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Thursday, January 7. 2016
Shay #5 from Brian Davies January 2016 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 20:34
Shay update, January 2016:
Happy New Year! My last report here regarding the Shay was back in September. I had fully intended to do a report following my three week trip up to IRM in October, but life has a way of intervening. It also doesn't help matters that I tend to like machining, painting, and mechanical work better than putting my thoughts on paper. But, here we go.
As Nigel has been reporting, great progress has been made since my last report towards returning the Shay to service. I will try to put some names down here to thank and acknowledge those who have helped on the Shay for all of their hard work. I will undoubtedly miss names, and to those people, I can't thank you enough for all of your continued help on this project. When you great blog readers visit IRM, please remember that everything you see running and restored is thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors. Thank you all!
On to the Shay. During my three week vacation work was progressing on the Shay on a daily basis. Many volunteers came in on weekdays when normally no one is in the shop, and this help really pushed our project forward. As Nigel has already given descriptions of much of what has been accomplished on the Shay during my three week "vacation" and leading up to today, I will attempt to add what I can to what he has already covered.
As of now all of the work to properly seal and form the ends of every boiler tube is complete. At IRM, we use the time honored, traditional methods of installing boiler flues used almost universally in the steam era. I can go into this process in further detail in a future blog if people would like, but suffice it to say for now that the methods we use take a lot of time, but result in a tube job that should give us a very well-sealed boiler for all 15 years of service until the next federally mandated boiler inspection.
One stay bolt was found to be broken the first time we filled the boiler with water, and a couple of days later it was replaced.
Trevor, with help from Ben, has finished preparing the inside of the water tender for painting with a protective coating. In the upcoming weeks Cody will be leading the project of painting the inside of the tender tank.
As Nigel has reported in previous shop reports, the boiler on the Shay has passed its federally mandated hydrostatic pressure test. This major milestone will now allow us to proceed with the jobs of adding parts back on the boiler.
The boiler on steam locomotives gets an insulation material applied to it. This is called lagging. Surrounding the lagging is a sheet metal skin called the jacket. We use a type of block insulation that, while quite messy and itchy to apply, works quite well and can withstand the pressure of engine crews standing on the jacket repeatedly while doing maintenance on the locomotive. Jerry has started the process of securing wires circumferentially and evenly spaced along the boiler which will be used to secure the lagging to the boiler.
The process of applying the blocks of insulation will begin shortly. This job consists of wiring individual blocks of lagging onto the boiler, one at a time, securing them to the previously mentioned circumferential wires to hold them in place. Once the insulation is applied, the task of refitting the jacket can begin. To prepare for this, several volunteers, including Jane, Ben and others, have been working to remove old primer and rust from the back sides of every piece of jacketing, and then priming and painting the back side to help prevent rust and keep the jacket in good condition. We have thus far held off on doing any cleaning up of the outside surface of the jacket, other than removing old grease and oil, until we decide whether to paint the locomotive over this winter or not. Painting takes a good amount of volunteer time that may otherwise be needed for other mechanical projects to get the locomotive into operating condition. If the mechanical side of the project continues at a good pace, some paint work may start in the next few months.
Once the lagging and jacketing is installed, work can then turn to reinstalling all of the piping necessary to make the locomotive operable. This includes water delivery pipes, steam pipes to the various appliances, and air piping for the bell, sanders, and brake system, as well as related brake control stands in the cab.
During the Shay's whole operating life, from the time it was built to the time it was retired from regular service, it burned oil as its fuel source. When the Shay was converted to burn coal by the Chicago and North Western Railway in preparation for its arrival at IRM in the late 1960's, an industrial grate system was installed. These grates performed generally well over the years. However, as they were not designed for locomotive use, they were at times cantankerous and hard to rock in order to clean clinker and ashes from them each morning. Also eventually, due to age and use over time, the grates would warp or break, necessitating periodic replacement. Around the time the locomotive was removed from service at IRM the decision was made to make the proper grates for this locomotive. To this end, Steam Curator Tom Schneider, following original Lima Locomotive Works drawings, made new wood patterns to have all new, proper, grates and side bearers cast. Phil and I spent time in the Shay's firebox in October measuring and laying out where the new studs will be welded in the firebox to support the new grate system. In the next few weeks the hope is that our welder Dennis, aided by Phil, will weld in these studs. Once this is done installation of the grate system and its associated linkage can be carried out.
