Steam Loco Sheds of India

By Ravindra Bhalerao, 2017

One of the most magnificent sights I have ever seen is watching an Express as it passes a small wayside railway station. Here I was at Parewadi station waiting for a slow train that would take me to my destination, a few halts away. A slight flurry of activity around me made me spring to attention: a telephone rings in the station master's office, while two pointsmen hurry out to attend to orders. But no one has struck the station bell, so I know the commotion has nothing whatever to do with the Passenger train I have bought a ticket for. My own train is a good hour away. The station staff are actually getting things ready for the Jayanti Janata Express that will pass this way shortly. And when I peer over the platform edge, I find that things are ready indeed, for the brightly painted semaphore in the distance is off. All is clear.

It was only a tiny speck of smoke, vague and uncertain, seen from a great distance. And yet it was a hundred tonnes of steel hurtling onwards towards us. This is a prestigious train, it will hardly care to halt at this small village halt, yet the station staff are at attention, all prepared to see that the passage of the train is smooth. Now it is closer, you can make out the engine, its features and contours as it rushes on to meet us. The tiny wayside halt offers no impediment to the onrush of the Jayanti Janata; the points are set for the straight, the interlocking permits unrestricted speed.

Then with a mighty rumble the whole mass of steel and fire is upon us, in a frenzy that leaves no time to think, no time to act. With a mighty rush and clang the Jayanti Janata thunders by, regulator full open. The train is moving under royal authorization, it has an appointment to keep. Carriage after carriage sweeps by; the locomotive ahead keep up full pressure, the men in charge know there is no time to loose. And in a few moments the whole drama is over; the train has passed into history. When I look out into the distance, the Jayanti Janata is only a disappearing spec; a spec of smoke and dust. Tomorrow as I rest in my home, the Jayanti Janata will be a hundreds of miles away rushing onwards toward the southernmost tip of Kanyakumari.

The sight of an Express as it thunders past arouses wonder, it give rise to admiration. It sets afire the imagination and makes one wonder how this great drama on rails was set into motion. A little thought shows that behind the spectacle of a Mail train running at speed lies the combined effort of hundreds of men stationed miles apart, each doing his part to keep the wheels of transport turning. You have station masters along the line who make the way clear for a train to pass. There are cabinmen who set the points, and pointsmen who light up signal lamps. You have trackmen who patrol the lines, booking clerks who issue tickets, and wheeltappers who attend to the wheels when a train halts at a station.

Many of these men we speak about can be seen at their posts if we but take the trouble to look. There are others however, whose work is generally hidden from public view. They work behind the scenes, they are the backroom boys. Each time we take a journey by rail, we enjoy the fruit of their labors. We find them in carriage and wagon depots, in railway workshops, in locomotive sheds, and in various other locations. These are the men who have made applied mechanics their profession. Their job is to see that steel, suitably shaped into components, behaves under the action of forces in the way it should, and performs in the way it is intended to do.

Workshops and Locomotive Sheds

When the railways first arrived in India in 1853, it was in the form of a short length of track stretching the 34 kilometers from Bombay to Thana. These were the beginnings of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. A year later the East Indian Railway made its debut with its first train from Howrah to Hooghly, a distance of 24 kilometers. With the railways came the need for workshops to attend to repairs and overhauls to locomotives. A modest beginning was made when the GIPR set up a small workshop in Byculla in 1854. This was followed by the East Indian Railway which set up its facility in Howrah, later to be moved to Jamalpur. Not to be left behind, the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway set up its own workshop in 1856 at a place named Amroli near Surat.

Power, in these early workshops, was obtained from stationary steam engines. The engine was arranged to drive a shaft with pulleys keyed onto it from which power could be drawn off with the use of belts.

There was nothing very sophisticated about these workshops, we are told. The establishment at Amroli, for instance, was a wooden structure with a triangular roof that housed within it the appliances, facilities and machine tools required for the maintenance of locomotives. The machines were all imported from Britain. Having served for several years, the Amroli workshop left behind deep footprints on the sands of time: historians tell us that as late as in the 1950s, remains of the workshop could be spotted on the northern bank of the Tapti river close to Utran railway station.

A railway workshop may be likened to a one-stop destination which is fully equipped to deal with any eventuality that requires repair and attention. From replacing worn out boiler plates and reconditioning radial bogie trucks to re-boring of cylinders and calibration of engine pressure gauges, anything that needs adjustment and repair can be set right here.

In addition to the workshop which offers comprehensive repair facilities, a railway also depends, for the maintenance of its fleet of engines, on locomotive sheds placed at strategic points and important junctions. The question may be asked, why with a fully equipped workshop at its disposal, does a railway need to have a network of locomotive sheds spread across its territory. To find the answer to this question, we need to understand that a steam locomotive has a limited range depending on the quantity of coal that the tender can accommodate. Thus, while watering can be accomplished at intermediate stops along the route, from water columns placed alongside the passenger platform itself, coaling is a much more involved job requiring the engine to be discontinued from service for a while and taken to a central location provided with coaling facilities. In addition to replenishing its tender with coal, the steam engine, if it is to function efficiently, requires periodic examinations and repairs to various parts. It would be both highly uneconomical and a sheer waste of time if an engine were to be sent to the shops, perhaps hundreds of miles away, for a routine examination at the end of each trip. A man suffering from a cold in the head rarely seeks the help of a surgeon at the operating table of a hospital; he would rather visit the general practitioner down the street. A locomotive shed is equipped with full facilities for routine examination and repair, and has a well stocked store that holds an adequate supply of spare parts. The schedule of examinations at a shed are so worked out that a locomotive may be expected to give optimum performance each time it is sent out on the line for duty until a specified mileage is reached when it becomes necessary to send the locomotive to the workshop for a comprehensive overhaul.

The Steam Loco Shed Layout

With this background we are now in a position to move on to the broad principles that underlie the layout and operation of a locomotive shed.

With regard to the scope of work it can undertake, a loco shed may either be a Homing Shed, or a Turn Round Shed. A Homing Shed serves the function of a "home" to an engine; it has full facilities for servicing and maintenance. Every engine we see on the line is assigned to a certain "Home Shed"; and the entire fleet of locomotives assigned to a shed constitutes its "holding".

Turn Round sheds, by contrast, are small establishments. A Turn Round shed does not have an engine holding ; it is equipped only for minor repairs and therefore its function is mainly to service an engine and work it back to its home shed.

The layout of a steam loco shed may be planned in one of the following two ways:

Roundhouse Sheds: In this design, incoming tracks lead to a central turntable from which radiate a number of tracks leading to repair bays placed in a circle concentric with the turntable. An example of this layout was the locomotive shed of Renigunta. Although a favourite with rail enthusiasts, the roundhouse shed poses a serious disadvantage in that should the turntable become inoperative at any time, entry and exit from the shed is disabled till such time as the turntable is put right.

