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Sunday, November 22. 2015
You don't have to be mad .... but ! Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 19:32
What a difference a few days makes in Illinois!!. In the last few weeks we have been working steadily thru the jobs needed to winterize #1630 and the support equipment while enjoying a long warm Fall. Then this weekend Winter arrived with a vengeance. Small problem, this was the weekend we had a rather critical activity scheduled!!. So, neither rain nor snow etc. (Also you don’t have to be mad to work in the steam shop but it sure helps at times.
The critical activity was the FRA observed hydro test of Shay #5 which was scheduled for Sunday. Clearly large quantities of water do not mix well with temperatures falling into single digits. However we managed.
On Friday Phil managed to fill the boiler and a reserve container in the shop before draining the bottle car that provides our supply of treated water. (Just ahead of the night when temperatures plummeted).
On Saturday I managed to get to the shop between the two bands of snow. Conditions on site were “interesting” and the work team was small.
Difficult to imagine that this was just 7 days after the shot of removing the dome cover from #1630!!. Congratulations to Chris and Jon who made it in. On the Shay the objective was to get the water circulating from the boiler thru the pool heater and then get this fired up so that boiler could be brought up to around 100F and allowed to equilibrate for the test. This was subject to some significant concern as the heater is outside and, should it not operate reliably, there would be a risk of it freezing and damaging the exchanger. Much to my relief, despite digging it out of the snow and having to shield it from further driving snow during the day, it started and ran reliably so the warm up worked well.
Actually, having been used to #1630, it is startling how much quicker #5 warms up and it seems to even the heat out much more effectively because of the relatively short barrel. In the shot above you can see the inlet from the heater feeding into the dome and the return running from the blow down back along the shop to the North.
Sunday was a very pretty day, even if it was 8F when I got back to the shop, and the team could get to the site without problems. The heater restarted without issue and the boiler was ready for testing by mid-morning when the FRA inspector was scheduled. The pressure was raised slowly to 240 psi (125% of the 190 psi at which she will operate). Jason, Phil and Collin worked with the inspector to check parts of the boiler for any sign of leakage but she proved extremely tight. One small area of a seam and the head of one stay will need minor peening but we have an acceptable pressure vessel!!.
This opens up a whole lot more work for the Winter (which is why we were so desperate to get this done before it became impossible to work with water!). The boiler can now be lagged and the various accessories and their pipework fitted. The smokebox riveting should be done soon and then the smokebox can be completed and the truck refitted.
Technically there is no reason that she should not be operational next season. The biggest barrier is MONEY!. The response to the Summer appear was disappointing ($600 plus $600 in matching). Funds for #5 are now low and her operation in 2016 is going to depend heavily on donations in the next few weeks.
So, aside from this weekend, what has been happening in the last few weeks?.
Work progressed as planned.
#5 – Shay
I am sure that Brian will provide a more detailed update however a lot of progress is apparent leading up to the test today.
Phil and his team completed the Summer work by painting all the wheel and lower areas that have been stripped and primed. She looks a great deal more presentable and will hopefully be able to go under cover once the new barns come into service.
With the cab now riveted, Jon has been working on painting the interior and planning the woodwork that can now be fitted.
Jeff and Jerry have made huge progress on the pipe work for the new compressors. Max has set up most of the wiring. The smaller of the two compressors is linked in and workable. All the main pipe work for the large compressor, including the cooling loop has been installed. The one remaining item is the flanges to connect the large compressor to the pipework. Once these are made the whole set up should be in a state to test.
Before it can be commissioned a state inspection is required so we cannot put either into operation until the whole set up is complete.
So a busy and successful couple of weeks. Now we head into a busy Winter with the objective of completing two locomotives for next season.
Sunday, October 18. 2015
In many ways this is a depressing time of year in the steam shop. In the Spring there is a substantial buzz as you turn the large dead mass of steel that you have worked on all Winter into an active steam engine. The reverse process in the Fall is less fun but just as necessary. However, aside from the regular work on 1630, a great deal has happened in the shop and it promises to be a very exciting Winter.
The end of season was celebrated with a department cook out. Everyone had a good time. Many thanks to Jeff who came up with the idea and organized the food.
On #1630 a lot of work has been done since the last operations at the showcase weekend. Over the last three weekends:
tender was emptied and cleaned;
boiler drained and all the washout plugs removed and stored;
brick arch taken down and removed;
smokebox, tubes and firebox washed out. (This is a really fun job involving a lot of time in confined spaces with a high pressure hose so that you end up stiff wet and black. I did a lot of this last year and was not sorry that I had to be in the UK when it was done this year!);
the locomotive was run on air the weekend of 10/10. This is an important step to remove water from all parts of the mechanism and accessories. The boiler is pumped up with the Sullair compressor then the locomotive is run back and fore a number of times to clear the cylinders, valve chambers and super heaters. The all the accessories, injectors, air pump, generator, etc. are operated on air so any remaining water is removed.
