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Monday, April 27. 2015
Steam Department Update April 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 15:53
Another month of intense activity. Yesterday there was a substantial flood outside the steam shop. Far from being a problem, this was a cause for celebration, marking another major milestone toward operation.
The focus thru April has been upon completing all the tests necessary prior to steaming. Most of these involve pressuring the boiler completely full of water (hydrostatic testing). The core principle is that pressurized water expands little when the pressure is released. So, should the boiler fail under 225 psi of water pressure, there is no explosion. Were it to fail under 180 psi of steam pressure, the force would substantially destroy a city block!. So the requirement is to test the boiler at 125% of operating pressure (225 psi for our 180 psi boiler) with water before you can put it into steam.
We have been filling the boiler, heating the water (testing is done with warm water to reduce stress on the boiler) and applying pressure with our antique water pump throughout April. Yesterday we reached the key milestone where, having done the last check with water, we were able to pump the water from the boiler and tender to waste. The work is complete so we no longer need the untreated well water we have been pumping between the tender and boiler all thru April. Next time we fill the tender it will be with treated water to be used in steaming.
There were several stages to the testing.
First we carried out a couple of days testing to identify leaks, correct them, and test again to ensure that we were satisfied that the boiler was fit for inspection;
Once this was done the formal test at 225 psi was carried out observed by the FRA inspector.
With this done the boiler was completely drained, the inspection hatch removed, dried and ventilated to allow people to work inside. The interior of the boiler was then inspected (with the FRA inspector observing for the second week). The key objective here is to ensure that nothing inside the boiler (particularly braces) has been loosened by applying the 125% pressure. This was carried out successfully, with one question raised on a few flexible stays that sounded dull on hammer testing. Once this is complete it is essential that the boiler is not pressured above operating as the internal inspection must be carried out whenever the boiler has been raised above operating pressure.
During the week, thickness measurements were made of the dry pipe, which is in good condition, and the hatch was then reinstalled to seal the boiler. Yesterday the boiler was pressured to 180 psi and thoroughly checked. All stays were hammer tested. This indicated that the flexis, that sounded odd when empty, ring perfectly normal under pressure and all rigid stays also ring true. No significant leaks were detected so we are ready to move forward to steaming.
Reaching this milestone opened up all sorts of activity this weekend.
The firebox was cleared of all tools and the last of the grates re-installed.
The fire hole door has been prepared for refitting.
Dennis completed welding in the cab floor.
The hydro fittings were all removed from the boiler and the auxiliary dome cover fitted.
The lagging was re-fitted to the firebox sides.
Mesh was re-installed in the smokebox
Despite all the activity, there is now serious doubt that we will be ready for our first planned steaming (May 16/17). We have made great progress overcoming the set-backs but there are still significant tasks to complete.
The biggest task is refitting the tender draft gear. This must be done before we can move the tender forward, recouple it and move the locomotive to refit the last coupling rod. Dennis has put a lot of work into building up the mounts under the tender and others have been hard at work in the unpleasant space under the tender grinding the surfaces smooth after welding. This is close to completion and then we have the fun job of squeezing the large and very heavy draft gear assembly back into its narrow pocket above the axle.
The shot above gives some idea of the work required, That draft gear fits up between the large castings that hang down from the tender. The draft gear has been displaced to the right in this view for many years causing excess wear on that side. Dennis has added the new metal that can be seen on the right an we are in process of grinding off the excess to produce a smooth surface of the correct profile to match the left hand side before the gear can be lifted back into place.
The wedges for the trailing axle box must be shimmed and refitted. Phil test fitted one yesterday. This proved that the required shim was exactly as predicted by Jason’s measurements before the shoes were machined. The shims now need to be cut, riveted to the wedges which can then be refitted.
Both injector starter valves need to be serviced and refitted. There was leakage last year and this needs to be corrected before they are refitted for this season.
The reverser cylinder must be reassembled. The cylinder was prepared yesterday for the piston to be refitted. All the parts are prepared so it is now a case of fitting. Unfortunately this and the injector valves have been delayed as Mike, who had been working on these, has had to go to Arizona for family reasons.
The “tear drops” securing the grate shakers must be fitted and welded in to place.
Additional plate work must be welded into the tender above the stoker helix to replace plate that was damaged and allowing coal to fall into the stoker channel last year.
Around these key tasks are the more obvious ones of reconnecting the tender to the locomotive and refitting the coupling rod. The issue is that we have many people who can do these tasks but only a few who can do the key tasks.
1630 has absorbed most of the effort in the shop during April but work has continued on the Shay and 428 when possible.
