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Sunday, March 16. 2014
Steam Department Update 03-15-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:07
What a difference a week can make. The Winter still clings on - we left Saturday evening in falling snow and the shop water supply is still frozen. However, even a couple of days at near normal temperatures during the week has had a remarkable effect on the snow and ice around the museum.
For the first time in months, strange parallel lengths of steel have started to appear from the snow banks. The sound of a diesel locomotive was heard again as Jamie worked with the track gang to plough key lengths and start the Spring inspections. A lot catch up is required on track work delayed by the weather. Aside from the normal inspections, a large part of the steam collection is still out by the depot and cannot be moved back until work is completed on the track and switch leading to the steam lead.
On 1630 work continued steadily
One important effect of the thaw was that we were able to get to the box car and retrieve the dome cover. While this will not be fitted until the last minute when the locomotive is outside the shop, we urgently need to prepare it and spray it at the same time as the boiler so that the finish is the same. Thanks to Phil who grabbed the camera and provided a rare shot of Nigel actually doing something as opposed to standing behind the camera!.
People with paint brushes were all over and around #1630 and her tender. The walkways are now largely complete. The tender truck frames have been done and the sander lines were being touched up. Irregularly shaped parts like this generally take about three shots, paint one way up, turnover and paint the other side, then stand back and spot / touch up the small areas that somehow did not get painted in either of the previous shots!.
The tender wheels still need to be cleaned and painted but that is an area which will is seriously impacted by the loss of water supply, as these need to be pressure washed.
And an update from Jim on Sunday morning!. The pilot is now completely painted!.
We are getting close to the point where the large areas of sheet metal can be sprayed.
Dennis was hard at work welding the weak spots on the corners of the cab so that these can be finally prepared.
Large areas of the sheet metal have been rubbed down ready for spraying. After some thought, areas where bare metal has been exposed are being treated with sprayed primer. While the epoxy coating is self-priming, we are finding issues with the bare metal developing a rust tarnish when left exposed for a week and more. Since the area is far too large for us to rub down in one day, covering the areas we have done seems preferable.
In other areas:
Bob continued work to make the planer fully operational. He was working primarily on a pressure switch system that gives the operator an illuminated warning when the hydraulic system is pressurized. The picture below gives a much better idea of how this huge machine operates.
The massive “L” shaped cutter assembly can move vertically on the tower to the right of the moving bed.
At present the cutter assembly is relatively low. In this position, tools mounted on the horizontal arm of the cutter assembly would cut the top surface of the work, while the threaded shaft would advance the cutter horizontally after each movement of the bed.
The assembly can be raised substantially, allowing tools mounted on the vertical arm of the “L” to make a vertical surface on the work. Again a threaded shaft advances the cutter head after each pass.
I will now be travelling to the UK for a couple of weeks so will be watching progress with interest from a distance.
Thursday, March 13. 2014
Steam Department Update 03-08-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 17:48
It was another day of steady progress in the Steam Shop.
The Winter continues to cause challenges that we have to work around. In the last week, we have lost the water supply to the shop. Thank Heavens we had largely completed what we needed to pressure wash. However, we will need a substantial water supply for equipment cleaning within a few weeks, as we spray paint the boiler and cab. So we monitor the thaw with great concern.
Some idea of the snow around the site –
On a separate issue, a number of people have expressed surprise that my name does not appear on the list of candidates for the upcoming museum board election. I have to admit that this was an error on my part in missing the deadline to return the acceptance of nomination form.
Painting of the lower areas continued at a rapid pace.
The walkways on the fireman’s side were needle chipped, wire brushed and primed. Hopefully one of the team will be able to topcoat during the week, as this is an area that we use quite frequently. So it would be best for it to be finished and fully hardened before the weekend. In addition, as shown below much of the pilot is now in primer.
