WHEN you've got a problem you can't solve you call in the experts - and that's how Ed Diery got himself tangled up with the Southern Downs Steam Railway.
Faced with the problem of how to keep the boiler on their steam loco C17 971 from rusting on the inside, the Railway volunteers turned in 2007 to the recently retired science teacher for help.
With the cold boiler usually kept full of water between trips, the resourceful Mr Diery worked out that a combination of caustic soda and tannin would raise the pH level inside the boiler, in turn keeping out the rust.
"The boiler is inspected by an expert every 12 months, so it has to be kept in good order," Railway president John Brady said.
"We knew Ed would be the man for the job and that he'd not long retired, so we also knew his wife wouldn't be wanting him getting under her feet."
Mr Diery admits to a life-long love of anything that runs on rails, and said he quickly became a regular face at the Railway yards on Hamilton St.
"As well as helping with maintenance I do a bit of gardening and cleaning out the smoke box, that type of thing," Mr Diery said.
"I also occasionally act as a carriage attendant on trips and I can operate the diesel locomotive.
"I'm usually down here two days a week."
The Southern Downs Steam Railway - more properly known as the Warwick Railway Precinct - is a hive of activity on working days and this week has been spent readying C17 and its rolling stock for a trip to Clifton for a special Mother's Day run.
The Railway is always looking for more helpers, with the current crew comprising a vast array of trades and specialities, from plumbers and fitters to, well, science teachers.
For information and to book online for Sunday's trip visit southerndownssteamrailway.com.au or call 4661 9788.
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