On the Shay, work is focused on preparing the boiler for re-tubing.
On 428 Eric has made good progress on machining the frame spacer and work has continued on riveting the cab.
So we will be working as much as we can during the week as we go into May with the objective of steaming as soon as we can.
And now a big plug for a very important event for the Department!. Tickets are now available for the Steam Department Benefit that will be held again this year at the San Filippo Estate on Sunday June 28th. The estate with its unrivalled collection of music machines and the great Wurlitzer organ, on which Dave will provide another great concert, is spectacular and can only be visited thru events such as this. This is a great afternoon out and a major opportunity to support the work in the Steam Shop.
So watch this space. I hope that, by the end of the month, I will be able to report 1630 in steam. However we have a very busy month ahead to achieve this.
Sunday, April 5. 2015
March was a month of great activity in the steam shop. Recovering from the set back at the end of February we have made great progress in preparation for the operating season.
Obviously the focus in the shop is on #1630. However turnout has been good during the month and this has allowed substantial work on other projects as well.
Looking first at #1630.
By end of day yesterday she was ready for the formal hydrostatic test of the boiler which is planned for next weekend.
The stay that was found to be broken at the end of February was removed. The old stay was ground off flush inside the firebox, heated and a large wrench applied to the domed head in the socket. It came out smoothly making the rethreading for the new stay relatively easy.
A new one was machined.
We are getting relatively practiced at this process. The worst part of this particular stay was forming the domed end once it had been screwed into place. The ball end must be bucked to prevent the stay moving as the end is hammered into shape. This one was a bear to position the bucking tool and more of the cab floor had to be removed to position the bucker.
Inside the firebox Jason used the air hammer to form the end of the stay.
The finished result is a neatly domed head. … and there was never any leakage under testing.
The weather improved at a critical time in mid-March so that we could safely run the water heater. So for the last couple of weeks we have been filling the boiler, heating the water and pressure testing. It is the nature of the beast that that high pressure water will reveal leaks that do not necessarily happen under steam due to the different temperature and expansion factors. Also, given that all the plugs and a number of stay caps have been removed as part of the annual inspection, there are likely to be points that have not sealed completely. So we have carried out a number of cycles of filling, pressuring, identifying leak points and then draining, fixing identified issues and repeating.
A couple of valves (one test cock and the rail washer) have nuisance leaks that Tom will aim to fix during the week but otherwise she looked good by end of day.
Subject to success of the test next weekend, we will then need to remove the hatch, carry out the internal inspection, and then we can start preparation for the steam test.
As suspected last month, it did proved necessary to remove the axle box shoes from number 5 axle for machining. Phil has become our expert at removing and refitting shoes and wedges. This is a horrible job, involving working in the confined space under the firebox with Portapower cylinders to drive the shoes out and then back in to position.
It is frustrating as they are not actually attached but just slot into place. However, since they are a fairly close fit on the frames and between the substantial weights of the frame and axle box, a good deal of encouragement is required to move them against the adhesion created by the grease. And this encouragement is not easy to apply in the very confined spaces under the locomotive. The absence of an inspection pit is REALLY noticed in a job like this. Hopefully this is a development that we can make in the next couple of years.
Anyway, by end of month both shoes were machined and back in place.. The plan is now to pull the axle forward, refit the rods and then test fit the wedges. It is not certain yet if we will need to put shims onto the wedges but the material has been obtained to do this is necessary.
We have done a good deal more work than initially planned in this area but this actually covers work that was tentatively scheduled for next Winter so overall it is a gain and should result in a significantly smoother running locomotive.
Having proved that the stay caps on the backhead are all free of leaks, it was possible to stay reassembling the footplate and great progress was made on that. The major elements of the stoker delivery system were refitted and most of the footplate is now re-installed. (No pictures of the stoker installation as I had to operate the fork-lift)!.
Another major area of work has been the tender draft gear. As discussed previously, a lot of damage was found in the spring mechanism of the draft gear. One big benefit was that it had been manufactured by Miner Enterprises in Geneva, who still manufacture such equipment and were extremely helpful in identifying options. After a lot of measuring and comparison it was agreed that a later pattern could be fitted into the space and Miner very generously offered a reconditioned unit of the later type in exchange for the 1918 original that will go into their museum.
The new draft gear looks quite different but has the same essential dimensions. One small anomaly is that it has a projection caused by the casting process in a place that would foul when installed in #1630. Miner’s advised that it was of no significance and could be removed …. So it was!.
