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Tuesday, February 9. 2016
Steam Department Update January 2016 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 19:56
A very busy month in the steam shop that can best be described as “so far so good”.
In the last blog I outlined the plan for work on #1630 this Winter. Thru January we have worked steadily on this plan. The discovery in December that the valve chambers were worn to the extent that both need to be re-bored turned the program for this Winter from one that looked relatively simple in comparison the last year into one that will be a challenge to complete for May.
However, we have now completed re-boring the first valve chamber (engineer’s side), which is a huge step. In this entry, I will describe what has been involved in getting this far. What we have found so far does suggest that, once this work is completed she will be substantially more capable than at any time since she arrived from Eagle Pitcher.
The detailed measurements of the two valve cylinders revealed a great deal of wear. The valve moves over a relatively limited proportion of the overall cylinder length (over and either side of the port openings. This means that the wear is very uneven over the length of the bore. In our case the worst area of wear (on the fireman’s side) was approaching 1/8th inch larger in diameter than the unworn areas of the same bore. This is well beyond tolerances that would have been acceptable during overhaul in steam days.
Each valve is a quite complicated assembly. This shows one complete valve just detached from its rod.
The seal between the valve and the cylinder at each end is made by two pairs of spring loaded rings. Each ring is made up of 4 equal segments. Between each pair of rings is a solid iron bull ring. It is the bull ring that forms the bearing between the valve and the liners of the valve chamber. When new the clearance between the raised section of the bull ring and the liner should be 1/32 inch. Not visible when the valve is assembled is the fact that the bull ring has extensions on either side of the visible bearing surface and about ½ inch below it. These form the base of the channels in which the spring rings fit.
At each end of the valve is a cast “spider” which has a central hole thru which fits the valve rod. The spider has a machined cylindrical body the end of which fits into the fabricated valve body. The spring and bull rings are fitted around the cylindrical body of the spider. When the components are fitted to the valve rod and the not tightened the bull rings set the spacing between the spider and the valve body and so set the critical width of the slots in which ride the spring rings. This is a very significant dimension as the spring rings must be free to move to maintain the seal but, as they are prevented from coming out of the valve only by small lips, excessive play can lead to a ring segment coming free and damaging the cylinder. The machining of new bull rings will be a careful and accurate exercise!.
The whole valve is assembled on the valve rod. The back of the valve assembly sits against a ring firmly attached to the rod. When the rods are separated from the valve, the retaining ring can be clearly seen
When assembled as below the ring is hard against the spider at the back of the valve.
The various parts of the valve are fitted moving from back to front and then the other end of the assembly is clamped into place by a nut threaded onto the front of the valve rod so holding the parts together as a single assembly. Here you can see the large castellated nut and cotter that clamps the assembly from the front.
Once the clamping nut is removed the front spider can be carefully driven away from the valve body. The amount of force needed varies depending upon the extent to which carbon has built up around the parts. Comparing this view to the previous one, the spider has moved far enough away from the valve body to open up the slot which traps the rear pair of spring rings sufficiently to allow the spring and rings to be removed. At this point the front pair of rings are still trapped in their slot between the bull ring and the spider.
Considerably later, the bull ring has been pulled off the spider releasing the front pair of rings and the old bull ring is now shown on top of the cast iron that is being prepared for machining to make the replacement.
With all rings removed the spider sits on its own and is in process of thorough cleaning to remove all carbon and allow the new bull ring and spring rings to be assembled onto it.
Similar cleaning is required on the valve body, here seen with both spiders removed.
Both valves have now been stripped to their components and cleaning of the valve bodies and spiders is well under way. We have new spring rings of various sizes that were obtained with the locomotive in the 1970’s. These were made in 1/16th inch increments between the nominal bore size (12 inch) and the maximum allowable re-bored size (12 3/8 inch). We do not have a complete range so the actual size to which we bore the cylinders will be determined by both what is required to remove the wear and reach a smooth, true bore and the rings we have available. The likely size is 12 3/16 as this is both slightly above the worst measured areas of wear and a size for which we have adequate new rings.
