Next weekend means 17th / 18th. Memorial Day weekend is "up in the air" at present. Rather depends how far you are travelling and by what date you need to be sure.
We are doing our damnedest to have the smoke box front repaired and on this weekend and have her in steam Memorial Day weekend. Obviously the delay means that this would be the first time we have steamed her this year so we could fail to be in service due either to the smokebox taking longer or finding something we cannot fix immediately as we start her up (that is why 17th/18th was important as we then had a week to fix any loose joints or whatever that showed up under steam).
So we are still trying hard to be running Memorial weekend but there can be no commitment at this time. It will be clearer after this coming weekend.
See the response to Steve on Memorial Day running.
On a more general point, cab rides are unlikely this year. A issue that will limit our running time is the small number of qualified engineers / firemen that we have (since it is some years since we last ran). To overcome this issue we will generally have trainees in the cab whenever we run and we cannot accommodate trainees and riders.
MIG and TIG, while useful, would not be able to be used on a large cast iron piece such as this.
While cast iron can be welded, a large piece like this impractical since the entire casting needs to be heated, then welded, then slowly cooled to prevent cracking. Brazing, since it uses less heat and doesn't melt the base metal, avoids this problem. Other not welding methods for cast iron repair include stitching using metal plates, and JB weld.
Agree with you about not welding Cast Iron- too high carbon content just increases the chance of further cracking. I was there Sunday with my grandson and spoke to JD about the repair. The brazing looks fine but I would not re assemble the Bell Bracket without a LARGE steel plate inside the front smoke box cover to attach to, and keep the stress off of the casting repair. The original washers and nuts are too small and the problem will return. Put som hi temp head gasket sealant on the inside of the repair between the backer plate.
Yes it is certainly our intention to put a spreader plate behind the bolts to distribute the load as much as possible. The size will be constrained by the fact that the top bolt holes are close to where the front bolts to the ring of the smoke box itself.
Actually the original was not bolts but studs and actually tapered studs. Strange and suspect design as the taper was probably a major factor in initiating the cracks. You would expect taper studs in the pressure vessel but not clear why they were used into a relatively thin iron casting. Difficult to say it was a really bad design as it lasted nearly 100 years ... but has lead to a lot of cussing in the last couple of weeks!.
Tapered Studs? Would not have expected that either...but yes it lasted a century. I would drill out those holes oversized to clear the new bolts and tap the backing plate and use new high strenghth bolts to attach the bell bracket. Mc Master Carr sells them- along with your local fastener supplier.
I offer to make the backing plate at my machine shop in Lyons and deliver it if that helps you out. We have water jets and lasers. I have A-36 plate and 1018 crs in stock. (I took photos on my phone on Sunday but would need someone to make an accrate sketch.)
Thank you. We do have the bolts and material in the shop ready. The plan is very much as you suggest. A couple of us will be out there working on it tomorrow.
Suspect that the tapered studs driven into a relatively thin iron casting were the likely cause of the cracking ... but we don't have much come back on the supplier now !!. Unclear when it would have been done. Don't think it was original for Russia so probably Frisco.
A key reason I have not posted anything is that we are working throughout the week and it is a day by day situation. If we can get the crack fixed satisfactorily we will run. But it is not certain either way.
I know that you mentioned that it will be a 'day-by-day' progress on completing this and that it is still fairly up in the air, but, should everything check out, is 1630 going to be run all three days, or only one? I figure Monday gives the most time and also it's the easiest day to go