Dennis has done a lot of build-up work on the yolk and coupler. What remains is the weld build -up of the support brackets under the tender. Once Dennis can complete this, we will have the “fun” of refitting the whole assembly under the tender.
The drawbars that link the locomotive and tender have been annealed and then inspected. A lot of hard work is required to thoroughly clean the drawbars to allow the inspection for cracks.
Once the footplate is completed, they are available to reconnect the locomotive to its tender. However, this will likely not be done until the draft gear is completed as it is difficult to move the tender accurately until the coupler is back in place.
The reverser cylinder was finally disassembled. This proved extremely difficult as it is clearly many years since this was last done and bolts securing the cylinder end to the cylinder were in very tricky locations and seriously frozen to their threads.
Snag is that you can repack / add additional packing to the piston gland for a long time but eventually you need to clean the whole gland out and repack. This year was eventually!. It is now being reassembled and will hopefully be another “catch up” job that will not need to be done again for a generation.
Work has accelerated substantially on the Shay.
We have used donated funds to employee Phil for several days each week primarily to complete work on the firebox. The result of his efforts, along with JD and Cody, is that all stays now either have tell-tale holes cleared to the required depth or have been removed.
The major success from this work is that all the stays that could not be accessed without motor removal have been cleared. We can now progress on the basis that the project will not require removal of the motor. Plans are now being made to fit new stays to replace those that had to be removed and then to re-tube the boiler this year. The sequence may look a little strange as we will likely fit the tubes before rebuilding the smokebox. While you would normally fit the tubes from within the smokebox, the small diameter of the Shay’s smokebox makes this an uncomfortable job. So the thinking is to take advantage of the absence of the smokebox floor and refit the tubes before it is refitted.
A lot of other work has been progressing on the Shay.
Air tanks have been hydro tested;
Interior of the water tank has been cleaned and prepared for painting;
Work has started on preparing the timber for the front beam and running boards. Unfortunately the plan of obtaining the timber for the beam some years back and allowing it to season has not worked out as intended. One of the timbers twisted a good deal more than anticipated in the process so we now have some tricky calculations to determine if it can be trimmed square and still be big enough for the purpose.
Ed has worked steadily thru the refitting of pipework. This has now moved on from the cab to other areas.
The “riveting team”, led by Stu, has worked a number of days on the cab and has made substantial progress.
After a lot of effort, Mike and the team have the planer substantially operational ready for work on the axle boxes. This has been a huge effort as it is probably about 50 years since this complex machine last operated. The documentation is not very detailed and a long period out of use, coupled with uncertainty over any defects it may have had when last used, make for a few challenges!. It is now clear just how complex the processes achieved thru the hydraulics are. The huge table moves back and forth, travelling slowly on the cutting stroke but substantially faster on the return. At each end of the stroke, the movement slows (to avoid a hard stop and reverse). At the end of the cutting stroke, the cutting heads are tilted upward to clear the work as the table returns. At the end of the return stroke, the traversing shaft rotates to advance the cutting head for the next cut by an amount that can be varied by the operator. Seeing all these actions being carried out smoothly is fascinating and a number of us spent time watching in awe!.
So wish us luck in April. We have made good progress but still have plenty to do in order to be ready to run in May.
Sunday, March 1. 2015
Steam Department Update February 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 16:54
Unfortunately not the update that I was hoping to be able to write 24 hours ago!.
The steam team has worked steadily thru a record cold February and made good progress, primarily on the Winter work on 1630. The work on the boiler was completed and the objective is to carry out an initial hydro test as soon as possible to ensure that nothing leaks on the backhead where it would be hidden by the refitting of the stoker and footplate. We really need some above freezing temperatures to safely run the heater that brings the water up to a suitable temperature for the pressure test. This has held us up for a week or so but the forecast suggests a “warm” day Tuesday so everything was planned. The tender was filled last weekend to allow the water to reach at least shop temperature. On Saturday the pipework was set up and a start made on filling the boiler.
Unfortunately this revealed that one stay seems to have broken during the process of clearing the tell-tale hole. A steady stream of water was apparent as we filled the boiler. With this stay plugged, we were able to fill the boiler and prove that this is the only stay in this condition. However, we now have a stay to replace. This was something that was not in the plan.
By end of day, Dennis had cut out the cab floor under the engineer’s area, the end of the stay in the firebox was ground flush and the stay cap had been removed. This proved rather reluctant and took a couple of attempts, otherwise we might have got the stay out. Anyway, we are now ready to remove it next week.
Replacing a flexible stay is something we did several times during the overhaul and can be done in a couple of weeks, provided we do not hit anything abnormal. However, it is additional work and means that the target of running Memorial weekend is now in some danger.