Another large area of the locomotive, the smokebox, has seen a great amount of work done on it in the past couple of months. All of the holes needed to rivet on the new bottom portion of the smokebox have been drilled, and the bottom piece was bolted on, awaiting riveting and welding to the old portion. Several of the rivets that need to be installed are in an area inconveniently close to the frame of the locomotive. Because of these close confines, normal riveting practices are quite difficult. To make it possible to rivet in these areas, Tom and Dennis designed a special fixture that will allow us to use the frame of the locomotive to our advantage to aid us in driving the rivets!
Hopefully Nigel can describe this in better detail in a future blog update. Once the riveting is done, Dennis will weld the new bottom to the old part of the smokebox. Soon after this is done, installation of the superheater units and other front end pieces can begin. To prepare for this, our machinist, Eric, has been busy machining a few newly cast pieces that were made to replace old steam fittings for use in the smokebox that were very heavily deteriorated from years of corrosion and use.
There are always many, many small projects among the larger ones involved with locomotive restoration. One of these currently is replacement of several wood brackets used to secure lubrication piping above the motor unit. Over the years these pieces have rotted out to the point where they do little to hold the lubrication piping in place.
Phil and John have been working on replicating these pieces, and they should be reinstalled in the next few weeks.
Being away from the museum as much as I am can not only make it a challenge to manage a project in a way that moves a project along at a good pace and keeps everyone happy, but it is also frustrating when I wish I could physically do more to help while I am not there. Because of this I took on a project for the Shay that could be done from home. It was quite common for logging locomotives to have steam driven water pumps on them to use for firefighting for washing the locomotive, and I am sure for various other uses. Our Shay has had one of these duplex steam pumps on it most of its life. Unfortunately, when the locomotive was retired and before it came to IRM the pump appears to have been removed from the locomotive. In the early to mid 1970s, volunteers replaced it with a different pump. While not the same brand of pump the locomotive carried in service, the pump is an appropriate stand in. In fact, while doing research on this pump, I found that the pump is older than the locomotive! This pump has not been operable in the time I have been a volunteer at IRM (starting in 1995) and even Tom Schneider, who has been with IRM since the mid 1970s, doesn't remember the last time this pump was operable. For many years I have wanted to rebuild this pump and return it to operation. I started working on it in April of this year, and I am happy to report that its rebuild was completed on December 23rd; my Christmas present to IRM, the Shay, and the steam shop.
If there is interest I can write a blog about the restoration of this pump at a future time. But for now, I am excited that the pump is again operable, works well, and will be serviceable on the Shay hopefully for years to come.
Overall, work on the Shay is moving along at a fine pace. Much has been accomplished since my last report in September, and the list of things to do is growing ever shorter. We are still working towards the goal of seeing the locomotive operate in 2016.
As Nigel and I have both mentioned, we are actively seeking donations towards the rebuilding of the Shay. Nigel has informed me that since his last plea for funds several donations have come in for the Shay. THANK YOU!! We really, truly appreciate every donation we receive. I think perhaps us members don't always express well how much we really appreciate all of you who donate money to preserve and rebuild our equipment, but we couldn't do the work we do without your help. So again, thank you very, very much.
I would also like to say a huge THANK YOU to every member of the Steam Department who has helped on the Shay's restoration to date. Each of you will be to thank for the locomotive's return to service. This said, we always welcome new volunteers. If any of you reading this have thought over time, "Someday I would really like to go out there and try volunteering in the Steam Shop," well, why wait? The work is dirty and results can happen slowly, but there is a lifetime of learning available to those who are interested, and generally a good amount of fun as well. You don't need to know a thing about steam locomotives, but just have a willingness to listen, learn, and work. Come out and talk to us in the shop. There is always someone there every Saturday.
Whether you are a donor, a volunteer, or a visitor to IRM, thank you for your support, and here's hoping that 2016 sees us have two of our own steam locomotives in operation for the first time since 1999!Brian Davies
Sunday, December 27. 2015
Another year draws to a close and there is a lot of activity in the steam shop. I had expected the day after Christmas to be fairly quiet but there was a good turnout and work proceeded on many fronts.
