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Monday, June 9. 2014
The days are steaming by fast and the interior progress on 2612 is beginning to really show our work. Gary and I have been spending about 3-6 days a week concentrating on the interior. That's one reason why I haven't posted for a while.
With the help of a few new volunteers as well as the old regulars the planning and hard work continues. We should be done with the interior around the 15th of July. That's what I aiming for!! Here's a recap of the week before Memorial Day Weekend.
We have been sandblasting seat parts but found that the time it takes the volunteers to blast one complete seat frame could take weeks. I decided to take the frames apart and have a company professionally strip them down to bare metal. We will prime and paint them in house. It obviously costs money but it gets the job done much faster. I have also decided to have professionally polished the brass interior door handles and the walkover seat handles. Both well worth the price. The interior will really be "dressed up" once the door handles and walk over seat handles are installed. It's well worth the money and will certainly makes a better impression for the customer. The difference is eye-popping.
Sunday, June 8. 2014
Steam Department Update 06-07-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:05
The break in the weekly blogs reflects a very different dynamic in the steam shop the last couple of weeks.
After the frenetic activity to get into service for Memorial Day there has been little apparent project activity in the shop. Turnout has been less as people recover from the intense effort to complete #1630 and there is the growing realization of just how much is involved in running the locomotive most weekends.
#1630 has run well for a locomotive returning to service after a long break and major work. The new bearings on the rear drive axle ran fairly hot the first few days but now seem to be settling in to run at more normal temperatures.
I had my first day as a student fireman yesterday. Hopefully by mid-week I should be able to move again!. Firing a locomotive of this size, even on light work, is hard work on a hot and humid day. With preparation and disposal it is a solid 12 hour effort. During the day you will fire several tons of coal and, with the large firebox, a lot of it must be accurately thrown a long way to the front corners of the firebox. Compared to UK locomotives that I have fired you notice that she was not optimized for hand firing. Not surprising as she has a mechanical stoker that is in place but not operational. The major differences are that the tender simply dumps coal at footplate level rather than having a shovel plate at fire-door height and the stoker mechanism somewhat restricts the fire-hole. Nothing too significant with the limited work required on the museum trains but it certainly means that you sure know you have done a day’s work!.
Operating the locomotive requires a lot of time and effort. Hopefully some of this will reduce as she stabilizes and we have less minor repairs to do each week. After Memorial Day weekend there was a significant list of leaks at valves and unions that needed attention. The limited turnout last weekend meant that it was only as a result of intense work by Tom and team mid-week that we were able to run this weekend.
Some jobs are clearly defined. Leaks were identified at unions on the FS check valve and the air pump governor. These unions were separated and remade. This fixed the problems. It sounds simple but each is several hours of work. The real wildcard is ones that you cannot clearly identify.
A troubling issue was signs of water leaking out from under the sheet metal and lagging below the footplate at the back corner of the firebox. Hours of work were required to remove sections of sheet metal and lagging to even be able to investigate the area. This did not provide any insight on where the water came from so she was steamed this weekend with this area uncovered. (Big bonus for the fireman whose seat is right beside this. So you are sitting close to a very effective radiant heater on a hot and humid day!). Anyway the result proved to be of no real concern. A valve high up on the firebox crown leaks steam, particularly before it reaches full temperature. The steam condenses on the inside of the sheet metal, runs down a tortuous path along the back of the sheet metal that leads to the back corner, where it can run down to escape at the bottom corner. So, no concern but quite a few hours work still required to refit all the sheet metal and lagging as well as trying to reduce leakage at the valve (tricky as it seems to seal well when hot so you do not want to change that).
We really need to put in quite a lot of effort mid-week every week if the locomotive is to be ready for midday on Saturday. Five and more tons of coal need to be loaded and the tender water tank topped up. The firebox must be cleaned and a lot of clinker and ash removed from the grates.