In parallel with the boiler work a lot of other work has progressed.
Dennis has put in many hours of work building up the yolk and other parts of the tender draw gear support mechanism. We should be receiving a rebuilt draw gear unit shortly and then the work can begin on making any modifications required to fit this under the tender.
A new pin has been machined for the front coupler pocket. The original was heavily worn. Once new bushes are machined and the support plate, that Dennis has rebuilt, is in place we should have a coupler that sits horizontal rather than sagging as it has in recent years!.
The air tanks are now refitted. This has been a big job as we have fitted new Teflon seals to the ball joints of the tanks. It sounds simple but replacing the very worn seals that have been there for many years can slightly alter the fit of the pipes. There is very little flexibility in large diameter steel pipes!. So in some cases we have had to cut and rethread the pipes to make the correct fit.
The new bush for the connecting rod is now complete and in place in the rod.
Dennis built up the brass on the securing disk. (My mistake. I said last month that the odd one came from a Mikado. Actually it is from a consolidation). Once that is machined we will have all the parts to reassemble the running gear.
However, the first steps at refitting suggest that, with the new bearing in place, clearance will be very tight and it may be necessary to remove and adjust the axle box shoes. Measurements that Jason has made indicate that the shoes are marginally thick and will need to be adjusted at some point. It may be that point is now!.
Work has been proceeding on the replacement of the gland packing on the air operated power reverser mechanism.
After a lot of effort the broken bolt in the smokebox front ring was successfully removed and a new one is in process of being fitted. John Heid joined us and was rapidly at work on this.
When the work on 1630 has relied more on welding and machining, people have been able to do some work in other areas.
Progress has accelerated on the Shay.
The big determinant of how quickly the Shay can be brought into service is whether we can clear the tell-tale holes on all stays behind the frames and motor brackets from inside the firebox. If all the tell-tales can be cleared to the required depth, we then need just to replace a number of stays in other areas that have been identified as bad and can then move quickly to re-tubing the boiler. If any stays need to be replaced behind the motor bracket, then we have a substantial project to remove and refit the motor in order to replace them.
Several people have been working on this as time permits but Phil is now working on the stays 3 days each week and making good progress. A lot of stays have been cleared so far. We all wait with bated breath to see if any prove beyond clearance in the critical areas. We should know within weeks now if we can avoid removing the motor.
Various work has been progressed to allow reassembly to move forward if the stay work is successful.
JD has been locating and preparing the various parts of the running boards.
Brian removed the equalizer air tank and cleaned it in preparation for hammer and hydro testing.
(Brian’s comment on this photograph was very fair!. “You could at least have taken a before shot to show just how much muck I had to remove”). Located under the cab floor, behind the engineer’s footstep this tank gets buried is everything thrown up by the wheels. Good job Brian!.
The riveting team, led by Stu, has put in several days on the cab. There are a LARGE number of small rivets to be placed but they are progressing and the number of temporary bolts showing on the cab is steadily reducing.
Once it is at temperature the rivet is struck on the anvil to dislodge any scale and then put into the hole.
The bucker holds the head of the rivet in position as Stu uses the air hammer to form the other end of the rivet inside the cab.
Although the basic method is the same, these are far smaller rivets than we had to use on 1630. Rather than fighting to ensure that the rivet is formed while still malleable, the risk with these is more that they can easily be over hammered and have unsightly deformed heads.
The process of Dennis building up with weld and Eric then machining to final dimensions has proceeded steadily thru the many components of the spring rigging. With this now largely complete, work has now started on machining the valve rods.
Mike returned this week after being out of state for some weeks and work restarted on the planer in preparation for the axle box work.
So March looks to be a busy and critical month. Wish us luck!. And if you fancy getting your hands dirty ………!!
Sunday, February 1. 2015
Steam Department Update January 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 20:38
There is nothing like hunkering down for a big Winter storm to create time to update the blog!. There was a very good turnout at the steam shop yesterday (and I suspect a nil turnout today judging by the white out that can be seen on the webcams!!). As we reach the end of January a lot has been done in the steam shop so far this Winter ….. and there remains a lot to be done before May!.
Obviously the absolute priority is #1630 and getting her ready for the new season. While she was out of service the critical focus was on rebuilding the axle boxes on the trailing axle and the 15 year boiler inspection. Known or suspected issues were addressed during this time but we did not do a complete “tear-down” of areas that were within tolerances and had given no indication of problems.
So, for some years to come our Winter program will include the annual maintenance items and a program of inspection and remediation where required of some other areas each year.