On #1630 we are progressing along what is now the standard plan for the Winter with the normal annual inspection work, which is substantially boiler focused, running in parallel with “catch up” work to improve the overall mechanical condition of the locomotive.
Aside from some smaller items, the major focus this Winter is on the valves. It has been apparent for some time that there is wear in the valves leading to lower efficiency and leakage that can be demonstrated when the valves are set in specific positions with steam applied. As with most backlog work, the initial hope that we could get away with a quicker and simpler repair has proved sadly misplaced!. Guess we should not be too surprised. When doing the initial stripping we found some tags set behind the valve chest nuts that indicate when last stripped for overhaul – SLSF Springfield shops 1947!. You really have to question the quality of the work when we have to do it again after only 68 years!!.
The findings so far are a mixture of good and bad news.
In parallel with the valve work, a lot of other tasks have been progressed.
On the Shay, work proceeds steadily.
On shop services, the large compressor is now fully plumbed in. As soon as we can get the power connected to it we can test and adjust it ready for the state inspection. With luck this will be ready when we want to rivet the smokebox of the Shay.
So a lot of activity but a whole lot more to be done if we are to be ready for running at the start of the season. So, Happy New Year to all and watch this space!.
Sunday, November 22. 2015
You don't have to be mad .... but ! Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 19:32
What a difference a few days makes in Illinois!!. In the last few weeks we have been working steadily thru the jobs needed to winterize #1630 and the support equipment while enjoying a long warm Fall. Then this weekend Winter arrived with a vengeance. Small problem, this was the weekend we had a rather critical activity scheduled!!. So, neither rain nor snow etc. (Also you don’t have to be mad to work in the steam shop but it sure helps at times.
The critical activity was the FRA observed hydro test of Shay #5 which was scheduled for Sunday. Clearly large quantities of water do not mix well with temperatures falling into single digits. However we managed.
On Friday Phil managed to fill the boiler and a reserve container in the shop before draining the bottle car that provides our supply of treated water. (Just ahead of the night when temperatures plummeted).
On Saturday I managed to get to the shop between the two bands of snow. Conditions on site were “interesting” and the work team was small.
Difficult to imagine that this was just 7 days after the shot of removing the dome cover from #1630!!. Congratulations to Chris and Jon who made it in. On the Shay the objective was to get the water circulating from the boiler thru the pool heater and then get this fired up so that boiler could be brought up to around 100F and allowed to equilibrate for the test. This was subject to some significant concern as the heater is outside and, should it not operate reliably, there would be a risk of it freezing and damaging the exchanger. Much to my relief, despite digging it out of the snow and having to shield it from further driving snow during the day, it started and ran reliably so the warm up worked well.
Actually, having been used to #1630, it is startling how much quicker #5 warms up and it seems to even the heat out much more effectively because of the relatively short barrel. In the shot above you can see the inlet from the heater feeding into the dome and the return running from the blow down back along the shop to the North.
Sunday was a very pretty day, even if it was 8F when I got back to the shop, and the team could get to the site without problems. The heater restarted without issue and the boiler was ready for testing by mid-morning when the FRA inspector was scheduled. The pressure was raised slowly to 240 psi (125% of the 190 psi at which she will operate). Jason, Phil and Collin worked with the inspector to check parts of the boiler for any sign of leakage but she proved extremely tight. One small area of a seam and the head of one stay will need minor peening but we have an acceptable pressure vessel!!.
This opens up a whole lot more work for the Winter (which is why we were so desperate to get this done before it became impossible to work with water!). The boiler can now be lagged and the various accessories and their pipework fitted. The smokebox riveting should be done soon and then the smokebox can be completed and the truck refitted.
Technically there is no reason that she should not be operational next season. The biggest barrier is MONEY!. The response to the Summer appear was disappointing ($600 plus $600 in matching). Funds for #5 are now low and her operation in 2016 is going to depend heavily on donations in the next few weeks.
So, aside from this weekend, what has been happening in the last few weeks?.
Work progressed as planned.
#5 – Shay
I am sure that Brian will provide a more detailed update however a lot of progress is apparent leading up to the test today.
Phil and his team completed the Summer work by painting all the wheel and lower areas that have been stripped and primed. She looks a great deal more presentable and will hopefully be able to go under cover once the new barns come into service.
With the cab now riveted, Jon has been working on painting the interior and planning the woodwork that can now be fitted.
