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Thursday, April 30. 2015
It was a beautiful day this past Wednesday and the barn 3 parking lot was full of cars. We had a very productive work session. Here is just one days activities with 9 energized volunteers. Kudos to the following: Dan Bogus, Dan Bixler, Loraine Bixler, Paul Cronin, Austin Harvey, John McKelvey, Bob Olsen, Rick Serenda and myself. Not pictured but of first importance was the pressure washing of the passenger cars inside of the barn. Paul Cronin started this detail earlier in the day and you can definitely tell the difference. The washing of grime and dust off the equipment makes a world of difference on their appearance. The other major emphasis was placed on our operating Rock fleet. The two Rock Island coaches 2582 and 2571 that are going to be used for the first service of the year were worked on and made ready to our customers.
Dan Boguse is installing a sign holder. Its not painted because of our sandblaster air compressor destroyed itself four weeks ago. Would anyone consider giving us a new one?
Bob is removing all 12 of the ceiling vent covers. You would not believe the thickness of the birds nests in these vents.
We also did some house cleaning in the John Mcloughlin.
Dan Boguse is installing, on the 2612, a handle that will eventually attach to the steam line valve.
Jack Biesterfeld took some time and showed me his latest project in the BM 1094.
Loraine has just finished cleaning a table in the interior. She has her hat in hand already for the next job.
Monday, April 27. 2015
Steam Department Update April 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 15:53
Another month of intense activity. Yesterday there was a substantial flood outside the steam shop. Far from being a problem, this was a cause for celebration, marking another major milestone toward operation.
The focus thru April has been upon completing all the tests necessary prior to steaming. Most of these involve pressuring the boiler completely full of water (hydrostatic testing). The core principle is that pressurized water expands little when the pressure is released. So, should the boiler fail under 225 psi of water pressure, there is no explosion. Were it to fail under 180 psi of steam pressure, the force would substantially destroy a city block!. So the requirement is to test the boiler at 125% of operating pressure (225 psi for our 180 psi boiler) with water before you can put it into steam.
We have been filling the boiler, heating the water (testing is done with warm water to reduce stress on the boiler) and applying pressure with our antique water pump throughout April. Yesterday we reached the key milestone where, having done the last check with water, we were able to pump the water from the boiler and tender to waste. The work is complete so we no longer need the untreated well water we have been pumping between the tender and boiler all thru April. Next time we fill the tender it will be with treated water to be used in steaming.
There were several stages to the testing.
First we carried out a couple of days testing to identify leaks, correct them, and test again to ensure that we were satisfied that the boiler was fit for inspection;
Once this was done the formal test at 225 psi was carried out observed by the FRA inspector.
With this done the boiler was completely drained, the inspection hatch removed, dried and ventilated to allow people to work inside. The interior of the boiler was then inspected (with the FRA inspector observing for the second week). The key objective here is to ensure that nothing inside the boiler (particularly braces) has been loosened by applying the 125% pressure. This was carried out successfully, with one question raised on a few flexible stays that sounded dull on hammer testing. Once this is complete it is essential that the boiler is not pressured above operating as the internal inspection must be carried out whenever the boiler has been raised above operating pressure.
During the week, thickness measurements were made of the dry pipe, which is in good condition, and the hatch was then reinstalled to seal the boiler. Yesterday the boiler was pressured to 180 psi and thoroughly checked. All stays were hammer tested. This indicated that the flexis, that sounded odd when empty, ring perfectly normal under pressure and all rigid stays also ring true. No significant leaks were detected so we are ready to move forward to steaming.
Reaching this milestone opened up all sorts of activity this weekend.
The firebox was cleared of all tools and the last of the grates re-installed.
The fire hole door has been prepared for refitting.
Dennis completed welding in the cab floor.
The hydro fittings were all removed from the boiler and the auxiliary dome cover fitted.
The lagging was re-fitted to the firebox sides.
Mesh was re-installed in the smokebox
Despite all the activity, there is now serious doubt that we will be ready for our first planned steaming (May 16/17). We have made great progress overcoming the set-backs but there are still significant tasks to complete.