So far the ES valve liners have been bored. First the substantial mounts, that hold the bearing ion which the boring bar rotates, must be firmly bolted to to each end of the casting.
Once the mounts are in place, the boring bar itself must be carefully slide into the mounts. This is a fun exercise!. The bar must be very rigid as the objective is to hold the cutters so that they maintain accuracy of cut to within thousands of an inch along it whole length. This requires a bar of about 3 inch diameter. It took 6 guys to move it along the shop. So gently positioning and sliding it into position is no small task!. Just to make it more fun, the cutter head must be placed over the bar as it is fitted thru the rear bearing and before the bar can be pushed along the length of the cylinder.
Success. Here the end of the bar projects thru the bearing at the other end of the cylinder.
The boring itself is very difficult to capture. The gears that allow the cutter to be manually advanced and retracted, then locked to the screw mechanism to make the cut, have been attached to the shaft at the front.
An air motor then turns the shaft, with the cutter head attached, while the gears slowly turn a geared shaft running the length of the boring bar to which the cutter head is geared. In this way the cutter head is advanced a fraction of an inch at each rotation. Each cut takes about 30 minutes but it takes at least that long to accurately adjust the cutter head to required depth for the next cut
Once the actual re-bored size is determined, we can start to machine the new bull rings. These are required to be 1/32 under the bore size on their flat surface.
The bull rings and cylinder liners are made of cast iron, the wear properties of which were found most suitable for this application. This makes the first stage of producing replacements unusual. I suspect that, in steam days, blanks, from which the bull rings would be machined, were specially cast for the purpose and requiring limited machining to complete. Nowadays that is not economic on a small scale. Suitable rings are not available so we must start from a disk. The first step is therefore to produce the ring, of a suitable size for final machining, by cutting probably 75% of the total weight of the disk out of the center to produce a ring. This is a long and tedious process on the lathe, taking several hours for each ring. Brian has worked at this for several days and has now produced the 4 rings needed. All this was accomplished amid a deal of comments from the rest of the team around him going into the mass production of iron filings!.
In other areas
Works continued on producing the bracing that will allow us to rivet the smokebox of the Shay.
Good progress has been made on completing the cab of #428 to the extent that it is now being fitted with windows.
The large compressor for the new air system is now wired and was recently run in test mode. This was the first time that this compressor has run under load since it was salvaged from the Milwaukee Road shops many years ago. Testing allowed a number of adjustments to be made but also indicated the need to replace one valve and install an unloading mechanism. This will take a couple of week but then we should be ready for inspection and commissioning.
Thursday, January 7. 2016
Update on a locomotive you seldom ... Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 21:15
Brian also provided an update on a locomotive that is rarely heard of.
In fact, we hope that this is a lead in to the sort of thing we hope to do more of in future. As space becomes available in the new barns in the South Yards, we hope to move smaller equipment stored partially stripped for restoration out of barn 9 so that larger pieces can be moved into this barn for conservation and cosmetic restoration.
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 2-8-2 #4963
Everyone needs a day off once in a while. My trips up to IRM to work on the shay could, I suppose, be considered "vacation time". But even while on a work vacation I still need a break from working on the shay. But instead of doing what any normal person would do and take a day off away from the shop, I relax and unwind by working on little projects on other locomotives.
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 4963 has become one such "little" project I have worked on for a few hours on each of my trips to IRM in 2015. The locomotive currently sits at the far south end of track 94 in barn 9. While the three other locomotives on display at the far south end of the barn--Milwaukee Road 265, the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric, and DT&I 16--look quite nice cosmetically as viewed from the end of the building, the 4963 looked incomplete and out of place.
Looking at the locomotive every time I was in that part of barn 9, I decided there are a few things I could do to improve the appearance of the front end of the locomotive.