Jeff and Jerry have made huge progress on the pipe work for the new compressors. Max has set up most of the wiring. The smaller of the two compressors is linked in and workable. All the main pipe work for the large compressor, including the cooling loop has been installed. The one remaining item is the flanges to connect the large compressor to the pipework. Once these are made the whole set up should be in a state to test.
Before it can be commissioned a state inspection is required so we cannot put either into operation until the whole set up is complete.
So a busy and successful couple of weeks. Now we head into a busy Winter with the objective of completing two locomotives for next season.
Sunday, October 18. 2015
In many ways this is a depressing time of year in the steam shop. In the Spring there is a substantial buzz as you turn the large dead mass of steel that you have worked on all Winter into an active steam engine. The reverse process in the Fall is less fun but just as necessary. However, aside from the regular work on 1630, a great deal has happened in the shop and it promises to be a very exciting Winter.
The end of season was celebrated with a department cook out. Everyone had a good time. Many thanks to Jeff who came up with the idea and organized the food.
On #1630 a lot of work has been done since the last operations at the showcase weekend. Over the last three weekends:
tender was emptied and cleaned;
boiler drained and all the washout plugs removed and stored;
brick arch taken down and removed;
smokebox, tubes and firebox washed out. (This is a really fun job involving a lot of time in confined spaces with a high pressure hose so that you end up stiff wet and black. I did a lot of this last year and was not sorry that I had to be in the UK when it was done this year!);
the locomotive was run on air the weekend of 10/10. This is an important step to remove water from all parts of the mechanism and accessories. The boiler is pumped up with the Sullair compressor then the locomotive is run back and fore a number of times to clear the cylinders, valve chambers and super heaters. The all the accessories, injectors, air pump, generator, etc. are operated on air so any remaining water is removed.
The remaining job is to finally wash out the boiler. Given the low temperatures this job, originally scheduled for this weekend, was delayed. This is another job that guarantees the operators a good soaking so not at all pleasant at 45 degrees!!.
#1630 will come into the shop in a couple of weeks once work is finished on painting #938. For this Winter we have scheduled the usual mix of annual inspection and mechanical improvement work. This Winter is not planned to be as demanding as last (time will tell!!). The main target, aside from the annual inspection, will be an inspection and overhaul of the valves. Hopefully, unless something unexpected is found, this will require fitting of new rings to the valves and casting of a new babbit bearing for the fireman’s side crosshead, which is getting close to maximum allowable tolerance.
This weekend there was a very good turnout and many jobs were progressing at once.
Obviously the biggest focus after #1630 has been Shay #5 and this will continue to be the case. Much has been achieved in the last few weeks and Brian arrived this weekend for a major work session over the next couple of weeks.
Substantial progress has been made on the smokebox. The holes have been drilled for the rivets into the front ring. These are now bolted into place, which makes the fit so tight that the smokebox bottom is largely watertight (as we found this weekend – see below);
The holes must now be drilled for the rivets into the boiler barrel and then the process of riveting can begin;
Many valves, gauges, injectors and the water glasses have been fitted all in preparation for the big milestone of filling the boiler;
On Saturday the throttle body was fitted into the boiler. This is a very tricky task as the large and heavy unit is a close fit on the opening in the dome and must seal where the long vertical pipe seats on the elbow of the dry pipe. So moving the pipe as you try to position it risks damaging the critical seal, on which the throttle body sits. After much effort it was successfully fitted and the next big step was started;
The boiler was filled with water for the first time since 1999!!. With a couple of stops, to address leaks as they were identified, the water level was raised into the dome. Overall the result was very encouraging. A major problem with #5 was a number of badly blocked stays, some of which were behind the frame or motor and would require a great deal of stripping to replace. Huge effort has gone into clearing these but the risk is that this could have cracked some of them. To this point we have found one stay where this has happened but it is in a nice accessible position, so no issue to replace. Experience is that a stay broken in clearing is most likely to leak even without pressure so the fact that only this one revealed itself is a cause for growing confidence;
The broken stay was plugged temporarily with a nail and a number of tubes that showed minor leaks were rolled to seal them. In the next couple of days the dome cover will be fitted and the water heated to test under pressure.
So a LOT of progress. Watch this space!.
