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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 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.
Sunday, November 24. 2013
Steam Department Update 11-23-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 13:39
Wow!. The Winter temperatures have certainly arrived with a bang this year. This time last year we were happily moving tubes in from the boxcar. This weekend anything outside was done quickly and in heavy clothing. At 20 degrees with a strong wind most work was done inside.
However, we did manage to ensure that the drop pit pump and anti-frost heating are working and move the Sullair into the shop so that it should start if required.
· Matt and Jim produced new washers for the water connections between the tender and the injectors. The filters baskets were passed to Dennis to work on the brazed surfaces. Hopefully the combination of these two actions will provide a long term fix for these connections that have tended to leak for some years.
· Rick made good progress on fitting the sheet metal screws to secure the radius pieces of the sheet metal on the back head. Once this and a couple of other jobs are done we should be able to paint the firebox in the cab. That promises to be great fun working around all the pipes and fittings!.
· Eric did some hours of laborious needle chipping to remove paint from the driving wheels. Kevin did a lot of this some months ago. Now that the locomotive is in a different position, the rest of the wheels can now be cleaned off ready for painting.
· Ed and Bob remade the copper pipe connection for the steam heat line;
· Matt refitted the reflectors to the gauge lights. These should now be a lot brighter;
· The last of the three air tanks below the walkway was removed for painting. In addition, I worked with Collin and Matt to remove the small equalizing reservoir from under the cab floor so that it can be hammer and hydro tested. This is small but a real pain as it is surrounded by a bunch of pipes that run just below the cab floor. In the photograph below you can just see the end of the reservoir in this view under the cab on the engineer's side.
Here Collin is squeezed between the locomotive and tender working on the nuts that secure the reservoir to the back of the locomotive.
Anyway, after much cussing and tricky maneuvering, it was extracted. By end of day, I had successfully hammer tested and primed it.
· Jerry made good the insulation on the fireman's side, that was removed to fix the leaking lubricator line. He then started on the lagging of the firebox side sheets. These are unusual when compared to all the other insulation. As they need to be removed annually to inspected the firebox side stays, the insulation is attached to the sheet metal rather than the boiler;
· Dennis continued work on the sheet metal for the smokebox.
· Cameron and Brian worked with Tom to machine the new stud.
In other areas:
· Phil prepared the bolster of the Shay by removing the last loose spring locator. Once Dennis welds in the new locator we can start planning to put the bolster and springs back into the truck.
· Tom completed machining the first wedge for the axle boxes on #428;
· Brian and Cameron continued drilling the brake hangers for #428;
· Cameron worked on the moulds that are required for the casting of the babbit bearings for the cross heads;
· Bob and Ed worked on preparing the oil system of the planer for filling. The challenge is the best way to get debris out of the system before filling it with the approximately 80 gallons of oil with which it will operate;
· Brian brought in the replacement switch for the forklift and this was fitted.
So it was a successful weekend as we continue to work thru the Winter maintenance tasks. Next weekend will provide a good opportunity to work off the effects of the turkey !.
Monday, November 18. 2013
Steam Department Update 11-16-2013 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 22:04
This weekend we started in earnest on the over winter work program, primarily on 1630.
The biggest overall job will be painting the locomotive. Brian and Jane worked on understanding exactly how best to apply the paint that will be used. It is a two part type that we have not previously used and some significant planning and preparation is required. Two of the air tanks were removed and these will be the first items to be painted to provide experience and testing of the best methods of preparation and application.
Dennis was hard at work on the plate work and mesh screens for the smokebox. These are now approaching completion.
We also worked thru the items that we needed to do while we can still pressurize the boiler.
· One key item that worked out well was the tracing of a small steam leak that appeared around the handrail stanchion juts behind the sand dome. Steam appearing from behind the lagging is always troubling as it can indicate all sorts of things, some more troubling than others. We had suspected (and hoped) that it might be as simple as a loose connection on the lubricator steam line. Much to our relief it was found that this was exactly what it was. After removing a good deal of sheet metal and lagging to locate the union, soap solution revealed a very obvious leakage where the union had not been fully tightened when a new pipe was fitted.
· Matt, Jerry and others worked on the cab lighting. 3 lights in the cab were not working during the test running. A mixture of defective bulbs and a loose connection were found and by end of day, all lights on the locomotive were fully operational when the generator was run on air. They did also find and correct the issue of "dim" gauge lighting on the engineer's side!. The lights sit in little dishes that direct the light toward the gauges. The dishes have a white enameled surface to direct the light. The years have reduced this thru rust and smoke to a nice matt black!!. Cleaning and repainting have fixed that issue.
Jason, Cameron and Phil spent much of the day winterizing the water supply in the boxcar. This is a tricky job involving a lot of blowing compressed air thru the system to ensure that it is water free and then taking apart the water softening system. The weather did not help with wind and rain making the job more unpleasant than usual. Good job guys!.
So it was a successful day working toward having 1630 in top condition for 2014 operations.
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Roger Kramer about 2612 forward developments.... Feb 19 and 22
Sun, 03-02-2014 14:36
Thanks for your kind comments, Kirk! Yes, it's my hope that we can spray and hand brush, were possible, the interior when completed. Gary and I [...]
greg about Steam Department Update 02-22-2014
Sun, 03-02-2014 10:03
Thanks. Appreciate the effort. greg
Nigel Bennett about Steam Department Update 02-22-2014
Sun, 03-02-2014 08:37
Greg, I talked to Tom Schneider, the curator of the Steam Department yesterday. Rather as I suspected, he does have a good deal of information [...]
Kirk Warner about 2612 forward developments.... Feb 19 and 22
Sat, 03-01-2014 10:33
Congratulations on your great progress. Is your intent to spray the interior after repairs and priming are completed and the weather warms up? What [...]
greg jewers about Steam Department Update 02-22-2014
Thu, 02-27-2014 13:59
Hello, I was wondering if you had a history of the Louisiana and Arkansas #99 from the time it was the LR&NCo until it was acquired by the [...]
Logan about February 16th - Another Fun and Snowy Day at IRM
Tue, 02-25-2014 09:05
Jamie can you give me any information on Milwaulkee Road 33C as i havent seen any information on it in a couple of years.
Jamie Kolanowski about February 16th - Another Fun and Snowy Day at IRM
Mon, 02-24-2014 16:38
Yes, as Mark mentioned it made it into Barn 11 last year to dry out some after finally being unloaded from the flat car.
Mark Reimetrs about February 16th - Another Fun and Snowy Day at IRM
Mon, 02-24-2014 08:16
That car has been moved inside to keep the weather out as windows are repaired. I think it's in a barn that's not open to the public.
Mark Becker about February 16th - Another Fun and Snowy Day at IRM
Sun, 02-23-2014 21:25
Is there any information regarding the status of the ex California Zephyr dome coach. When I was at the museum late last summer I did not see it.
Bill Moran about OHIO Locomotive Crane - June 29, 2013
Wed, 02-19-2014 18:51
Mark, having fun yet?!
Christian Ellis about Steam Department Update 02-08-2014
Mon, 02-17-2014 12:34
Thanks for the information. I realize that it will take time to get to the more substantial projects, but I'd prefer that so that I don't damage [...]
Nigel Bennett about Steam Department Update 02-08-2014
Mon, 02-17-2014 12:08
Christian, There is not much beside what is on the website. You need to be a member (one key reason being that insurance only applies to [...]
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