The remaining job is to finally wash out the boiler. Given the low temperatures this job, originally scheduled for this weekend, was delayed. This is another job that guarantees the operators a good soaking so not at all pleasant at 45 degrees!!.
#1630 will come into the shop in a couple of weeks once work is finished on painting #938. For this Winter we have scheduled the usual mix of annual inspection and mechanical improvement work. This Winter is not planned to be as demanding as last (time will tell!!). The main target, aside from the annual inspection, will be an inspection and overhaul of the valves. Hopefully, unless something unexpected is found, this will require fitting of new rings to the valves and casting of a new babbit bearing for the fireman’s side crosshead, which is getting close to maximum allowable tolerance.
This weekend there was a very good turnout and many jobs were progressing at once.
Obviously the biggest focus after #1630 has been Shay #5 and this will continue to be the case. Much has been achieved in the last few weeks and Brian arrived this weekend for a major work session over the next couple of weeks.
Substantial progress has been made on the smokebox. The holes have been drilled for the rivets into the front ring. These are now bolted into place, which makes the fit so tight that the smokebox bottom is largely watertight (as we found this weekend – see below);
The holes must now be drilled for the rivets into the boiler barrel and then the process of riveting can begin;
Many valves, gauges, injectors and the water glasses have been fitted all in preparation for the big milestone of filling the boiler;
On Saturday the throttle body was fitted into the boiler. This is a very tricky task as the large and heavy unit is a close fit on the opening in the dome and must seal where the long vertical pipe seats on the elbow of the dry pipe. So moving the pipe as you try to position it risks damaging the critical seal, on which the throttle body sits. After much effort it was successfully fitted and the next big step was started;
The boiler was filled with water for the first time since 1999!!. With a couple of stops, to address leaks as they were identified, the water level was raised into the dome. Overall the result was very encouraging. A major problem with #5 was a number of badly blocked stays, some of which were behind the frame or motor and would require a great deal of stripping to replace. Huge effort has gone into clearing these but the risk is that this could have cracked some of them. To this point we have found one stay where this has happened but it is in a nice accessible position, so no issue to replace. Experience is that a stay broken in clearing is most likely to leak even without pressure so the fact that only this one revealed itself is a cause for growing confidence;
The broken stay was plugged temporarily with a nail and a number of tubes that showed minor leaks were rolled to seal them. In the next couple of days the dome cover will be fitted and the water heated to test under pressure.
So a LOT of progress. Watch this space!.
Glen and Stu were busy South of the shop and succeeded in starting and testing the traction motor of the Bay City crane. That should now be close to being able to move under its own power again. They also replaced a union in the fuel line of the “critter” (the 4 wheel diesel that can provide switching power at the South end of the shop). This is a useful unit but has been very unreliable in starting. Glen has found and fixed a whole bunch of blockages and defects in the fuel supply so that it is becoming much more serviceable.
A number of us were working on the new compressor set up. Jeff is hoping to spend a couple of weeks on this to get it close to, if not fully, operational.
Max was running the conduit to bring in power for lighting and outlets;
The 480V supply was disconnected and made ready to move the ducting to bring it into the compressor shed;
Rick was completing the wall facing to allow the pipes for the cooler to be mounted. The large compressor is sufficiently powerful that a 60ft cooling run is suggested. This will be on the wall inside the shop and will provide a useful source of heat when this unit is used in the Winter;
The placement of the pipework was agreed and a detail parts list developed. This should be delivered in the next few days so that Jeff can move ahead with the installation;
Dennis was working on the flanges needed to connect the compressor to the cooling array and air intakes.
On #428 Ed has substantially completed his exercise of identifying and fitting the myriad of pipes originating in the cab. One pair of copper pipes proved extremely frustrating as they did not seem to relate to any identifiable equipment although we did have some pictures that indicated roughly where they were when the locomotive was stripped. The most likely answer after much forensic work is that as late as 1947 the locomotive had a hydrostatic lubricator but, when retired a few years later, it had a Nathan mechanical lubricator, which it still has. Ed now believed that these pipes are part of the feed from the old hydrostatic lubricator that were never removed as they were under the lagging. No wonder we cannot find anything that they connect to!.
The above picture shows both Ed’s recent task and his next
one!. After completing the pipework he
will start rebuilding the reverser air cylinder.
Throughout the Summer Phil, with assistance from anyone who looks underemployed / he can rope in, has worked on de-rusting and priming the running gear of #938. Huge progress has been made and she is looking a great deal better. In the next couple of weeks the priming and painting will be completed so that the areas that have been de-rusted do not deteriorate again.