Glen and Stu were busy South of the shop and succeeded in starting and testing the traction motor of the Bay City crane. That should now be close to being able to move under its own power again. They also replaced a union in the fuel line of the “critter” (the 4 wheel diesel that can provide switching power at the South end of the shop). This is a useful unit but has been very unreliable in starting. Glen has found and fixed a whole bunch of blockages and defects in the fuel supply so that it is becoming much more serviceable.
A number of us were working on the new compressor set up. Jeff is hoping to spend a couple of weeks on this to get it close to, if not fully, operational.
Max was running the conduit to bring in power for lighting and outlets;
The 480V supply was disconnected and made ready to move the ducting to bring it into the compressor shed;
Rick was completing the wall facing to allow the pipes for the cooler to be mounted. The large compressor is sufficiently powerful that a 60ft cooling run is suggested. This will be on the wall inside the shop and will provide a useful source of heat when this unit is used in the Winter;
The placement of the pipework was agreed and a detail parts list developed. This should be delivered in the next few days so that Jeff can move ahead with the installation;
Dennis was working on the flanges needed to connect the compressor to the cooling array and air intakes.
On #428 Ed has substantially completed his exercise of identifying and fitting the myriad of pipes originating in the cab. One pair of copper pipes proved extremely frustrating as they did not seem to relate to any identifiable equipment although we did have some pictures that indicated roughly where they were when the locomotive was stripped. The most likely answer after much forensic work is that as late as 1947 the locomotive had a hydrostatic lubricator but, when retired a few years later, it had a Nathan mechanical lubricator, which it still has. Ed now believed that these pipes are part of the feed from the old hydrostatic lubricator that were never removed as they were under the lagging. No wonder we cannot find anything that they connect to!.
The above picture shows both Ed’s recent task and his next
one!. After completing the pipework he
will start rebuilding the reverser air cylinder.
Throughout the Summer Phil, with assistance from anyone who looks underemployed / he can rope in, has worked on de-rusting and priming the running gear of #938. Huge progress has been made and she is looking a great deal better. In the next couple of weeks the priming and painting will be completed so that the areas that have been de-rusted do not deteriorate again.
So a very busy time in the steam shop with a lot of progress.
Tuesday, September 22. 2015
I am posting the following update provided by Brian Nigel
Hello everyone. My name is Brian Davies. Some readers out there know me. For those who don't, I am the project manager on our J. Neils Lumber/ Klickitat Log and Lumber shay number 5. I have been in charge of this project for about the past 12 months. Nigel has been doing a great job of bringing you all the news from the Steam Shop, but at my first anniversary as project manager I felt perhaps it was time to introduce myself and give an overview of what we have accomplished in the last 12 months on the shay, and what still needs to be done to return the shay to service.
The locomotive was withdrawn from service after the 1999 operating season for general maintenance and to bring it up to the standards required by the Federal Railroad Administration in their required 1472 service day inspection.
A great amount of work has been performed on the locomotive in approximately the past 12 months. This includes:
-Front truck repairs finished except for a few minor tasks.
-Drawbar and auxiliary drawbars between locomotive and water tender cleaned and inspected for cracks. Main drawbar was sent out for stress relieving heat soak.
-Water tender interior cleaned to remove scale and rust in preparation for painting to reduce future corrosion. The cleaning process is almost complete.
-One bad rear foot board removed for measuring and renewal.
-Several brake beams cleaned, inspected, and painted.
-Upper braces on rear sand boxes reapplied.
-Water tender deck drain pipe repaired. This pipe had split, likely due to water damage, many years ago.
-Handrail on front of locomotive repaired.
-All staybolts inspected.
-Staybolt holes all opened up to proper depth.
-Approximately 12 staybolts removed, their holes reamed and tapped, and new bolts inserted.
-Heads completely formed over on six bolts, and head on one side of each of the other six bolts formed over.
-Tube and flue holes in front and rear tube sheets deburred, and radius added to their edges.
-All rivets in boiler inspected.
-All boiler braces inspected.
-Boiler interior cleaned to remove as much of the remaining sand from earlier sandblasting as possible.
-Finished application of Apexior boiler paint inside boiler.
-Copper ferrules cut and installed in every tube and flue hole in front and rear tube sheets, and ferrules deburred.
-All boiler tubes and flues cut to size, installed in boiler, flat rolled, ground to length, and belled over where necessary.