The biggest task is refitting the tender draft gear. This must be done before we can move the tender forward, recouple it and move the locomotive to refit the last coupling rod. Dennis has put a lot of work into building up the mounts under the tender and others have been hard at work in the unpleasant space under the tender grinding the surfaces smooth after welding. This is close to completion and then we have the fun job of squeezing the large and very heavy draft gear assembly back into its narrow pocket above the axle.
The shot above gives some idea of the work required, That draft gear fits up between the large castings that hang down from the tender. The draft gear has been displaced to the right in this view for many years causing excess wear on that side. Dennis has added the new metal that can be seen on the right an we are in process of grinding off the excess to produce a smooth surface of the correct profile to match the left hand side before the gear can be lifted back into place.
The wedges for the trailing axle box must be shimmed and refitted. Phil test fitted one yesterday. This proved that the required shim was exactly as predicted by Jason’s measurements before the shoes were machined. The shims now need to be cut, riveted to the wedges which can then be refitted.
Both injector starter valves need to be serviced and refitted. There was leakage last year and this needs to be corrected before they are refitted for this season.
The reverser cylinder must be reassembled. The cylinder was prepared yesterday for the piston to be refitted. All the parts are prepared so it is now a case of fitting. Unfortunately this and the injector valves have been delayed as Mike, who had been working on these, has had to go to Arizona for family reasons.
The “tear drops” securing the grate shakers must be fitted and welded in to place.
Additional plate work must be welded into the tender above the stoker helix to replace plate that was damaged and allowing coal to fall into the stoker channel last year.
Around these key tasks are the more obvious ones of reconnecting the tender to the locomotive and refitting the coupling rod. The issue is that we have many people who can do these tasks but only a few who can do the key tasks.
1630 has absorbed most of the effort in the shop during April but work has continued on the Shay and 428 when possible.
On the Shay, work is focused on preparing the boiler for re-tubing.
On 428 Eric has made good progress on machining the frame spacer and work has continued on riveting the cab.
So we will be working as much as we can during the week as we go into May with the objective of steaming as soon as we can.
And now a big plug for a very important event for the Department!. Tickets are now available for the Steam Department Benefit that will be held again this year at the San Filippo Estate on Sunday June 28th. The estate with its unrivalled collection of music machines and the great Wurlitzer organ, on which Dave will provide another great concert, is spectacular and can only be visited thru events such as this. This is a great afternoon out and a major opportunity to support the work in the Steam Shop.
So watch this space. I hope that, by the end of the month, I will be able to report 1630 in steam. However we have a very busy month ahead to achieve this.
Friday, April 24. 2015
Mid-April Coach Department Update Posted by Pauline Trabert in Passenger Car Department at 18:35
Report from Brian LaKemper:
Elsewhere on the property, Buzz was working on the turbine, JD and Cody were working on 1630's stoker, and CTA 4290 was getting its inspection.
Saturday, April 18th: Brian Patterson attended the morning rules review, meanwhile I started work with Mark G. on removing the defective fittings from 2612. After lunch, myself, Brian P, Mike M, Kevin Brown, and others attended the annual safety meeting conducted by Harold Krewer and Jeff Fryman.
While others took the rules test, I went back to work on 2612, with help from Phil from the steam department. With a lot of heat and mechanical persuasion, the rusted fittings finally came loose. Afterwards, I worked on the X-5000, changing an air hose, and other minor housekeeping. I also traced out a problem with Galt House's handbrake not applying, apparently at some point during it's travels, it was decided that the way to release the handbrake was to torch through the handbrake chains!
Rich, Greg, and Joe watch as Brian P. runs the controller and the machine spins engaging its many different contacts - Photo by Brian LaKemper
On Sunday 4/19, I removed one of the torched chains from the Galt House for repair by our metal working experts in the steam shop, and took the removed pipe to the shop for inspection. Big thanks to the steam shop for fixing the chain. I also removed a leaking valve stem from one of the conductor's valves on the X-5000 and flipped the double wear gasket to attempt to solve the leak.