Collin, under guidance from Dennis, cut and ground out the last of the old steel mounting points for the spark arrestor from the smokebox. Phil and Brian then started test fitting the new steel assembly. Rather as expected, the first fitting into the final position indicated the need for a bit of adjustment by Dennis. However, the process has started.
In other areas:
Phil has been making major strides on clearing and freeing up working areas in the shop. Some of the results are spectacular for those of us who have been around a few years. The big old workbench on the East side, whose drawers have been unopened for years, has now been cleared and lubricated. It now provides work space and usable drawer storage!.
Work continued on the planer. It is now no longer second hand information. The huge table was moving back and forth smoothly for prolonged periods. The focus was on fixing leaks in the hydraulic system. Several have been fixed. Work continued on a couple that are proving difficult. This commonly means that the threaded union has suffered damage and must be replaced to get a good seal at the high operating pressure. Difficult to see how this could be on a machine that was only stripped down about 50 years ago and then left lying in pieces!.
But here it is. A last check by the proud team.
The huge table starts from the North end.
…. and surprising quickly it has completed the cutting stroke. It does not look much but the table is an enormous block of steel yet it moves smoothly and silently from end to end, stopping sharply at each end.
So, after 50 years it is substantially operational again. Well done guys!.
So steady progress continues for another week. Now if only the thaw continues!.
Sunday, March 2. 2014
Steam Department Update 03-01-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 11:50
Oh well, we are into March. You would not have guessed it at Union yesterday as we gingerly picked our way across thickly ice encrusted roads to get between the shop and the amenity block. The day was then somewhat shortened by the development of a steady snow storm as darkness fell. However, there was a reasonable turn out and steady progress continued.
On 1630 it was very much “more of the same”, which is exactly what we need at this point.
Painting continued on the frames and running gear. Christian joined the team for the first time and, by afternoon, was fitted in between the frames and top coating the cylinder casting and adjacent areas. There is a lot of variety in the steam shop. As a new volunteer, you cannot be sure if you will be handling a paint brush or a 20 pound hammer!.
Meanwhile Jerry worked between the frames ahead of the firebox. So most of the lower areas of the locomotive have now received top coat and attention moved to the tender. Jim and Jerry painted most of the tender frames during the day. (The positioning of the bucket is unfortunate. Honest, we are not painting it with driveway sealer!!).
There are a few more weeks of work on the lower areas of locomotive and tender that will not be obvious unless you are standing next to the locomotive. A number of pipes and the under sides of the walkways need to be cleaned, primed and painted. In addition there is a major review and touch up exercise. Whenever you shine lights and look from different angles you spot areas that are not fully covered. So there will be a significant exercise of inspection, with a brush in hand, to touch up these spots and finish the job.
Dennis had welded some areas of the cab last week and identified further areas on the fireman’s side that needed grinding out and clamping so that he could weld. I cleaned these up so they are now ready for welding.
This weekend Dennis was cutting the new mesh sections for the smokebox spark arrestor.
Jason located another steam heat gauge, very similar to the existing one. He was able to exchange the face of this one with the damaged face of the existing gauge so we now have a good looking gauge to fit.
Rick removed the sander discharge pipes as these would be in the way of spraying the cladding sheets of the boiler. He then wire brushed these ready for painting.
Ed worked on the sander manifolds. He showed me an interesting feature. The inspection plugs of the sand channels are filled with lead. Apparently this wears better under the force of steam driven sand than does iron or steel. One of the plugs needs a new lead filling.
Dennis and Phil worked on one of the brake rods.
In other areas, a major milestone was reached last week on the planer. I understand that, after much investigation and adjustment it is now effectively operational. Critically, it was adjusted so that it now moves on the cutting stroke at an adjustable speed and then returns for the next cut at a surprising speed for such a large machine. In addition, features that were not previously understood are now seen to operate. For example, a small hydraulic cylinder actually lifts the cutting head at the end of the cutting stroke so that it is positively lifted above the work as the table returns.