-Main turret valve disc replaced and valve in the process of being lapped to make it steam tight.
-Boiler plug holes cleaned and inspected, boiler plugs cleaned and inspected, and most boiler plugs installed in preparation for hydrostatic testing of the boiler.
-Throttle body, throttle spool valve, and associated hardware brought out of storage.
-Boiler steam pressure gauge cleaned, inspected, and calibrated.
-Main air reservoir stripped of paint, ultrasonically thickness tested, and primed.
-Auxiliary air reservoir stripped of paint, ultrasonically thickness tested, and primed.
-New smokebox bottom fit to bottom of smokebox and partially welded in place.
As you can see, a very significant amount of work has been done on the shay in the past 12 months. Excitingly for all of us in the Steam Shop, the return to operation of this locomotive is very much in sight, and is a goal that is well on its way toward being completed. Our current goal is an attempt to have the shay reenter service next summer. As long as no new major problems are discovered as we finish our work, this is a very attainable goal. The tasks still to be done this fall, winter, and spring are:
-Finish lapping main turret valve and boiler check valves to make them seal tightly.
-Finish forming over six remaining staybolt ends.
-Lap and install throttle body and valve in boiler.
-Finish forming of tube ends, then hydrostatically test boiler.
-Insulate boiler and reinstall sheet metal jacket.
-Drill and ream holes in the new smokebox bottom to rivet it onto the locomotive. Then welding of the new piece will be completed.
-Install superheater units into the boiler and reinstall the interior parts of the smokebox.
-Reattach all steam and water piping on locomotive boiler and in the cab.
-Clean and inspect all air brake parts, reinstall, and test.
-Finish cleaning interior of water tender and paint the interior.
-Put front truck back under locomotive.
-Install new front pilot beam and footboards, and one rear footboard.
-Repaint locomotive and tender.
I think it is exciting to realize that the list of what still needs to be done on the locomotive is far shorter than the list showing the amount of work we have accomplished in the past 12 months! The shop is excited to see this locomotive return to service and we are determined to make that happen. We are lucky that the locomotive still has some money in its restricted fund, and this amount is enough to keep us working on the locomotive for now. However, we sure could use some more money to help us with our goal of trying to get the locomotive back into service next year. We currently have one of our shop volunteers doing paid work on the locomotive two to three days a week, generally doing a lot of the nasty and unglamorous work that the volunteers are usually happy to pass of to someone else. It would be great to be able to keep him working on the locomotive through the winter. Having someone working a few days during the week every week really helps us make progress! In addition, we still need to purchase a new front pilot beam, and paint for the exterior of the locomotive and interior of the water tank. In my estimation, an additional $15,000.00 in the locomotive's restricted fund should ensure we have enough money to accomplish our goal of bringing the shay back into service next year. This is to finish buying the materials mentioned above and to continue having someone forging ahead working on the locomotive during the week. We could complete the locomotive with less money, but this will extend the time it will take to finish the project. And looking into the future, we will need money for yearly maintenance on the locomotive as we strive to inspect and repair it in a manner that best insures its continued mechanical wellbeing and operation for the next 15 years. Additionally, in 15 years it will be time again to perform a 1472 service day inspection on the locomotive, and this will again require money for new flues, insulation, and whatever else we find we will need at that time. So please, if you're a lover of logging locomotives, of steam locomotives in general, or just don't like seeing us poor shop volunteers beg, please consider a donation specifically to the Shay 5 restricted fund. Happily, the shay is now available for receiving donations on the IRM Online Store at www.IRM.org. No amount is too small. Of course, no amount is too large! All donations are extremely appreciated by all of us in the Steam Shop, and every dollar donated to the shay will go directly to ensuring its return to operation and continued operation at IRM.
Friday, September 11. 2015
Steam Department Update Summer 2015 Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 19:52
It has been an awfully long time!.
The Summer is always a bad time for blogging about the steam shop. Operating is very time consuming, leaving relatively little time for other work and after that, things rather got away from me.
So what is happening now in the steam shop?.
Everything is winterized and positioned in the shop for the off-season work program. However, the layout in the shop is unusual and this hopefully indicates a big change. #428 remains at the South end but next to her is #1630 with Shay #5 at the North end. In part this is because the (limited) planned work on #1630 this Winter is best done over the small area of deeper crawl space but mainly because it is hoped that #5 will be the first locomotive into steam in 2017!.