The annual inspection work has progressed steadily. This is essentially in four stages:
The large majority of the inspection work is now done. Among other task:
We now have to test the gauges and finish checking of the arch tubes and we will be ready to carry out the hydrostatic test when the weather permits.
The other areas where major work is taking place this Winter include:
In the normal way when dealing with and elderly steam locomotive none of these has proved as simple as initially hoped!.
The rods between #4 and #5 axles have been removed and the dimensions carefully checked. The clear issue is excess wear in the FS #5 rod bearing. Material has been obtained and a new brass bearing will be machined and fitted to the rod. The other peculiarity is the disk that sits behind the securing nut and forms the outer face of the ES #5 rod bearing. The peculiarity is that it differs from the other similar disks and bears the number of a long gone Frisco mikado!. It is suspected that the difference can lead to steel on steel contact where the original pattern would always bear brass on brass. It may be that this was why this bearing was always the one that had a tendency to run warm. Dennis can add brass that will then be machined to match the original #1630 parts.
This shows the stock ready for machining the new rod bearing and, on the bench behind this, the disk that will be built up then machined to better match the original #1630 pattern.
An intensive inspection of the couplers has indicated no cracking of any of the large parts but some damaged internal parts that go a long way to explaining tricky operation. The good thing is that these are standard couplers so spares should not be an issue. The trouble is that removing the couplers has led to detection of more work needed on the draw gear.
Under the tender significant wear was found in the mechanism that provides “shock absorption” when backing onto or pushing a train. While not an immediate concern with the weight of trains handled at IRM, it was decided to give this area a thorough overhaul.
The following pictures show the work involved in detail
This is what you are used to seeing
Behind this, under the tender, the coupler is backed by this assembly. The coupler is attached to the cage assembly by a substantial pin that is inserted or removed from below and held in place by the bolt that can be seen at center in this picture.
Looking further back (actually toward the front of the tender) you can see the cage and, substantially hidden above it, the outer edges of the shock absorber.
First the bolt is removed, the pin dropped and this allows the coupler to be removed. Here you can see the hole thru which the pin fits to secure the coupler to the drawgear. The pin is actually a substantial rectangular block with rounded ends.
Having removed and separated the cage and shock absorber the empty cage clearly shows how the pin secures this to the coupler.
And here we have the “problem child”. The heavy frame of the shock absorber still has the massive springs in the wider part of the casting. Information suggests that these huge springs are compressed about an inch when fitted and you do not touch these without special equipment!. The empty end of the casting is the location of the smaller springs that were removed in many pieces.
Dennis will build up the mountings under the tender where there is significant wear. Meanwhile there is a lot of discussion on how to deal with the shock absorber. The original unit has two groups of springs, one fairly substantial and one VERY large. The clear intent seems to be that the smaller ones provide an initial softening of the impact while the big ones take the load after these are compressed. In our case, the smaller springs were smashed to pieces and clearly had been for a long time. Two avenues are being investigated for repairs. A source has been identified that could produce replacement for the broken springs while the original manufacturer is still in business and does produce modern equivalent units that are still used in freight cars (as those fitted to #1630 were in 1920). Initial feedback from the spring supplier is interesting, suggesting that the (1918) design is defective as the smaller springs would have a very short life and be likely to fracture pretty quickly in exactly the way that had happened on #1630!. We have no idea if the design was changed but it does suggest that, if a modern equivalent can be installed without major modification to the tender, this would be the best solution.
The flexible stays hidden under the footplate behind the stoker riser have all been inspected cleaned and recapped. A good deal of rust damage was found in the footplate supports. It is interesting that much of the corrosion stems from modifications made to fit the stoker, probably in the late 1930’s. The center of the cab floor has to be raised to provide space for the coal delivery to the stoker. To provide a level floor to the cab raised sections were installed on both sides of the cab sitting on top of the original floor to provide a surface about 3 inches higher. This created a double skin in which a lot of corrosion has occurred. Much of this has been repaired and the remaining action will be to rebuild the center section around the stoker delivery pipes. This places a lot of pressure on getting the hydro done as soon as possible. We do not want to re-install the stoker delivery pipes until we are satisfied that the flexi caps have passed hydro testing. But we have a lot of work on rebuilding the cab floor that requires these pipes to be back in place!.
After a great deal of work this weekend the area under the ES footplate is clean and partly reassembled. Here you can see the fabrication that sits below the grate shakers and converts the rotation of the shafts in the cab floor to a back and fore movement of rods attached to the grates.
