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Tuesday, August 27. 2013
In the Freight Car Department we try to limit the number of active restorations underway at any one time, to keep resources focused and get results in something less than five years. But we are always planning the next project. In this case, WELCOME to a tank car used by the Great Northern Railway.
The car was built in 1956 by American Car and Foundry in Milton, Pennsylvania and is a 20,000 gallon car of fairly modern construction. All welded tank and sills, roller bearing trucks. The tank, underbody, and trucks are all black, with an orange dome and safety panel near it on the top of the tank. Large GREAT NORTHERN lettering is on the the tank to the left of the dome and ladder, while the reporting marks GN X 1390 are to the right.
We feel this is a good candidate for our work since it has not deteriorated to the point of needing rebuilding. Also it has NO windows or doors to complicate the work, no rivets (thousands of them) requiring detailing and extra attention during painting.
The plan is to hire a contractor to completely clean the car and then to apply two coats of primer and two coats of finish paint. This will result in a good job and be completed in a timely fashion, compared to the option of having our volunteer crew use a needle gun and hand paint the car. The trade off is that we need money to do the job. We are actively engaged in the bidding process and it seems this work will cost us about $12,000. A small price to pay considering our limited staff. Many of you reading these reports often say you wish you could help - I am guessing you would want to take a turn on the needle gun in 95 F weather. No? Then you may still help with a donation to fund RX1390 to top off what monies we have on hand. The mailing address is:
Illinois Railway Museum
Union, IL 60180
The car is mechanically in good condition and has been used in our demonstration freight trains and special events this year. Amazingly, some (most) of the original GREAT NORTHERN lettering is still visible (with some work). We are now documenting and tracing all of that so it may be reapplied to the painted car. The scheme was all black, white lettering, and a bright orange dome area. The car was needed by the GN to ferry diesel fuel oil to the various on line service facilities as the rush was on to dieselize and a great deal of that fuel was needed in many locations. The X before the number indicates it was a company service car and not part of the interchange pool of freight cars. After the merger into Burlington Northern, the car remained on the BN roster until it was acquired by IRM. Here are some detail shots of the remaining lettering. The captions will note the areas of interest and what you are seeing. This is the type of documentation and detective work, sometimes working through layers of paint, to assure the finished restoration will be an accurate and authentic job.
On the right hand end of each side it was required to display test data for the tank integrity and safety valves. This was retested and renewed during the life of the car, typically every ten years or so. In this case the required testing was done by the Union Tank Car Co (under maintenance contract) at their facility in Laurel, Montana.
Above the test data was the designation of the ICC class for the type of car - in this case 103-W. Below that is ACF indicating the builder, American Car and Foundry; and its birthday, 1-5-56.
Here is some of the needed detective work. Faintly, in this photo you will see lettering for DIESEL FUEL ONLY which was as the car was built. It has been painted over and WASTE OIL stenciled in the vicinity by BN. But if you know where to look - - - Below the WASTE OIL add on stencil is the original "TOTAL CAP'Y 19458 GALS."
The remnants of the above lettering are traced out in detail and then mylar taped over it to trace again. This includes the necessary steps of locating the lettering compared to various notation points on the carbody, ends, or underbody.
Since this car was not in regular interchange service it did not carry a lot of the familiar lettering seen on other cars - such as capacity, light weight, or load limit. But it did have "49 FT. 2 IN."
Some of the familiar data is not where expected. On the center sill is "WT. 64500". It is astounding that this original GN lettering in size and style survives 67 years after being painted.
The reporting marks in 4 inch letters are also on the center sill "G.N. X-1390"
Some railroads identified the trucks on the car and which car they belonged to. It is not a consistent practice on all railroads and even not consistent for a single railroad on all their cars. Above see "X 1390 A END"
Lube data is recorded on the right end of the center sill. Here we can make out at least three layers of that data. Hieroglyphic detectives are welcome to help us peel back the layers.
Car builders often applied their logo somewhere on each new car as it left their plant. That only survived until the car was first repainted. Look at this. WOW! The original ACF logo remains visible on the center sill.
The original GN reporting marks, also in 4 inch letters, comes through high on the dished tank ends.
Each end has three lines of 3 inch lettering, one of 2 inch wheel data, and five lines of smaller equipment details. Who wants to trace all that and cut the transfer pattern? More importantly, WHO WANTS TO PAINT IT?
Yes this is a very long entry and I have worked along on it for more than one day. Please help with a donation to the project.
Sunday, August 25. 2013
Steam Department Update 08-24-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 21:49
It was a week of very hard work leading to a huge milestone.
As described last week, we had reached the frustrating point of chasing leaks around the tube ends and a small check list of other minor issues requiring correction in order to get the boiler fit for the formal hydro test.
Brian Davies is staying at Union for three weeks to help with the work and he put in long hours with some of us who were able to spend a day at Union during the week. Several important tasks were achieved. With Jason, he was able to largely complete the cleaning and checking of the air brake valves.