The smokebox was already years ago painted a light grey, and much of the piping, handrails, and such were in primer. The first step then was to paint the smokebox. The smokebox received a couple of coats of what is called Slip Plate paint. This is basically graphite in suspension in other chemicals that, when dries, looks very close in appearance to the graphite and valve oil mixture we use on 1630's smokebox, but unlike that paint it does not require heat to dry it. This Slip Plate paint is used in general industry as a lubricant, and is used by some steam locomotive operators as a smokebox paint. Following a couple of coats of this paint, all of the above mentioned parts on the front of the locomotive that were in primer received a couple of coats of black paint. This in itself created a remarkable transformation in the appearance of the locomotive!
Now the locomotive needed a headlight. While we do not have 4963's original headlight, fortunately for the locomotive there was one readily available. The past several years Phil has been putting a headlight on Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific 938 during the summer season. This headlight, while very nice looking on the 938, is not the proper headlight for the locomotive. We do have the headlight that 938 was retired with, and Phil has been working on restoring it to put back on the locomotive. The headlight that has been on 938 recently is, in fact, a headlight from another Burlington 2-8-2 from a class older than 4963. This headlight was brought out to barn nine and lifted onto the locomotive with the help of several Steam Department volunteers. So while not her own original headlight, 4963 now has a true Burlington headlight! The headlight was wired into the electrical power in the building, and now comes on when the lights in that part of the building are turned on.
The headlight looks great on 4963. However, there were no number glass plates in the headlight. Before my most-recent trip to IRM in October, I made two new number plates for the headlight. These were made by hand cutting individual numbers from heavy paper to use as stencils, then painting painting around these in black on plate glass, then covering the same side of the glass in white paint. This technique allows light from a bulb inside the headlight to shine through the numbers at night. There were several different techniques used to make number plates like these, such as using a metal or cardboard stencil between two pieces of glass, but my research shows this particular process was one of the techniques used on the Burlington. An additional piece of glass was placed in the brackets with each of these painted pieces to protect them, and special thanks needs to go to Tim Peters of the Electric Car Department for not only giving me the glass to use for this, but also for offering to cut it. Thank you, Tim!
At this point I thought it sure would look great if 4963 had a number plate on the front of the smokebox again. Luckily for us, Tom Schneider, curator of the Steam Department, was able to have a replica number plate cast years ago for the locomotive. The plate needed to have mounting holes drilled and tapped for bolts to secure it to the smokebox, then several coats of primer and black paint were applied, followed up by several coats of yellow lettering paint. Once dry, JD and I brought it out to the 4963 and bolted it on.
Now 4963 really looks like something to be proud of! I still need to add another coat or two of Slip Plate paint on the smokebox on the front and on the side the public sees, as well as several coats on the side of the locomotive facing the side wall of the barn. Over time I would like to add proper classification lamp holders and flag holders to the front of the smokebox. We have metal on hand that was cut long ago to make new class lamp holders. Eventually I hope to get these welded together and machined and painted. We have the correct lamps on hand. New flag holders would have to be cast. We have ones on another locomotive that are correct and can be used as patterns to have the new ones cast.
One nice feature on this locomotive's smokebox is a set of hinges that allow workers to open up the whole smokebox face and swing it to the side without having to remove it from the locomotive. Half of each of the two hinge assemblies are still bolted to the side of the smokebox. While looking around in the smokebox we found one of the two parts that bolts on to the front of the locomotive. We appear to be missing the other piece. If any readers out there know where we could acquire the other hinge piece, please let us know.
How much farther will we go on the cosmetic work on this locomotive? I don't know. Right now it is just being worked on as I have a few spare hours a few times a year, and that is how it will be for the foreseeable future. However, money also talks, and if you would like to see a little more cosmetic work done on the locomotive over time, a few more dollars in her restricted fund couldn't hurt!