So a very busy time in the steam shop with a lot of progress.
Tuesday, September 22. 2015
I am posting the following update provided by Brian Nigel
Hello everyone. My name is Brian Davies. Some readers out there know me. For those who don't, I am the project manager on our J. Neils Lumber/ Klickitat Log and Lumber shay number 5. I have been in charge of this project for about the past 12 months. Nigel has been doing a great job of bringing you all the news from the Steam Shop, but at my first anniversary as project manager I felt perhaps it was time to introduce myself and give an overview of what we have accomplished in the last 12 months on the shay, and what still needs to be done to return the shay to service.
The locomotive was withdrawn from service after the 1999 operating season for general maintenance and to bring it up to the standards required by the Federal Railroad Administration in their required 1472 service day inspection.
A great amount of work has been performed on the locomotive in approximately the past 12 months. This includes:
-Front truck repairs finished except for a few minor tasks.
-Drawbar and auxiliary drawbars between locomotive and water tender cleaned and inspected for cracks. Main drawbar was sent out for stress relieving heat soak.
-Water tender interior cleaned to remove scale and rust in preparation for painting to reduce future corrosion. The cleaning process is almost complete.
-One bad rear foot board removed for measuring and renewal.
-Several brake beams cleaned, inspected, and painted.
-Upper braces on rear sand boxes reapplied.
-Water tender deck drain pipe repaired. This pipe had split, likely due to water damage, many years ago.
-Handrail on front of locomotive repaired.
-All staybolts inspected.
-Staybolt holes all opened up to proper depth.
-Approximately 12 staybolts removed, their holes reamed and tapped, and new bolts inserted.
-Heads completely formed over on six bolts, and head on one side of each of the other six bolts formed over.
-Tube and flue holes in front and rear tube sheets deburred, and radius added to their edges.
-All rivets in boiler inspected.
-All boiler braces inspected.
-Boiler interior cleaned to remove as much of the remaining sand from earlier sandblasting as possible.
-Finished application of Apexior boiler paint inside boiler.
-Copper ferrules cut and installed in every tube and flue hole in front and rear tube sheets, and ferrules deburred.
-All boiler tubes and flues cut to size, installed in boiler, flat rolled, ground to length, and belled over where necessary.
-Main turret valve disc replaced and valve in the process of being lapped to make it steam tight.
-Boiler plug holes cleaned and inspected, boiler plugs cleaned and inspected, and most boiler plugs installed in preparation for hydrostatic testing of the boiler.
-Throttle body, throttle spool valve, and associated hardware brought out of storage.
-Boiler steam pressure gauge cleaned, inspected, and calibrated.
-Main air reservoir stripped of paint, ultrasonically thickness tested, and primed.
-Auxiliary air reservoir stripped of paint, ultrasonically thickness tested, and primed.
-New smokebox bottom fit to bottom of smokebox and partially welded in place.
As you can see, a very significant amount of work has been done on the shay in the past 12 months. Excitingly for all of us in the Steam Shop, the return to operation of this locomotive is very much in sight, and is a goal that is well on its way toward being completed. Our current goal is an attempt to have the shay reenter service next summer. As long as no new major problems are discovered as we finish our work, this is a very attainable goal. The tasks still to be done this fall, winter, and spring are:
-Finish lapping main turret valve and boiler check valves to make them seal tightly.
-Finish forming over six remaining staybolt ends.
-Lap and install throttle body and valve in boiler.
-Finish forming of tube ends, then hydrostatically test boiler.
-Insulate boiler and reinstall sheet metal jacket.
-Drill and ream holes in the new smokebox bottom to rivet it onto the locomotive. Then welding of the new piece will be completed.
-Install superheater units into the boiler and reinstall the interior parts of the smokebox.
-Reattach all steam and water piping on locomotive boiler and in the cab.
-Clean and inspect all air brake parts, reinstall, and test.
-Finish cleaning interior of water tender and paint the interior.
-Put front truck back under locomotive.
-Install new front pilot beam and footboards, and one rear footboard.
-Repaint locomotive and tender.
