Pulling its weight

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Rail

NZ Steel locomotive has been repowered with a Cummins QSK19.

“She’s a faithful old horse,” quips Te Whitu Anderson, locomotive driver for New Zealand Steel.

The old horse – a Japanese Niigata locomotive – is not so old now, having recently had a heart transplant.

Out came the mechanically-injected Cummins K19 engine which had clocked up more than 25 years of service, and in went an electronic QSK19, pumping out 600 healthy horses.

The QSK19 rated at 600 hp is a Tier 3 emissions compliant engine. Tier 3 levels are the lowest regulated emissions in the world for off-highway engines in this power range.

The Niigata locomotive operates at New Zealand Steel’s fully integrated mill at Glenbrook, 60 km south of Auckland. (New Zealand Steel is owned by BlueScope Steel, formerly BHP Steel.)

The steelmaking operation uses locally sourced ironsand to produce 600,000 tonnes of steel a year. Around 60% of the steel output is exported.

The locomotive, an early 1980s model Niigata, assembles wagons at the Glenbrook steel mill site. The wagons, with their payloads of rolled coil steel for export, are then taken on the main rail network to the port of Tauranga.

Locomotive driver Te Whitu Anderson (centre) with NZ Steel senior mechanical engineer Graham Brooks (left) and Cummins Auckland’s Bryce Colville.

When the locomotive is pulling its maximum 25 wagons on site, all up weight is around 1,000 tonnes.

The longevity of the 19-litre Cummins is not in dispute at New Zealand Steel.

“The original engine went into service in 1984 and had one major rebuild before being replaced by the QSK19 in 2010,” says Graham Brooks, senior mechanical engineer for New Zealand Steel.

He points out the Tier 3 QSK19 fits with New Zealand Steel’s commitment to improved air quality at its Glenbrook facility.

In fact, the biggest percentage of the company’s capital investment in environmental control is the reduction of emissions into the atmosphere.

The repowering of the locomotive was carried out by Cummins Auckland diesel technicians at the New Zealand Steel site.

“The installation went very smoothly and all of it was done safely which was a critical requirement,” says Graham Brooks.

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