January has turned out to have three work weekends this time around. The 15th was populated by myself (Pete Deets), Al Joyce, Chris (can’t remember your last name so please correct me), and Doug Crary.
This was in anticipation of the next weekend being too cold to work. Al continued with the stud work, Chris did a fantastic job of laying out the large hole and rivet and bolt holes on the smokebox liner.
On the 22nd and 23rd braving the cold were Kevin Riehl, Jim Connor, Kelly Bauman, Doug Klitzke, and Doug Crary. Jim Connor cleaned out the new smokebox and then he and Doug Crary found the center and laid in the liner. They also started drilling the pilot holes for the rivets. Kelly Bauman and Kevin Riehl laid out a gridwork on the firebox area to guide the ultrasonic thickness testing. Doug Klitzke used a hand grinder to clean off spots on the boiler shell where the readings would be taken.
The 29th and 30th have seen Kelly Bauman taking the ultrasonic readings, Doug Crary continue with drilling the smokebox and liner, and Rick Peters working on the drivers as well as giving direction on work to be done.
During the weekdays much has been going on also. Becker Boiler has been fitting the second course boiler patch and as of this writing is very nearly ready for welding. Dave Lee has also been working on drilling out and then threading repaired staybolt holes. The lower firebox area is beginning to look like a virtual porcupine with over sixty new staybolts sticking from freshly threaded holes as of this writing. The next steps will be to cut them to the proper length and hammer them home for a steam tight fit.
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.
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.
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!
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!