The air filter site behind the compressor under the smokebox and on top of the main frame. It is basically a large cartridge filter where you release a bolt securing the housing, drop the housing and cartridge, then re-install with a new or cleaned cartridge. Simple!, except that it was mounted so that the housing has insufficient space above the main frame to allow it to be dropped. We know that 2 years ago we did manage to get it off but this year a large number of us in 4 hours work could not find a way of doing so. Eventually we decided to cut the bar on which it is mounted and modify it to have bolts that can be released to remove the whole filter. Interesting. When cutting the bar it was apparent that we were following the line of a previous cut and weld. So it seems that this is not a new problem!.
The stoker motor is now in the shop awaiting attention when essential work for this season has been done. Last weekend a few of us opened the cylinders, applied lots of oil and then tried turning it with substantial bars. Actually, while it took a good deal of effort to get initial movement, once it started to move and oil spread on the bores and rings, it now moves very smoothly and easily.
As time permits some work continues on the other projects.
On the Shay,
So. A lot of progress has been made but there remains a lot to be done to ensure that #1630 is ready for running in May. We will be hard at work each weekend and some weekdays. We are always looking for new people willing to get their hands dirty!.
Let’s hope we do not get many storms like the one today. I suspect that it will be a couple of days before it is practical to get back to Union!.
Friday, January 30. 2015
As the winter continues with it's first big snowstorm looming the shop forces are again working on the museum's favorite steamer, the 1630. Here are just a few of the many maintenance projects begun on the engine.
The removal and subsequent hydro and hammer of the air tanks is a FRA requirement. It takes a out of time just to meet the yearly regulations. Then on top of that, during the down time, repair of any problems that might have been observed thru the daily operational inspections. Inspecting any operating piece of equipment at Irm takes a lot of time but is the most important of tasks at the museum.
Nigel, Jerry, Christian, and Derick are again installing the air tank on the enginemans side of the loco.
Part of the teams attention has now been shifted towards the Union Pacific engine . The installation of rivets into the cab frame of the UP 428 has finally begun. Once all rivets are installed the next task will be the installing of the wood interior framing. Then, when finally painted the cab can be lifted and installed back onto the frame of the engine.
Here Nigel and Jason are removing part of the cab floor. Notice the large openings in the location of the firebox door. December and part of January were devoted to the removal and inspection of the stoker motor and its components.
Sunday, December 7. 2014
A lot of people have pointed out that it is an awfully long time since there was a Steam Department blog update. In my defense I plead that work in my role as Museum Treasurer has been nearly full time (sounds better that pleading idleness or incompetence!). So here we are, an update of several months of work in the department.
Doesn’t time fly!. It seems like only yesterday that we were working all night to get ready for the pre-season inspection. Now the operating season is over and the Winter work program is well under way. #1630 is back in the shop and we are busily crawling over and into her to so what must be done before next season.
It was a very successful season overall. We only missed one scheduled day due to mechanical problems. (Unfortunately Father’s Day when we had to fix a leaking valve).
It was rather challenging to begin with. She seemed to use a lot of coal to keep steam up but, once we reached fresh coal, she ran a great deal better. I guess it should not be a great surprise. Coal that has been lying around for years has lost quite a lot of the flammable material so you shovel a lot more for the same effect!.
Late in the season we had a scheduled weekend out of service and this provided the opportunity for a good clean. Aside from the usual coaling and watering, the boiler was drained and refilled with fresh water, the paintwork was washed and the rods cleaned and oiled.
After all the work she looked a lot better. The dust was gone from the top of the boiler but she is developing a “working” look as the condensation from the safety valves and generator slowly discolors the paint on the firebox sheet metal.
I fired the last two Sundays. That is quite an experience to really be part of the working locomotive after so long crawling in, over and around her as a dead object in the shop. #1630 certainly is different from other locomotives I have fired. I was working out that it is about 50 years since I first fired a locomotive (Prince on the Festiniog Railway). The box is a lot longer and wider than anything I have fired before. So a good deal more throwing. However, on the demonstration line, she is only running for a few minutes at a fraction of her real load capability. Very different from a small locomotive working flat out for a long time. You would certainly have extreme difficulty keeping up with #1630 if she had a full freight load behind her unless the stoker was operating. In museum service the trick is to achieve a relatively thin fire without any gaps when you are operating and not to have too much at the end of each run. Having a significant amount of hot fire when you get back to Union can lead to a noisy lay-over!.
So what has been going on in the shop and what is planned?. Obviously #1630 will be first priority for Winter work and a lot must be done this Winter to have her running for Memorial Day next year.