Oh, and to answer the question which I know will be asked: Right now there is no plan to return the locomotive to operation. However, the locomotive has many good things going for it towards any future rebuild. The tender tank is in very good shape, as is the cab. The running gear is far from new and is missing a few parts, but is generally not in horrible shape upon initial inspection. The firebox also doesn't show any obvious problems upon initial inspection. However, there are many parts from in the cab missing, as well as the bell, whistle, auxiliary steam dome lid, and a list of other items. That being said, there is nothing I have seen to preclude its restoration sometime years down the road. And with her appearance improving, it is easier and easier to imagine what 4963 must have looked like in revenue service on the Burlington.Brian Davies
Thursday, January 7. 2016
Shay #5 from Brian Davies January 2016 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 20:34
Shay update, January 2016:
Happy New Year! My last report here regarding the Shay was back in September. I had fully intended to do a report following my three week trip up to IRM in October, but life has a way of intervening. It also doesn't help matters that I tend to like machining, painting, and mechanical work better than putting my thoughts on paper. But, here we go.
As Nigel has been reporting, great progress has been made since my last report towards returning the Shay to service. I will try to put some names down here to thank and acknowledge those who have helped on the Shay for all of their hard work. I will undoubtedly miss names, and to those people, I can't thank you enough for all of your continued help on this project. When you great blog readers visit IRM, please remember that everything you see running and restored is thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors. Thank you all!
On to the Shay. During my three week vacation work was progressing on the Shay on a daily basis. Many volunteers came in on weekdays when normally no one is in the shop, and this help really pushed our project forward. As Nigel has already given descriptions of much of what has been accomplished on the Shay during my three week "vacation" and leading up to today, I will attempt to add what I can to what he has already covered.
As of now all of the work to properly seal and form the ends of every boiler tube is complete. At IRM, we use the time honored, traditional methods of installing boiler flues used almost universally in the steam era. I can go into this process in further detail in a future blog if people would like, but suffice it to say for now that the methods we use take a lot of time, but result in a tube job that should give us a very well-sealed boiler for all 15 years of service until the next federally mandated boiler inspection.
One stay bolt was found to be broken the first time we filled the boiler with water, and a couple of days later it was replaced.
Trevor, with help from Ben, has finished preparing the inside of the water tender for painting with a protective coating. In the upcoming weeks Cody will be leading the project of painting the inside of the tender tank.
As Nigel has reported in previous shop reports, the boiler on the Shay has passed its federally mandated hydrostatic pressure test. This major milestone will now allow us to proceed with the jobs of adding parts back on the boiler.
The boiler on steam locomotives gets an insulation material applied to it. This is called lagging. Surrounding the lagging is a sheet metal skin called the jacket. We use a type of block insulation that, while quite messy and itchy to apply, works quite well and can withstand the pressure of engine crews standing on the jacket repeatedly while doing maintenance on the locomotive. Jerry has started the process of securing wires circumferentially and evenly spaced along the boiler which will be used to secure the lagging to the boiler.
The process of applying the blocks of insulation will begin shortly. This job consists of wiring individual blocks of lagging onto the boiler, one at a time, securing them to the previously mentioned circumferential wires to hold them in place. Once the insulation is applied, the task of refitting the jacket can begin. To prepare for this, several volunteers, including Jane, Ben and others, have been working to remove old primer and rust from the back sides of every piece of jacketing, and then priming and painting the back side to help prevent rust and keep the jacket in good condition. We have thus far held off on doing any cleaning up of the outside surface of the jacket, other than removing old grease and oil, until we decide whether to paint the locomotive over this winter or not. Painting takes a good amount of volunteer time that may otherwise be needed for other mechanical projects to get the locomotive into operating condition. If the mechanical side of the project continues at a good pace, some paint work may start in the next few months.
Once the lagging and jacketing is installed, work can then turn to reinstalling all of the piping necessary to make the locomotive operable. This includes water delivery pipes, steam pipes to the various appliances, and air piping for the bell, sanders, and brake system, as well as related brake control stands in the cab.