Mid-week coal loading is a new problem this year as we cannot load coal using the crane in the service area as this is removed to allow building of the new cut-off track. With assistance from the B&G department, loading is quite efficient using the forklift and skidder. However, since this must be done on the road crossing, we can hardly do it on a Saturday with the museum open to visitors!.
The other issue that became apparent on Saturday was the effects of having shifted the coal pile from its original location to a temporary location. New coal acquired in 2013 has been mixed with old material that is largely dust and was apparently problematic even in 2004. After 3 great trips, the fourth was very difficult when we hit a seam of material in the tender that looked like coal dust but showed little inclination to burn!. Hopefully we can work thru this in the next couple of weekends and then get in new supplies.
So, going forward, we have to decide how often we operate and what we can do in the shop alongside the operation.
The objective will be to get in no more than 28 operating days thru the season. The reason for this is simple. A quite significant inspection is mandated under FRA rules after 30 days of service. We ran 2 days in 2013, leaving 28 before this is required. It would not make sense to put several weekends of work into this inspection late in the season when we can do it over winter. After a break of nearly 10 years we have a shortage of trained crew, which also restricts how often we can run, and means that we have a trainee rostered on every operating day.
Don't forget your tickets for the Sanfilippo Benefit 29th June. The raffle there will be the only opportunity this season to win a footplate ride!.
What is next?. At the moment we have been fully occupied in the jobs around keeping 1630 in service and preparing her each day. Hopefully, as we get more experienced in this, we can agree a plan on what we do next!.
Thursday, June 5. 2014
Brian LaKemper captured the following images during Streamliners at Spencer, an event organized by the North Carolina Transportation Museum, gathering 26 streamlined locomotives from railroads and museums across the country. The event was held at the former Southern Railway Spencer Shops, now the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum.
IRM sent E5A CB&Q 9911A Silver Pilot, F7A C&NW 411, and several volunteers. The locomotives participated in various photo line ups, and took turns with other locomotives pulling the North Carolina Transportation Museum's coach train. IRM volunteers operated IRM's locomotives, and manned a booth in the museum's 37 stall roundhouse.
All photos by Brian LaKemper.
Nick Kallas is prepared to man the museums booth with plenty of brochures and a poster with photos of the museum
Silver Pilot with Atlantic Coast Line 501, the only two operational slant nosed E-units in the world
In the last photo, Silver Pilot and C&NW 411 share the roundhouse tracks with Erie 833 (New York & Greenwood Lake Railway), New Haven 2019 (Railroad Museum of New England), Wabash 1189 (Monticello Railway Museum), Pan Am Railways 1 (Pan Am Railways Executive F), ACL 501 (North Carolina Transportation Museum), and Soo Line 2500-A (Lake Superior Railroad Museum)
A big thanks to Brian for passing along this information to share here on the blog.
Thursday, June 5. 2014
Memorial Day Weekend Passenger Car ... Posted by Pauline Trabert in Passenger Car Department at 16:07
Due to hardware problems this blog post was delayed for one week. Thanks to Jamie Kolanowski for getting the blog back online as quickly as possible after his return from the Streamliners at Spencer event at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.
Saturday, May 24th was the start of another warm, fabulous Memorial Day weekend at IRM!
Several volunteers were working on different projects. In the morning, Michael Baksic and Mark Gellman conducted an air brake test on the Bessemer & Lake Erie 25 steel combine. Kevin Kriebs was back on adhesive removal detail on the exterior of the 1st Exhibit Car.
Kevins work exemplifies how much of the Museum work is done - a little bit at a time - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
Jon Habegger and Ken were inside the 1st Exhibit Car greeting visitors, answering questions and talking about the displays. Michael McCraren was the conductor in the passenger coaches all day. Mark Gellman was the coach department representative on the passenger train. John McKelvey spent Saturday working on the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Railway 84 passenger coach seats and installing seats he had reupholstered in the smoking section.