Rectangular Sheds: This was the design favoured on the railways of India. The figure below which illustrates this design also shows the principal components that go to make up a steam locomotive shed.

Turntables are provided in most sheds to reverse the direction of an engine. As turning is as important as coaling and servicing, two turntables are generally recommended for a large shed, although this is not always possible. The shed illustrated below has turntable together with a triangle at the top which can be used for reversing if the turntable develops a snag at any time. A small shed on the other hand will have a single turntable, or alternatively a triangle for engine turning.

typical shed layout
Typical shed layout

Rectangular sheds may be further subdivided into: (1) Through Rectangular Sheds where tracks enter the main shed at one end and emerge out at the other, and (2) Blind Rectangular Sheds , where each repair bay ends in a dead end. Each design has its advantages and drawbacks. A blind shed does away with the trackwork at its rear end and so costs less to construct, and is a suitable choice for small engine holdings. It however possesses the disadvantage that as each track leads to a dead end, movement of engines is restricted bringing in a whole lot of conflicting moves.

The number of tracks leading into the main shed is an indication of the number of engines that can be "homed" -- more the number of tracks, greater the capacity of the shed. Each track leads to a "repair bay" long enough to hold three engines in a row and has a pit running all along its length for the examination of undergear. Fitter's benches are provided at intervals along each bay, as are also toolboxes for use by technicians, and cold water hydrants to fill up locomotive boilers after a washout.

A large locomotive shed will usually be comprised of two separate establishments, the main shed, and an MOH (Maintenance Overhaul) shed having deep drop pits allowing a locomotive to be de-wheeled for the examination of wheels and axle boxes during heavy repair schedules.

The ideal location for a shed is where water is plentiful, and labour is cheap. One of the most important parts of a shed is the machine shop. Besides allowing repairs by machining of components, the machine shop may also undertake the manufacture of certain spares in small numbers. Other facilities include the welding room, blacksmith shop, white metalling section, fitters' tool room, and stores. A wheel lathe section provides facility for machining of wheel tyres which have worn out beyond the limits allowed.

Stages in Engine Maintenance

To the casual observer locomotive work may appear as a hopelessly confusing set of activities devoid of logical connection and order. In truth, the operation of a shed in is accordance with a master plan where each stage is under constant supervision with the object of ensuring that a locomotive receives the best possible maintenance with the least possible expenditure of time and money.

Locomotive servicing in a shed involves several stages, the first of which is the Incoming Engine Examination. An engine arriving at a shed is first taken onto a pit so constructed as to facilitate easy examination of undergear. The first stage of servicing begins with the incoming driver putting on record various engine faults or malfunctioning he may have noticed while on the run. The locomotive is now subjected to a close examination both by the driver and the Incoming Pit examination gang who report anything amiss they find on a form.

The object of an incoming examination is to furnish the shed with a written record of everything that is possibly wrong with the machine, and which therefore needs to be repaired. It is extremely important that repairs be booked correctly. The most experienced fitters are deputed to perform the job, the examining team being usually headed by a senior member, a man carrying the designation of Incoming Pit Examining Fitter Highly Skilled Grade I.

Incoming examination accomplished, the engine is now ready to be coaled followed by an excursion to the turntable. The sequence of shed operations on a locomotive can be summarized in the following manner:

  1. Incoming Engine Examination
  2. Coaling
  3. Turning
  4. Fire cleaning or de-ashing
  5. Placement in the shed for maintenance
  6. Maintenance and Repairs
  7. Outgoing Pit Examination
  8. Departure to the traffic yard

It should be noted that with regard to items 2 and 3, the order in which these two duties are performed is immaterial; a locomotive shed may be built so that the coaling stage occurs first followed by the turntable, or vice versa. The position occupied by item 4 is critical however. Not every engine arriving at a shed will have its fire dropped, but if this is done, the engine will have only enough steam to run a short distance ahead. Had the fire-cleaning pit been placed at position 1, then an engine whose fire was dropped would not have enough steam to go through the rest of the programme and would need to be shunted into the maintenance bays with assistance from another locomotive. Dropping a fire robs an engine of its source of power; consequently fire cleaning and de-ashing pits are so placed as to be the very last stage before the loco makes its way into the bays.

The eight operations listed above form the timetable for each engine arriving at its home shed. It will be seen that item 6 forms the most significant stage in the programme , for the performance of the engine during the run is largely determined by the quality of work done during repairs. It is therefore a constant endeavour of the shed administration to ensure that of the total time a loco remains in the shed, a large fraction be devoted to running repairs, other activities (like coaling, turning and fire cleaning) which are routine in nature being performed in the least possible time.

The total time an engine is detained at a shed, beginning with the time it arrives at the incoming pit until the moment it is ready for departure at the outgoing examination pit, is a significant figure, and is termed the Shed Turn Round . When averaged over a period of time, and considered together with other factors, it indicates the availability of an engine : how quickly can a loco arriving at a shed be got ready for duty again? And over a period of one month, for instance, how many hours does an engine spend in sheds?

Thus although in colloquial language it is usual to refer to the time a locomotive is detained in its home shed as the "home shed rest", every effort is made to keep this "rest" to a minimum.

The movement of an engine from stage to stage is handled by shunters, each stage being manned by a separate person. As the Shunter's Diary below shows, a careful record of timings is kept by a shunter from the time he takes over a locomotive at a stage until the moment he hands over charge to his colleague at the next stage.

Shunter's Diary
Shunter's Diary

Each shunter deputed for a stage maintains a record of timings in the manner above. At the end of the shift, these timings are entered in the Shed Turn Round Register as well as the Shed Sequence Register which summarises the time a locomotive is detained at each stage, beginning with incoming examination, coaling, and right through until the moment the loco is out of the shed after repairs. The stage by stage detention is closely scrutinized by the Loco Foreman each day. Should he find that locomotives are being detained at a certain stage beyond the prescribed time, he must investigate the cause behind the delay and take appropriate action.

Fitters at Work

A locomotive shed is teeming with workmen, all working together to keep the wheels of transport turning. There are loco fitters and greasers, steam men and engine cleaners, locomotive inspectors and shunters. These men's lives revolve around locomotive work, their skill in diagnosing trouble and putting things right is incredible. They think and breathe steam. Many of them began as loco apprentices, even as cleaners. Of machine design and the laws of thermodynamics they have not the slightest knowledge; none of them has so much as heard of the name of Sadi Carnot. Yet when it comes to engine maintenance and repair, even the District Mechanical Engineer must bow to the superior ability and skill of these men.