During the Shay's whole operating life, from the time it was built to the time it was retired from regular service, it burned oil as its fuel source. When the Shay was converted to burn coal by the Chicago and North Western Railway in preparation for its arrival at IRM in the late 1960's, an industrial grate system was installed. These grates performed generally well over the years. However, as they were not designed for locomotive use, they were at times cantankerous and hard to rock in order to clean clinker and ashes from them each morning. Also eventually, due to age and use over time, the grates would warp or break, necessitating periodic replacement. Around the time the locomotive was removed from service at IRM the decision was made to make the proper grates for this locomotive. To this end, Steam Curator Tom Schneider, following original Lima Locomotive Works drawings, made new wood patterns to have all new, proper, grates and side bearers cast. Phil and I spent time in the Shay's firebox in October measuring and laying out where the new studs will be welded in the firebox to support the new grate system. In the next few weeks the hope is that our welder Dennis, aided by Phil, will weld in these studs. Once this is done installation of the grate system and its associated linkage can be carried out.
Another large area of the locomotive, the smokebox, has seen a great amount of work done on it in the past couple of months. All of the holes needed to rivet on the new bottom portion of the smokebox have been drilled, and the bottom piece was bolted on, awaiting riveting and welding to the old portion. Several of the rivets that need to be installed are in an area inconveniently close to the frame of the locomotive. Because of these close confines, normal riveting practices are quite difficult. To make it possible to rivet in these areas, Tom and Dennis designed a special fixture that will allow us to use the frame of the locomotive to our advantage to aid us in driving the rivets!
Hopefully Nigel can describe this in better detail in a future blog update. Once the riveting is done, Dennis will weld the new bottom to the old part of the smokebox. Soon after this is done, installation of the superheater units and other front end pieces can begin. To prepare for this, our machinist, Eric, has been busy machining a few newly cast pieces that were made to replace old steam fittings for use in the smokebox that were very heavily deteriorated from years of corrosion and use.
There are always many, many small projects among the larger ones involved with locomotive restoration. One of these currently is replacement of several wood brackets used to secure lubrication piping above the motor unit. Over the years these pieces have rotted out to the point where they do little to hold the lubrication piping in place.
Phil and John have been working on replicating these pieces, and they should be reinstalled in the next few weeks.
Being away from the museum as much as I am can not only make it a challenge to manage a project in a way that moves a project along at a good pace and keeps everyone happy, but it is also frustrating when I wish I could physically do more to help while I am not there. Because of this I took on a project for the Shay that could be done from home. It was quite common for logging locomotives to have steam driven water pumps on them to use for firefighting for washing the locomotive, and I am sure for various other uses. Our Shay has had one of these duplex steam pumps on it most of its life. Unfortunately, when the locomotive was retired and before it came to IRM the pump appears to have been removed from the locomotive. In the early to mid 1970s, volunteers replaced it with a different pump. While not the same brand of pump the locomotive carried in service, the pump is an appropriate stand in. In fact, while doing research on this pump, I found that the pump is older than the locomotive! This pump has not been operable in the time I have been a volunteer at IRM (starting in 1995) and even Tom Schneider, who has been with IRM since the mid 1970s, doesn't remember the last time this pump was operable. For many years I have wanted to rebuild this pump and return it to operation. I started working on it in April of this year, and I am happy to report that its rebuild was completed on December 23rd; my Christmas present to IRM, the Shay, and the steam shop.
If there is interest I can write a blog about the restoration of this pump at a future time. But for now, I am excited that the pump is again operable, works well, and will be serviceable on the Shay hopefully for years to come.
Overall, work on the Shay is moving along at a fine pace. Much has been accomplished since my last report in September, and the list of things to do is growing ever shorter. We are still working towards the goal of seeing the locomotive operate in 2016.
As Nigel and I have both mentioned, we are actively seeking donations towards the rebuilding of the Shay. Nigel has informed me that since his last plea for funds several donations have come in for the Shay. THANK YOU!! We really, truly appreciate every donation we receive. I think perhaps us members don't always express well how much we really appreciate all of you who donate money to preserve and rebuild our equipment, but we couldn't do the work we do without your help. So again, thank you very, very much.
