During 2016, the decision was taken to trial moving the Day Out with Thomas event to Gembrook, starting with the spring season, thus inaugurating Gembrook as the railways new centre of special events.

Locomotives and rolling stock were transferred in the Down direction on a Friday evening, and back again on Sunday evening at the conclusion of the weekends shows. Peckett No. 1711, which usually masquerades as the cheeky blue tank engine, began to suffer from the extra mileage; overheating bearings on the rear axle being the problem.

Sadly Thomas’ arthritis continued to play up, despite the workshops continued efforts to cure it. At his lowest point, he was lifted onto a tilt tray and trucked from Belgrave to Gembrook, where he was only able to trundle around the yard and pose for photos with his many visiting admirers.

If dropping wheelsets out of a locomotive was an Olympic sport, the Belgrave workshop team would have it in the bag; the brake rigging, motion, valve gear and wheelsets were being removed and replaced 3 or 4 times in a week while measurements were taken and rectification work carried out.

The problem was bought under control so that the autumn season could be completed, at which point the decision was taken that Thomas would spend Christmas at Belgrave undergoing a ‘D’ exam.

On top of the usual tasks involved in this level of exam, the wheelsets were removed, and following detailed measurements, machining of the axleboxes and horns was carried out to rectify some misalignment which would have been a contributory factor to the overheating.

Coupled with a revision of the lubrication regime, the problem seems to have subsided for now, and the little blue engines performance during the Autumn 2017 Thomas events were much improved.

Above, Pistons and Crossheads have been cleaned and crack tested, and below, the Slidebars, Connecting rods and Coupling rods have all undergone the same treatment, and await reassembly to the locomotive.

After all parts of the motion had been cleaned, degreased and crack tested, they were given a fresh coat of red paint before refitting.

The opportunity was also taken to make some improvements to the spark arrestor (below), which was beginning to show signs of wear; the results of a hard life!

With everything cleaned, tested, painted and reassembled, 1711 was steamed for a test run back to Emerald. 
Following a successful run to Menzies Creek light engine, an NAL carriage (a dining car, originally from the Mount Lyell Railway in Tasmania) was coupled up, as it was destined to undergo maintenance at the Emerald Carriage Workshop.
The engine steamed well up the notorious Emerald bank, suffering no overheating issues, and with an improved lubrication regime, the Autumn Thomas season presented no further issues.
For the future, a CAPEX for an increased capacity mechanical lubricator has been approved, which will allow for forced lubrication of the axlebox crowns, reducing the chance of further hot-boxes being caused by a lack of sufficient lubrication.