All of this is second hand from the team as the machine was not operating this weekend. A number of leaks were identified in operation so a couple of seals will be replaced and some connections remade to bring it to readiness for routine.
So a week of steady progress. Now what we need is the Spring!.
Sunday, February 23. 2014
Steam Department Update 02-22-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 12:19
Welcome back to the IRM Steam Department skating rink. A few days of thaw during the week were a mixed blessing. The snow mountains are a little reduced but not much of the water went away. So it has now formed thick ice. Blacktop roads around the site could be ploughed effectively and so dried out. But the unmade roads around the shop now have an inch or more of solid ice. Pauline’s passenger car shop blog has some great pictures of the conditions around the site.
There was a good turnout and most people sensibly kept to the shop once they had carefully slithered their way in. Quite a lot of cleaning and painting had been done during the week and it was generally decided that we would have a “dust free” day so a lot of people concentrated on applying primer or topcoat to the lower regions of 1630. Since we have no separate painting area or dust extraction we have to focus on cleaning and then paint all areas we have cleaned before making any dust anywhere in the shop.
With so many people involved it was difficult to keep track of the progress. Indeed this is an interim update as I left early to go to the Soiree and I will wait to see what happened after I left.
The major focus was on the frames, both inside and out. The confined space just behind the cylinders is probably the worst part.
Brian put in a lot of time in this area. The trick, that he achieved pretty effectively, is to clamber into the space from the rear, carefully paint all around yourself and leave an exit so that you can clamber out without damaging your work.
Further back, just ahead of the firebox, there is rather more space. Jerry is hard at work on the inside of the frames on the fireman’s side. This gives a good indication of how fast things are moving. The inside of the springs on the engineer’s side are now primed while the outside of the springs on the fireman’s side are already in topcoat.
Brian, Phil and I refitted the ends of the valve chambers that had been removed for measurement of valve rings for potential replacement in 2015.
Later in the day, the ends and cover sheets were all fully fitted and the painters had already come by and primed the areas around them.
Jim was back at work on Sunday and sent me this picture. The cylinder ends and all the section behind the pilot is now finished.
Jim was in early Saturday working on the engineer’s side. Later in the day, the engineer’s side wheels, frames and motion are well in the way to completion
The fireman’s side is progressing well with much in topcoat and priming well under way. The lubricator now looks really nice. That was a lot of work. A significant exercise now is quality control, i.e. looking at it from all angles and spotting any gaps. There are so many projections, crevices and angles that this is no small exercise.
Dennis worked with Jane on welding, particularly areas of the coal bunker that showed small leaks.
Jane degreased and pressure washed underneath the boiler of the Shay.
Stu, Bob and Mike worked with Rod on the planer. When I left the hydraulics would move the table in one direction but were showing remarkable reluctance to push it back the other way. Much analysis was continuing of old manuals and drawings to investigate possible reasons for this.
So a very productive day.
Thursday, February 20. 2014
Steam Department Update 02-15-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 09:31
The report this weekend is entirely second hand as I have been on vacation in Mexico. Thanks to Jim, Phil and Collin for detailed input. The common theme seems to be that, with Nigel out of the way, there was a good turnout and they were able to get a lot done.
As ever, the primary focus is on 1630 and getting everything in top shape for the season:
Jerry spent most of Saturday scraping grease off the frame on the fireman's side of the engine.
Jane put more of the frame in primer. She also painted the portion of the frame that was already put in primer by Jeff.
Trevor crawled under the boiler and cleaned the interior of the frame.
Jim painted one of the two remaining wheels on the engineer's side and the two back wheels on the fireman's side of the engine.
Jane and Jim also put the last wheel on the engineer's side in primer.
On Sunday, Jerry and Jim gave the fireman’s side frames and wheels a final power wash to get ready for full priming on that side. As part of this they tested the painting of the wheels on the engineer’s side. We had some doubts as the paint used is really old but seemed to apply and adhere very well. It also passed this test with no sign of any flaking under high pressure washing.
