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Sunday, May 25. 2014
A momentous couple of weeks!. It has looked uncertain up to the last minute but, at 3:39 on Saturday 25th May, #1630 left Union with its first revenue train in ten years. Many thanks to Michael for the souvenir above, which is the train order for the first revenue run.
For the last two weeks we have been struggling to resolve the problem of brazing the crack in the smokebox ring and completing the mesh work in the smokebox ahead of Friday 23rd,. which was the last day when we could carry out the inspections before the Memorial Day weekend.
Last weekend all sorts of odd jobs were carried out to ensure that she was ready to go provided that the ring was completed, but all in the knowledge that, without the smokebox being completed, we would not be going anywhere.
She was moved to allow paint to be touched up in areas hidden by the rods as she stood in one position.
The air system was pressurized, minor leaks corrected and the brakes tested. This lead to some intensive work when the locomotive brake would not operate. That proved simple at the end of the day. A drain valve that had been jammed for some time was cleaned and reconditioned as part of the overhaul and no one remembered to close it!. Unfortunately house air does not allow us to test the train brake so that only showed a problem at the last minute!.
Wedges were adjusted and lubrication applied all around.
A lot of time was spent cleaning and checking every aspect to ensure everything was tight and all items of tools and debris were removed.
On Wednesday she was moved over to the steam lead, coaled and watered. By this stage the timing was so tight that this was done in anticipation but there was still no certainty that the work could be completed for steaming on Friday. In the evening Dennis made substantial progress in welding in the mesh screens for the spark arrestor.
Everything rested on Thursday night / Friday morning. I gave myself “a bit of a work out” by laying a layer of coal over the grates ready to start the fire. That certainly demonstrated that it is a very large and long box compared to anything I ever fired in the UK!.
Brian made a mix of linseed oil and graphite, which is the material for “painting” the hot surfaces such as the lower firebox and smokebox. A team spent much of the evening applying this wherever it was needed.
By late evening, Dennis had the mesh fully installed. The key work, visible here, was welding the brackets for the side panels into the smokebox. This is complete in the picture below and all that remains to be fitted is the center section which simply bolts between the two side pieces.
Then attention moved to the ring. After a long period of pre- heating, to get it to an even temperature, Dennis started the repair. The clock tells it all. It was already 11 at night!.
Four areas remained to be brazed. Two sections running out toward the edge and two holes in the curved section. These were holes drilled at either end of a crack to prevent it extending. In this view Dennis has initially sealed the one nearest to the camera and is working on the radial crack behind..
By 12:30 the brazing was complete and the ring post-heated to ensure that it was at an even temperature to minimize the risk of cracking as it cooled. The cooling had to be slow, so most of us took a couple of hours in the sleeping car while Jeff and others finished bolting the mesh screens into place.
By about 3 a.m. the ring was cool enough to work (acid test – hold your hand on it indefinitely without pain!). Jerry then spent the next hour grinding the surface smooth and level.
Around 4 a.m. we got to the next stage. The ring had to be drilled for the bolts that secure the bell and a strengthening plate, to fit behind the ring and ensure that the load was distributed evenly in the area that had cracked, drilled to match. The look on my face and the large coffee says it all!
Shortly after dawn the parts were completed and efforts moved on the fitting to the locomotive.
First the ring was carefully lifted in to place and secured.
Once this was in place the door was lifted and located on its hinges.
Then the bell could be mounted. This was a critical last step in sealing the smokebox so that the fire could be lit.
A little before 8 there was a celebratory gathering on the footplate and I had the honor of lighting the first fire.
From there on things moved rapidly. It is always fascinating to watch a steam locomotive come to life again as she warms up.
In this case the old girl gave every sign of being impatient to get into action. Within an hour there were signs of bubbling and within two there were the first signs of pressure.
By 10:30 she was self-supporting with the fan removed and enough pressure to operate the blower.
The critical tests went well. The safety valve settings were as expected and, for the first time in 45 years, she blew off at her design pressure of 180 psi. The air pump tested with much more reserve than last year, whether due to the higher boiler pressure or the cleaning of the governor over winter.
From there on things went down hill !. The locomotive air brake worked fine but the train brake would not apply. After much cleaning and checking of valves it would still not work so it was decided to make a light engine test run (using just the locomotive brake).
That was a bit less than successful when the air pump stopped on the mainline and she barely made it back to Union.
However, the air pump issue proved simple. The hydrostatic lubricator feed had clogged cutting off lubrication and, once the lubricator was operating correctly, so did the air pump.
The train brake issue was rather more tricky. Tom, Rod and others worked thru the evening on this. Eventually, around 10, it was traced to a couple of issues, the most significant of which was a leaking connection.