I think it is exciting to realize that the list of what still needs to be done on the locomotive is far shorter than the list showing the amount of work we have accomplished in the past 12 months! The shop is excited to see this locomotive return to service and we are determined to make that happen. We are lucky that the locomotive still has some money in its restricted fund, and this amount is enough to keep us working on the locomotive for now. However, we sure could use some more money to help us with our goal of trying to get the locomotive back into service next year. We currently have one of our shop volunteers doing paid work on the locomotive two to three days a week, generally doing a lot of the nasty and unglamorous work that the volunteers are usually happy to pass of to someone else. It would be great to be able to keep him working on the locomotive through the winter. Having someone working a few days during the week every week really helps us make progress! In addition, we still need to purchase a new front pilot beam, and paint for the exterior of the locomotive and interior of the water tank. In my estimation, an additional $15,000.00 in the locomotive's restricted fund should ensure we have enough money to accomplish our goal of bringing the shay back into service next year. This is to finish buying the materials mentioned above and to continue having someone forging ahead working on the locomotive during the week. We could complete the locomotive with less money, but this will extend the time it will take to finish the project. And looking into the future, we will need money for yearly maintenance on the locomotive as we strive to inspect and repair it in a manner that best insures its continued mechanical wellbeing and operation for the next 15 years. Additionally, in 15 years it will be time again to perform a 1472 service day inspection on the locomotive, and this will again require money for new flues, insulation, and whatever else we find we will need at that time. So please, if you're a lover of logging locomotives, of steam locomotives in general, or just don't like seeing us poor shop volunteers beg, please consider a donation specifically to the Shay 5 restricted fund. Happily, the shay is now available for receiving donations on the IRM Online Store at www.IRM.org. No amount is too small. Of course, no amount is too large! All donations are extremely appreciated by all of us in the Steam Shop, and every dollar donated to the shay will go directly to ensuring its return to operation and continued operation at IRM.
Friday, September 11. 2015
Steam Department Update Summer 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 19:52
Oh well. Despite the best of intentions another two month Summer break in the blogs!.
It has been a very demanding Summer. It takes a lot of work to support #1630 in operation. There is usually a list of maintenance tasks whenever she has a weekend out of service and loading coal and water is required between each running weekend.
Overall it has been a very successful season, both for the locomotive and personally. We have run as planned, except for a couple of days when we could not provide a crew. Problems have generally been the usual range of minor leaks to be expected with a near 100 year old locomotive. We ran very successfully during the Thomas weekends, providing power for the Percy train. As we have run regularly and worked our way thru the older coal, we have recently been running on fresh coal not mixed with the residue of old batches. This has really made the running a great deal better and more reliable. (This was written before September 6th when we were aiming to run the tender down to near empty and I had the fun of using all the mixed coal and dust that had settled to the bottom. Best viewed as “good experience”!!).
From a personal perspective. I met my objective and qualified as a fireman at IRM so I can now operate unsupervised in this role. JD and Phil have also qualified so we are now in a much better place for crews as we no longer need to have two of our limited pool of engineers in each crew, one acting as supervising fireman. Rather satisfying to prove that I can still wield the shovel as it is about 50 years since I first qualified (on “Prince” at the Festiniog Railway in North Wales).
Work has proceeded on a number of projects as volunteer vacation and support for #1630 permits.
The compressor shed is now largely complete. Rick has been busy insulating it and we have now started to move in the power and equipment.
The big push will be to get this operational ahead of the Winter. There is a lot of riveting to be done this Winter and the expectation is that the big compressor will support this without the need to run the Sullair (always fun if you have to dig it out of a snow bank before starting it)!.
On #428 the riveting team have made steady progress on the cab. In the last couple of weeks it was been lifted onto stands to allow access to the rivets around the bottom and even these are now well advanced. Basically all the rivets up the sides and across the roof are now in place and most of those at the bottom.
In addition the functionality of the planer has been steadily improved. Tom and Mike are still working to get it to full power and reliability but, even if it is still not taking quite the depth of cut that it should at full power, it does impressive work. This has allowed all the four axle boxes currently out of #428 to be cut ready to fit the new steel plates. In this view the plates to be welded to the base of the channel are in place where they are to be welded.
This will require a LOT of skilled fabrication / welding as will the fitting of the cab floor that will allow the cab to be refitted. Dennis has the potential for a very busy Winter after he completes work on #5 described below!.
The focus of work has been on the Shay and #938.
On #938 Phil and a small team have made substantial progress on de-rusting and priming the wheels and running gear. These are starting to look a great deal better.
Aside from improving her appearance and protecting against further deterioration, the one key thing that we want to do is to thickness test the boiler to support a form #4 calculation. It is looking uncertain that we will achieve this before we need to bring #1630 in for Winter maintenance but it is targeted for next year if we do not achieve it this.
Why do this?. Anyone who has walked around this locomotive can see that it is not a candidate for near term restoration to service. Essentially the condition of the boiler shell and firebox sheets will determine if she is a possible subject for a future major project or, for all practical purposes, is a permanent static exhibit. If restorable she might provide an attractive large project. She is after all one of the most “Chicago” locomotives in the collection having spent her later years on the suburban services of the Rock Island line, working with the coaches that we already have.