Elsewhere on the property: after the annual meeting, several volunteers gathered in the electric car shop to try out the L car maintenance trainer. Turns out to be a very effective way of entertaining volunteers.
In the steam shop, work was ongoing on 1630's tender and cab floor, in addition to work on 428's axle boxes. The hydraulic planer is functional at last, though it still needs fine tuning.
Report from Michael McCrarren:
The last two Sunday we opened the china exhibit to the public and have gotten very good reviews. People are amazed at the variety of china we have on display. They also love looking at the menus to see what was served. The exhibit will have a formal opening on May 2.
Brian Patterson dropped by and talked to Kevin K who was working on the lantern display - Photo by Michael McCraren
Report from Shelly Vanderschaegen: On Sunday April 5th, Shelly worked on an Ely window frame and began cleaning in the Birmingham.
On Sunday, April 19th, Ray Mormann and Michael Baksic nearly completed their project in the Birmingham. Kevin was putting lanterns in the new lantern display cases.
Tuesday, April 21. 2015
The weather has warmed and so has the interest on the RI 2612. Last week, Brian Paterson and Brian La Kemper preformed a single car air test on the coach and found a pair of leaks that must be repaired before the coach can be placed back in service. This weekend found the both of them repairing those leaks. This involved replacing a leaking angle cock and an air line "T" fitting. In this case, like most of the older equipment, the replacement of the pipe became more involved. Helping the two Brian's was young Phil from the steam shop. Together they had to remove twenty feet of air line pipe in order to repair the damaged "T" fitting. Nothing is easy! Hopefully, with the help of Tom Schneider and other steam shop members a new pipe will be bent and installed next weekend. My thanks for all those helping to make this repair!
Monday, April 20. 2015
More on the John Mcloughlin Posted by Roger Kramer in Great Northern John McLoughlin at 10:31
The news of the week regarding the Great Northern sleeper was the long anticipated arrival of newly manufactured parts for the women's wash room. They consist of one thin steel wall panel about 82' high and 24' wide, 4 interior 82" long supporting brackets and one modesty wall panel.
Also last Wednesay Bob Olsen continued his work on the roof. Hopefully, this coming Wed should see the last of the painting on the roof for the season.
This photo was taken a few years ago but shows where this panel will be install. It is towards the very left of the coat hooks, from top to bottom.
Friday, April 10. 2015
The weather in February, March, and early April have been frightful but we are still working on scraping paint and tar off the John Mcloughlin roof and priming the interior hallway.
Bob Olsen has been working the winter season on his project of scraping tar and rust off of the roof and then priming and painting the entire area. Many thanks to you , Bob, for your efforts. This is not an easy job especially when it was 20 to 30 degrees in the barn. But, Winter is the best time to remove the old tar. Why? Because it is very brittle and comes off rather easy in cold weather! Nasty, cold work, but he gets the job done!
February 7 Bob starting to scrape more tar from the steel roof. Compare this picture to the April 8th picture and you can see the progress
Sunday, April 5. 2015
March was a month of great activity in the steam shop. Recovering from the set back at the end of February we have made great progress in preparation for the operating season.
Obviously the focus in the shop is on #1630. However turnout has been good during the month and this has allowed substantial work on other projects as well.
Looking first at #1630.
By end of day yesterday she was ready for the formal hydrostatic test of the boiler which is planned for next weekend.
The stay that was found to be broken at the end of February was removed. The old stay was ground off flush inside the firebox, heated and a large wrench applied to the domed head in the socket. It came out smoothly making the rethreading for the new stay relatively easy.
A new one was machined.
We are getting relatively practiced at this process. The worst part of this particular stay was forming the domed end once it had been screwed into place. The ball end must be bucked to prevent the stay moving as the end is hammered into shape. This one was a bear to position the bucking tool and more of the cab floor had to be removed to position the bucker.
Inside the firebox Jason used the air hammer to form the end of the stay.
The finished result is a neatly domed head. … and there was never any leakage under testing.