So, what is the status of the locomotives and plans for this Winter.
The decapod had a very successful running season after the incident in June with the broken truck Spring. Thereafter all planned running days were achieved with only very minor incidents. The most significant was probably the breakage of a lubricator line to the crosshead guide. Some rapid brazing by Brian meant that we only missed a couple of trips that day.
The valve and running gear work over the last couple of years seems to have much improved the locomotive. She is now probably stronger than at any time since she arrived from Eagle Pitcher. With other aspects of the running gear now better adjusted, the most obvious unwanted noise was from the rods on the fireman’s side. So the non-routine work for this Winter is primarily the replacement of the rod bearings of the drive axle on this side. The rods were removed promptly once she was in the shop and the bearings are now in the machine shop. Measurement has demonstrated that they are indeed worn beyond acceptable railroad standards. So replacements will be machined and fitted.
Aside from this the annual inspection is in progress. All the normal “fun” tasks are being progressed.
· gauges and safety valves are off for testing and setting;
· drawbars have been removed thoroughly cleaned, inspected for any cracks and will shortly go offsite for annealing;
· the locomotive has been resounding to the tapping and banging as we crawl all over the inside and outside of the firebox, clearing the telltale holes in the stays and then checking that they are clear to the required depth. Good progress. The outside is done and the inside is well advanced;
· cleaning and inspection of the smokebox and front tube-sheet is well advanced.
It is also planned to do some “improvement” work on a couple of the drive box wedges. One has had a distinctly questionable adjusting bolt for many years that makes adjustment awkward and another is believed to be just about at the limit of its adjustment. So the plan is to correct this over Winter.
Work on Shay #5 has progressed steadily and is now hopefully approaching the point where an intensive spell can be scheduled to get her to operating condition.
Major activity has included:
· Dennis welding the new smokebox bottom into place. Recently he was relaxing in his purpose-built hammock structure! to complete the grinding of the joint on the engineer’s side;
· Jerry has substantially completed the lagging and installation of the cladding is well under way;
· Substantial progress has been made on the next big step, which is installation of the blast pipe into the smokebox. On a Shay, that has had a rebuild of this scale, this is a 3 dimensional jigsaw started knowing that some of the pieces are missing!.
Obviously, as with any steam engine, the blast orifice must center below the petticoat of the chimney to ensure the most effective drafting. Also, it must bolt thru the floor of the smokebox and into the exhaust casting. However, unlike a rod driven loco, the exhaust casting of the Shay is not the top of the cylinder casting, firmly fixed into place, but a heavy casting that joins with some flexibility to the exhaust pipe and is bolted at several points to the smokebox. The game is that, once all the attachments are made, there is just about zero flexibility in how the exhaust casting must sit and attach to the exhaust pipe and blast pipe and, to ensure the smokebox is sealed as well as possible, all the mounting holes need to be a good fit. Since the smokebox bottom is entirely new (and the original was so rusted as to be useless as a template) the game is to juggle and test fit these heavy and awkward parts accurately into position so that the mounting hole scan be marked for drilling and cutting with a fair degree of accuracy. The acid test will come in a couple of weeks when we offer it up again and try to bolt everything into place!.
· The air pump was finally reassembled as well. Mike has thoroughly stripped and reconditioned this unit, so this should now be pretty much ready to go.
· A big exercise completed over recent weeks, by Dennis, is the fire-grates. This was not a planned exercise. #5 was an oil burner that was converted to coal on arrival at IRM. The original conversion, in the 1970’s, was less than satisfactory and part of the rebuild planned when she came out of service in 1998 was to fit a new and robust grate system. This was designed in advance and parts were obtained ready to fit, including the cast grates complete with rocking levers, that were produced by a supportive (and now defunct) local foundry. The finding that the tube-sheet required repair turned the overhaul from a 2-3 year job to nearly 20 years. The grate castings sat unused for more than 10 years and it was only when they were pulled out of storage, to build the new grate mechanism, that it was discovered the foundry had misread the drawings and cast the rocking levers facing the wrong way!!. Since they are cast iron, you cannot simply cut the levers of and weld the back facing the other way!. The solution for now has been to fabricate steel sections that can fit thru the grates and allow the levers to be attached in the correct configuration. Time will tell how well this will stand up to operation. It is hoped that it will allow at least a couple of years of service but there is no doubt that we will need to gather the money (estimate about $6,000) to have new grates cast correctly to the drawings. The good thing is that the grates that Dennis has modified are now exactly the shape that the design specified so, once we can get grates correctly cast to the pattern, it should be a routine maintenance activity to substitute them.