Work on Shay #5 has continued steadily but unfortunately not at the rate we might have hoped. The appeal generated about $500 in contributions that have been matched. Every little helps but we are now short of funds and this reduces our ability to set up intensive work sessions. So the begging bowl is still out, contributions can be made thru the IRM museum store on the website and I will hold open the matching offer.
Brian Davies (Shay project manager) has promised a complete update on what has been done so far and what remains to be done that I will load to the blog when I get it. In the mean-time progress has continued and become more visible.
The tube ends have all been ground to the correct dimensions ready for flaring and beading.
The ends of the new stays have been hammered over and formed into the correct domed shape.
Work has started on lapping the various valve faces and is being planned on the throttle valve.
All of this work is driving toward the target of having the boiler pressure tight during the Autumn so that hydrostatic testing can begin.
While all of this is critical, but not very obvious, Dennis’s recent activity has been very obvious!. I have been working in the Steam shop for more than 12 years now and a key distinguishing feature of #5 has always been the big gap in the bottom of the smoke box.
One weekend the new sheet, temporarily fitted with a lifting eye, was hoisted into place. At this point it is turned to the left to allow fine adjustment to match the existing metal on the fireman’s side where you can still see the gap.
A week later Dennis is making final adjustments to have the new plate sit accurately around both front and back rings as well as making a close fit to allow welding to the old wrapper sheet along both sides. This is now done and work can proceed to drilling the holes that will be used to rivet it to the front ring and the boiler barrel.
So substantial progress in the last couple of months but now things get really busy!. By the end of September #1630 should be back in the shop for a program of Winter work and efforts continue to have #5 ready for running next year. Availability of funds will be a big factor in determining whether this can be achieved.
Friday, July 17. 2015
Steam Department Update June 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:56
June and July are normally quiet months for project work in the steam shop with many volunteers on vacation and the demands of operating and maintaining #1630 taking the time of those who are available. A cursory look into the shop would suggest 2015 is no different. After the insulation work, #428 and the Shay are now back in their familiar positions and #938 is back at the North end to continue the cosmetic / evaluation work.
However, the cursory look would miss some radical progress!!. Read on!.
#1630 has continued to run fairly well but with minor issues that take a lot of time during the non-running weekends. On the crewing side three trainees )including me!) have now qualified as firemen, which means that they can now operate with just one of our qualified engineers, so reducing the demand on our small pool of engineers. Unfortunately one engineer is now largely unavailable due to external demands so we are still on the edge for crew.
Mark got the Kohring crane back into operation and has subsequently done most of the coaling. This makes it a much quicker and less demanding operation than last year;
The new water softener system seems to be a big improvement. The daily production is much improved, in part due to a better flow rate and also because it will regenerate immediately the required volume is reached while the old one regenerated only at night;
At each “off” weekend we deal with the minor issues noted by crews during the previous weeks but two issues have proved “niggling” and have been addressed a couple of times.
The steam connection to the fireman’s injector starter valve has proved very reluctant to seal completely free of small leaks and will be reworked again this weekend; and
A small leak around the feed to the fireman’s sight glass reappeared a couple of weeks after it was last addressed and will be addressed again this weekend.
It all takes time and small groups of volunteers are to be seen Saturdays and sometimes during the week dealing with issues such as these as well as helping the crew with start-up and disposal activities. This is a big help as I can assure you that the full day of grate cleaning, lighting up, ash pan cleaning, greasing, then firing for the day before taking on water and shutting down is a VERY hard day’s work, particularly when temperature and humidity are high!.
The new roof insulation in the South shop was completed and the shop is back in use.
Sudden rapid progress on the new compressor shed, which is a big development funded from the annual benefit at San Filippo, has been made in the last few weeks:
The concrete slab was laid with the bolts to secure the large compressor set into it;
In the last week the building itself has been erected and the old door replaced by a solid wall that will significantly reduce heat loss in Winter;
The compressors were moved to the West side door to allow easy pick up by the fork lift when they are moved into their new location;
We now wait on the fitting of the roller doors before we can start the insulation;
The pressure will be to get everything operational before Winter. We have some significant riveting in prospect and a key expectation of the new compressor installation is that it will provide sufficient air to support riveting without the need to use the Sullair (mobile compressor). This will be a big bonus as Winter is ideal for a hot job like riveting but digging out the Sullair and starting it in sub-zero temperatures can be “fun”.
Now to the huge progress …….. Shay #5
On a walk around the shop she really does not look any different but, look into the smokebox area and, she is VERY different!. As discussed in the last blog, there are huge benefits in daily working to move large projects forward quickly.
Brian Davies, assisted by a number of the younger volunteers as available on a day by day basis, worked solidly for two weeks on the boiler. The effects are remarkable:
The tube and flue holes in both sheets were prepared (rough edges removed) and profiled;
Ferrules were expanded into all the holes;
Both small tubes and super heater flues were cut to length and installed in the tube sheets;
The ends of all tubes and flues were expanded into the tube sheets;
Work is now progressing on grinding excess material from the tube ends in preparation for beading.
