Chassis Sandblasted, New 1385 Displays Taking Shape

Following a premature end to sandblasting on Friday due to cold weather conditions causing equipment hiccups, Howard Grote & Sons’s Surface Preparation Division was back on site at SPEC Machine in Middleton, Wis. on Monday, January 20th. While last Thursday’s sandblasting featured work on the driving wheels, Monday’s work centered on clearing grease, paint and rust form the chassis.

Sandblasting of C&NW No. 1385’s running gear continued on Monday, January 20th. This time, efforts centered on the locomotive’s chassis. Click on the image to browse more photos from January 20th on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

Not all work on the C&NW 1385 involves grit and grime. There has been a great deal of work lately on 1385 in the non-mechanical realm. A meeting date later this month has been set with officials from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Village of North Freedom to inspect the rebuilt tender and associated display. The 1385 project has had the fortune of being aided by a TEA-21 grant administered through WisDOT and the Village. The successful completion of the tender rebuild and its subsequent display is anticipated to release the final set of funds from the grant which began during the locomotive’s initial overhaul work shortly after being pulled from service in 1998.

Design work on additional displays about the 1385’s career and current restoration efforts has been an ongoing effort with members of the restoration team and volunteers coordinating their efforts. A special tip-of-the-hat goes to Randy Long of Long & Associates Creative Services. Randy and wife Lynn have been a boon to the 1385 project since joining Mid-Continent in 2013. The Long’s have been crucial in the creation of the new display sign created for the 1385 tender and is currently making headway on new 1385 displays planned for inside the depot. The 1385 project team is putting forth a great deal of effort to not only put 1385 back under steam, but also make sure museum visitors are able to appreciate why the locomotive is worth restoring.

Sandblasting of Running Gear In-Progress

Sandblasting of C&NW No. 1385’s running gear began on Thursday, January 16th at the SPEC Machine shop in Middleton, Wis. All three sets of drivers were sandblasted along with one pallet of parts. Work was done by Howard Grote & Sons of McFarland, Wis. The chassis was to be sandblasted on Friday the 17th, but Mother Nature intervened with temperatures in the teens causing the hoses and air lines to freeze up. The unfinished sandblasting was rescheduled for Monday, January 20th, but as of the time of writing this post, temperatures are predicted to be similar to that on the 17th.

Sandblasting is used to help remove all the past accumulated rust and layers of paint. Exposing the bare metal makes inspections of the parts much easier and more accurate as as layers of rust, paint and grease can serve to hide cracks and other defects which need to be identified at this stage of the restoration.

A Howard Grote & Sons employee works through the snow and cold to sandblast the a set of drivers belonging to C&NW No. 1385. Click on the image to browse more photos from January 16 on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

BEFORE (photo taken January 11, 2014)

AFTER (photo taken January 17, 2014)

Locomotive Clean Up

With the C&NW No. 1385 running gear now mostly in pieces, a thorough cleaning of the various parts is now the immediate task ahead. The day’s task called for scraping grease, needle scaling rust, parts washing and other work in preparation for sandblasting. Some rough weather limited volunteer turnout, but a few brave souls braved the elements.

While some went about cleaning duties, others were pulling out their micrometers and measuring eccentric parts. Although large, numerous key parts of steamers such as No. 1385 have incredibly small tolerances and must be machined to to within thousands of an inch of specification in order to be accepted.

Once again, Brian Allen was on hand to photograph some of the day’s activities.

C&NW No. 1385 Task Force member Pete Deets passes along the following message: “Thank you to everyone who braved the elements & changes on the fly. A good day was had by all and parts are a greater step closer to clean enough for inspection. I’m fairly certain there will be another cleaning party but it won’t get planned until after the sandblasting.”

Nancy Kaney and an unidentified volunteer scrape built up grease off the 1385’s driving wheels. Click on the image to browse more photos from the day on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

First Element of New C&NW No. 1385 Displays Installed

Visitors to Mid-Continent in 2014 can look forward to new exhibits during their visit. The rebuilt C&NW #1385 tender, delivered in November 2013, now has an accompanying interpretive sign in place. Additional displays about No. 1385 and other museum pieces are also in the works!

Initial response to the new sign has been positive. The C&NW 1385 team received the following message from a Mid-Continent member: “By the way, I don’t know who came up with the new sign for the 1385 tender, but I just wanted to say it’s probably the most professional looking informational sign we have the property!… Please pass my compliments along to whoever designed it.”

For the record, the sign was a collaborative effort between the numerous members of the C&NW 1385 Task Force and volunteers Randy Long and Jeffrey Lentz lending their talents.

New display sign for the C&NW No. 1385 tender, located in the display structure just outside the depot. Photo courtesy of Randy Long.

New display sign for the C&NW No. 1385 tender, located in the display structure just outside the depot. Photo courtesy of Randy Long.

Rest of Wheels Removed During New Years Eve Work Session

One last work session took place during what has been a very productive year for the C&NW No. 1385. The New Years Eve work session involved the removal of the two remaining driver sets. The rear-most driver was removed prior to shipment to SPEC Machine. To accomplish this, the chassis had to be lifted. Crew members included: Steve Roudebush, Bruce Grill, Ed Ripp, Kyle Gehrke, Robert Hasheider with Brian Allen behind the camera.

The remaining driving wheels were freed from the chassis during work December 31, 2013. Kyle Gehrke (left) and Ed Ripp (right) help gently roll a driver set out from under the frame. A single driver set weights more than many passenger automobiles. Click on the image to browse more photos from the day on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.