However the key focus was the boiler. As the number of leaking tubes decreased, they became more frustrating and more inclined to cause an adjacent tube to leak when you rolled them. The final session on Saturday had many of us involved during the day and lasted until 11 at night but by the end, we were down to one super heater flue that has a small leak around it that we expect will seal itself when the boiler is fully heated, although it drips very slowly under hydro pressure.
So, Brian, Jim and I were back in the shop at 8:30 on Sunday, unfortunately not to assist with the last day of Thomas but to meet with the FRA inspector for the formal hydro test. I am glad to say that the old lady passed !. Aside from the tube end and a few drips from tri-cocks and blow down valves she held pressure very well with no sign of leakage.
So Saturday was rather a frustrating day. Very little on 1630, aside from the tubes, could be worked on until the hydro was completed.
Cameron and Phil worked with Tom on the bolster for the Shay.
Richard and Ed continued to work on preparing the cladding for lagging in the cab.
Bob finally received a suitable breaker to link the planer into the supply panel. So he was able to continue work on running power to the planer.
However on Sunday, after the test, a great deal of work opened up.
The tubes can now be beaded so, in preparation for that, I spent quite a while in the smokebox grinding tube ends to the exact 1/4 inch required to form good bead. Later Brian took over and, by the time that I left, we were close to the point where he can bead all flues and tubes in the smokebox that are to be beaded. Ideally we want to get this done in the next couple of days so that the beaded tubes can be tested for leaks by Wednesday.
On Wednesday we hope to take off the dome cover, drain the boiler and start drying it out so that the inspector can carry out the internal inspection on Friday. This is a Federal requirement. When a boiler has been over pressured, as it is for the formal hydro test, it must be inspected to ensure that nothing internal, such as the brace attachments, has been damaged or loosened. After this, any pressure testing is strictly limited to boiler pressure (180 psi). If any pressure beyond this is applied a further internal inspection is required.
Beading of the smokebox end is essential before a lot of work starting with refitting the super heater elements and then moving on to the rest of the smokebox equipment can be undertaken.
In the cab, work will now start on lagging the firebox and fitting the cladding so that all the controls can be finally refitted. With the hydro complete, we can now start covering the boiler again. Up until today, none of this could be started as a clear view of all the surfaces of the boiler was required for the inspection.
In the firebox, Jerry applied the protective paint to the patch and rivets below where the grates will fit. Once this is dry, the grates that have been removed while we worked on the patch, will be refitted.
One key thing about the milestone today is that, while she may currently look less complete than she did in 2011, we have actually passed the key inspection step for which we were preparing in Spring 2011 when we hit the problem with the firebox.
So overall a very successful week. While not too much visible has changed, but we have removed the barrier to a whole lot of tasks that will make 1630 look much more like an operating locomotive again in the next month.
Friday, August 23. 2013
This entry is late since COMCAST was down most of the day today. But look on the bright side, I got to make driveway repairs! Always on my top ten list! And despite the title of these posts they include work done in the barn 4 shops as well as car work, often in the freight car department, and elsewhere on site.
Jim Leonard is always a hard worker and today he spent a lot of time on the nose of Chicago Great Western X 38 Russell snowplow. Lots of tricky areas hard to reach, to clean old rust and paint. We would like to remove the bent train line pipe, but so far that task has eluded us.
Lots of work was done by the crew in several areas on the plow, and here Jim closes the workday applying more primer to an area on the knife edge of the nose. Dave Rogan, Victor Humprheys, and Buzz Morisette helped along on work for the interior.
Speaking of Buzz he measured up and cut many pieces of wood for trimming out and repairing the cupola interior. So naturally he had to stay late and get primer on one side of the pieces.
One of our other ongoing projects does not get much press. That is the restoration of Illinois Central Gulf 199458 steel caboose. From the newly painted and lettered interior you have an excellent room with a view. Joe Luciani is on the west platform preparing to start re-painting.
The Wednesday Special Projects crew has made remarkable progress in a short time. Here is another view of the interior, including new lettering.
After cleaning and priming, Lee Regione is applying the new interior finish coat at the east end and under the cupola.
Paul Gasiorowski has taken charge of the artwork on the caboose interior - GOOD JOB - and now is documenting and preparing patterns for the exterior lettering on the caboose.
Rich Witt is applying finish paint to all the replica CA&E first aid boxes he built. The color is sort of a butterscotch pudding tan, and almost close to the color of the natural wood.
Speaking of the CA&E, Randy Hicks and John Faulhaber have a boring job. That is, boring mounting holes 3/4 inch diameter in new solid oak third rail beams for car 36. That is certainly not a job for a hand drill, but it looks like they have it all figured out.
Lorne Tweed, and behind him, Simon Harrison, sanded down the new ceiling panels for Cleveland Transit System 4223 and applied finish paint by the end of the afternoon.
Tuesday, August 20. 2013
A lot of work, a good deal of progress and some frustration. That is probably a good summary of the week in the steam shop. While a few of the team were able to assist with Thomas, most of us were hard at work in the shop.
Everything is focused on getting the hydro test for 1630 completed.