So on Saturday she was prepared for service.
Water was topped up and a little coal added. The obvious remaining item was corrected when the dome cover was lowered into place.
This is a significant last step indicating that she is not planned to go back into the shop for a while. The dome fouls part of the door opener mechanism so she cannot go into the shop with this in place.
The Saturday service runs were a little later as we were required to make two test runs (one light engine and one with empty stock) before running a service train. This was why we had hoped to run the previous weekend.
However, this was achieved and, at 3:39, #1630 pulled out with her first service train in many years. A very strange feeling to see her live and rolling across the countryside after having been all over, inside and around her in the shop for the past several years.
The culmination of a huge effort by a LOT of people in the steam shop. Well done guys and gals.
The shop looked rather empty for a few hours until #938 was moved in. I think I am safe in saying that is not an indication that she is now next in line to steam!. Hopefully we can now have a few weeks on fairly mundane tasks. The water supply is becoming rather unreliable and is in need of work if we are to support #1630 in regular running. Also the service area must be moved to a new location as the construction of the Schmidt cutoff in the next few months will mean that it cannot be outside the water supply box car as in the past. We will also need to monitor #1630 very closely. She has run only a very short distance on the rebuilt rear axle boxes so is very much “running in”. These bearings are currently running hotter than they should but that is hopefully a matter of keeping them well greased and letting them bed in.
And finally a blatant publicity item while we are here! –
Don’t forget the Annual Steam Department Benefit at Sanfilippo on June 29th this year. This is a really unique and enjoyable afternoon and a major source of funds for the continuing activity of the steam department so we hope to see you there.
Friday, May 23. 2014
The issue with the train brake was resolved with more late working last evening. #1630 is now operational and being prepared for normal service today (Saturday).
Just a brief note on #1630 status today.
A number of us worked an all night session to get #1630 into steam for inspection this morning.
Dennis completed the welding and braze repair to the smoke box door ring around midnight and it was fitted by morning. The fire was lit a little before 8 a.m.
During the morning she successfully passed tests of the safety valves and air pump, so is basically fit for service. However, during preparation a problem was found in operation of the train (automatic) air brake. She has her own (independent) air brake and ran a test run on the main line using this.
So she has moved from being day to day to hour by hour!. When I left, work was progressing on identifying the fault. Until this is identified and fixed she is likely to be in steam around the site but will not be able to pull the demonstration train. So let's hope the issue is found and fixed quickly!.
Thursday, May 22. 2014
Steam Department Interim Update ... Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:03
A very brief, late and uncertain blog this week.
A great deal of effort has been invested and some very long hours put in over the last ten days. I am currently on a short break having got home at 10 p.m. yesterday and preparing to return early this afternoon. Many others in the team have been there as well.
All this effort means that there is hope but not certainty at this time. To run this weekend we need to be able to steam and pass a brake and safety valve test under the oversight of our FRA inspector tomorrow.
Everything aside from the smokebox ring casting is complete. After efforts yesterday she is even fully coaled and watered ready to light up. All the testing and preparation short of lighting up has been done.
The hope is to complete the brazing and remount the ring this evening and then light her up to warm up overnight for the testing tomorrow.
If we do not get the ring back on or if anything fails in testing we will not be able to run. However, the fact that we are investing the hours we will do today and tomorrow clearly indicates that we believe there is a reasonable prospect of success and our commitment to run this weekend if it is possible to do so.
Yesterday she stood on the service lead being prepared for the weekend.
She has coal loaded enough for the whole weekend
But this is what we have to complete.
Thursday, May 22. 2014
Memorial day is almost here so please consider joining our 2612 crew for some friendly activities. I'll be at the site Saturday as well as Sunday to show you around and help you get started!
This year you have an added incentive to visit Irm for the Frisco 1630 2-10-0 will be running , this Saturday, for the first time. Ed. note This is the first time it has operated in many a year so please expect a few situations to work out the "Bugs." Please THANK any and all members of the Steam Team, you may meet, for their hard work and devotion in returning the 1630 to operation. Special THANKS to Tom Schneider, the curator of the department. Roger
Tuesday, May 20. 2014
May 18th Passenger Car Department Update Posted by Pauline Trabert in Passenger Car Department at 14:24
Summer is here... Yay!!
Jon Habegger started the day on Sunday by improving the appearance of his arrival departure display. The October 1955 departure and arrival times of intercity trains from six Chicago stations have been reformatted on sturdy display boards which are tacked to the wall with adhesive strips. It really looks great and gives us a sense of the prevalence of rail travel in the 1950's.
