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Sunday, September 22. 2013
Steam Department Update 09-21-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 09:52
It was a very productive day in the steam shop and, for once, the progress is very obvious.
Two new volunteers came to the shop for the first time, Ethan and Evelina. As it turned out, it was one of those days when there were a number of things going on in which they could be fully involved so they had busy days. Hope we did not put them off !.
Just about all activity was on 1630:
· Phil and Brian did a thorough check of the smokebox, firebox and tubes to remove all tools and other items left over from tube fitting and other completed activities. A lot of what we are doing now seals up areas that we have been working in for months ........... so we certainly do not want foreign objects sealed up in there!.
· Ed worked on the cab lagging and located the connections needed to link in the pipe to the steam chest pressure gauge. This is important as it has to be connected and run thru the next section of sheet metal that has to be fitted.
The large casting of the fire hole door was lifted into the tender ready for refitting. Rick, who is our expert with the fireclay, was not around this week so hopefully it can be fitted next week.
Brian and Phil cleaned up the parts of the butterfly door ready for fitting once the casting is in place.
Much of the sheet metal for the backhead was sorted and moved up into the tender. This keeps it separate from the boiler lagging and convenient to where it must be fitted. In doing this we found the paint on a couple of sections was in bad shape. So Jane took charge of these, wire brushed and primed them.
· Jane and Evelina used the thread chaser on the hangers that support the air tanks under the walkways alongside the boiler. Another job to ensure that key parts are ready for immediate use when we come to final fitting.
· Eric continued work on the boiler lagging. Jim and Ethan ran a production line to split and taper the blocks to the required shape and Evelina worked with Eric to fit the blocks around the first two courses of the barrel.
This is a thoroughly dirty job as the lagging breaks up easily and generates a clinging white dust. However, they kept at it and, by end of day, had set the lagging blocks around both courses and applied steel banding to finally secure them into place.
In the evening, Jerry and I experimented with the lagging mud. This is another unpleasant material. It is a dusty large grained powder that must be mixed with water to produce a sticky sludge that has a reasonable tendency to stick to things (including you as well as the boiler!!). With this we were able to fill the gaps so, provided it stays in place as it dries, the first course is now ready for fitting the sheet metal.
· And then there was the major event!. As noted last week, we had set up the staging and brought in the super heater elements for the first row.
Everything was prepared in the morning to start fitting the super heater elements. All the ball ends of the elements and the sockets into which they fit were cleaned. The channels into which the bolt heads slide were checked and cleaned. All the nuts and bolts had been prepared some months ago.
In the afternoon, under Tom's supervision, the fitting started. Each element is secured by a special bolt whose square head locates into a channel in the super heater header. The bolt passes thru a yoke around the two pipes of the element. A specially shaped washer, designed to allow the yoke to bear evenly on both pipes is fitted and a special deep nut used to secure the yoke and so drive the balls of each pipe tightly and evenly into their sockets.
The ball joints at the end of each pipe must then be carefully checked for alignment with their sockets. The nut is then tightened, ensuring that the ball and socket remain accurately aligned. The tightening requires quite a bit of torque as the environment around this area is pretty brutal. In operation it is in the path of the fire gases!.
A production line developed. Cameron and Brian became the experts on the actual alignment and fitting. Sliding the element into place is tricky as the bolt must be in place in the yoke and its head must slide along the channel as the element is pushed into place. So you have the combination of sliding a 17 foot element along the flue and the bolt head along a tightly fitting channel.
Once in place, the balls are carefully aligned into their sockets and held there as the nut is tightened.
Here, Ethan, Jerry and Jim feed an element from the staging while Cameron and Brian locate it into its flue.
As it became clear that the process was going smoothly Ethan, Bob and I started fetching the elements for successive rows from the boxcar.
The longer down pipe are very obvious as Brian treats the bolt of one of the last elements with the anti-seize compound.
The change in the boxcar is remarkable. From being full of parts a few months ago, it is now substantially empty. So we took the opportunity to put some of the rods from #938 under cover for the winter.
By around 5:30 it was all done. 27 elements had been fitted. (Although built with 28, one was removed and blocked off before 1630 came to IRM so she now has 27). The view of the smokebox is now very different and 1630 now has a complete super heater again (subject to pressure testing in a couple of weeks).
· During the week Tom had worked on machining the throttle. That needs final lapping but is hopefully nearing completion.
Overall a good day.
