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Sunday, January 12. 2014
Steam Department Update 01-11-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:28
A rather more normal weekend allowing quite a lot to be done in the Steam shop on Saturday.
All credit to the team that made it to the shop. The main roads were fine but the local roads toward the site were rather icy in places and the museum site is a nightmare. Although the air temperature was above freezing, the ground is still frozen. So, despite efforts by B&G, large areas, including all the roads and walkways around the shop were thickly covered in smooth wet ice!. The team cautiously slithered their way from cars to the shop and stayed inside !.
I spent the morning at the Board meeting but the team got to work and a lot was achieved.
By the time I got back to the shop the small air tank was already back in place on the locomotive. So we are now able to power the reverser with compressed air to allow the measurements of the piston valve rings to be made;
Eddie and his sister made good progress in preparing the walkways for painting. Jane is setting up to prime these next weekend;
The paint sprayer has arrived but unfortunately the correct nozzle for the material we have to spray was not available until next week. Anyway, we have the machine and will hopefully be able to do the first test run next weekend;
We are hoping to avoid having to reapply all the main lettering so Jim was hard at work masking the cab lettering;
Phil and Jane removed the blower ring from the smokebox so that Dennis can start on fitting the new plate work for the spark arresting system;
The pressure hose for the injector overflow / cab wash down (what I as a Brit would call the slacker pipe) arrived and was fitted;
Jim and Jane primed the first of the main air tanks;
Eric loosened the nuts on the smokebox front and hand rail. We are preparing to add more gasket material to this joint as the seal was not as good as we would like during the test run;
Jason and Collin finished cleaning and reassembling the steam regulator for the air pump. Jason decided not to refit it but rather to duct tape the pipes to which it is fitted. Having produced this nice clean brass regulator he seems a bit sensitive about it being in place when people are spraying paint around it!.
On the Shay there was quite a bit of activity:
Phil finished caulking the rivets, both below and inside the smokebox. This was a lot of work but the result is a very neat job. Well done Phil. Another big benefit to completing this is that the rest of us can now work around the shop without our teeth suddenly starting to rattle in our heads as he uses the air hammer;
Jason and Eric made good progress on reaming and threading the holes for the crown stays that are being replaced and were able to test fit some of the new stays.
With no further swaging planned for some years, I finally took down the swaging machine for storage. This will allow much easier access thru the doors at the South end of the shop. The machine and the mounting timbers were marked with paint to provide a clear pattern for reassembly when next required and then it was taken down for storage.
With a bit more reorganization we will be able to fully use the door again.
So a good day of progress. Hopefully if the weather remains moderate we can get the painting under way next weekend.
Saturday, January 4. 2014
Steam Department Update 01-04-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 20:13
Well the first weekend of 2014 proved to be a virtual wipe out (or maybe white out) in the Steam Shop and probably most other areas of the museum. The forecast made it clear that snow and brutally cold temperatures can be expected Sunday thru Tuesday but I had hoped that the snow was not to arrive until afternoon / evening on Saturday. This looked plausible on the drive out from Chicago but, once I left the expressway, the last 8 miles to Union was an unpleasant surprise. Wind was whipping drifts across US20 and it certainly looked as if new snow was falling even at 9 a.m.
The museum site was challenging. The few who made it had to break thru a drift at the gate and dig their way thru a drift at the trolley loop crossing by barn #9. 5 of us made it to the Steam Shop and I found a similar hard core at the Car Shop.
We did a number of jobs to prepare for testing of the paint and spray equipment next weekend:
The small air reservoir was moved back beside the locomotive ready for fitting;
Jane painted the walkway and supports so that we can refit this tank next weekend;
The two large air tanks were moved to the South end ready for painting.
However the major task turned out to be the response to a phone call from Phil who, in attempting to be the 6th shop volunteer had ended up in a ditch on US20. Luckily Eddie has a 4WD pick-up so he, with Collin, Rick and a couple of sets of shop chains, went to the rescue. Having got Phil back on the road they were also able to pull out at least one other driver who had encountered a similar problem. US20 was deteriorating rapidly.
