Archive of 2004 Shop Reports on Steam Shop Progress.

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December 2004

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Santa Express was a boost for MCRY all around! Not only did we have better ridership than last year but Santa loaned us a few elves for a week!! The work started off Nov. 26th with Head Elf Bob Ristow beginning the transformation of a pile of parts into a smokebox for the WC&C #1. Also up to help was Bob Jackson, Kelly Bauman, Ed Ripp, Jim Baker, Jim Busse and later on to include Doug Crary & Al Joyce.

One step was to lay out the spacing for the door ring studs on 2 half-circles of steel and then drill the holes. The holes will later be threaded and have studs inserted to hold the ring that then holds the smokebox door and engine number plate. Another step accomplished was to lay out the location for and cut the hole for the smokestack in a cylinder of steel that had been rolled and then tacked together. This cylinder forms the body of the smokebox.

There also was a hole laid out and cut for the inspection/cleanout hole on the fireman's side. As the week progressed and with the aid of a tool loaned by Skip Lichter the two half-circles of steel for the door ring support were fitted to the inside edge of the front of the smokebox and then drilled for the rivets that will hold them in place. Two reinforcing plates or welts for the seam of the smokebox were fitted and then drilled for the rivets that will hold them in place and the smokebox in a circle.

The photos show the semi-finished product.

On the 4th we had additional help from Elf Eric. Sorry but I didn't get a last name but would be glad to include it later. He helped Al Joyce with the continuing stud program and from Al's words he's welcome back any time. Doug Crary ran a welded driving box from the frame through the shaper. This is to give a smooth surface to the repaired face as well as cut the box to the proper dimension. In the photos you can see Doug attending to the machine and then the box at the end of the day. Some work needs yet to be done. The Christmas present of Bob Ristow all week long, Jim Baker for five days, and the others each weekend has been a huge boost on the project.


Nov. 12-14, 2004

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Indeed it was quite a successful weekend but it will be a day or two yet before I'll get the pictures sent. The weekend actually started Friday, November 12th as Mike Wahl, Tye Hasheider, Don Engles and myself were able to come in and continue with the fitting process. The patch is nearly the right size so we are drilling the holes in the edges that will eventually become the rivet holes and bolting it in place as we go. We are working from the engineer's side over to the fireman's side to draw the steel into shape and determine how much more must be cut or ground off for the final fit. We've found that even with careful measurement and using the old piece as a pattern, the new patch still isn't exactly the right shape. After all the bolts are in, some heat and persuasion will be applied to complete the job.

A magnetic base drill was rented to make the holes because this allows much more precise positioning and the magnet generally holds the drill quite still while punching through the steel. It was also used to drill out a broken bolt in the frame.

On Saturday, Mike, Tye, and Don returned and we were joined by Rick Peters, Kelly Bauman, Betsy Zonnerville, Jim Connor, Doug Klitzke, Al Joyce, Pat Weeden, and John Risley. Rick and John had earlier worked on repairing the cracks in the drivers and continued on with that task. The depth of the crack has to be defined by grinding away the old cast iron until the bottom is found. The area is then pre-heated and filled by welding. Many of the small cracks have been filled but there is still more work ahead.

Mike, Tye, and Don continued with the patch until Don had to leave, then Doug stepped in and gave a hand. Earlier Doug and Jim Connor unboxed a boiler tool that had been returned from loan to the Grand Canyon Railway. Shipping was not completely kind so they had to repair the box. Inspection showed no damage to the tool which is used for cutting a sealing seat in the steam dome of a boiler. It can also be adapted to the same work on a cylinder head.

Al Joyce continued turning out finished studs in the machine shop. Betsy and Kelly first performed some preventative maintenance on locomotive #4 and then inventoried and planned the use of a box of finished studs.

Jim Connor was even able to put a bit of time in on cleaning locomotive #7 to prep it for Santa Train. Our next organized work session is December 11 and 12 but we will also try to get some things done Santa weekend November 27 and 28. Bob Ristow is hoping to stay the week between Santa and Boyscouts to work on layout and fabrication of the new smokebox. He's working to get a few people that may be able to help through that week. As it happens, my work schedule will have me off the 30th and Dec. 1st and I plan to be on the project.


July 10-11, 2004


The turnout was light for the July session. Rick Peters got at least one more binder fit up on the frame to facilitate alignment and also removed the engineer's side piston from the rod so the piston can be built up and machined to proper size. Steve Seibel and Kelly Bauman helped get the steel frame under the smokebox and we made another step in getting the 2nd course patch fit in. It may seem slow but positive steps are being made all the time.