John McKelvey with a stripped down DMIR 84 coach seat back in the Wood Shop - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
John McKelvey installing a newly reupholstered DMIR 84 smoking section seat bottom - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
Inside the DM&IR 84 coach today there are a variety of upholstery colors and materials. While the original smoking section was upholstered in leather, vinyl is currently being used to reupholster those seats because it is much less expensive. Outside of the smoking section, seats were originally covered in green velvet. Shelly Vanderschaegen has been reupholstering those seats over the years as time allows in a green crushed velvet. She also fabricated the seat back covers which slip on over the worn out seat backs to help keep riders comfortable until all the seats are refinished
A smoking section seat of DMIR 84 coach reupholstered by John McKelvey - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
Warren Newhauser, Brian LaKemper, and Chuck Trabert spent Saturday working on the Milwaukee Road Dynamometer X-5000 car which was parked outside of Barn 3. Warren applied a metal prep solution to some of the many exterior rust spots on the upper side of the car facing the scaffolding. This produces a “black rust” which forms a seal and stops further rusting until sandblasting. An IRM guest a few weeks ago worked for PPG Paints in R&D for over 40 years and suggested this was a good idea which could be repeated every few years as necessary to protect the metal from further rust damage.
Brian installed the air signal gladhands which Roger Kramer provided from the Coach Dept. on both sides of the car. He also traced the air signal lines which end under one of the lower bunks and in the instrument room. It is still undetermined if there is a whistle in the car or not. Brian would love to connect with anyone with knowledge of air signals.
Chuck and Warren worked at replacing a 1-¼” rusted heating pipe that runs underneath the floor. Armed with large monkey wrenches, pipes to use over the wrenches for additional leverage, acetylene torch and Kroil penetrating oil, they were eventually able to loosen a union next to the side door. Chuck then spent some time heating up a 6” nipple of pipe and a lot of time trying to loosen it only to find it had left hand threads!!
Gary Sherman offered to adjust the fan belt tension on the Waukesha Enginator so he and Warren got Chuck’s large wrenches and pry bar to tighten the belt. Chuck and Warren had tried previously but were unsuccessful. Gary was an auto mechanic for several years which really helped with his skill. Waukesha later developed a quick belt tensioning bracket for these units. They fired up the Waukesha Enginator for the first time this year and it ran spectacularly!
Warren Newhauser and Gary Sherman tensioning the fan belt on the X-5000 Waukesha Enginator - Photo by Brian LaKemper
Meanwhile Chuck removed the screws from the side door lower panel to begin the replacement process due to rusting through. With heat from a torch and persistence most screws came out.
Brian wanted to test the Safety Car 32VDC-to-120VAC Motor-Alternator so they hooked up a 120V bulb to the output and sure enough, it worked. However, the reason it really can’t be used currently is the golf cart batteries on board aren’t strong enough for the high current demand. They also need to inspect/clean the brushes/slip rings and inspect the bearings. At this point, most all of the electrical/mechanical systems are in working or close to working order.
They removed a 1” tee pipefitting in the kitchen that must have frozen at some point in the car’s history and had leaked. The water tanks were partially filled a few weeks ago and are functional.
Warren's team is always looking for volunteers to work on the Dynamometer. His group tends to come out approximately every other week or so. Please leave a comment on the blog post if you are interested in working with the X-5000 crew. Also, if you know of a manual for the safety car motor-alternator (32VDC - 120VAC) Warren and Brian would appreciate having a copy.
The Frisco 1630 was the big deal of the day making its debut on Saturday for the first time in several years. Passenger Car Department volunteers took some great photos of the Baldwin 2-10-0 as it pulled passengers on the main line all weekend. The 1630 ran Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day.
Late Saturday afternoon, Shelly Vanderschaegen and Michael Baksic finished shampooing seats and carpeting inside the Loch Sloy sleeper coach.
Sunday, May 25th, was a hot day.
Mark Gellman, Michael Baksic, and Michael McCraren worked on a vestibule latch to secure the door to the wall on the 9933 RDC on Sunday morning.
Jon Habegger was in attendance in the 1st Exhibit Car and Kevin Kriebs continued adhesive removal on the exterior of the 1st Exhibit car. John McKelvey returned to upholstery and installation of the DM&IR 84 smoking section coach seats.