So, having completed the jobs above, we headed out at 11:30. There was little sign of improvement and a definite forecast of much worse late in the day. Much as we love the museum, I do not think anyone liked the idea of being stuck there for a couple of days that threaten record low temperatures.
So we can only hope that the weather next weekend is more helpful.
Sunday, December 29. 2013
Saturday provided a brief respite from the recent frigid weather in which the Winter work plan could be continued steadily.
The large copper pipes were annealed. Dennis heated them to red heat with the acetylene torches and then Brian and I moved them into the water bath to quench them. They are now ready to be re-insulated and then re-installed when the painting under their positions has been completed;
Jane and Stu finished painting the backhead in the cab;
Jane, Ed and I were busy preparing the front and walkways of the locomotive for painting;
Brian, Jerry and Jim worked with Tom on the plans for painting. More advanced spray equipment is needed for the paint that has been donated for this repaint. This will hopefully be available in the next couple of weeks and the first test spraying can then be planned;
We took the opportunity to get out to the boxcar and measure the dome cover in order to determine how thick the insulation on the dome should be. With this information, Jerry will hopefully be able to complete the insulation. The dome is the last piece remaining to be insulated;
The small air tank that serves as the reservoir for the reverser was painted with conventional spray paint to allow it to be refitted. This is required to allow the reverser to be moved allowing measurements of the valve chambers for future fitting of replacement rings.
In other areas:
Phil put in a solid day with the air hammer caulking the tube sheet rivets on the Shay. This is hard and essential work ensuring that the head of the rivet is tightly sealed into the boiler barrel. With eight rivets to do, Phil was working with the air hammer for much of the day and most other people in the shop were wearing ear protectors!;
A team including Jim, Jerry, Matt and others fitted the wires to #428 that will be used to attach the insulation. This is not an indication of an immediate start to insulation but rather reflects the fact that, since the boiler is currently bare, it is easier to install these wires before pipe work is fitted along the boiler;
Work on the planer suffered a set-back. Having filled everything with oil, an initial attempt was made to test the hydraulic pump. The good news was that the pump certainly develops pressure. The bad news was that it was immediately sufficient to blow a gasket in the hydraulic control assembly. Investigation is now under way to determine why this is not sealing correctly.
So the work continues steadily at the end of another year. It is certainly good to be able to compare where we are now to where we were at the end of 2012.
Happy New Year,
Sunday, December 22. 2013
Steam Department Update 12-21-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 12:08
This Winter is becoming a bad joke !. Today was the official start of Winter but we have been in the deep freeze for several weeks. Amazing to look back and see that this time last year we were working outside on the KCS tender that had recently been unloaded. This year we had a crew much reduced by a forecast of a substantial ice storm reaching Union in the afternoon. In practice, although the forecast caused several people to leave in the early afternoon, the air temperature held up better than forecast and the last of us were not driven out until 7, when the rain started to freeze on the cars.
Setting foot outside the shop was an adventure all day as the ground was well below freezing and any unsalted areas were simply sheets of ice which built up further as the rain fell.
However, in the shop we were able to progress steadily.
On the Shay, Phil and I worked with Tom to plan the next
steps on refitting the front truck. Six
large bolts need to be acquired and fitted to secure the casting in which the bolster
of the truck pivots. The holes for these
need to be reamed to allow the long bolts to be fitted. Phil will caulk the rivets that were placed
several years ago so that Dennis can go
ahead with refitting the smokebox bottom sheet.
Elsewhere in the shop:
So more steady progress despite the weather.
Sunday, December 15. 2013
Steam Department Update 12-14-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 14:08
The weather this weekend certainly had a major impact. Steady snow in the morning made me very doubtful about the long drive out of Chicago but, after a rather slow and slushy drive, it became apparent that the forecast was correct and the snow was less to the West, around Union, than it was in the city.
It was a very select crew, aside from myself, only Phil, Jane, Ed and Jerry made it to the shop. However, we managed to get a number of jobs done on 1630. But first, Phil made sure that the traditional Steam Department decorations were in place.
Merry Christmas from all at the Steam Department
Jerry has been working steadily on the insulation during the week and continued Saturday. The sheet metal is now re-installed along the boiler, after the work that was done to fix the steam leak, and the steps and pipework are back in place. This area is now ready for painting before the banding can be reinstalled. In addition he has now largely completed the firebox sides. The engineer’s side is complete and in place. The fireman’s side is complete aside from one piece of sheet metal that is set aside to serve as a test piece for the painting.