Locomotive work is an unceasing activity taking place round the clock. This is particularly true of the larger sheds at engine changing stations where locos arrive all through the day and night. At a medium or small sized shed we may expect activity will be much subdued in the night.

Locoshed technicians engaged in engine maintenance fall into two categories. Those who work on the engine and its various moving parts and fittings, and the tender are known as Loco Fitters, and work under the direction of the Fitter Chargeman. There are other technicians whose responsibilities are centered on the boiler and its accessories ; they are called Boiler Makers and function under the Boiler Maker Chargeman. Loco maintenance involves a broad range of activities, and so besides the aforementioned categories, we have engine cleaners and steam men, blacksmiths and welders, greasers and khalasis, the latter being manual workers whose work is mostly of an unskilled nature.

As the shed is functional round the clock, work is performed in shifts. On the basis of the repairs booked by the driver a repair slip is issued to each fitter and boiler maker allotting him the day's work. Fitter and Boiler Maker Chargemen are expected to report about an hour before the start of the shift so that they can plan and arrange the day's work. After studying the repair books, repair distribution slips are made out in duplicate and distributed to the workers. The Loco Foreman (Maintenance) has an important role to play here, for when a Chargeman finds some workers are absent from duty, the Maintenance Foreman adjusts gang strengths making use of reserve gangs specially maintained for the purpose so that each chargeman has adequate staff to deal with the day's work.

Strolling along the repair bays of the shed we may come upon workmen engaged in all kinds of work. It is one thing to watch an engine on the main line, quite another to see it taken apart in the shed. You see the inner working, you see the valves and pistons and wheel gear, and in the end some of the mystery of locomotive work begins to clear. You begin to realize the machine is in many respects like a motor car which needs regular attention.

Here at one end of the bay is an engine with the valve gear taken down and the men unscrewing the slide bars. Upon being questioned, we are likely to be told that after being in service for some years, the slide bars have worn out. There being an undue amount of clearance between the slide bars and the crosshead, it is necessary to re-position the bars closer together, an operation which is technically known as "closing in the bars."

While in operation, moving parts of an engine are subjected to tremendous stresses. Although the deformations so produced are well within the elastic limits of the components, they are repetitive in nature, and in time could lead to fatigue cracks. Thus although on its arrival at the shed, the driver may not have reported any trouble, certain key components are to be periodically checked for flaws.

Here is an HPS class engine with the boys applying a coat of whitewash on the crankpin. This may appear as a strange thing to do in a locoshed, but it is in fact, a very important procedure, and if carried out correctly, can reveal the presence of a dangerous condition which may arise when a component is subject to high repetitive stresses.

A part such as a connecting rod of an steam engine, or a crankpin, may, to all appearances look as though no trouble existed, but it may in fact be harbouring a microscopic flaw which if not corrected in time could lead to serious failure. From time to time, therefore, these components are taken down and subjected to what is known as a "Chalk Test." The part in question is first cleaned with kerosene to rid it of grease and muck, and washed in hot water. Once dry, kerosene is smeared all over, then wiped off. Finally the part is given a thin coat of whitewash. When dry, a light blow with a copper hammer will cause kerosene lodged in cracks to ooze out which can be detected under a magnifying glass.

Among the numerous parts that are periodically chalk tested, none is perhaps as important as the wheel axle. A crack in a journal could lead to a serious accident, so one of the most important tasks of the Loco Foreman is to see that axles are tested according to schedule. On passenger engines, no flawed axles are ever passed. On goods and shunting locos, flaws within permissible limits are allowed, but such locos are to be sent to the shops for repairs at the earliest possible opportunity. It is customary to paint engines with flawed axles with the sign "NP", meaning non-passenger in two-inch white letters on the side panel plates.

We may climb onto the footplate of a locomotive while in the shed. We are now confronted with an array of gadgets, all working together to control the locomotive and make it perform to our satisfaction. Here's the pressure gauge, which tells us the pressure of steam in so many pounds per square inch. Then there is the "Detroit Lubricator" which delivers a mixture of steam and mineral oil to lubricate the steam chests and cylinders. The admission of steam to the cylinders is controlled by a long, shiny lever called the regulator handle. To the right of the cab is a handwheel known as the "reversing wheel". Turning the wheel not only enables the machine to be put into reverse, it also allows the driver to regulate the "cut-off" , which is the percentage of piston stroke during which steam is admitted to the cylinders while the locomotive is in operation.

When coasting downhill, or approaching a station, steam is not required, so the regulator is generally closed. When this is done the pistons begin to act like pumps and draw in a certain amount of smoke and soot from the smokebox. The soot adheres to the oil in the cylinders and steam chest forming objectionable crusty deposits. From time to time, therefore, the cylinders have to be opened up and "decarbonized", or cleaned out.

At another place we may find workmen unscrewing gauge columns or steam injectors for thorough test and repair, while at still another place fitters may be seen re-setting the valve gear, a delicately adjusted piece of mechanism which has the important function of timing the entry of steam to the cylinders.

Locomotive work is truly a fascinating subject of study.

Preventive Maintenance Schedules

If the repairs booked on an engine by the driver and the incoming examining fitter were the only items to be attended to during its stay in the shed, locomotive repair would be straightforward enough, requiring but a few hours of work at the bays. Such a procedure, though it may appear reasonable at first sight, has been found to lead to poor performance and unexpected failures on line.

To improve the reliability and stave off unexpected breakdowns on the run, a programme of preventive maintenance has been formulated for steam locomotives. Preventive maintenance schedules are based on long years of experience gained in the upkeep of locomotives, and work on the principle of anticipating mechanical failures after the machine has done a certain amount of work. Preventive maintenance therefore has as its object the forestalling of engine failures by regular inspection and testing, duly repairing or replacing those parts which may show signs of not lasting satisfactorily upto the next inspection.

Standard schedules of maintenance recommended for steam locomotives are listed below:

Incoming Engine Examination

  • Schedule I
  • Schedule II
  • Schedule III
  • Schedule IV
  • Maintenance Overhaul (MOH)
  • Periodic Overhaul (POH)

The schedules of examination are worked out to be telescopic, that is, the items prescribed for attention at Schedule II include all items covered in Schedule I besides certain additional items considered necessary for attention at Schedule II.

An Incoming Engine Examination is done on a locomotive each time it arrives at a shed. A schedule examination on the other hand is performed at certain specified kilometreage.

Details of the various items to be attended to at each of the schedule examinations listed above may be found in Appendix A.