June 12-13, 2004


June's work weekend resulted in progress on the fitting of the second course of the Montreal. We had a very nice turnout of workers including Mike Wahl, Kelly Bauman, Bob Jackson, Steve Seibel, Doug Klitzke, Darryl Gasser, and Bruce Case. The second course is the tapered course which is especially difficult to fit. Finished to a point where Becker Boiler needs to fabricate an attachment to allow finish fitting of the patch.

Holes were cleaned up for many of the new studs by tapping the sheets with special boiler taps (tappered). It is necessary to 'clean' the holes so that a completely sealed 'joint' will be made between the stud and sheet. Obviously, leaks will not be tolerated.

Driving box binder fitting was initiated on the frame. This is necessary to determine the repairs and alterations required to renew the shoes and wedges.

Ultra sounding of more of the boiler sheets was also accomplished. Becker Boiler has started welding up the 'old' stay bolt holes so that they can be redrilled, reamed and tapped to return the stay bolts to the original 7/8" diameter size. When a stay bolt breaks, it can be renewed by replacing it with a new bolt a little larger in size (usually 1/16" larger in diameter). As time goes on, the bolts can wind up much larger than the original size which can result in more frequent breakage. Returning the bolts to the orginal design size will allow future repairs without jeopardizing the original design specifications.

It may seem as though the progress is slow at this time....fitting of the boiler patches are extremely delicate and MUST be done correctly the first time! Various inspections are also requirred through out the boiler patching process which can result in longer lead times.

Plans are being made to manufacture new tube sheets to complete the boiler repairs.

May 27, 2004


The driving wheel centers for the WC&C #1 were tested for cracks using the Magnaflux process. Heavy cable was coiled around the section of the wheel to be tested. It was then connected to a very large machine similar to a welder. The area to be checked is then sprayed with an indicator which contains fluorescent iron particles. The machine then passes a very large electrical current through the wire to set up a magnetic field in the coil as well as the iron it is coiled around. If there are any cracks in the material, a flux leakage occurs which creates a disturbance in the magnetic field similar to two separate magnets being very close together. The iron particles are attracted to the flux leakage just like the end of a magnet. A very high power ultraviolet light is then shone on the area. If any cracks are present, the concentration of the fluorescent iron particles at the crack are extremely easy to see. The results? A few cracks were detected and final analysis will be determined by the General Foreman of Running Gear.

May 8-9, 2004

Progress was made during the last work weekend. The ultra sounding is basically completed, the rear flue sheet template done, and the second course patch started for fitting. The testing of the wheel centers is scheduled and should be completed shortly, this will tell us the condition of the spokes and centers of the drivers. If you remember, the 1385 drivers had only two spokes that didn't have cracks and some of the spokes had several cracks. We do have 'new' tires that can be machined and shrunk onto the centers.

April 24, 2004

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Spring Fling was compact but successful. We had the help of Doug Klitzke, Kelly Bauman, Jim Connor, Phil Blinderman, John Sorrel, Jeff Bloohm, Bob Jackson, Doug Crary & Mike Wahl. Both diesels were inspected and readied for the season although serious problems were found with the "A" prome mover of the 4. The work of fitting the second course patch is about half done. More ultrasounding was completed and a cardboard template of the rear tubesheet has been made. Our next work session is the 8th & 9th. Opening Day! More of the same, ultrasounding, drilling of staybolts and also drilling rivet holes in the 1st course patch. More fun to be had by all!

February 25, 2004

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Even though it was Snow Train and a special event, the operations crew pulled together with the shop crew to allow another great step to be accomplished in the boiler repair. The belly section of the 2nd boiler course was cut out to make way for a new patch of material as was done in the first course. MIke Wahl is dress grinding some of the rough spots off the old piece before it gets loaded into Jim Baker's Suburban to be transported to Quality Roll in Saginaw, MI where it will be used as a template for the new piece.

Doug Crary operated the skid-steer in the tight quarters to pull the piece from under the boiler and then outside for loading. Jim Baker & John Sorrel helped guide Doug as the piece is carefully slid in.

Two braces were welded across the old piece to help it keep its shape and hence usefulness as a pattern. A FANTASTIC weekend was had with help from MIke Wahl, Jim Baker, Lee Nelson, Bob Ristow, Phil Blinderman, Pat Campion, Kelly Bauman, Bob Jackson, Jim Busse, Rick Peters, Dave Wantz, Dave Bierman, John Winter, Jim Connor, John Decker, Steve Brist, George Falor, and no doubt some I have missed. Those that kept the train running help those who worked in the shop by letting us keep working!