I hydro tested the equalizer tank, which tested at 150 psi with no issue aside from slight leakage from the small brass water drain cock. That was lapped and re-installed so the tank is now complete.
Feeling like suckers for punishment, Phil, Jerry and I then set about re-installing it !. After a couple of hours of crawling under and into the loco and much cursing it was back in place. The parentage of whoever thought of locating this tank in among all the pipework under the cab floor was questioned many times !. The tank is not particularly heavy – maybe 40 pounds. However it has to be squeezed thru a hole on the back of the frame on the fireman’s side, turned thru 90 degrees and then moved over to its location on the engineer’s side by reaching thru holes in the plate work of the frame. Having done that, you then use timbers and hands, at considerable risk of getting squeezed, to lift and position it so that the threaded ends of the ½ inch securing rods can be coaxed into holes in the frame plate and nuts attached. The end result of all that effort would not be noticeable to the average person standing by the locomotive. But it is there!. (The small shiny object the end of which you can just see hidden behind all the pipework).
Jane made considerable progress on painting. The cylinder and valve end covers are now primed on the inside and ready to refit. The area around the reservoir for the reverser was cleaned and primed. The objective is to get this painted so that the tank, which needs to be refitted urgently so that the valves can be moved, will not need to be removed again.
Ed started work on removing the pipe leading to the water column. This is the last of the large copper pipes that needs to be annealed and re-lagged.
So steady progress despite the weather.
Sunday, December 8. 2013
Steam Department Update 12-07-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 15:03
It was a good day for working inside the shop !. Temperatures outside discouraged anything but limited activity.
On 1630 steady progress was made on the work list:
· Rick completed screwing the sheet metal section around the radius of the backhead. He has now moved on to making and fitting some additional sheet metal against the front sheet of the cab, where there was a gap that exposed some insulation;
· I removed the injector overflow (coal and footplate spray hose), which was leaking dangerously during test running. The fittings have all been cleaned and refitted. All we now need is a length of new hose;
· Ralph managed to remove the steam line to the blower, remade the joint that was noted as leaking under steam pressure, then refitted the whole assembly. So that issue should now be fixed;
· Collin and Ralph then removed the two injector steam lines. These are large copper pipes that need to be annealed periodically. So we will do this and then renew the insulation that is wrapped around them;
· Jerry worked on the insulation along the boiler. This is a slow and tricky job as we need to close all the small gaps in the sheet metal that could allow water to get in when the loco is outside in heavy rain. He has made good progress on making the firebox sided cladding sheets, where the insulation is attached to the sheet metal. In this shot you can also see where the injector steam pipes were removed. This also clearly shows the reason for different way of lagging this area. The exposed heads, that can be seen where the cladding is still missing, are rigid stays with tell-tale holes. These must be checked annually, hence the need to remove the sheet metal and lagging frequently.
He also located and test fitted some special strips of banding that close the gap against the front sheet of the cab. We had wondered why we had such a large gap there until he found the missing strips !!;
· Phil, with Evelina and Eddie, spent a dirty and unpleasant morning in the firebox. They managed to match the fire bricks to the gaps between the arch tubes, where they form the brick arch, and produce a diagram that tells us exactly how many bricks of each of the 5 types we need to build the arch;
· We then made a cold trip to the service box car and found the spares we needed to have a complete set in the firebox ready to build the arch. Phil and I then checked the Milwaukee box car out in yard 13. This confirmed that we have large stocks of 4 types of brick (which came from Eagle Pitcher in the 1970’s) but need to make a pattern for the smallest ones which fit over the arch tubes against the tube sheet;
· Jane painted the straps that secure the air tanks. Phil and I set up the cylinder front covers ready for her to paint so that these will be ready for fitting once Tom has completed measurement of the valve chambers;
· Evelina worked with Dennis on wire brushing the tender coal space so that he can weld some strengthening steel in weak spots around the stoker motor;
· I reassembled the hydro test pump with the new high pressure hose so that the equalizing reservoir can be tested next weekend..
