface of the locomotive clean using a soft oily cloth.  Do not use cleaning agents as they may damage the locomotive's finish.   Remove any dirt and debris from the wheels and valve gear and lubricate all bearings.


Inspect the locomotive for loose fasteners and tighten as necessary.  Be sure that all dummy brake shoes are tight and do not rub against the wheels.  It is a good practice to use a thread locker, such as Loctite 222 or an equivalent, to prevent small screws from continuously loosening.   When using the thread locker, tight the screw until it seats.  After the thread locker cures, there will be sufficient "break away" torque to retain the screw under all normal operating conditions.  Screws and bolts fitted with lock washers should be tightened until the lock washer compresses.


Inspect the O-rings on the safety valves and filler plugs and replace them if they are damaged.  Always leave the regulator, needle valves and filler plugs slightly open or loose when storing the locomotive to prevent them from sticking.  Be care not to lose any  removable parts.   When installing safety valves and filler plugs, which have O-ring seals, tighten by finger until the O-ring just starts to distort.  Over tightening may cause the O-ring to seal improperly.


The boiler should be hydrostatically tested as intervals not to exceed two years.  Listed below is the recommended procedure to follow. 


1.  Close the regulator and blower valves.


2.  Remove the safety valves and fill the boiler completely full of water.  Roll the locomotive back and forth to remove all air bubbles.  Add additional water until l it begins to flow out of the safety valve bosses.


3.  Install a short bolt, fitted with an O-ring, in one of the safety valve bosses.  Install an industrial pressure gauge, with the proper thread or adapter, in the other safety valve boss.  This gauge should read up to 10 kg/sq cm.  Ensure that the the bolt and pressure gauge do not extend into the boiler and damage internal tubes.


4.  Using the feed water pump, or trackside pump, slowly pump water into the boiler until the pressure gauge reads two times the boilers' normal working pressure.  The normal working pressure is given in the locomotive's specification list within the assembly instructions booklet.


5.  Since there may be a small leak around fittings, it may be necessary to continue pumping water to maintain the required pressure.  Maintain the test pressure for ten minutes and then repeat it two additional times.


6.  If there are any leaks at a silver soldered joints and / or  if the boiler ends plates are distorted, replace the boiler as it is unsafe for further use and could cause injury.


7.  Boilers which do not have leaks in silver soldered joints and are not distorted can be continued in service for two years after which the test and inspection must be repeated.


8.  Record the date of testing, test results and witnesses present.  Retain this record.


9.  After testing is completed, remove the industrial pressure gauge and the bolt plug.  Replace the safety valves after emptying the water from the boiler.


Maintenance can be as interesting as operations.  A well maintained locomotive will reward its owner with many years of faithful service.  Patience and care are essential for successful maintenance.  Patience and care are the most precious tools of a skilled model engineer.  




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