Later in the morning, Michael B. and Mark G. took a break from working on the latch and did an air brake test on the DM&IR 84 while Michael McCraren replicated more magazines for the Santa Fe Lounge Car magazine rack display.
Saturday evening switching with Jim West, Jeff Fryman, and Brian LaKemper pushed X-5000 into the clear on track 32; pulled Dover Strait, IC 2804, and DMIR 84 out of the barn; put Dover and 2804 back, and spotted 84 on track 31 next to the Dynamometer so Michael B. and Mark G. could inspect it Sunday morning. The switching team also pulled the Bessemer 25 out of the barn and parked it on track 34 where CRIP 2612 normally goes so that Mike and Mark could inspect it. The photo below was taken Sunday morning and shows the close clearance between 84 and X-5000, plus or minus 1-1/2 feet.
DMIR 84 spotted on track 31 next to the Dyno so Mike B. and Mark G. could inspect it on Sunday morning - Photo by Brian LaKemper
After lunch in the Birmingham, Andy Townsend, Michael B., Mark G., Lee Evans Jr., and Jeff Calendine worked together to put window air conditioners in the streamliner cars. They used a fork lift to assist.
Michael Baksic and Mark Gellman building a platform to hold one of the air conditioners - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
Curator Michael Baksic rode the fork lift up with the AC unit for installation - Photo by Shelly Vanderschaegen
Monday, Memorial Day
Buzz Morisette went to the Museum on Memorial Day to chase steam trains but the cloudy sky sent him back to the Ely to finish up a couple things. Shelly had taken the plastic down but there was still a lot of dust so he tacked up the dirt at the East end. There is still a need to clean and wax the east wall and desks but there is less dirt now.
The clerestory in the Ely dining room is all done. Buzz finished the quarter round trim and then filled the nail holes all around. One SE window is missing some hinge hardware but it can wait until some turns up. Buzz says, "Macy's may have the Walnut room, but we have the Honduran Mahogany Room."
Thanks to everyone who accomplished the huge amount of work done in the Passenger Car Department over Memorial Day weekend!
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.
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Wed, 07-23-2014 00:17
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Brian L. about Diesel Days line up, Saturday, July 19th, 2014
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Jim Patlyek about Diesel Days line up, Saturday, July 19th, 2014
Sat, 07-19-2014 21:02
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Buzz about Diesel Days line up, Saturday, July 19th, 2014
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Missed the push me pull you this year. If you guys do a high noch engine pulling dynamic breaking load the X-5000 should go in the middle. Chuck said [...]
Richard about A great week, July, 8 thur July, 12
Sat, 07-19-2014 16:42
Roger, Is IRM going to pursue acquisition of RI commuter coach 2702 -- the one for sale for $11,000? It's an important link in the development of [...]
Mike Gorecki about Steam Department Update 06-27-2014
Sat, 07-19-2014 10:37
On the IRM home page, click on "Site Imndex". There you will find, about halfway down, "View a map of the IRM grounds". The Schmidt cutoff is shown [...]
Nigel Bennett about Steam Department Update 06-27-2014
Fri, 07-18-2014 23:45
I do not have a map although the museum office can provide visitor maps. The cut off will run from beside the steam service boxcar to a new switch [...]
Nigel Bennett about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Fri, 07-18-2014 23:44
Yes, removing the cab roof is essential if we raise the boiler. The Shay cab was designed to split allowing the upper part to be lifted for this [...]
Logan about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Fri, 07-18-2014 22:27
Let's just say that you guys have to lift the boiler from the shay to replace the stays, would you guys also have to take off the cab? Also, I really [...]
Keith Z about 2014 Diesel Days, July 19th and 20th
Fri, 07-18-2014 20:25
How long does the parade of power usually last once it has started, two hours or so?
Robert J about 2014 Diesel Days, July 19th and 20th
Thu, 07-17-2014 18:20
Will MILW HH660 1603 be on display outside this weekend?
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