I would also like to say a huge THANK YOU to every member of the Steam Department who has helped on the Shay's restoration to date. Each of you will be to thank for the locomotive's return to service. This said, we always welcome new volunteers. If any of you reading this have thought over time, "Someday I would really like to go out there and try volunteering in the Steam Shop," well, why wait? The work is dirty and results can happen slowly, but there is a lifetime of learning available to those who are interested, and generally a good amount of fun as well. You don't need to know a thing about steam locomotives, but just have a willingness to listen, learn, and work. Come out and talk to us in the shop. There is always someone there every Saturday.
Whether you are a donor, a volunteer, or a visitor to IRM, thank you for your support, and here's hoping that 2016 sees us have two of our own steam locomotives in operation for the first time since 1999!Brian Davies
Sunday, December 27. 2015
Another year draws to a close and there is a lot of activity in the steam shop. I had expected the day after Christmas to be fairly quiet but there was a good turnout and work proceeded on many fronts.
On #1630 we are progressing along what is now the standard plan for the Winter with the normal annual inspection work, which is substantially boiler focused, running in parallel with “catch up” work to improve the overall mechanical condition of the locomotive.
Aside from some smaller items, the major focus this Winter is on the valves. It has been apparent for some time that there is wear in the valves leading to lower efficiency and leakage that can be demonstrated when the valves are set in specific positions with steam applied. As with most backlog work, the initial hope that we could get away with a quicker and simpler repair has proved sadly misplaced!. Guess we should not be too surprised. When doing the initial stripping we found some tags set behind the valve chest nuts that indicate when last stripped for overhaul – SLSF Springfield shops 1947!. You really have to question the quality of the work when we have to do it again after only 68 years!!.
The findings so far are a mixture of good and bad news.
In parallel with the valve work, a lot of other tasks have been progressed.
On the Shay, work proceeds steadily.
On shop services, the large compressor is now fully plumbed in. As soon as we can get the power connected to it we can test and adjust it ready for the state inspection. With luck this will be ready when we want to rivet the smokebox of the Shay.
So a lot of activity but a whole lot more to be done if we are to be ready for running at the start of the season. So, Happy New Year to all and watch this space!.
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.
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Raphael about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Tue, 05-24-2016 13:10
the smaller one too?
Roger Kramer about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Mon, 05-23-2016 19:52
Hi Raphael We will install the turntable. That is what we will do with it. Thanks Roger
Roger Kramer about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Mon, 05-23-2016 19:51
Yes it will! Needs lots of money, energy and commitment ! Thanks Roger
Roger Kramer about EL coach 556 Will be in servce this year
Mon, 05-23-2016 19:49
Hello Kirk We are starting on the 2524 asap. The 2612 is all but finished. Still to be completed are projects that can not be accomplished by my [...]
Keegan about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Mon, 05-23-2016 14:04
Did you say roundhouse to? That will really be impressive.
Kirk Warner about EL coach 556 Will be in servce this year
Mon, 05-23-2016 13:55
Are you going to finish the 2612 before you start on the 2524r are they both going to be worked on at the same time?
Kurt Schlieter about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Mon, 05-23-2016 13:04
If you would like to see the turntable frame being moved, go to the IRM main page, click on "webcam information", on the next page click on "webcam [...]
Cabbage Stack about Steam Department – Further update
Mon, 05-23-2016 12:49
Nigel What's the timeframe for the Shay to make it's first run? Thanks.
Christopher Craig about A BIG announcement
Sat, 05-21-2016 10:38
Hi, I worked at the Burnham Loco facility, now a former railroader.. The turntable originally used electric motors, after being rebuilt in '12, [...]
Raphael about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Fri, 05-20-2016 17:56
what will the museum do with it?
David S about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Fri, 05-20-2016 13:12
A friend asked me to point out that it's DRGW, not DGRW.
Roger Kramer about Its Here, Its big, Its long, Its needs lots of $
Thu, 05-19-2016 19:45
Hello Mr. Kronenwetter Yes, there is special committee formed to complete the plans for the turntable and round house. Its headed by Tom [...]
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