I will now be out of circulation a great deal in the next couple of months, with a trip to the UK for a couple of weeks leaving today and for 4 weeks to Australia in mid October. Blog updates may be a little erratic for few weeks. I will need to rely on messages from the guys on what is happening to provide updates in the next couple of weeks. Then hopefully someone else can take over for a while. So, in the next couple of weeks, I will be awaiting the Sunday progress update like everyone else!.
Sunday, September 15. 2013
Steam Department Update 09-14-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:13
Work progressed steadily around some rather remarkable events in the steam shop.
I arrived Friday evening, ahead of the Board meeting to paint the back head ready to fit the fire hole door, to find the middle of the shop being set up as a left luggage office for a scene in the Transformers movie. Pity that I had not brought my camera that evening !.
Around the strange activities, I managed to do the painting and Dennis worked late, once they had finished, to complete a critical piece of welding. A few members of the shop team were around for the filming and, by mid-morning on Saturday, all the cases and other props were efficiently removed and we were back to normal (or whatever passes for normal in the steam shop!.
The switching for the film continues to provide views of the steam collection is unusual places.
Sadly I was not around to see 2903, 2050 and 265 pulled out into the open. They were back in barn 9, albeit not permanently as there is still a coach behind them, when I arrived on Saturday. The feedback from those involved in the switching suggests that the problem child was not 2050, as we had expected, but 2903. Despite concerns about the condition of her springs, the big N&W articulated apparently handled the curves and switches relatively well. 2903 apparently demonstrated in several places that the curvature was a good deal tighter than her long rigid wheelbase was intended to negotiate.
Everything continues to focus on what is necessary to get 1630 to steam testing.
· Effort was concentrated on lagging the firebox in the cab. This seemingly mundane activity is now recognized as critical. Even to test assembly of the super heater elements and valve chambers we need the throttle lever and other controls in place and steam / water tight. Since these are fitted on top of the lagging, this needs to be in place proto!.
A concerted effort by Rick, Collin, Ed and Phil achieved what we hope is the worst part of the job. An arch made up of 5 pieces of sheet metal runs from the footplate either side of the firebox across the top of firebox around the turret.
The pieces must be wriggled around pipes and the turret, little blocks of insulation squeezed under the sheet and the sheet metal joined by threaded rods.
Once the arch is completed in this way, it is tensioned by tightening threaded rods that attach it to the footplate. The arch must be completed first as it secures the sections that are formed around the corners of the firebox and these in turn secure the flat sections on the back head itself.
This was a really nasty job involving squeezing bits of metal, insulation, threaded rods and small nuts into awkward crevices from confined spaces beside the firebox and thru the cab roof.
The guys achieved it and, by end of day the arch is pretty much complete and ready to tension.
The only known casualty was one of the cab windows that suffered a break the shape of Collin's butt and is now in the wood shop for re-glazing!!.
· Work progressed on the boiler lagging. Eric has been concentrating on this and is becoming good at stitching the tapered blocks of insulation to the supporting wires. The first ring is now largely complete. The blocks are in place. We now need to finally secure them with banding, fill some to the small holes with insulating mud and then the sheet metal can be placed.
Jerry put in a lot of time during the week to ensure that all the sheet metal that was found last weekend is now painted and ready to fit.
· Ralph set out into the field to deal with the Koehring crane, that is used to load coal. It is really difficult to get coal into the high sided tender of 1630 with anything other than this old machine. So the fact that it has been unused since 2010 and not in regular use since 2005 was "a concern". Much to everyone's (including Ralph's) surprise and relief, it responded nicely to a well charged battery and some fresh gasoline and, in a few hours, not only was the motor running but he was able to test the operation of the boom and grab.
· Jason and Collin worked on tightening the last of the tube ends after beading and prossering. As ever, the last two or three are always the worst. We preheated the water in the milk car so that we could move quickly to pressure testing as soon as the work was done. The process required a number of cycles of bringing the boiler up to operating pressure, identifying the remaining small leaks, carefully dropping the pressure, working the leaks and then repeating. However, by late afternoon the critical point was reached. We determined that the seal was good enough to go forward to steam testing. So the long process of refitting tubes is at an end.
· This, and the excellent members' day BBQ, energized the team and a lot of changes were apparent in a couple of hours in the late evening. The gearbox, that has been a feature of the smokebox for more than a year, is now gone and the smokebox is wide open again.