Scheduled Examinations
Scheduled Examinations

It is worth noting here that a careful record is kept in a shed, noting the kilometerage earned by a locomotive since the last Periodical Overhaul, the figures being picked up from engine tickets. When an engine is booked to work a train, the driver is given an "Engine Ticket" containing particulars such as the names of the crew booked, the vehicle/load summary, shunting to be done enroute, and the kilometerage earned by the engine thus far, this last figure being updated when the driver submits his engine ticket to the Foreman at the end of the trip. Data from engine tickets is used by the shed to maintain a continuous engine-wise record of the cumulative mileage of the engine. A similar record is maintained in the office of the Divisional Power Controller, so that this official knows when to order a Loco Foreman to stop an engine for schedule repairs.

Despite the rigorous schedule of maintenance, failures do occur from time to time. A locomotive is said to have "failed" if it is unable to work its booked train from start to destination, or if it causes a delay of one hour or more in arrival at the destination due to a mechanical defect, poor quality of coal or water, or faulty operation arising out of slipshod maintenance practices. The various kinds of failures that generally occur are too numerous to mention in full here: defects could arise in the vacuum system or in the piston, in the smoke tubes or super-heater elements. Other eventualities are a burst gauge glass, regulator valve getting disconnected, fracture of the eccentric crank or other moving parts. Drivers are given training in breakdown repairs and are expected to know how to handle an emergency while on the run.

No locomotive failure, however insignificant, is passed over; a thorough investigation is ordered in each case.

When an engine failure takes place, the Loco Foreman is required to submit to the Divisional Mechanical Engineer a report of the incident on the prescribed form within four days of the occurrence of the incident. The DME in turn, submits his own report to the Additional Chief Mechanical Engineer (Running & Loco), accompanied by various documents including the Foreman's report, the Joint Train Register, statements made by the Driver and the Maintenance Foreman (Fitting), and an abstract of documents stating the repairs booked to the locomotive for the previous three trips prior to the failure.

Virtues of Boiling Water

Ordinarily the word "boiler" is taken to mean the barrel which holds water and where steam is raised for use in a locomotive. The full scope of the meaning of this term, however, includes not only the portion where steam is generated, but also the extension of the boiler at the rear where it forms a hollow space within itself providing room for fuel to be burned, as well as the various means employed to utilize the flue gases for heating water, and expelling them into the atmosphere through the chimney. Thus quite apart from the main barrel itself, the boiler includes (1) the firebox where fuel is burned, (2) the firebox tubeplate, and the corresponding plate at the smokebox end, (3) the smoke and flue tubes leading from the firebox tubeplate to the smokebox tubeplate, (4) the regulator valve and the main steam pipe, (5) the superheater header and its elements, and (6) the smokebox and its various accessories where the blast of steam exhausted from the cylinders is used to create a draught, drawing in the flue gases through the flue tubes, and therefore air through the firegrate, thereby resulting in rapid combustion of fuel and efficient transfer of heat from the flue gases to the water contained in the boiler.

The locomotive boiler is a complex piece of apparatus and like every other engine component, requires frequent attention. During service, salts dissolved in boiler water are deposited as scale on the boiler and firebox plates, as well as the flue tubes which conduct the hot gases from the firebox to the smokebox and thence to the chimney. The main object of the multi- tube form of boiler is to increase the heating surface and thereby effect a greater utilization of the heat generated in the firebox to raise steam. The deposition of scale on the smoke and flue tubes offsets the advantage of this kind of boiler design by lowering the conductivity of

the tubes, resulting in less heat being transferred to the boiler water, and therefore more coal being consumed. Regular boiler washouts ensure good steaming quality on the run by removing the accumulation of scale and other undissolved impurities which over time settle at the bottom as mud or sediment.

The firebox itself is of interesting construction. With the exception of the firegrate below, every part of the firebox proper is in contact with boiler water. The inner firebox is surrounded by the outer firebox, and is held in place with stay bolts. The space between the inner and outer fireboxes carries water both at the sides and the top, and this rapidly conducts away heat so that under the action of the fire burning within it, the inner firebox plates can never get so hot as to burn or waste away.

On the average, a steam locomotive can perform duty for around 40 years before it becomes unfit for further service. The life of a boiler on the other hand is nominally taken as 20 years. The replacement of a locomotive boiler is however done taking into account its actual condition, and not purely on the basis of age.

In the case of a boiler which has completed it authorized mileage or period, the Boiler Inspector shall make a personal examination, and shall, if he considers it fit for further service, grant an extension stating the period or mileage for which the boiler may be further retained in service.

Boiler Extension Certificate
Boiler Extension Certificate

Steam engine boilers are potentially dangerous, and an elaborate schedule of examinations, repairs, and renewals has been devised to ensure that a boiler shall give efficient, safe, and reliable service throughout the life expected of it.

The most comprehensive examination a steam engine boiler undergoes is when it is sent to the parent workshop for periodical overhaul. This is called a Class A examination.

At the sheds, boilers are inspected, adjusted and repaired under the direction of the Divisional Boiler Inspector once every six months in an operation known as a Class B examination. The very last item performed after repairs have been carried out is usually a "steam test" in which the Boiler Inspector satisfies himself that the boiler is in order and is fit for service. Finally we have a Class C examination in which a boiler is washed, inspected and repaired in the shed at intervals of one month, the operation being performed by the Boiler Maker Chargeman.

Cold water boiler washouts are an important part of boiler maintenance, and are carried out at intervals of 2000 kms for a broad gauge locomotive in areas where water is of reasonably good quality. When the impurity content of water is of a high order, washouts are recommended after intervals of 1600 kms.

The details of the various boiler examinations together with their periodicity is set out in the following table:

Schedule of Boiler Examinations
Schedule of Boiler Examinations

During its term of service each boiler is accompanied by a Boiler Life Register containing full details of the condition of the boiler at each of the examinations listed above and the repairs carried out on it.

Mechanical Boiler Inspectors are technical staff of the Mechanical Department and are under direct orders of the Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer. Unlike Loco Foremen and Chargemen whose duties are confined to the shed, Boiler Inspectors are allotted a certain area and are required to be on the move. The Boiler Inspector arranges his programme of work in consultation with Loco Foremen within his jurisdiction. He must visit various sheds and keep himself informed as to the condition of locomotive and stationary boilers within the shed, and must ensure that every boiler under his charge receives timely attention and repair.

A six-monthly B Class examination requires the Boiler Inspector to make a full examination of the boiler and record details in the Boiler Life Register. In addition he will also fill up a form in duplicate stating the condition of the boiler and the repairs needed on it. One copy of the form is sent to the Divisional Mechanical Engineer, while the other is for the Locomotive Foreman under which the boiler is working.

The Boiler Maker Chargeman, having carried out repairs to the boiler in accordance with the Boiler Inspector's report, has to jointly certify with the Loco Foreman on the form to the effect that the defects have been attended, and dispatch the duly attested form to the Divisional Mechanical Engineer where it retained as a permanent copy.