So the Shay now has a fully tubed boiler and is being worked towards hydrostatic testing!. We now have some tasks, such as preparing all the tubes for beading and lapping the various valves that are required to seal the boiler for hydro, that can efficiently be carried out by weekend teams.
The tubing was much easier to carry out with the bottom of the smokebox missing. However subsequent work will be less affected by the smokebox bottom so the plan is to pull the front truck out shortly and start fitting the new bottom of the smokebox. This is actually a smaller task than the tube fitting but will have a much greater impact on the appearance of the locomotive.
The last couple of weeks have really confirmed our belief in the importance of at least periods of full time work to progress a major steam locomotive project. We attracted some donations from the appeal last month (final information next month) that will allow another intensive session later in the year. Having #5 running for 2016 now looks very realistic if we can continue this way.
On #428 riveting of the cab has continued and this is now well advanced.
Ed has worked steadily on the pipework including finding old photographs to help in the complex task of identifying how the various pipes were routed and what they did. Really tricky when you start from a pile of pipes of different sizes bent to follow complex paths but removed years ago by people no longer around ………… and the probability that some are likely missing and a few from other locos may have been included in the pile!. However, the cab pipework is now substantially complete.
A big barrier on #428 will be the availability of fabrication / welding time. Many hours of skilled fabrication and welding are required to fit the new cab floor, build up the axle boxes and rubbing plates on the wheels, etc. Over Winter this will still compete for time with any work on #1630 and the Shay as that moves toward running condition.
On a side note, I was one of the volunteers missing for a couple of weeks in June as I visited family in the UK. During that time I did a day of throttle pull (called footplate experience over there) on the Severn Valley Railway near Birmingham with my oldest son. They are a very welcoming group with a whole organization around footplate experience that is run frequently and includes time both driving and firing on a train running over a 15 mile line with family / guests riding all day. Anyone interested in steam throttle pull and recognizing the shortage of opportunities here might well consider it if you visit the UK.
Amazing how different a steam engine can be in the detail. We used a GWR Manor class 10 wheeler of 1930’s design.
Only just over half the power of #1630 but with 68 inch wheels and easily able to accelerate a 6 car train to line speed on a heavily graded line. Aside from the obvious attention to appearance the amazing thing was the simplification and standardization. Historically all substantial overhaul work was done by major works that also designed and built the locomotives. So even pipework is common to all locomotives in a class and many of the parts, even to the extent of the whole boiler, are interchangeable between classes. There is also a startling reduction in the amount of pipework when the boiler an fittings are all designed and made together. Generally one valve to control and shut off each unit where we have multiple shut offs. You get on the footplate and the immediate impression is “there’s nothing here. Where are all the controls?”.
Still a tremendous day highly recommended to anyone visiting the UK.
So a lot of progress and hopefully a lot more to come.
Sunday, May 31. 2015
What a difference a month can make in the Steam shop.
The South end of the shop now presents a remarkable sight, wide open in a way that has not been seen in many years.
This is driven by a Buildings & Grounds project to install sprayed insulation on the roof. The shop is one of the few heated buildings in the museum and cutting wastage of heat is a high priority. The existing panel insulation has been prone to detach and this project is to some extent an evaluation of a new method to insulate the type of structure used widely in the museum. Anyway, the contractors start the first week of June and need clear access to the South shop. This has driven and been enabled by some substantial activity on our projects.
First and foremost was #1630. By the end of May, she was routinely located outside in the preparation area, coaled, watered, greased and ready for another weekend of operation.
The shine on the paintwork in this picture is no good things as far as I was concerned!. It indicates frequent heavy rain while I was doing the preparation. Clearing the firebox and laying a half ton base of coal for lighting up can be less than fun with 100% humidity and periods of heavy rain!. For anyone wondering what is the strange curved object attached to the walkway and standing well above the top of the boiler, this is the hoist that we use to lift the fan onto the chimney. So this is a clear indication that she is ready to fire and awaiting installation of the fan early the next morning.
Still she ran well again on Saturday despite frequent rain, rapidly falling temperatures and winds developing to near gale force as the day progressed. Sadly not too many visitors to see it!. Those who braved the weather were rewarded with some spectacular sights of steam trailing across the corn fields.
With #1630 gone from the shop, other big changes were possible. Shay #5 was linked to its tender again, albeit temporarily and this allowed her and #428 to be moved North into the main and North buildings. So, aside from a big house cleaning, what was achieved in May?.
Obviously the work early in the month focused on #1630. In recent years May has become a month of frenetic activity as we prepare for operation and so it was this year. Many people took days off work and there was activity in the shop several days each week as we worked thru the list of tasks to get 1630 into operation.