Scaffolding was brought in to the shop to provide the staging from which to install the super heater elements. Feeling we were "on a roll" despite the gathering darkness, a small group of us took the B&G forklift out to the boxcar and fetched the elements for the top row into the shop and set them onto the staging. We are ready for a whole new activity next week.
So continued steady progress toward the steam test.
Sunday, September 8. 2013
Steam Department Update 09-07-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 19:42
It is good to be on the home straight with 1630 but it is increasingly clear that there is still a lot of work to do!. Also some of it is pretty slow and tedious.
It has been a huge benefit to have Brian Davies on site for the last three weeks and a great deal has been achieved in that time. Things will move a lot more slowly when he returns to Florida on Monday.
When I arrived on Saturday it was spectacular to see most of the steam collection in the open air, having been switched out of barn 9 for the filming of the Transformers 4.
On 1630 the has been a lot of progress. The two major areas of activity have been finalizing the fitting of tubes (as a prerequisite to installing the super heater elements) and fitting lagging to allow installation of controls and air tanks that must be in place to allow testing.
· During the week Brian Davies had put in a lot of hours and had completed the beading of all tubes in the rear tube sheet;
· On Saturday teams of us took it in turns to prosser the tube ends in the rear tube sheet. This process involves expanding the tube slightly on the water side of the tube sheet, using a multi-segment expander driven by an air hammer. The effect of slightly expanding the tube on the water side is to firmly lock the tube into the sheet between the bead and the slight expansion caused by prossering. Anyway, it is a two man job and, by several teams taking it in turns, all 200 tubes were completed by late afternoon. The boiler was then refilled and we started to heat the water. The objective on Sunday will be to test the tube ends under operating pressure and tighten any that show leaks as a result of the beading and prossering. As soon as we are satisfied that the tube ends are dry, the tubing exercise is complete. The motor can then be removed from the smoke box and installation of the super heater elements can begin. So I wait with some trepidation to see if this can be achieved on Sunday !.
· Stu and Bob worked with Tom to set up a mounting that will allow the throttle to be rigidly located for machining and lapping. The surfaces of the throttle valve need to be leveled and ground to a tight fit that will provide a good seal before the throttle is refitted. By end of day the throttle was mounted and ready for work to be done.
· Dennis started on the plate work and mesh that fits around the blast pipe. He has now assessed all the pieces and identified what new material will need to be fitted to complete this structure once the blast pipe is in place and the super heater elements tested.
· The lagging is proving rather more troublesome. Two areas are critical for the steam test, the firebox in the cab (to allow fitting of numerous pipes, valves and gauges that are required both for steam testing and pressure testing of the super heater elements) and the first couple of sections of the barrel at the front (to allow refitting of the large air tanks required to complete the air system).
· Work started on fitting the barrel lagging at the front. This is not as simple as it looks (and it does not even look that simple !). The insulation is rigid blocks that cannot be conformed to the curvature of the barrel. So it must be cut into strips about 12 inches wide and the edges cut at an angle so that adjacent blocks fit tightly together along their length. However the blocks must also be tapered along their length. The boiler is formed of 3/4 inch plate in overlapping sections. So, in order to get a smooth taper over which the sheet metal can be fitted, the 2 1/2 inch insulation must be tapered along its length. (Basically the last section at the rear of one boiler ring is the full 2 1/2 inches thick while the front section on the next ring to the rear is 1 3/4 inches thick so that the insulation runs smoothly over the 3/4 inch transition in the boiler plates). Then, having cut sections of insulation to the correct taper along its length and sides, each must be cut around any pipes, hand rails or other projections to fit a specific location. The block is then wired to the wire rings that were placed around the barrel some weeks ago until a complete circle is achieved around the boiler. This will then be strapped into place and the sheet metal fitted over it.
· The sheet metal provided a bit of a setback. Jane had done a lot of work to ensure that all the metal had been cleaned and primed ready for use and had actually been short of painting work in the last couple of weeks once this was done. When we tried to locate the first major sheets required for the front ring they could not be found .............. until we found a whole lot of 1630 sheet metal that had been stored behind a few sheets belonging to #26 !!. It had been overlooked for cleaning and painting so Jerry spent much of the evening wire brushing a lot of sheets and I started painting the ones we need most urgently ..... oh bleep !.