Details of the B Class examination conducted six monthly by the Divisional Boiler Inspector will be found in Appendix B.

Boiler Examination Report
Boiler Examination Report

The Power of Coal

The earliest engines that came to India were simple affairs with small boilers, low steam pressures and axle loads well within the ability of the light track then in use. Both tender and tank engines were put into use. A "tender" engine has a separate compartment known as the tender to carry a supply of coal and water for the journey and is suitable for extended runs without replenishing either of these two essential requisites. A tank engine has the coal compartment built into the main engine unit, and as it needs to be replenished with fuel and water at shorter intervals, it is more suited to shunting duties.

A notable feature of these early engines was the overriding British influence in all matters pertaining to design and operation. Not only were the machines and those in charge of maintenance and operation brought in from Britain, the coal used to provide the source of power was shipped in from Britain too. For nearly fifty years after the railways first came to India, the coal used in locomotives came from Britain. It was only after the turn of the nineteenth century that the coalfields in eastern India began to produce coal in large amounts, and consequently the import of coal for railway use was discontinued.

Grades of Coal used on the Indian Railways
Grades of Coal used on the Indian Railways

With the exception of a few routes which have been electrified, the railways are almost entirely dependent on steam power, and this requires coal in phenomenally large amounts. Coal is synonymous with power and should its supply fall short, trains come to a standstill. If coal were to be supplied to only two, maybe three consumers once every now and then, the situation would not have been urgent; but with just a handful of coalfields supplying coal to hundreds of loco sheds spaced miles apart, it can well be imagined that the task of arranging that no shed is without an adequate stock of coal throughout the year, is a job which calls for close coordination and management.

To understand the problem of balancing of coal at various locations, we may imagine two loco sheds, one 2 hours, the other 4 days away from the coalfields. Should a derailment or other mishap occur bringing traffic to a halt, it is clear that the second shed will be more severely affected by a shortage of stock. Each loco shed is therefore provided with a coal yard large enough to hold an adequate stock, and if the rule book were to be followed, the amount held at any time should be enough to last for 10 days plus the travelling time from the coalfields to the shed.

The quantity of coal in a shed is under constant daily watch. To achieve timely replenishment of stock, the Loco Foreman must advise the Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer (Fuel) of his needs, and this he does each day at midnight through a telegraphic message using a code, informing him of the amount of coal at hand.

Code letters used in the telegraphic transmission of coal stock details to the CME's office are reproduced below:

  • A -- Opening coal balance
  • B -- Fresh Receipts of coal
  • C -- Total Receipts
  • D -- Issues for the day
  • E -- Closing Balance
  • F -- Number of days stock
  • G -- No. of wagons in shed awaiting unloading
  • H -- No. of wagons in yard awaiting placement

Information on coal stocks coming in from sheds all over the railway each night forms the basis on which the CME's office works out the most suitable balance, ensuring that the farthest sheds are kept better stocked than those nearest to the collieries.

To anyone who visits a locomotive shed often enough, it is a common thing to see a coal train pulling into the shed. Slowly but surely, the line of 4-wheeled open wagons pulls in behind a sooty engine and creaking and whining comes to a halt in the coal yard. Unloading the contents of the wagons is the contractor's job and so is the task of clearing out of ash and dumping it into the wagons -- there is a special ash wagon siding for this purpose. Loading and unloading are no part of the Foreman's job for he has a good many other things to attend to.

Much before the coal train arrived, the Loco Foreman has received written particulars from the dispatching station -- Declaration Advice Notes... Railway Receipts... Invoice... These are important documents, and together, they tell the Foreman about the number of wagons that are being dispatched, the quantity and grade of coal carried by each, wagon numbers, starting point and destination, and so forth.

The first thing the Loco Foreman must see is if the quantity of coal unloaded tallies with the amount as quoted in the D.A. Notes.� This could be done by reweighing each wagon that has arrived, but as this would take an undue amount of time to perform, an indirect approach is used. Every time coal is issued for use in a locomotive or for any other purpose, a carefully measured quantity is given out, so that when the dump is fully issued, the Foreman, by totaling the quantities issued, knows the net amount of coal that was held in the dump. This method of accounting has the additional advantage that it helps in compiling data regarding the quantity of coal utilized by the shed for each different purpose.

It is interesting to note that coal arriving at a shed is utilized for a variety of purposes other than for locomotive use. Coal is needed for the boilers working at the pumping station, and in coaling and traffic cranes. Then too, coal is supplied to tourist and restaurant cars, to inspection carriages, and to running rooms and workshops. In the early days when many of the great rivers were yet to be spanned by bridges, coal was used by the railways to operate ferries across the river. Finally, coal is also available for sale to the employees of the railway.

Detailed accounts of transactions are maintained by the shed, and at the end of the month a comprehensive statement known as the Monthly Account Current Form is prepared showing a detailed breakup of the following details:

  1. The opening balance of coal
  2. Coal received during the month from collieries/dumps/other sheds
  3. Coal issued to engines
  4. Coal issued for non-locomotive purposes
  5. Closing balance on ground

The Monthly Accounts Current Form is prepared in triplicate. One copy is for the shed, while the other two must reach the Divisional Superintendent and the FA & CAO (Fuel Accounts) by the 2nd of the following month.

But perhaps the most interesting part is the way a watch is kept over the use of coal in a locomotive, both during the trip and while it is in shed. A special official is posted for the purpose -- the Coal Checker -- who keeps a careful record in his register each time coal is consumed by a locomotive for any purpose while it is in shed. There are two officials here in fact, with coal under their charge : the Fuel Issuer, who authorizes the issue of coal, and the Coal Checker who keeps records.

While at the incoming inspection pit, we may find the Coal Checker alight from an engine carrying along a form. The Coal Checker's job begins as soon as a locomotive arrives at the shed ; he has to climb into the cab, and using the calibration marks on the side of the tender, assess the quantity of coal left in the tender at the end of the trip. For each engine arriving in the shed, the Coal Checker has to keep a progressive record of the following particulars in the Coal Checkers Book:

  1. Date
  2. Engine Number
  3. Incoming Train Number
  4. Arrival date and time
  5. Outgoing date, time, train number
  6. Coal left in tender after arrival
  7. Fresh issue of coal
  8. Total coal in tender
  9. Coal consumed in shed movement
  10. Coal consumed in lighting up engine
  11. Coal consumed for banking fire
  12. Coal consumed for engine kept in steam
  13. Coal consumed for vacuum and injector testing
  14. Total shed consumption
  15. Total coal left in tender at the time of leaving shed

Item No. 15 is the quantity of coal left in the tender at the time when the engine is booked on a train and is ready to leave the shed. On its arrival at the destination shed, the fuel left in the tender is again assessed, and the difference between the two quantities gives the amount of coal that was used during the trip.