Kevin Kriebs continued removing adhesive from the 1st Exhibit Car. He had completed the entire lower portion of the car by lunchtime and then moved a scaffold in place to start on the top half of the car after lunch. It's a huge job but he is getting it done!
By midmorning, Michael Baksic was talking with with John McKelvey about the need for reupholstering coach seats. Shelly Vanderschaegen joined them and the topic changed to rubber flooring for the Birmingham diner, the Santa Fe lounge car, and the Dover Strait.
Chuck and Pauline Trabert made their first appearance at IRM for 2014. Chuck spent his time searching the Milwaukee Road Dynamometer roof to find and stop new leaks which had cropped up since last year's effort to plug all the holes. He pulled off some old patches and replaced them and found one new hole not previously discovered. Late in the day Curator Michael Baksic asked Chuck to remove a triangular metal frame which jutted out on the back of the car before it caused any damage to other cars while hooking up. Shelly climbed up to help remove the fasteners and they got it down in just a few minutes time.
Supervisors on the Dynamometer work Michael Baksic and Pauline Trabert - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
While she was in the area, Shelly took a couple of pictures of two cars outside Barn 3.
Mark Hoffmann continued work in the Pullman Car John McGloughlin, needle chipping and priming more surfaces in the Ladies Lounge. Then he showed Shelly his work in progress in the Delaware Lackawanna & Western 556 coach. He has needle chipped and primed portions of that car too.
Michael McCraren crafted replica magazines from the 1940's which he put in the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad 1534 lounge car magazine rack. He also replicated a Santa Fe menu which is behind the bar in the lounge car. On the back of it is a list of the times alcohol can be served in the states and even certain counties the train passed through.
Pauline Trabert worked with Shelly finishing the cleaning in the Northern Pacific 325 Slumbercoach Loch Sloy. She cleaned mirrors and surfaces which hadn't yet been done this year while Shelly vacuumed the entire carpeted coach. Next Pauline washed windows, table tops, and seats in the Atlantic Coast Line Birmingham Lightweight Diner while Shelly vacuumed the carpeting in the dining room.
John McKelvey was finishing reupholstering the last two seats from the DM&IR 84 coach seats in the woodshop. Thanks!! Welcome back, John - we know it's spring/summer when this snowbird arrives.
Lunch was in the Birmingham as usual. Guest Kevin Brown brought cookies to share - treats are always appreciated! Thanks! We also enjoy what he adds to the conversations - not that we're schmoozing him.... but we do want more cookies! John McKelvey, Mike McCraren, Jon Habegger, Kevin Kriebs, Pauline, Shelly and Michael B. our fearless leader, were also enjoying the cookies and discussions.
After lunch, Michael McCraren took a picture of the coach train being pulled by Silver Pilot and BN-1.
Thursday, May 15. 2014
Wood, Car, and Freight Shop Update - ... Posted by Pauline Trabert in Freight Car Department at 18:12
Buzz Morisette wrote and took pictures for the following post:
With Bob K. out with a bad leg I thought I would update the Wood, Car, and Freight Shop Blog with a few photos from Wednesday.
The CGW Plow has seen a lot of progress even with the cold wet weather this spring. Exterior almost completely painted.
The stove is now back in place. Victor H, project manager, looks like he is waiting for the stove to produce some hot coffee. Dave R is coming up the ladder.
Dave and Chris R. checking their cameras, you can see the new toolbox and the completed car siding and ceiling work from this last winter.
On the way back to the shop I caught Randy Hicks in the pit inspecting CA&E 309.
Pete G. in the shop painting parts for Charles City Western 300.
He and his crew have rebuilt a 600 volt compressor this winter. Just checked out OK last week and ready to be installed.
300 looks great with fresh orange paint and rebuilt grids being wired in.
Over in barn seven I found Gery D. (L) and John F. (R) measuring TMER&L D-13 dump car roof for replacement car lines (Rafters).
The Gery and John team have also finished the 810 roof painting back in barn 4
Also busy in the shop today were Lorne T. prepping and painting interior panels for the Cleveland 4223 PCC. And last but not least Rich W. working up plans for the arch window frames we need to make for the Boston and Mane wood diner.
Tim was not around today but I don’t know when the CRT 1024 was last updated. The photo below shows the new sign roll box, roofing, end platform, beam work, and special cast running lights next to the sign box.
Tim and Frank just started cutting the new T&G car siding that’s set up in the shop. I need to finish the sign roll graphics for this project.
Thanks for looking, (get well soon Bob - I don’t like to type) Buzz Morisette, May 15, 2014.
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