The weather improved at a critical time in mid-March so that we could safely run the water heater. So for the last couple of weeks we have been filling the boiler, heating the water and pressure testing. It is the nature of the beast that that high pressure water will reveal leaks that do not necessarily happen under steam due to the different temperature and expansion factors. Also, given that all the plugs and a number of stay caps have been removed as part of the annual inspection, there are likely to be points that have not sealed completely. So we have carried out a number of cycles of filling, pressuring, identifying leak points and then draining, fixing identified issues and repeating.
A couple of valves (one test cock and the rail washer) have nuisance leaks that Tom will aim to fix during the week but otherwise she looked good by end of day.
Subject to success of the test next weekend, we will then need to remove the hatch, carry out the internal inspection, and then we can start preparation for the steam test.
As suspected last month, it did proved necessary to remove the axle box shoes from number 5 axle for machining. Phil has become our expert at removing and refitting shoes and wedges. This is a horrible job, involving working in the confined space under the firebox with Portapower cylinders to drive the shoes out and then back in to position.
It is frustrating as they are not actually attached but just slot into place. However, since they are a fairly close fit on the frames and between the substantial weights of the frame and axle box, a good deal of encouragement is required to move them against the adhesion created by the grease. And this encouragement is not easy to apply in the very confined spaces under the locomotive. The absence of an inspection pit is REALLY noticed in a job like this. Hopefully this is a development that we can make in the next couple of years.
Anyway, by end of month both shoes were machined and back in place.. The plan is now to pull the axle forward, refit the rods and then test fit the wedges. It is not certain yet if we will need to put shims onto the wedges but the material has been obtained to do this is necessary.
We have done a good deal more work than initially planned in this area but this actually covers work that was tentatively scheduled for next Winter so overall it is a gain and should result in a significantly smoother running locomotive.
Having proved that the stay caps on the backhead are all free of leaks, it was possible to stay reassembling the footplate and great progress was made on that. The major elements of the stoker delivery system were refitted and most of the footplate is now re-installed. (No pictures of the stoker installation as I had to operate the fork-lift)!.
Another major area of work has been the tender draft gear. As discussed previously, a lot of damage was found in the spring mechanism of the draft gear. One big benefit was that it had been manufactured by Miner Enterprises in Geneva, who still manufacture such equipment and were extremely helpful in identifying options. After a lot of measuring and comparison it was agreed that a later pattern could be fitted into the space and Miner very generously offered a reconditioned unit of the later type in exchange for the 1918 original that will go into their museum.
The new draft gear looks quite different but has the same essential dimensions. One small anomaly is that it has a projection caused by the casting process in a place that would foul when installed in #1630. Miner’s advised that it was of no significance and could be removed …. So it was!.
Dennis has done a lot of build-up work on the yolk and coupler. What remains is the weld build -up of the support brackets under the tender. Once Dennis can complete this, we will have the “fun” of refitting the whole assembly under the tender.
The drawbars that link the locomotive and tender have been annealed and then inspected. A lot of hard work is required to thoroughly clean the drawbars to allow the inspection for cracks.
Once the footplate is completed, they are available to reconnect the locomotive to its tender. However, this will likely not be done until the draft gear is completed as it is difficult to move the tender accurately until the coupler is back in place.
The reverser cylinder was finally disassembled. This proved extremely difficult as it is clearly many years since this was last done and bolts securing the cylinder end to the cylinder were in very tricky locations and seriously frozen to their threads.
Snag is that you can repack / add additional packing to the piston gland for a long time but eventually you need to clean the whole gland out and repack. This year was eventually!. It is now being reassembled and will hopefully be another “catch up” job that will not need to be done again for a generation.
Work has accelerated substantially on the Shay.
We have used donated funds to employee Phil for several days each week primarily to complete work on the firebox. The result of his efforts, along with JD and Cody, is that all stays now either have tell-tale holes cleared to the required depth or have been removed.
The major success from this work is that all the stays that could not be accessed without motor removal have been cleared. We can now progress on the basis that the project will not require removal of the motor. Plans are now being made to fit new stays to replace those that had to be removed and then to re-tube the boiler this year. The sequence may look a little strange as we will likely fit the tubes before rebuilding the smokebox. While you would normally fit the tubes from within the smokebox, the small diameter of the Shay’s smokebox makes this an uncomfortable job. So the thinking is to take advantage of the absence of the smokebox floor and refit the tubes before it is refitted.