The data collected by the coal checker is no idle set of figures to be checked by the Foreman once in a while. Particulars concerning the issue of coal for various purposes are compiled into important monthly fuel statistics which are sent to the FA & CAO (Fuel Accounts) together with various coal accounting forms for internal check.

How much coal can a driver use on a trip? As we have seen, careful accounts are kept of the quantity of coal in an engine tender both at the start and end of the trip. When a driver reports for duty, he is given a Trip Fuel Consumption Card carrying various particulars. The driver must observe economy in the use of coal during the run, and must make every effort to see that he works within the trip ration assigned to him.

Trip rations are worked out by officials of the Mechanical Department after conducting actual trials under varying load conditions both during the day as well as the night for various services. A slightly higher ration is prescribed for winter months to take care of the increased fuel consumption at this time.

At the end of the trip, the driver must submit his fuel consumption card along with the engine ticket to the Loco Foreman. Should it be found that he has consumed more coal than the target fixed, he has to render proper explanation on his card before signing off.

Trip Fuel Consumption Card
Trip Fuel Consumption Card

Data recorded on Fuel Cards is further processed into useful monthly statistics -- Locomotive Fuel Consumption Averages, Coal Consumption Summary Sheets... When on their rounds, Locomotive Inspectors must study these tabulated sheets with a view to ascertain if drivers are observing fuel economy on the run. Should a driver be found who is consistently heavy on coal, the Loco Inspector will make a trip on the footplate with the driver to ascertain the cause of the increased coal consumption. If a fault inherent in the locomotive is found to be the cause, he will inform the Divisional Mechanical Engineer of the case. In many cases, however, increased fuel consumption is the result of drivers following an incorrect procedure on the run. Should this be found to be the case, Locomotive Inspectors must bring the driver's fault to his notice and instruct him in the art of handling his locomotive correctly.

Shed Performance and Documentation

The performance of a steam locomotive shed may be judged by the number of engine failures occurring on the line during a given interval of time. A shed with a high incidence of failures would indicate unsatisfactory performance arising out of a fundamental technical or organizational deficiency which needs to be investigated and put right without delay.

Consistent poor performance of a locoshed may be traced to several reasons. It could arise out of slipshod maintenance practice and poor levels of workmanship amongst the artisans and fitters. Poor enginemanship and lack of adequate experience in breakdown repairs amongst drivers could be another contributing factor.

The performance of a shed may also be assessed by computing the kilometers earned per engine over a specified period of time. This may be understood by considering a shed where an engine spends 12 hours in rest for every 12 hours of duty on line. A second loco shed nearby is more conscentious in its work : for every 8 hours of rest and repair, an engine here performs 16 hours of work. On the whole, then, the second shed produces more engine kilometers per month than the first. The second shed is more efficient because it utilises engine power more intensively than the first.

The performance of a shed is at its best when different sections work together as a closely knit team, when each fitter understands his work fully, and is prepared to put in his best into his work. Equally important, good performance requires close supervision, timeliness, and proper coordination of various shed activities so as to keep unnecessary delays and waiting time to a minimum. We have hinted at this earlier when we saw how the detention of a locomotive at each stage is monitored through a record of timings maintained in the Shed Turn Round register. The idea here is to keep ineffective engine time to the lowest figure possible thereby improving upon the utilisation of an engine.

If for example, a Loco Foreman is not careful, several hours may elapse between the moment an engine is out of the washout bay and the time when the maintenance gang takes over the locomotive for maintenance and running repairs. This would mean unnecessary detention, so the Foreman and his assistants must take care to see that the utilisation of the washout and maintenance gangs is properly dovetailed. In a similar manner, when a Foreman sees that a locomotive is due for a 6- monthly B Class Boiler examination, he must arrange things so that this coincides with the shed monthly C Class examination so that both the examinations can be performed concurrently during a single halt at the shed.

Both the Schedule IV examination and Maintenance Overhaul of a locomotive are elaborate procedures and are usually referred to as "heavy schedules", each requiring a halt of 10-12 days at the shed. For reasons described above, it is customary to synchronize heavy schedules with the periodical boiler examinations. All components stripped from locos are thoroughly cleaned and chalk tested during these schedules, and those which require workshop attention are despatched to the shops under a Repair Order within 2 days of the arrival of the locomotive. Particular care needs to be exercised during heavy schedules. A detailed work chart is usually drawn up indicating the repairs to be executed each day, and supervisors are required to keep a close watch to ensure that things are proceeding according to the schedule drawn up.

It is clear that the performance of a shed would only have a vague, qualitative meaning unless a proper criterion for performance is devised, and relevant statistics compiled which would go on to show if the work being done meets accepted standards of performance. The amount of paperwork produced by a shed each year is vast; the number of forms and registers maintained runs into over a hundred. We have seen examples when we took a look at the Shunter's Diary, Boiler Inspector's Examination Report, and Trip Fuel Consumption Card. Documentation is of prime importance: it is vitally important to keep a careful record of each activity so that the shed can proceed with its work in a systematic way. It also helps the Mechanical Department in assessing the work being done and provide guidance towards accepted goals of performance.

Let us take the case of the Repeated Booking Register. A repair executed on an engine component is generally expected to last at least upto the next schedule examination. When a repair features twice between two successive schedules, it is treated as a Repeated Booking. Engine sheds maintain a record of repeated bookings for each engine, and Maintenance Loco Foremen are assigned the duty of keeping a close watch on the record and issue orders using a Repeated Booking Memo to the Fitter Chargeman to give special attention to the offending component.

Each loco shed is required to maintain a careful record of the cumulative kilometreage earned by a locomotive since the last periodic overhaul. Based on the trend in the figures, the Chief Mechanical Engineer's office draws up a programme of POH of locomotives, fixing dates for individual locomotives. As a loco shed is far more conversant with the peculiarities and faults of an engine it homes than the workshop itself, the Loco Foreman must prepare a Pre-Shopping Report on the prescribed form, providing the workshop details on the parts of the locomotive which require special attention while the engine is under a Periodic Overhaul at the shops. The Pre-Shopping Report is received by the Divisional Superintendent, who in turn despatches it under registered cover together with the Boiler Life Register to the workshop two months before the date announced for the POH so that the workshop has ample time to arrange for replacements and spare components needed.

On completion of the POH, the workshop despatches the loco back to the shed accompanied by a detailed Workshop Repair Report giving full details of the parts changed, and dimensions of important items. Workshop Repair Reports for each locomotive are preserved in the loco shed in a hardcover file known as the Loco History Sheet.