As was strongly suspected last month, it proved impossible to be ready for operation May 16th/17th. However steam testing was completed May 21st and a full weekend of operation was achieved for the 3 day Memorial Day weekend and we are running the weekend of May 30/31st as a substitute for the 16/17th. Given the weather this may not been seen by many visitors!!. Oh well, some you win!.
It is startling how much faster things can move when we can have teams working several days each week. In the first two weeks of May:
Dennis finished a great deal of welding including:
building up the mounting for the tender draft gear;
welding new plate into the bottom of the tender to provide a solid surface for shoveling;
straightened the tender footplate on the engineer’s side. This had a strange “hump” dating back decades to some unknown accident damage and now provides a level surface for the first time in memory;
attached the tear drops to the grate shakers.
Phil spent a lot of hours in the cramped space under the ash pan, assisted by a number of others working outside, to reinstall and adjust the wedges on #5 axle.
On the first weekend of May, the major task of refitting the draft gear into the packet under the tender was achieved. This took a lot of brainstorming. The challenge was how to lift this unwieldy assembly (several hundred pounds and nearly 3 feet long) into a narrow space under the tender and above the axle. It is being above the axle that really provided the challenge. The draft gear must be raised into the pocket. It cannot slide in from the rear. However the depth of the draft gear draft gear is such that it barely fits above the axle and below the pocket. So the whole tender must be jacked up by the thickness of anything put under the draft gear to support it on the fork lift.
The eventual solution was to balance the assembly with as much projection beyond the forks as possible. It was then secured with a bar below the forks and steel banding around the assembly. Here JD and Trevor work on this mounting.
It looked precarious but the acid test (large volunteer jumps up and down on the projecting end!) proved that it was solid. This way only the thin tips of the forks had to fit above the axle. With this set up the fitting went relatively smoothly and the tender was again complete with a coupler and ready to push forward onto the locomotive. Once it is back in place, it is difficult to visualize all the effort that has gone into making it look so normal!. JD then completed the operation over the next few days with a couple of heavy contacts when coupling to break the wood blocks in the draft gear and release the spring mechanism to its normal operation.
In the second week the footplate welding as completed, the tender pushed forward to the locomotive and the drawbars fitted to make her a single unit again. With this done, she was moved to allow the fitting of the coupling rod on the fireman’s side and she was again mechanically complete.
Around these major activities, a lot of other people were working to:
Rebuild the reverser air cylinder;
Make and fit the new steam feed line to the air compressor;
Load and fit the brick arch;
Clean and refit the injector starter valves;
Refit all the connections between locomotive and tender;
… and numerous other little tasks.
However, by Wednesday she was ready to switch out to the steam service lead and load with coal and water. During this came the “ceremonial last task”. With the assistance of Dave Diamond operating the boom truck, the dome cover was lifted into place.
On Thursday came the acid test. The fire was lit and steam raised. All the essential tests of critical equipment such as safety valves, injectors and air compressor proved very successful. Once the steam test was completed a number of test runs, first light engine and then with train were completed and we were satisfied that she was again operational.
Having now fired a couple of days it is clear that she is significantly better than last year (after all the Winter work we would be pretty disappointed if this were not the case!!). A number of nagging steam leaks are gone. The work on the rear axle has significantly reduced knocking that was apparent last year and the rod bearing that tended to run warm is now cool despite having much less play than last year. So a very successful outcome to the Winter work program.
It is on Shay #5 that we have the biggest news. We can now clearly see our way to a second operating steam locomotive in the near future.
She is currently a single unit again and at the North end of the shop.
However the real achievements are not obvious.
Phil’s efforts over the last couple of months have overcome the problem that has sidelined this locomotive for many years. He successfully cleared the tell-tale holes on all but 20 firebox stays. So all stays in the boiler are now fully compliant with current FRA requirements and the 20 had all been removed for replacement.
Additional thickness testing was carried out on some parts of the boiler to ensure that we have all the data to complete the form #4 and this indicates that all parts of the boiler and firebox shell are suitable for normal operating pressure.
In the last week, with Brian Davies (who leads this project) up from Florida, all 20 of the stays previously removed were replaced. (This involves re-tapping the firebox sheets and machining stays to fit each location). Good progress was also made on peening the ends of a number of the new stays.
Work has also been progressing on exact measurement of the tube sheet and tubes to identify exactly what ferrules are required to fit around the tubes in both front and rear tube sheets.
The remaining work on this locomotive is clearly defined and not as big as it might appear. So when will we see her in steam?. A lot of thought is going into this question at present.