Intensive work started on the smoke box where we need to fit a thicker gasket on the front ring and Dennis has to fit the spark arrestor assembly into the box.
Removing the appurtenances from the front of 1630 was challenging due to the weight associated with the bell and smoke box door & ring. Typically, we would prefer to use either the large CAT forklift or, preferably, the boom truck to effect such moves, however, that equipment is currently inaccessible due to the accumulation of snow around the property. We therefore made the most of the small shop forklift, which Ralph maneuvered around. Rick, Eric & his Dad rigged the bell and Ralph lowered it down.
Phil & Paul worked on the new smoke box baffling and hardware. This had been assembled in the fabrication area and then had to be disassembled, brought up front to the locomotive, and reassembled. During this time Eric & Collin worked on burning out the netting channels and Paul finished up by grinding to smooth the smoke box interior. Dennis will now be able to plan the replacement of the mounting hardware.
In the evening
Dennis worked on the weld repairs to the cab sides and roof interior.
On the Shay:
Ralph, with help from Jason, removed several brake rigging pieces to allow for access to stay bolts on the throat sheet.
Despite the appearance he is not cutting the rigging but heating a rusted nut to allow its removal. This is a common technique that usually allows even very old and rusted nuts to be removed without sheering the bolt or stud.
After this work the firebox front is clear for work on the stays.
Dennis worked on the welding of the boxes and pedestal braces. Work progresses on all of them at once as the most effective method is to weld one until it gets too hot then move on the next. By the time the 4th is too hot you can move back to the 1st.
On Sunday Tom, Cameron, and Philip all worked on machining various parts including the brake rigging.
In other areas:
Jerry and Bob about the planer tried longer bolts in the pump block and this seems to have overcome the problem of the gasket blowing. There are still minor leaks but, unfortunately the table still does not show any sign of moving under pressure. It is hoped that we have found an outside expert who may have some experience of this type of machine and is willing to come by and advise.
Hopefully this coming weekend we can do as well as this with me around, otherwise I will really start to wonder!.
Sunday, February 9. 2014
Steam Department Update 02-08-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 16:17
Back again after a week’s gap. Last weekend was the worst yet. Saturday working was cancelled on February 1st as the forecast suggested so much snow. In retrospect that may have been overkill as we did work yesterday when more snow fell than actually arrived the previous week ….. the forecast just did not seem as bad!!.
I have been out at the museum more this week as I take on the role of museum Treasurer. The museum site is an incredible Winter wonderland. Dave and the B&G team have done a great job keeping the roads open. He was saying yesterday that the plough truck has run about 220 miles so far this season simply clearing on site. However each working day we have to dig our way into the shop, clear drifts to get to equipment like the compressor and any idea of moving equipment or getting at boxcars or containers is a joke. There are considerable drifts or barriers of ploughed snow everywhere you look.
Anyway, Phil and Tom braved the elements last Sunday and did some work on 428.
This Saturday I was heavily involved in the Board meeting and some follow on Treasurer activities so was not very productive in the shop. However, there was a good turn out and substantial progress.
The major step forward was reaching general agreement of the plan for painting. This does not sounds much but is actually rather complicated. We have two (or effectively three) methods of painting different areas. Large parts of the loco will be sprayed. However, there are substantial areas that are so confined and irregular in shape that it seems impossible that a decent finish could be achieved with a sprayer. So brush painting seems logical for these. (The third category is areas in so deep and covered in grease that the logical approach seems to be leave well alone, for example the leading truck frame). The whole process is complicated by the fact that, while everything is painted black, it is expected that the two painting methods, using different materials, will show shade differences. So we do not want the two methods used directly next to one another.