At a large shed at an engine changing station, locos arrive and leave in succession all through the day and night. It is clear that the clerk who books engines on trains must have a clear picture of the power position at any given time, if he is to do his task efficiently. Information on this subject may be found in the ALF's Diary, updated daily at 8am. This is a full record showing booking of powers on various services, engines in shed and those on the road, engines available for duty, locos laid up waiting for spares from the workshop, and so on.

Then we have Repair Order Forms and Repair Order Summaries. Often an engine may be found to have a fault which the shed by itself is incapable of putting right. These parts are to be dispatched to the workshop for repair under a Repair Order Form available in two colours: pink forms meant for parts for which engines are held up at the shed, and blue forms for components which do not require urgent attention. To further speed up matters, the Loco Foreman must send the workshop reminders of the repair orders booked, and this is done once every ten days using a Repair Order Summary form listing the various repair orders pending against the workshop.

Repair Order Form
Repair Order Form

The method of working of a loco shed is so designed as to be self correcting to a certain degree. Thus when repairs to a locomotive are completed, the engine is steamed and taken out to the Outgoing Examination Pit. Here, while workmen get busy in filling up the tender using the water column, and the Coal Checker is at his post measuring the amount of coal, the driver and the Outgoing Pit Examining Fitter may be found examining the loco to see if all items of booked repairs (and schedule items if the engine was given a schedule) have been attended to. Should the Examining Fitter find anything amiss, he will make an entry in the Repairs Not Complied With register, a record which is dutifully examined by the Locomotive Foreman each day.

Repairs Not Complied With Register
Repairs Not Complied With Register

A Loco Foreman's office is literally swamped with registers and forms: Lead Plug Register, Monthly Wheel Measurement Record, Link Failure Register, Train-wise Punctuality Statement, Power Position Register... Even drivers themselves are not spared the task of documentation. A steam driver in addition to managing his locomotive, has to keep a careful record of station- to-station timings in the Driver's Note Book while on the run, noting the reasons for delays, and any unusual features he notices such as an obstruction close to the line or a signal not displaying its indication clearly. When he comes upon a signal whose aspect is not easily discernible for any reason, he will make a note of the fact in his Note Book from which the occurrence is subsequently transferred to the Signal Defects Register maintained at the shed. The visibility of signals is an important factor in safety in train operation, so this information is relayed by the shed telegraphically to the Control Office, the Signal Inspector Incharge and the Divisional Signal and Telecommunications Engineer without delay. If his train is losing time, the driver must compute at the end of the trip, the time loss each on account of traffic, engineering, and loco, making use of the timings he has recorded in his note book. At the end of the run he will transfer his loco loss to the Engine Ticket before he signs off. Loco Losses are usually attributable to improper functioning of the engine, poor enginemanship, or a poor grade of coal supplied, so this figure finds a place both in the Driver Performance and Engine Performance registers maintained at the shed.

Along with the Driver, the Guard, too, is required to keep a similar record of station timings in his Joint Train Register. If at the time of signing off, the loco loss on the driver's ticket does not agree with the figure as computed by the Guard, the Driver must give an explanation of the discrepancy.

Locoshed Inspection and Training of Running Staff

In his foreword to M. P. Sells' The Steam Locomotive of Today, Mr. G. V. O. Bulkeley has an insightful observation to make:

...In locomotive design and construction, hundreds of skilled engineers and workmen have combined to produce a beautiful piece of mechanism ready to do its daily work without complaint or failure, provided the men in charge do the same... Locomotive men have to realize and face up to their responsibilities. Just as black smoke pouring from a locomotive is a visible reflection on the ability of the engineman, so a preventable locomotive failure cries aloud for all to hear and is a discredit to the district, to the running shed staff, and to the engine crew concerned...

(M. P. Sells, The Steam Locomotive of Today: Its Construction, Operation and Upkeep, London, 1951, The Locomotive Publishing Company Limited).

Nothing could indicate more plainly that locomotive failures are not inevitable occurrences arising in the course of service. An engine malfunction occurring on the road can almost always be prevented if due care is taken at every stage both by the shed and workshop staff as well as the engine crew. Slipshod work has a two-fold effect : not only does it result in a greater likelihood of engine failures, it has an adverse effect on the entire performance of the shed as a whole.

The procedure in a steam shed, as we have noted earlier, is so ordered as to be self-correcting. For example each day the Loco Foreman must study the Shed Turn Round Register to see if the detention to engines at various stages of servicing is within the prescribed limits; likewise he will also scrutinize the Repairs Not Complied With register to see if anyone is playing truant with work. Locomotive Inspectors on duty must browse through Coal Consumption Summary Sheets and provide guidance to drivers who are found to be heavy on coal.

In addition to these internal checks built into the system, we will also find senior officials of the Mechanical Department arriving at the shed at regular intervals for inspection. Steam loco sheds are under constant supervision and their performance under constant check.

On his arrival at the shed, the Divisional Mechanical Engineer will find a wide range of issues before him which need to be examined : is the staff sanctioned able to handle the workload of the shed? Is anyone booking overtime merely for the allowance he gets? Are proper tools available in the shed? Do supervisors report on time, and does the work on the repair bays begin promptly at the start of the shift? Are any unfair practices creeping into the booking of drivers? And do shed fitters resort to cannibalization of parts from one locomotive to another? Is the machine shop lagging in its turnout of components leading to detentions to engines? Are adequate training facilities available in the shed? Are drivers in possession of their rule books, and do they read various shed notices? These and many other questions must be probed by the engineering official who has arrived on inspection and wishes to find if things are proceeding according to the guidelines laid down.

The performance of locomotive men is under constant watch. For example, if a train loses time during the run on account of engine trouble, the driver is expected to report the loco loss on his engine ticket from which the figure is transferred to the Driver Performance Register at the shed having the following columns:

Driver's Name ________ Grade ________

  1. Date
  2. Train No.
  3. Section
  4. Loco Losses enroute with reasons
  5. Remedial action taken.

Locomotive losses, as we have stated earlier, usually arise out of improper functioning of the machine or a poor grade of coal supplied. But when a driver's record shows consistent poor performance when working on different locomotives, then there is reason enough to believe that the fault lies not so much in the locomotive as in the driver himself. Repeated loco losses indicate that a driver is lacking in skill and therefore needs to be booked for training.

Attached to each loco shed is the Basic Training Center, or Shed School, which is manned by a Loco Foreman (Training) in the highest grade, with Instructors under him to impart training for both Refresher and Promotional courses.

All categories of staff, namely, engine cleaners, second firemen, leading firemen, shunters and drivers have to undergo courses at the shed training center. Those who do not possess an adequate level of literacy have also to attend literacy classes held by instructors appointed for the purpose.