· There is still much to do, including:
o Rebuilding the front beam once the exhaust assembly is finally installed;
o Fitting the grate rocker assembly;
o Sealing /lining the inside of the water tank;
o Plus the myriad of once smaller tasks that are always involved in bringing a locomotive back into operation.
However, the expectation is that she will be ready to test in the Spring.
Various work has continued on #428. The biggest has been work on the valves. It was decided to progress the valves while the experience of the work on #1630 was fresh in the mind. While the detail of these valves is earlier than #1630 and differs in some ways the basic structure is the same. Extensive measurement has been done to identify where it is necessary to build up the spiders and ends to allow them to be machined to critical dimensions. Based upon this, the plan is to repair and machine to specification and then get the valves reassembled.
During the Summer, Phil and others continued the laborious task of removing rust and repainting. She now looks better than she has in many years and is now back into barn #9 following completion of repair work on the barn walls.
The commissioning of the renovated Santa Fe sign provided an unusual opportunity to see one of our large locomotives in the open. She was posed behind the sign along with the Warbonnet #92 for the dedication ceremony. Sadly, she aroused less than happy memories for one of our honored guests, a retired senior Santa Fe executive. As a young man, she was memorable for having barfed a large quantity of black gunk all over his good suit during a re-railing operation!. Oh well.
So we reach the end of another year. I am away to the UK for a couple of weeks. It will be a busy Winter but it promises to be an interesting New Year with the prospect of two running locomotives. Please consider supporting the Steam Department projects this year end.
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Logan about A Growing Group of Young Volunteers
Mon, 02-13-2017 13:46
You guys have way more peices of rolling stock and engines. The largest just has more books. I think IRM is really the largest in the world
CL Hogger about A Growing Group of Young Volunteers
Mon, 02-06-2017 09:55
Logan, when measuring the size of a museum its typically by the size of the collection. While IRM may not be the largest in the world, they are the [...]
Max Tyms about A Growing Group of Young Volunteers
Tue, 01-31-2017 16:40
In response to your quick questions: Yes, we are. and YES.
CL Hogger about Steam Department - December 2016
Mon, 01-30-2017 00:08
While the social media posts you are referencing correct about 975 being outside, it is FAR from "sitting in a field and rusting away." The Illinois [...]
John Heid about Steam Department - December 2016
Sun, 01-29-2017 02:08
975 was already in rough shape when IRM got her. I'm not certain if she has been moved indoors, but I do know there are plans to move her indoors. [...]
Kirk Warner about Diesel Shop update 1/26/2017
Sat, 01-28-2017 17:29
Are the any plans to finish the work on CNW1518? This used to be an operating engine.
John Sniffen about Steam Department - December 2016
Thu, 01-26-2017 13:48
Seeing comments on railroad social media pages about T&NO 975 "sitting in a field and rusting away." Anything I can pass along regarding it's [...]
Mark about More action from the Barn 4 annex
Sun, 01-22-2017 18:13
Pen station is in New York. Perhaps your thinking of Central station or Grand Central?
S. D. Polonetzky about More action from the Barn 4 annex
Sat, 01-21-2017 21:17
How about the Amtrak departure board from Chicago Union Station? It is no longer in Chicago but on display in Exhibit Car 1 at the Illinois Railway [...]
bob about More action from the Barn 4 annex
Thu, 01-19-2017 18:13
Very off topic Is there anything like the display from Penn Station remaining in Chicago? - Union Station or Ogilvy? Would be a great display. Is [...]
Roger Kramer about Coach dept early 2017 actvities
Wed, 01-18-2017 08:40
Hello Luke Yes There is a lot of talk and ideas But you need MONEY! Do you have any? $40 k will bring a car here. Thanks for your interest [...]
Luke S. about Coach dept early 2017 actvities
Tue, 01-17-2017 22:27
Nice to see a update. I was wondering with the end of the Ringling Circus train, is there any talk about IRM trying to get some of the cars?
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