The final plan is that the wheels and frames will be brush painted while the upper works (cab, boiler, tender) will be sprayed. The wheels were a particularly tough choice. There is no doubt that 4 and 5 could be sprayed. Also 3 could be sprayed, but would require several moves of the loco to get at all the spokes. However, 1 and 2, heavily concealed behind connecting rods, cross heads and slide bars would be a near impossible target for spraying. (The picture below of #1 is taken looking vertically down behind the slide bars so imagine getting at this with a substantial sprayer!). So all will be brush painted as the likelihood is that a shade difference would be very obvious if we sprayed just the ones we could.
With this done progress started to become visible.
Jim had brought in a much more powerful pressure washer. He and Jerry did a further degreasing run on the frames, wheels, and everything that was not in the leave well alone category.
Following this preparation much of the lower part of the locomotive is now assessed as ready to be primed once dry or requiring just a small amount of wire brushing to allow priming. (A key part of the need to agree how each area is to be painted was that the spray epoxy does not require a primer while the brush applied finish does).
Substantial areas were dry by afternoon. So painting began with priming the wheels. While Jim did most of the work, our General Manager came by the shop and spotted the need to fill in a gap. It is a rarity to seem Jamie at work in the Steam Shop so we have recorded this event as our ceremonial first painting on 1630.
By end of day three wheels were primed. The ability to start painting created a lot of enthusiasm. I received the picture below from Jim. By Sunday several of the wheels are finished with the black top coat.
On the superstructure, part of the preparation for spraying is removal of pipes that will create shadows when spraying. One of these is the steam supply for the air pump that runs from the governor high up on the fireman’s side of the firebox.
Collin needed to re-lag this anyway so he and Paul managed to release a union and remove it. As with lots of things on an old steam engine, one thing leads to another. It was obvious that moisture trapped in the lagging had caused some corrosion on the steel pipe. After thorough wire brushing and hammer testing no obvious failures were found but it was clearly not in good condition so the decision was made to have a replacement fabricated. In matters like this we want to avoid any doubt and there is currently time to have the replacement made before the season.
Jason and Phil worked on the manifold for the stoker. The casting was damaged and Dennis fixed this some time ago. The threaded holes into which fit the steam connections had to be recut and then the steam connections fitted. By end of day the manifold was ready to refit.
As a “British” fireman who has never seen a stoker in operation I learned something. The stoker on 1630 is not operational at present as the screw drive in the tender needs work. So I had assumed that the steam manifold (which controls the jets fire the coal around the box from the distribution plate) was simply decorative at this time. It seems this is not so. If the fireman is feeling tired he can put coal onto the distribution plate manually and then use the steam to fire it up to the front of the firebox. You live and learn!.
I did my penance for spending most of the day out of the shop by crawling into the firebox to test fit a sample of the new fire brick. Although I spent days in there when fitting tubes, fitting the fire hole door casting has made this a whole new experience. What used to be a simple exercise is now more like getting toothpaste into a tube for one of my build. Anyway the conclusion after Jason and Phil had put in a few more of the arch bricks is that the shorter F5 bricks, that are readily available, cause only a marginal lift in the arch bricks so should be usable.
On the Shay, Phil took advantage of the degreasing set up for #1630 and did a thorough job on the truck. Hopefully, once dry and examined, this will also start to see new paint applied.
On #428 quite a lot was happening:
Dennis started the long job of building up the axle boxes. The first step, on which he was working yesterday, is to build up the damaged areas that will be behind the plates which will be added to the box castings. Once built up, these areas will need to be finally ground to shape so that there is a solid surface to which the plates will be mounted;
was back after his trip to Arizona and restarted work on the air pump. Not much visible progress today. The first big step was to locate the many
substantial parts of this 3 dimensional jigsaw and work out exactly how they
must fit together. What fits where is only part of the challenge. It is immediately clear that it would be very easy to assembly a lot of it and then discover that a key part should have been fitted earlier in the sequence!.