· However the real nightmare is the cab. The sheets covering the top and sides of the firebox in the cab overlap and hold down the curved sections that cover the transition between wrapper and backhead. These, in turn, secure the sheets covering the backhead. The arch of sheet metal running up the sides and across the top of the firebox in the cab must first be located so that the curved sections can be located under its edge. The critical element of the arch is that two pieces of sheet metal must be worked up into the maze of pipes and valves around the turret and linked with 3/8th threaded rods either side of the turret. In addition, insulation must be set under this area in the form of small cut blocks or mud. Once the link is made the sheets form a complete arch that is tensioned by other threaded rods secured into the footplate. All jolly good fun as the area into which the metal and insulation must be placed can only be reached at arms' length from the narrow space at the sides of the firebox or by lying on the cab roof and reaching down several feet into a nest of pipes.
o Most of the work in this area on Saturday was planning to determine in which order pieces can best be fitted. This is critical to the project as the controls essential to testing for leakage in the super heaters cannot be fitted until this is done.
o The sheet metal either side of the firebox is in place to provide protection to the insulation already installed.
o David finished cleaning the fire hole door and I chased the threads on the mounting studs so this can be fitted as soon as the tube ends in the fire box have been proved tight. This is important as much of the backhead lagging is based upon the fire hole door casting.
In other areas within the shop:
· Phil and Cameron worked with Tom on machining the bolster for the Shay;
· Dennis started the long process of building up the axle boxes for 428;
· Stu and Bob achieved a major milestone on the planer. The power is now connected and both motors were tested. The head can now be raised and lowered correctly and the motor driving the hydraulic pump now operates. The next big challenge is how to remove decades of muck from the drain area under the bed. Since the lubricant supply to the table is collected and returned to the pump thru this area, there is a considerable incentive to get it as clean as possible before we try circulating oil thru the system.
So, a lot of work done but still a good deal more needed to get to the steam test.
Monday, September 2. 2013
Steam Department Update 08-31-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 10:38
It was a crazy week in the steam department. Passing the hydro test last weekend opened up a mass of new work on 1630, while the 60th anniversary event provided a great opportunity to operate as well as many demands for moving equipment in preparation. Luckily Brian Davies has been visiting from Florida so we have had steam department capability on site every day.
On 1630 many tasks are now under way and the critical ones have been progressing quite rapidly:
· After the hydro test, the dome cover was removed,. the water was drained and the boiler ventilated. This enabled the second important FRA inspection. When a boiler has been subject to excess pressure (such as the 125% operating required for the hydro) it must be internally inspected to assure that it has suffered no ill effects, such as loosened braces. By Friday it was dry and the inspection was undertaken when the inspector was on site to check Leviathan. Everything was as it should be. So we are now cleared to move forward to steam test. One key thing to note is that you will see reference to pressure or hydro testing in the next couple of weeks as we finish beading the tube ends. From here on it will always be at no more than the 180 psi operating pressure and just to ensure that we have not created any seepage at the tube ends. We have proved the basic integrity of the boiler and it must not be over pressured, else we would need to do a further internal inspection.
· During the week, Jerry had re-installed the support bars and grates on the engineer's side so she now has a complete and operating grate system again. Yours truly comes in on Friday and wonders why we now have air pipes snaking up the cab steps and thru the cab instead of neatly thru the ash pan as they were before. (Because the grates normally separate the ash pan from the firebox dummy !)
· The dome lid was replaced on Saturday to enable testing of tubes as they are beaded. Unfortunately some work is required on the throttle body so that could not be refitted and the lid will need to come off at a later point to refit this.
· Jane was hard at work painting parts ready for installation. All the bands that will hold the cladding sheets in place are now done. Now if only we can get her the paint for the air tanks we can get those fitted again !.
· Beading the tube ends has proceeded well. As shown later, beading requires the 1/4 inch projection of the tube to be rolled over tightly against the sheet. In the front not all the tubes are beaded. The super heater flues and the small tubes beside and immediately below them are beaded to provide additional longitudinal bracing to the tube sheets. In the rear, everything is beaded to protect the seam between tube and tube sheet from the direct flame burn.
Progress was maybe not quite as fast as we had hoped but the weather conspired against us !. Brian Davies has done most of the work but has now trained Brian Krause in the technique, which makes describing who did what complicated !!.
During the week Brian D beaded all the required tubes in the front tube sheet. On a couple of evening he apologized for not moving as fast as he had hoped. When I worked in the shop Friday I fully understood. At 90+ degrees and high humidity, doing anything physical was tough. How he did as much as he did I can barely imagine.