She is due for both the 30 day inspection and annual inspections which amount to quite a lot of work. The annual inspection requires the drawbars to be removed, checked and annealed. While the tender is separated and the drawbar removed, we will do the inspection and testing of the stays under the footplate. In addition we want to thoroughly examine the rear axle bearings and rods. There was a tendency to run warm in the rod bearings and more knocking than we would like. So the plan is strip, measure and carefully examine everything in this area and try to improve the running next year.
Before we could even start the work there were two busy weekends of preparation. First the locomotive had to be run on air to thoroughly remove water from all the steam system in case of any freezing during the Winter, Then there was the cleaning!. I missed the air running but was able to participate fully in the cleaning!. 3 hours with a high pressure hose in the firebox blowing soot out of the tubes is an experience to be missed if possible. The jokes of your “friends” when you emerge black from head to toe are also to be avoided!.
With this done she was moved into the shop and the locomotive and tender were separated. This provided some interesting views of the locomotive cab and the way in which the tender is attached. The center drawbar is spring loaded and is what pulls the tender and train. The two outer bars are a safety mechanism should the drawbar fail in service.
Above the drawbar can be seen the end of the auger of the stoker. This is turned by a steam motor in the tender (of which more anon) to drive coal along the large steel pipe from the tender to the locomotive. Looking again at the locomotive with part of the footplate removed you can see the way that the cast pipe carries the coal up toward the fire door.
In this view the fire-hole door has already been removed. This large casting would connect the end of the delivery chute to the fire-hole. Behind the closed door of the firebox, coal would be driven up the chute to the delivery plate where steam jets would throw it forward into the firebox.
After considerably more work, the delivery system and the central footplate had been removed to reveal the back of the firebox.
After several weekends of work to do this stripping the actual inspection that necessitates it took only a few hours. A group of flexible stays hidden behind the stoker delivery chute do not have telltale holes and, as such, must be inspected every 7 years. They all proved to be sound so that part of the inspection is done. Unfortunately we found quite a bit of rust in the supports of the footplate on the fireman’s side so Dennis will need to do some rebuilding before we put things back together.
Another job being progressed is the rebuilding of the stoker. This is not essential but we would like the stoker to be operational at least for demonstration purposes. It is not clear how useful it would be in museum service where we need only a thin but even fire. If it can be made to work we will find out!.
First stage is to remove the stoker motor. This is located behind a panel in the tender on the fireman’s side. Here it is being carefully eased out of the tender. This gives little idea of the effort that went into this exercise. It was an extremely tight fit and some modification of the hole was required to get it out with the fork lift. We suspect that it may previously have been fitted and removed on a greased plate so that it could be turned first one way then the other as the hole was not big enough for it to come thru directly.
Last weekend we carried out the last major stripping exercise. The locomotive was temporarily reattached to its tender so that it could be moved a few feet back and then forward. The objective is to remove the connecting rods between axles 4 and 5 to allow measurement and checking of the rod bearings and alignment of the two axles. The move is necessary because the pins in #4 axle are removed by driving them back thru the wheel between two spokes …. And you cannot remove the pins on both sides with the wheels in any single position!. Here Jason and Phil are removing the rod from the Fireman’s side. By7 end of day both rods were removed.
A lot of other work is in progress on 1630.
Most of the strays have now been opened up (removing the fireclay that seals them in service) and checked. (We must ensure each year that the telltale holes are open).
Both large air tanks have been removed and subjected to hammer and hydro testing. They are now ready for refitting.
Inspection of the air compressor is under way. The steam feed line has been removed and will be replaced. This line shows significant corrosion so the decision has been made to replace it.
At the end of the summer the tender and cab of #938 were repainted (Thank you Roger!). She now looks a lot better. In addition, Phil, JD and Brian removed the tubes from the boiler. This was largely an investigation exercise. We really had little idea of the condition of the boiler of this locomotive. The conclusion was that the interior of the boiler seems to be in reasonable condition so there would be no obvious barrier to rebuilding it. That does not indicate any likelihood that this will happen any time soon. The fact that the boiler appears reasonable indicates that it she is not a “no hoper”. Given the work that would be required, all we need is a dedicated Rock Island enthusiast with $500,000 or so burning a hole in his pocket and she could run again.
The second big focus has been the Shay and this will be our major project thru the Winter. The major jobs on the Shay are
Replacement of a number of firebox stays;
Rebuilding the front beam; and
Rebuilding the smokebox.
Once these are done, we can get on to the “more routine” jobs of re-tubing and re-assembling.