Jane was hard at work on the frame binders that join the frame at the bottom of each axle box guide. Dennis has done a good deal of repair work on these and they now need to be cleaned off, ground smooth and then machined to fit accurately into the frames.
In the shop in general:
It was a worrying day on the planer. Mike, Bob and Ed worked on preparing it for a further test of the hydraulic drive system while Jane completed painting the machine. Unfortunately a second attempt to start the hydraulic pump caused a blow in the gasket that failed last time, although we are now confident that the surfaces are flat after surface grinding. This leaves us with a puzzle. Documentation of this machine is distinctly limited. We know it should operate at a high pressure (suggested around 1200psi). The key question is whether this seal is failing at a pressure at which it should not or if some blockage or error in assembly is causing pressure to build substantially above the intended level. Needless to say there is no tapping that would allow us to fit a gauge.
So back on the job and a lot was achieved in the day. I am off to Mexico for a week so will miss next weekend but look forward to seeing a lot more paint when I get back
Sunday, January 26. 2014
Steam Department Update 01-25-2014 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 16:03
Well, I am glad to say that the continuing atrocious weather seems to have increased the determination of the steam shop volunteers. We had an excellent turnout on Saturday and made good progress on some items that have been holding us up for a while.
One large team focused on preparing the cab for spray painting.
The edges of the cab sides where there were signs of blistering in the paint were all needle chipped. This revealed a few areas where Dennis will need to make good some holes and cracks. Nothing too major but we do want to get this thoroughly sound before we paint;
The arm rests were removed from the window frames … and identified another job. The wooden base of one of them looks more like sponge than timber. That will need to be remade;
A section of the inner cab lining on the fireman’s side proved to be corroded thru. This was cut out, the rust and scale removed from between the inner and outer sheets and the whole area primed. Dennis can now weld in a new section of sheet metal;
The cab sides were rubbed down ready for painting.
A big area of concern has been preparing the frames and wheels for painting. Ideally it would have good to have blasted the grease and oil from these using the high powered steam cleaner. Unfortunately the extreme weather is against this. There are serious doubts around the practicality of using the steam cleaner in the shop and the obvious concern over how long it would be before there is any chance of moving outside again.
Jim, Jerry and Vince decided to try the liquid degreaser that was obtained for the Shay truck. This proved very successful.
One or two passes with subsequent washing off using a small pressure washer took large areas of the frames and wheels back to bare primer that we had never seen before. We are unclear whether these areas were not previously painted black or if the top coat was so badly adhered that it came straight off with the grease. However, it is certainly clear that the method is getting back to a sound and grease free surface.
Hopefully a second session next weekend, with a more powerful pressure washer to do the final washing off, will bring much of the lower part of the locomotive to a suitable condition for painting.
Jason finished testing all the cab gauges and also trained Phil in this operation.
One of the gauge faces is much worn. It raises a question of how it was originally painted. All the black lettering is indented, even the fine detail of the maker’s name.
On the Shay:
Eric and his Dad worked steadily thru the job of fitting the long bolts thru the frame and truck pivot casting. By end of day, all six of the bolts were properly fitted. Nuts are noticeable by their absence !. Tom did not make it to Union because of the weather but a telephone discussion indicated that supplies of 1 inch nuts were likely to be in the container. Ah Yes!. That thing sitting out behind the 3 foot snow drift at 10 degrees in a gale !. Nuts will be for another day;
The bolster was turned over and Eddie cleaned the other face to allow it to be primed.
In the shop in general:
Stu and Bob finished painting the planer, which Phil and Jane had progressed over the last week. Unfortunately it was not possible to reassemble the valve block and test the machine. The distorted face of the valve block has been surface ground to ensure that it will seal but was in Tom’s car in Chicago.
They then worked on rebuilding the lubricator for another of the machines.
Phil has now made a big difference to the storage area and is planning what to do with the adjacent areas..
So overall a pretty successful day.
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