Tom, Mike and a small team worked long hours on Wednesday to get the two stays installed. They were in place ready for the Saturday team. Brian Davis and Jason, inside the firebox, worked with Brian and Sean, on the bucker in the cab, to hammer over the ends inside the firebox to compete the installation. This was a rotten job as the stays are high up above the arch tubes on the back sheet of the firebox. This makes it a very awkward place to operate the air hammer. However, they did it and the stays proved leak free in all the subsequent testing.
Life was no easier for the team in the firebox because we need to have the water in the boiler heated to 100 - 105 F and this takes a while for the pool heater to achieve. So, while they worked in the box, we had increasingly warm water circulating around it (not up to the level of the two stays but well up the sides of the box). So, by working inside a hot water radiator we were able to ensure that none of us who worked on the firebox tube ends during the day were in any danger of suffering from the cold on an 80 degree day !!.
By lunchtime we were able to apply pressure to the boiler. The more significant leaks from three weeks ago were corrected so there was now no problem with getting to the full pressure required for the hydro (1.25 times operating pressure so 225 psi). Various leaks were found and corrected. This is an iterative process, test, identify, tighten and retest. At one stage on Saturday we did think that we might be able to do the formal hydro on Sunday. However tiny leaks around tube ends proved frustratingly difficult to close. This is one of the joys of working with a steam locomotive boiler. Since the tube sheet consists of many holes close together, the force of expanding one tube can easily cause a minor movement to the next tube so you can spend a good deal of time chasing tiny leaks from one tube to the next before you get everything tight. I went back on Sunday morning to work with Brian, who is staying at Union for 3 weeks or so, and we still further reduced the number of leaking tube ends. However, it will be a continuing process during the week and probably into next weekend to get all the tube ends completely tight.
The pictures look extremely dull but are all the better for that. The tiny leaks can be seen around tube ends in the smokebox.
The overall rate of leakage is very gratifying. This small area is now the most significant group of tube ends to be tightened. You have to look closely in the center to see the small seepage that we must stop.
The real achievement is not apparent at the smokebox end. The sheet and tubes are actually under 225 psi pressure when you look at the gauge in the cab!!.
The new stays are leak free at 225 psi.
The pressure drops from 225 at barely 1 psi per minute, an indication that the leaks are tiny in volume. However, where they are in areas like the tube ends, they must be completely corrected. So a week of frustrating work, tightening groups of tube ends and then checking the results with another pressure test lies ahead. If we get too frustrated, it is good to think back to the fact that, not long ago, the boiler was wide open. Now we can routinely plan to leave it totally full with minimal leakage for days on end.
The one unexpected item discovered was the union nut at the bottom of the fireman's gauge glass. Tiny droplets of water appearing thru what should be solid brass were an indication of hairline cracking. Tom now had quite a few hours of work to produce a replacement for the hydro test but I understand that this was fitted on Sunday afternoon.
Updates from Brian so far indicate that most of the leaks have been corrected by Tuesday so we hope that we can move on to other work next weekend around the planned hydro test on Sunday.
Friday, August 16. 2013
CGW X38 Update - August 14, 2013 Posted by Robert Kutella in Chicago Great Western X 38 Russell Snow Plow at 05:29
They say that time flies when you are having fun. I did not have so much fun yesterday at home, and yet the time flew by. So another day turns on the calendar and I need to post this foreshortened report. Today THOMAS debuts for 2013, so plan to come out and see the spectacle if you never have done so. Or to come out and volunteer to help support the event. And of course to tell all your friends and neighbors to buy tickets and bring their families.
We have made much progress with the use of the Buildings and Grounds bucket truck this summer. Here however, Jim Leonard is stuck up in the air when the truck mysteriously stopped running and we could not get him back on the ground without some climbing.
So we went to PLAN B. Jim Leonard and Victor Humphreys are up on the front end of the plow roof applying the first coat of finish black paint.
Jim Leonard worked with a brush to cut in the separations and detail around rivets, etc. But Look! You will see a new headlight installed on the front of the cab/cupola thanks to Dave Rogan's work earlier in the day.
We continue to chip away at restoration work on the front nose of the plow. Lots of hard to reach areas around the anchor casting and coupler. Remember, the entire coupler and train line air pipe were to be removed when plowing snow. Jim Leonard is down off the roof and adding primer.
John Mc Kelvey is making good progress in the shop as he reupholsters the second chair for use in the cupola. The frame has seen repairs, steel surfaces primed and painted, and the aluminum brushed and clear coated to protect it.
Thursday, August 15. 2013
Here is a quick report on some of the shop activity yesterday, more to follow in a separate report on work for our snowplow.
Rich Witt was diverted from the shop work he was planning for the day as he responded to a request from Nick Kallas for some much needed last minute work to support the Thomas Event.
We have been working on a new table saw for the wood shop for some time. New to the shop, in real time nearly a century old. Part of that work was to design and fabricate a steel base to hold the saw, and yet make it relatively portable. Here it is, ready to weld.
The base has been welded and Jim Foraker is very happy that everything fits as planned. Here it is with the saw sitting on it and the motor and guard in place.
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