At this point I am an interested member of IRM and very eager to see reports of activity in the steam department. I have neither the knowledge base or expertise to try to predict when even one aspect of a restoration might be done, and will studiously avoid trying to put words into their mouth.
"ED: Nigel is one of the regular workers in the Steam Department. Thank you for the comment and update Nigel. Readers - please do not read any promises into the below comments. They are NEWS and not policy."
OK. We are now reasonably under way with planning the 15 year inspection. First major step will be to lift off the smokebox front this weekend to allow access to the superheater and front tubeplate. The superheater elements have to be removed for testing and most of the tubes to allow access to thickness test all the boiler sheets. Overall time for the overhaul is as yet unclear because, by definition, it is required to inspect then fix any problems that are found. If no significant problems are found then 2012 might be possible but it would likely be Fall before the inspection reaches a point at which any problems to be corrected are fully identified. Nigel
Does the Steam Department have enough help? I haven't been down there for a bunch of years, but used to be in that department for years. How close are you to running? I see North Freedom got some sort of financial kick.
I miss running 1630 and the Shay. Getting my eyebrows burned from the Shay's fireballs and the midnight switch crew for members weekend.
The Steam Department has working crews every week, usually the biggest group on Saturday. The simple answer is that any IRM department can use more volunteer help.
In the case of steam, I would bet that the most useful effect would be from a new volunteer with some basic skill sets. Those machines are very heavy and complicated, and each step involves work over several days or weeks. A casual 'walk-in' helper for an afternoon will be entertained, but it would be difficult for him or her to contribute much.
The nature of the work to restore a locomotive to operation is complex, and as the work delves deeper, new issues are often uncovered in the process. It is not like saying the paint is scratched - we will live with it. Safety and reliability of the rebuild demand careful, thorough, and conscientious work with no shortcuts.
So I cannot (and will not) give a date for steam to resume, and fully understand the department reluctance to make promises. Using the best available information, the steam team has given us hopeful dates in the past, and been 'burned' when the work became more complex and the schedule had to be extended. WORK GOES ON.
Bob, I have those skills (rolling tubes, pouring babbit, piping, some bearing work, and very good on electrical work (shop crane? I work for an electrical supply house). I was in the steam department for 10 years back in the days of 3 running engines, the pile driver, and the wrecker. I was one of the people that got the locomotive jacks. I am fairly good with internal combustion also. I used to be part owner of the Northwestern Bay window caboose. I was a fireman, engineer, and ground certified. Just was wondering if you had enough help. It is a bit of a drive for me from La Crosse, WI. I'm also not as limber as I was back then, and may not fit through the firebox door.