Training courses for running staff are held both in the shed as well as the System Technical School. There are two kinds of courses here. To begin with, we have Refresher Courses. Every person working in a shed is expected to attend a refresher course once in 5 years, the general aim being to keep workers abreast of current maintenance practice, and see that their knowledge does not grow rusty with disuse.

For those who seek to qualify for a higher grade, the shed has promotional courses as part of its programme of instruction. An engine cleaner, for example, may seek promotion to the job of a Second Fireman. If he has put in three or more years of service as a cleaner, he is eligible to attend a promotional course where he will be given training in main engine components, lighting and dropping of fire and so on, besides being made to attend literacy classes.

A Second Fireman seeking promotion to the grade of a First Fireman will attend a course where he will be given training along similar lines as above, together with lessons in fuel economy, techniques of firing, general duties in servicing an engine, and preparation of outgoing engines.

The courses are graded and progressively include more detail as we go up the scale. The course for promotion of Leading Firemen to Shunters, and that for Shunters to Drivers are both similar in content, each with a duration of 1 month, and differing only in the level of rigor and detail. The syllabus for each of these two courses includes the following topics :

  1. Locomotive components and their functions.
  2. Details of vacuum brake and lubrication.
  3. Enginemanship and the use of various specialized tools.
  4. Common engine defects and their rectification
  5. Fuel economy.
  6. General and Subsidiary Rules ; Accident Manual.
  7. Coaching in literacy if needed.

The chart below lists various promotional courses for shed running staff, as well as the minimum years of service needed in a grade before a worker becomes eligible to attend a promotional course for the next higher grade. It is worth noting that an engine cleaner who wishes to join the running cadre must serve in various grades for about 20 years before he can hope to gain promotion as a Grade A Driver of a mainline express train.

Schedule of Promotional Courses
Schedule of Promotional Courses

Appendix A

Standard Schedules of Examinations of Steam

Incoming Engine Examination

Each shed has its shed incoming pit examination gang who will examine and test each engine on arrival with the driver. The following are the main routine details to be done:

Check the following:

  1. Check wheel tyres. Strike tyres with a hammer which should produce a ringing sound.
  2. Check if axle boxes are overheated.
  3. Examine frames, horn blocks, axle boxes for cracks.
  4. Check big end brasses for overheating. Check if any draw exists
  5. Check oil cup tops.
  6. Check cross head and valve motion for overheating and play.
  7. Check nuts , cotters for slackness.
  8. Check cylinder casting bolts for soundness.
  9. Check retainer clips of slide bar bolts as a safety item.
  10. Grease all grease points, tighten up wedges if necessary.
  11. Check driver's bookings.

Test the following:

  1. Smoke box
  2. Vacuum, steam, and hand brakes
  3. Valves and pistons
  4. Sanding gear
  5. Injectors
  6. Head light

Schedule I


  1. Clean injector cones,
  2. Test clack valve stop cocks, tender feed cocks
  3. All boiler mounting cocks and steam cocks to be tested. Any not working freely to be
  4. sed.
  5. Clean steam and waterway passages and ball valves of gauge column cocks. Any not working
  6. eely to be eased.
  7. Test cylinder drain cocks for opening and closing freely.
  8. Test all joints and union nuts of steam and exhaust pipes in smokebox. Test petticoat pipe
  9. xing bolts.
  10. Examine packing of engine and tender axle boxes.
  11. Oil/grease spring and compensating gear pins.
  12. Oil/grease engine and tender brake gear pins, brake hanger brackets, vacuum cylinder
  13. trunnions and bogie-pivots except those fitted with anti-friction liners.
  14. Lubricate intermediate buffer rubbing faces , spindles and rubbing blocks.
  15. Examine and renew trimmings as required.
  16. Clean tender feed pipe strainers.

Boiler Makers:

  1. Clean smoke and flue tubes.
  2. Examine and clean brick arch. Clean gap between brick arch and firebox tubeplate.
  3. Examine boiler expansion and steadying brackets.
  4. Examine and reset grate
  5. Clean ashpan ; examine ashpan dampers.
  6. Examine, clean and secure spark arrestors.
  7. Check blower pipe and security fittings.

Schedule II

In addition to the items listed in Schedule I, the following items are to be attended to in Schedule II:


  1. Engine and tender bearing springs
  2. Engine and tender wheel and tyres
  3. Electric lighting system and speedometer
  4. Repack engine and tender axle boxes
  5. Lubricators, choke valves and condenser
  6. Examine link motion in position.
  7. Examine valve and piston glands

Boiler Makers:

  1. Sanding gear
  2. Check clearance of cattle guards.
  3. Examine blast pipe and cap.

The following items are to be examined by the Assistant Loco Foreman:

  1. Vacuum
  2. Injectors
  3. Lubricators
  4. Smokebox joints

Schedule III

In addition to the items in Schedule II, the following points need to be attended to in Schedule III:

  1. Draw valves and pistons
  2. Drop connecting rods, coupling rods, and link motion
  3. Cylinder pressure release valves.
  4. Drifting valves.
  5. Frame and drag box rivets
  6. Uncouple engine and tender and examine inter-draw gear.
  7. Slide bars and crossheads
  8. Reversing gear.
  9. Rocking grate cylinder.
  10. Check axle boxes for lateral play.
  11. Vacuum and pressure gauges.
  12. Injector delivery pipes.

Schedule IV

In addition to the items listed in Schedule III, the following items are to be attended to in Schedule IV:

  1. Drop all wheels and examine journals, crank pins, axle boxes, and liners.
  2. Record journal sizes
  3. Regulator valve.
  4. Belly joints.
  5. Bogie front and hind trucks should be run out and examined.
  6. Overhaul vacuum and steam brake cylinders
  7. Valve setting to be checked.

Appendix B

Class B Examination of Locomotive Boilers

The Boiler Inspector shall have the brick arch, washout plugs, inspection doors, firebars, and rocking grate removed. He will make as full an internal examination as possible, of the firebox plates, water spaces, and roof stays, noting the accumulation of scale, and the wasting of the plates. The dome joint and man-hole joint may be removed to enable the Boiler Inspector to examine the firebox tubeplate. On completion of the examination and repairs, the boiler will be steamed and the blow-off pressure of the safety valves verified.

If it is found that a safety valve blows at more than 5lb per square inch light or heavy compared with the master pressure gauge, the safety valve must be rectified.

Ordinarily, at a B Class examination of a boiler in the shed, the boiler is subjected to a Steam Test prior to the boiler being put back into service. But whenever a boiler has had more than 50% of its tubes renewed, or has a patch put on, or if 4 or more stays in one area, or 20 or more stays in the boiler have been renewed, or in the case of any doubt regarding the general condition of the boiler plates, the Boiler Inspector must, in addition to the Steam Test, carry out a Hydraulic Test and embody the details of such test in his fit certificate.