On the Shay
· Phil worked with Dennis on fitting the last of the spring locating plugs into the bolster;
· Ralph and I relocated all the components of the drive shaft onto a pallet under the locomotive and I started to degrease these ready for refitting;
· Cameron completed machining the wedges;
· One of the axles was hoisted so that accurate measurements of diameter could be obtained. This proved very satisfactory. The tires have ample thickness to allow them to be re-profiled.
Around the shop
· Jane made good progress in stripping old paint from the large press in preparation for painting;
· Bob continued testing the planer.
So a typical and productive Winter workday in the steam shop.Nigel
Sunday, December 1. 2013
Steam Department Update 11-30-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 12:51
A sharp but, if the forecast is to be believed, brief improvement in the weather allowed us to do a series of moves of material in and out of the shop this weekend. Spare tubes and flues were moved out of the shop into the boxcar and the fire bricks that make up the arch in 1630’s firebox were brought in from the water supply car. This gives us more room in the shop and jobs that we can continue if we have to hunker down in the shop for a few weeks!.
· Cameron had finished and fitted the stud during the week and we were able to ensure that it is leak free. This enables the boiler to be opened up and thoroughly dried for the Winter and also means that the insulation can be refitted;
· Jane was hard at work much of the day painting many different things including mounting brackets for the equalizing reservoir and a lot of infill sections for the sheet metal. This is one of the jobs that will require quite a bit of work over Winter. Wherever a pipe or bracket projects thru the lagging there must be a hole in the sheet metal. It is rarely possible to simply have a hole in the big sheet metal section to tightly fit around the projection (as the sheets must be moved around to fit them). So smaller sections of sheet metal must be fitted around the projection under the main sheets to stop water getting in and damaging the insulation. The tests indicated a lot of areas where we need to seal small holes;
· Jerry put in a solid day on the insulation. He has refitted all the insulation that was removed to trace the steam leak from the lubricator line and has made substantial progress on the panels each side of the firebox.
These are an absolute pain as they must be removed annually to inspect the ends of the rigid stays. So there are areas where the insulation blocks are secured to the sheet metal rather than the boiler. To add to the challenge, some of the sheets cover areas where part of the insulation is fixed to the boiler and part to the panel so the insulation must be cut so that the insulation must interlock when the sheet is fitted ………. while maneuvering it around and behind various fittings. My guess is that this is a modern problem. From memory of working with asbestos matting in the early 1970’s (yes I did that that apparently survived !) is that it had much more strength than the modern “safe” insulation, which tends to fall apart very easily;
· Ed worked on cleaning the water glasses which were noted as not showing clearly during the test. (The glasses have a reflective surface that provides a clear indication at night under limited illumination and so need occasional “deep cleaning”);
· Jason and Trevor removed some wash out plugs and the inspection hatch.
The air blower was then fitted so that a constant air flow will be maintained thru the boiler for a week or so to ensure that it is thoroughly dry for the Winter;
· Cameron had painted the equalizing reservoir during the week so Phil and I set out to hydro test this ready for refitting. Set up for pressure testing is always slow as you have to find / make a suitable combination of fittings to link from the pump to whatever fitting happens to be on the tank that you want to test. Having done this and connected the air and water it became clear that the main pressure hose from the pump has developed a leak !!. Ho hum !. That is now a job for next week once the hose has been professionally repaired;
· The fire bricks were moved into the fire box in preparation for another fun task. The arch is built from a number (I currently think 4) differently shaped bricks that fit between arch tubes, from arch tubes to firebox wall etc. We need to plan out exactly how many of each are required and identify any that we are short of so that we can have a suitable supply on hand for next season. It is likely that we do not even have a pattern for one type so will need to make the wooden pattern from which the bricks are cast using one of the existing bricks as a model;
· Jason started removing the blower line in the cab. This had a small leak detected during the test run so is one of a number of the pipes in the cab that we plan to adjust and refit during the Winter.