There is still some uncertainty over whether we will need to replace some stays behind the motor. This would require removing the motor and the bracket on which it sits, making the job rather bigger. While working to determine if the motor removal will be necessary we are progressing other work that is independent of this decision and ensuring that we are as ready as possible to do the motor removal if required.
Over the Summer:
The front truck has been prepared for remounting and placed back under the locomotive. This may not be permanent. Depending upon the need to lift the boiler we might need to pull it out again to fit the new bottom of the smokebox;
Everything under the locomotive was cleaned and painted before refitting the truck;
JD and Cody have been steadily removing stays that are identified as bad and in need of replacement (generally due to blockage of the tell-tale holes);
The parts for the front beam have been located and we are starting work on preparing these. The coupler and its mounting pocket have been moved down to the fabrication area for Jane to needle chip and wire brush. Once they have been examined for any cracks they can be painted and prepared for use;
David and I worked on the grease nipples in the drive shaft and couplings. First conclusion – a Shay has a LOT of these. All will need to be cleaned, checked and replaced if not working correctly;
Work was also starting on lapping all of the key steam valves. This led to the discovery that there were cracks in the face of the main turret valve. Clearly it was over tightened at some point. A new one will need to be made;
Work has also progressed steadily on #428
Dennis has been building up the axle boxes ready for machining. Unfortunately a problem developed with the planer and we are waiting for parts that will hopefully make this operational and ready to machine these axle boxes;
Work was also progressed on repairs to the frame that will allow the rear spacer to be refitted.
A great deal of machine work has been carried out to produce new parts that will allow the springs to be refitted.
Ed has been working steadily at refitting the pipework of the cab. This is an “interesting” exercise. It is a 3-D jigsaw of pipes of various diameters, shapes and end connections. I will post a photograph next time but he has achieved remarkable progress in turning what was a random jumble of pipework into a fitted backhead. It is all the more of a challenge as some of the pipes link to the air pump – which is not there to check if that is what a particular pipe should link to, and one or two seem to have been added to the pile from other locomotives!.
So, overall a lot has been done and there is much to be done in the next few months. If you are prepared to get your hands dirty, there is no shortage of work if we are to have 1630 back in service for the season and move forward with the Shay!.
I am now heading to the UK for Christmas so will be away for a few weeks and look forward to more progress when I get back and a busy Winter ahead in the Steam shop.
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Jerry Hund about More Barn Juice
Sun, 02-07-2016 16:26
I would like to see a turntable and round house at IRM. Many of our younger people have never seen this. Is this in your future plans?
Ted Miles, IRM Member about More on the Dover Strait
Sun, 02-07-2016 12:34
Folks, Don't you just love the fact that Pullman used interchangeable parts in their cars! It is so great to see the paint coming off and [...]
Rob about Diesel Shop update 1/27/2016 and 1/30/2016
Sun, 02-07-2016 09:37
If theres a working Little Joe what do you think? Go back to watching Anime and stop cluttering these posts with nonsense.
Brian Davies about Shay #5 from Brian Davies January 2016
Sat, 02-06-2016 20:04
Hi All, To answer a few questions here: The decision to convert the shay to burn coal was made before the locomotive got to IRM. It was [...]
Brian Davies about Update on a locomotive you seldom hear of
Sat, 02-06-2016 19:54
Hello all, As you can see, sometimes it takes a while for me to respond to the blogs! Nigel has so far been the person who puts my blogs up, and [...]
Matt Hultman about The Black Tie Event
Sat, 02-06-2016 17:45
When is this event?
Patrick about The Black Tie Event
Fri, 02-05-2016 17:59
I think there was considerable discussion on this when Metra started talking about extending into Huntley. Apparently one of the Metra station [...]
Jamie K about The Black Tie Event
Fri, 02-05-2016 13:21
Matt, We already own the RoW to and just east of Coin Station Road in Huntley. The bridge is the biggest hurdle at this point, and we don't see a need [...]
Matt Maloy about The Black Tie Event
Fri, 02-05-2016 09:26
I know this would be very costly and almost impossible to do, but would the museum ever consider trying to expand their "mainline" all the way to [...]
Raphael about Diesel Shop update 1/27/2016 and 1/30/2016
Thu, 02-04-2016 23:11
just general, but would the museum have enough room for a working AEM-7?
Roger Kramer about More Barn Juice
Thu, 02-04-2016 18:40
Jamie I figured it will be a long time before it all gets completed.
Jamie K about More Barn Juice
Thu, 02-04-2016 00:24
Honestly, I think you both are off. I fully expect it to take nearly a couple of months to make all the moves for these barns and the others. There is [...]
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