The steam department at IRM has traditionally worked almost entirely on a volunteer basis. Near miracles have been achieved this way but it is slow. In practical terms a job that would take 2 men 10 days to complete in a traditional back shop would take us 2 months, probably more once you consider that both guys may not be available every weekend and there are inefficiencies in putting a job down and picking it up again a week later.
In the last few months we have, to a limited extent, used donated money to employ people on a part time basis to concentrate several days a week on major jobs and this has allowed us to complete some tasks that had previously been stalled.
So this is the big question being considered now. The work required to get #5 into steam is now clearly defined:
Re-tube the boiler and hydro test;
Fit (weld and rivet) the new smokebox bottom sheets (inner and outer) and then fit the exhaust assembly into the new steelwork;
Lag the boiler and fit the sheet steel cladding;
Produce and fit a new front beam and walkways;
…………. Plus the various minor tasks to fit accessories and reconnect the drive mechanism.
Several aspects of this work are of the type that would take months to do entirely with volunteer effort but a matter of weeks if we “bite the bullet” and pay people to work full time on them.
On a purely volunteer basis, we should probably be able to get her into service sometime next year. If we have the funds to accelerate the key tasks, it could be a lot quicker.
So a lot rests on the level of interest. If you are in favor of accelerating the steaming of Shay#5 by paying to get key work done quickly, consider a donation to the Shay #5 fund. My own view is clear!. I will offer to match donations received during June up to a total of $2,000.
Now we go into a few months of very different activity. There is a lot of work required each week to address any minor maintenance on #1630 then fuel her and prepare for the next operating session. In parallel with this we hope to progress work on #5, the painting of #938 and various shop improvement projects. But there is always the contending attraction of taking time out to see #1630 running ……. and you can hardly deny us that pleasure!.
Sunday, May 24. 2015
The first day in service for #1630 was very successful. Six trips at hourly intervals with no significant issues. Even the trainee fireman (me) survived the day without major problem (which was probably a bigger surprise!).
The Winter work appears to have substantially improved the operation of the rod bearings on #5 axle as was the objective.
So we are now operating normally as scheduled. (Obviously the essential caveat!. This is a 100 year old machine. Last minute problems can arise. We will try to give advance notice whenever possible but, in the worst case, a problem found during start up can result in a last minute cancellation).
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Raphael about The Mt. Harvard unloading at IRM
Sun, 11-22-2015 17:49
hey, thats actually pretty cool. and the funds for the main restoration will be there.
Jerry Hund about More Increditable Pictures of the Mt. Harvard Move
Sun, 11-22-2015 17:45
Roger, Thanks for the update on Mid Continent RR museum. This was the first museum I ever visited. I believe it was 1964. So if I understand you, any [...]
Roger Kramer about The Mt. Harvard unloading at IRM
Sat, 11-21-2015 22:12
Hello Chris Absolutely, Irm will accept donations from mutual funds as well as donations from stocks and bonds. I would strongly suggest you [...]
Chris about The Mt. Harvard unloading at IRM
Sat, 11-21-2015 13:16
Will IRM accept donations from mutual funds? This has some tax considerations that are more attractive than donating from savings. The donation is [...]
Gerald Dettloff about Model Railroad Display Update
Fri, 11-20-2015 10:23
Sorry Jeron, spelled your name wrong1
Gerry Dettloff about Model Railroad Display Update
Thu, 11-19-2015 19:00
Geron, It seems to me that most readers of this blog have no clue as to how how the museum finances projects. To add to your comments, I would point [...]
Matthew Gustafson about Model Railroad Display Update
Thu, 11-19-2015 18:54
Oh you bet I will be, Espically near the Steam Department and Barn 9 is usually were I want to put my most of my money in since at the moment I don't [...]
Jeron Glander about Model Railroad Display Update
Thu, 11-19-2015 17:59
Hi Matt, You have a couple of options. If you're interested in donating to specific projects and you will be on site at the museum, stop in to the [...]
Jeron Glander about The Mt. Harvard unloading at IRM
Thu, 11-19-2015 17:49
Mr. Nicholson, Is there a particular diesel or other piece of equipment under the care of the internal combustion department (the CNW bilevels, [...]
Matthew Gustafson about Model Railroad Display Update
Thu, 11-19-2015 13:24
Is the best way to send donations here over donating on site at the museum? (It tried to donate to several projects on my September visit to the [...]
andy spinelli about The Mt. Harvard unloading at IRM
Thu, 11-19-2015 09:13
Hi Roger will you or Vic Humphreys be around this sat? the 21st? Thanks Andy O also what time should I stop out?
Roger Kramer about The Mt. Harvard unloading at IRM
Tue, 11-17-2015 20:48
Harold, I must ask you if you are member? Do you know the museum's internal finances? You just presume that so called fact. Don't worry about other [...]
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