Another great boost was received Friday afternoon with a pledge of $17,000 for continued work which helps the contributions go much further.

At this point in time, the 2nd course piece is in Michigan to be used as a pattern; the steel for the new 2nd course patch is in transit; the components for the smokebox proper have been fabricated and are awaiting pickup in Milwaukee; the new 3rd course patch has been fabricated and is awaiting pickup in Milwaukee; we are awaiting a quote for staybolts; we have ordered the magnetic testing of the driver wheel centers; we have received the first batch of boiler studs that are 3/4 finished and we are formulating a request for quote for rivets.

I cannot say enough to thank all the people who are working so hard keeping us moving toward our goal. WE ARE DOING THIS!

January 30, 2004

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We are in the nuclear age, but no we are not changing the fuel the #1 will be using. The technicians had to setup a safety perimiter for themselves and anyone around. The radioactive isotope is actually housed in the box on the floor that has a hand crank connected by the long yellow cables. After the X-ray film is placed on the boiler, a tech turns the hand crank that pushes the isotope to the end of the wand. In this application the wand has a machined piece of solid tungsten placed over it to aim the radiation in a column in one direction to shoot through thesteel.

Under the tape on the side of the boiler are lead numbers that will be used as locating marks to tell where a shot was taken. The lead will block a fair amount of the radiation and show up almost white on the negative.

Another great hurdle has been cleared today. X-rays on the first course patch all showed good welds! The 1st course patch is DONE! While there, they also shot the throat sheet knuckle pad welding and around the boiler check. The throat sheet is good and there are no more cracks around the boiler check than what had been found.

January 29, 2004

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Here are some photos taken today. They show Mike from Becker's padwelding the fireman's side of the firebox where the spring rigging had dug in. It also shows the finish weld on the first course. YES! The first course welding is complete and will be X-rayed Friday.

There are also shots of prep work going on on the firebox for more buildup welding and removal of staybolts. The shot of Dave Lee drilling is part of the prep for staybolt removal, also.

The welding on the barrel of the Montreal has progressed to the point of the first X-Ray testing. The welding has been completed on the 1st course patch and radiographing will take place tomorrow, Friday, January 30. Steel has been ordered and forming will soon take place for the 3rd course patch. The forming of the front tube sheet started earlier this week. A fabricator to form the 2nd course patch is still being sought but hard leads have been found.

December 30, 2003

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Two new studs were applied to the boiler of the Western Coal & Coke #1 on December 27th. Big Deal, you say? Indeed it is a big deal for the steam program-more for what it represents than the actual item. These are the first two new parts of many more to come to be permanently installed on the boiler.

The stud itself is a rather mundane item, a piece of rod, really, of varying length according to application with threads on each end. One end is permanently threaded into the boiler shell and the body is used like a bolt to hold brackets for various appliances on the boiler. Those appliances include things like running boards, air compressors, brake stands and the cab.

In this rebuild we will be replacing all the studs. To prepare for that many volunteer hours have been spent measureing the length and diameter of each one. Another major task has been creating a system to precisely log the location of each stud on the boiler shell so those locations can be transferred to the drawings being made as the rebuild progresses. Many hours are also going into those drawings.

The next task tackled was determining the best method for removal of the old studs. All known processes were tested and the most effective that caused the least stress on the boiler was chosen. At the same time archives were searched and a 1940's Baldwin standard for stud manufacture was chosen as the specification for the new studs.

Our next step, after determining what was required, was to find a supplier for the proper certified material. A supplier was found and one of our members donated the material. A procedure was then written up that will govern the removal, manufacture and installation of the studs which involved even more volunteer time.

At the same time test pieces were machined to check the manufacturing procedures as well as to produce some jigs to aid the process. After the test pieces were made and the jigs tested out two studs have been so far produced and installed. Big Deal, you say? You decide.

December 27, 2003

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This is a Red Letter Day for the Mechanical Shop at North Freedom. Today the first two permanent replacement parts were applied to the boiler of the Western Coal & Coke #1. Al Joyce and Bob Ristow installed the first two of approximately 150 studs in the first course of the boiler barrel. John Risley was also performing build-up welding on the frame so material is being applied there as well.

Progress is being made. WE CAN DO THIS!

December 13, 2003
Work today included Ken H. drilling staybolts, Darryl Gasser sharpening the bits for Ken, and John Risley and a friend welding on the frame.