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Sunday, May 24. 2015
The first day in service for #1630 was very successful. Six trips at hourly intervals with no significant issues. Even the trainee fireman (me) survived the day without major problem (which was probably a bigger surprise!).
The Winter work appears to have substantially improved the operation of the rod bearings on #5 axle as was the objective.
So we are now operating normally as scheduled. (Obviously the essential caveat!. This is a 100 year old machine. Last minute problems can arise. We will try to give advance notice whenever possible but, in the worst case, a problem found during start up can result in a last minute cancellation).
Thursday, May 21. 2015
Two very hard days but the results look good.
The steam test went well. #1630 is available for service Saturday.
Tuesday, May 19. 2015
Steam Department - Fingers crossed! Posted by Nigel Bennett in Steam Department at 22:22
Interim update May 19th.
A lot of work has been completed on #1630 over the last two weeks. As of today she is now complete and ready to be coaled and watered for the steam test.
If all goes to plan from here, she will be coaled and watered on Wednesday for steam testing on Thursday. We have time for minor adjustments on Friday so, unless we hit unexpected issues in the steam test, we expect to run Memorial Day weekend.
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 ………!!
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Thomas Kaufman about From the Shays point of view
Tue, 06-21-2016 15:53
Bob Crosby was the engineer of the Shay when I first rode behind it. He was a close friend of my late Uncle Bill Girling of the CB&Q. I am sure Bob is [...]
Thomas Kaufman about From the Shays point of view
Tue, 06-21-2016 15:49
Roger, Really nice to see the Shay in the current condition. when I first started coming to the museum as a young lad in the late 60's this was the [...]
Raphael about From the Shays point of view
Mon, 06-20-2016 22:57
i don't recall the shay ever having a wedge plow.
Zach Godzicki about The Turntable Unloading Prep
Mon, 06-20-2016 12:03
I can't wait to see this project completed, will have to put in a donation for this!! Are there any operational 130 foot turntables left in the US [...]
Cabbage Stack about Shay #5 from Brian Davies January 2016
Sun, 06-19-2016 18:27
>>>"I feel it is important to restore and maintain all parts on the locomotive, whether or not they are normally used." Excellent Brian! Well [...]
Raphael about Steam will likely run Memorial weekend
Thu, 06-02-2016 01:50
i wouldn't be surprised if 1630's 135 car haul made its way to Trains Magazine.
Jeff about Steam will likely run Memorial weekend
Tue, 05-31-2016 14:32
Great job guys. My family and I loved the steam engine run. I have never seen one up close in operation and it was amazing.
Ethan Armitage about Steam will likely run Memorial weekend
Mon, 05-30-2016 07:59
HI Nigel, This is Ethan A. Good job on 1630, shay 5 and 428 UP. I liked riding on 1630 yesterday. Thank you, Nigel, for working on the steam [...]
chris sosin about Steam will likely run Memorial weekend
Sun, 05-29-2016 18:57
Great job steam team!!! I wanted to get out to IRM to see 1630 run, but it just wasn,t in the cards for this week end. I did see her running on the [...]
Raphael about Turntable successfully unloaded
Sat, 05-28-2016 22:03
once turntable installation is complete, will there be a roundhouse? if so, how many stalls?
c kronenwetter about Steam will likely run Memorial weekend
Fri, 05-27-2016 22:57
A job nicely done Nigel. Thanks to all of the steam team from we watchers out here in Internet land.
Ted Miles, IRM Member about Turntable successfully unloaded
Fri, 05-27-2016 15:56
Nigel, That is one big sukker of a turntable! i have pushed a narrow gauge table by hand; i do not think you can do that with the new one [...]
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