A lot of other work has been progressing on the Shay.
Air tanks have been hydro tested;
Interior of the water tank has been cleaned and prepared for painting;
Work has started on preparing the timber for the front beam and running boards. Unfortunately the plan of obtaining the timber for the beam some years back and allowing it to season has not worked out as intended. One of the timbers twisted a good deal more than anticipated in the process so we now have some tricky calculations to determine if it can be trimmed square and still be big enough for the purpose.
Ed has worked steadily thru the refitting of pipework. This has now moved on from the cab to other areas.
The “riveting team”, led by Stu, has worked a number of days on the cab and has made substantial progress.
After a lot of effort, Mike and the team have the planer substantially operational ready for work on the axle boxes. This has been a huge effort as it is probably about 50 years since this complex machine last operated. The documentation is not very detailed and a long period out of use, coupled with uncertainty over any defects it may have had when last used, make for a few challenges!. It is now clear just how complex the processes achieved thru the hydraulics are. The huge table moves back and forth, travelling slowly on the cutting stroke but substantially faster on the return. At each end of the stroke, the movement slows (to avoid a hard stop and reverse). At the end of the cutting stroke, the cutting heads are tilted upward to clear the work as the table returns. At the end of the return stroke, the traversing shaft rotates to advance the cutting head for the next cut by an amount that can be varied by the operator. Seeing all these actions being carried out smoothly is fascinating and a number of us spent time watching in awe!.
So wish us luck in April. We have made good progress but still have plenty to do in order to be ready to run in May.
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Roger Kramer about A Major Announcement
Wed, 05-27-2015 22:00
Hello Stephen The museum store can not always be adjusted for every request. Therefore, I suggest you either mail in your donation or better yet, [...]
Stephen S. about A Major Announcement
Wed, 05-27-2015 20:46
Can someone add a donation option for the Inglehome to the museum store since it's a popular service car, and an obs car on the coach train just makes [...]
Roger Kramer about A Major Announcement
Tue, 05-26-2015 17:48
Hello Glyn The fund, Mt. Harvard, has been set up. You can contribute either by sending a check, or money order in the mail, CC OR [...]
Roger Kramer about A Major Announcement
Tue, 05-26-2015 17:28
Hello David. As I mentioned to Warren the entire system needs a rebuild!
Brian J. Patterson about A Major Announcement
Tue, 05-26-2015 07:20
Individual donations in any amount the donor chooses may be made by check or money order. Write "Mt Harvard" in the "for" or "memo" line of your check [...]
Nigel Bennett about 1630 Normal running
Sun, 05-24-2015 16:21
Steve, Thank you. It is the appreciation and introducing new generations to working steam that makes the work worthwhile. Impressive set of [...]
Steve Krause about 1630 Normal running
Sun, 05-24-2015 15:50
And I really appreciate the work! Got a lot of fine images with the sunshine yesterday, and got to briefly introduce my daughter to the cab courtesy [...]
Nigel Bennett about 1630 in service
Sun, 05-24-2015 10:53
Tim, Good idea. I will talk to our store manager about this. Nigel
Tim about 1630 in service
Sat, 05-23-2015 22:32
Awesome train, my son loved his first ride today. I just wish you guys sold some nice photos or artwork of this great train. I would love to buy [...]
C Kronenwetter about 1630 in service
Sat, 05-23-2015 18:13
Very nicely done, Nigel. Thanks to the steam team for all of their hard work!
Glyn about A Major Announcement
Fri, 05-22-2015 19:03
You mentioned the fund is called MT. HARVARD. How can I donate to this fund? What payment methods are accepted? PayPal would be convenient but I can [...]
Ted Miles, IRM Member about Early February woodshop activies
Fri, 05-22-2015 17:30
Fellow Members, This summer is an anniversary of the 1964 move during May to july of the move from North chicago to Union. Perhaps [...]
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