With 1630 in reasonable shape, Brian, Cameron and Phil did quite a lot of work on #428, where much of the current focus is on the brake gear:
· Brian and Cameron have been working steadily thru the brake shoe holders. These have now all been drilled out for fitting of the mounting pins. As with much of this locomotive, years of wear and limited maintenance meant that holes had become substantially oval. The repair has required filling the hole, by welding in new material, and then re-cutting the holes to the original size. In this case 8 brake shoes , two hole per holder so 16 substantial holes to be filled and re-cut;
· With this done, focus is now moving to other components of the brake rigging. The second of the main shafts was removed (from the engineer’s side) so that both can be worked on together. This sounds easy but the things weigh more than 100 pounds and had to be extracted from its mounting under the locomotive then rolled / man handled over the track between the wheels to get to the fork lift (no pictures as I was operating the fork lift !);
· Trevor was working on the frame that is required to support the pistons so that the heads can be built up with braze metal.
On the Shay, Jason and Trevor finally managed to remove a wash out plug from the belly of the boiler that we have been fighting with for a long time. We do not know when it was last removed. It is above the front truck and not easy to reach. History suggests that, when the loco was last running, it was impossible to remove as it was far too tight to extract in the confined space above the truck. Having finally extracted it using heat, lots of penetrating oil and very long cheater bars !, we can now understand why. Someone long ago must have put it in wrongly threaded and solved the problem of leakage by tightening with great force. Absolutely what you should not do with a brass wash out plug!. Oh well, it will now be remade and fitted gently.
Bob, Ed and Jane continued work on the planer. This is now just about fully painted and looks really great.
Much of the effort was directed to pumping degreaser thru the various oil passages to remove as much debris as possible before filling with oil. Much of the effort was directed to trying to see as much as possible of the interior passages to determine how effectively the debris had been removed!. The same oil is used to lubricate the machine and provide the hydraulic power that moves the bed back and forth so removing debris and placing filters is rather important. Most of the shop are now waiting with great anticipation to see the machine work. The team seem to be non- committal about when they will bite the bullet, fill it with oil and see what happens !!.
So a day of steady progress in a number of areas.
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Nigel Bennett about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Fri, 07-25-2014 16:47
Shane, Clean rain water is certainly possible. The snag is that you would need a BIG collection and storage system. We are using around 8000 [...]
Nigel Bennett about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Fri, 07-25-2014 16:42
John, Yes. Sadly the tender is in poor shape. She should go under cover as part of the new barn project. There will be much discussion around [...]
Chris about A great week, July, 8 thur July, 12
Thu, 07-24-2014 00:01
I will commit something to 2702 if I see a specific fund for it. Supposedly the owners made an effort to keep it original, other than removing seats. [...]
Nathan about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Wed, 07-23-2014 19:54
Hi Nigel, I have some suggestions to enhance the experience of steam railroading for museum visitors: 1) In September 2002, I visited on the [...]
Raffi about Diesel Days line up, Sunday, July 20th, 2014
Wed, 07-23-2014 00:17
while watching the Diesel Days parade, i noticed a detail on UP 1848 that stood out to me. it was its cab number, i could tell it had a previous [...]
Brian L. about Diesel Days line up, Saturday, July 19th, 2014
Mon, 07-21-2014 17:48
The hydraulic drawbar on X-5000 works. Its operation was determined Saturday evening and successfully used all day Sunday. The car measured up to a [...]
Nick Gawriluk about A great week, July, 8 thur July, 12
Sun, 07-20-2014 13:56
2702 would definitely be a project of a massive effort. It has some sort of giant roadside casino sign installed on it. The interior is completely [...]
Jim Patlyek about Diesel Days line up, Saturday, July 19th, 2014
Sat, 07-19-2014 21:02
Great show today; 100% improved from last year. Ran at a faster pace which kept it interesting. Also, the brief synopsis of each loco made it very [...]
Buzz about Diesel Days line up, Saturday, July 19th, 2014
Sat, 07-19-2014 19:39
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 [...]
John Heid about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Sat, 07-19-2014 14:59
Nigel, thanks for all your continued work on the blogs! I'm a member living in NJ so it's always good to hear what's going on back home. Anyways, [...]
Shane about Steam Department Update 07-17-2014
Sat, 07-19-2014 12:19
Nigel is there any possibility of using rainwater in the boiler to lessen the amount of treatment that needs to be done to it?
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