In the picture above you can see the distinction between the tubes higher up, that have a smooth rounded profile overlapping the seam between tube and tube sheet, and those lower down, where the tube is simply expanded into place. This is the effect of beading.
On Saturday and Sunday Brian K worked on the firebox tubes during breaks from the 60th anniversary operation. On Sunday I observed the process and took the photographs below.
At the start, the end of the tube is expanded into the sheet and, if necessary, reduced to a projection of 1/4 inch. The specially shaped tool in the air hammer has a small extension outside the tube and a longer one inside.
Having started to hammer the edge of the tube is rolled outward.
Working steadily around the whole circumference of the tube, Brian forms the rounded profile all around the tube end.
A little tidying up to ensure it is smooth all around, the rolled edge is tight against the tube sheet and another one is done.
· The other major piece of work now under way is lagging the firebox in the cab. This apparently simple task is going to be a censored nightmare !. First blocks of insulation have to be secured all over the surface of the firebox. This varies from fairly large intact blocks on the lower sides, thru pieces that have to be laboriously cut to fit around stay caps higher on the sides to irregularly cut pieces, that will need to be squeezed into narrow spaces between fittings and pipes, high up on the top. The material is an unpleasant mix of fiber and silicates that is very brittle when cut. So getting it located and intact is a most unpleasant challenge. Once areas are in place we then have the fun of squeezing pieces of sheet metal between the pipes and into a position where they can be secured. This will have to be done as soon as possible since the exposed blocks of carefully located insulation are very fragile and will tend to break up on contact until they are covered.
Bob Milhaupt, who was a regular volunteer until he moved to Michigan, visited for the weekend and worked steadily at this job. By Sunday the insulation was in place well up both sides of the firebox. Dennis repaired one of the cladding sheets that had to be cut to remove it so we have the metal ready to install as soon as we can cover the top of the firebox.
· Another activity related to the lagging was identifying the route of some pipes that have been disconnected or replaced so that we are sure they are in the correct place before lagging is put over them.
· On Saturday the firebox door casting was lifted out of the tender so that work could begin on preparing this for fitting. Rick managed to safely remove a couple of badly burned bolts that secure the distribution plate and all the loose fire clay. David made good progress in removing accumulated rust in preparation for repainting. Once the beading is complete in the firebox this casting can be re-installed. (You can still get into the firebox with the door casting in place but it will be a LOT more difficult).
· Another major stream of work started with Jeff bringing in from the boxcar the various pieces of sheet metal and mesh that form the table plate and spark arrestor around the blast pipe in the smokebox. As you may imagine this is a harsh environment so the whole construction needs to be assessed to determine which pieces can be reused and which replaced. So Dennis needs to start on this to ensure that we have it ready once the blast pipe is installed.
In other areas within the shop:
· Phil and Cameron worked with Tom on machining the bolster for the Shay;
· Tom continued machining shoes for the axle boxes on 428.
There was a lot of work outside in support of the 60th anniversary:
· 3007 and the Centennial were moved out of barn 9 for display. This is a very time consuming exercise as a lot of equipment that does not move often had to be moved to enable this. A number of people were involved in lubricating the equipment so that it could be safely moved and then assisting in the switching. When you move pieces that are normally static great care is required as stiffness may make them much more prone to derailment.
· It was great to see steam in operation with both 126 and Leviathan on site. While Leviathan was fully crewed, the department provided crews for 126 thru the weekend. This was a great opportunity to get some operating experience ahead of 1630 coming into service. I thoroughly enjoyed a short spell firing 126. However, when spreading a few part shovels of coal around her firebox, you became rather aware that the box on 1630, that you had just crawled out of, will present some rather different challenges !.
· We observed the FRA inspection of Leviathan on Friday which was useful as it confirmed what the inspectors will want to see in the steam testing of 1630.
· On Friday, 126 provided a chastening example of the exposures in operating a steam engine. The piston rod worked loose and detached from the crosshead when switching. This allowed the piston to be fired forward, smashing the front cylinder head casting. Luckily Barney had a spare on another locomotive in process of restoration so, with lot of driving over night to fetch it from Indiana, she was repaired and back in service on Saturday. But it certainly highlights how easily major damage can occur to a steam engine. Repairing something similar on 1630 would be huge.
So a lot of progress. Much more must happen to enable the steam test but the objective is now in sight.
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