1385’s Boiler Assembly Continues

The following is an update on C&NW #1385’s new boiler progress comes courtesy of Continental Fabricators. Continental is the company creating the new boiler for the 1385.

The wrapper sheet has been removed and welding is complete except for the wash out plugs.

The wrapper sheet was fit to ensure all of the firebox stay locations lined up correctly then removed so that we could drill the firebox, as you can see the doorsheet is all that needs to be drilled.  After this is complete the wrapper will be fit and welded for the last time and the entire boiler assembly will be welded together, followed by stay installation.

This photo shows the test fit of 1385’s wrapper sheet and progress with drilling. Photo courtesy Continental Fabricators

When the boiler is completed it will be delivered to Wisconsin where the locomotive will be assembled at the shop of SPEC Machine.

Tender Moved to Live Track

On October 25, 2018 a team of cranes were at Mid-Continent. The cranes were primarily there to install locomotive #1256’s new wheels, but the 1385 Task Force took advantage of the presence of the cranes to move Chicago & North Western #1385’s tender to live track.

For the past five years, ever since arriving from the fabrication shop, the 1385’s tender has resided on an isolated display track along the passenger platform. The covered platform display area provided a cozy home for the tender where the public could learn more about the restoration while the locomotive itself was overhauled off-site.

All photos courtesy Richard Colby.

With the boiler nearing completion and reassembly of the locomotive’s major components set to begin in the coming months, it was a good time to also prepare the tender for the locomotive’s eventual return.

Volunteers and members of the crane crew set about removing the tender from the shelter. First it was chained to the museum’s Lull forklift and towed out into the open where the crane could get at the tender to disassemble it. The trucks were then moved to the museum mainline and the tender reassembled. Once done, Mid-Continent’s yard switch engine, MCRY #4, coupled on and took the tender to the museum’s Engine House.

The tender, mostly while mostly complete, still has some finishing touches needed including items such as the air brake system, steam heat pipes, and electrical systems (for reversing headlight, class lights, safety lights, etc.) The wheels will also need to be jacked and the roller bearings inspected for possible damage from the August floodwaters.

 

New Boiler Photos

Continental Fabricators has supplied three new photos showing the current state of progress on  Chicago & North Western #1385’s new boiler construction.

C&NW 1385’s new boiler firebox end. Oct. 31, 2018.

Brake-ing News

The braking system for Chicago & North Western #1385 consists of an iron shoe pressed against the steel wheel.  The shoes are held by the brake head and held on the brake head by a key. The brake head is attached to the brake beams and through a system of levers and hangers the brake beams get their motion and power from compressed air applied to the brake cylinders.

The brake heads on the 1385 were worn out so we ended up having a pattern made and getting new brake heads cast from steel.  Project volunteer Pete Deets got a couple photos of Steve machining the last head to fit the curvature of the brake shoe.  There are also a couple of shots of the key, head & shoe on the bench.

Since these photos were taken the brakes have already been installed onto the 1385’s running gear. SPEC Machine is now turning its attention back to the cab. Upcoming tasks include installing the cab roof’s protective rubber roof installed to keep the weather out and installing the cab electrical system.

On the southern front, progress has continued to at the Continental Fabricators shop in St. Louis, Missouri where the 1385’s new boiler is taking shape. In mid-July 2018, the boiler underwent the first of what will be numerous inspections from the Federal Railroad Administration as the locomotive comes together. In the process of going through its first inspection it earned a boiler number, 9622, for FRA tracking purposes. This means for the first time the new boiler is officially recognized as part of the locomotive. The inspector spent a couple of hours reviewing the parts and pieces and was satisfied with the work to date.

New C&NW 1385 boiler next to the new Pennsylvania Railroad T-1 #5550 boiler also under production at Continental Fabricators. Continental quite literally handles projects of all sizes as evidenced by the 12″ gauge live steamer boiler under production in the lower left. Gary Bensman photo.

Front Flue Sheet Installation

New photos are now available from the Continental Fabricators factory floor in St. Louis showing Chicago & North Western 1385’s new boiler under construction. The new images mostly show the installation of the front flue sheet at the front of the boiler.

The front flue sheet (along with the rear flue sheet) support the flues which carry the smoke and hot gasses from the firebox – located at the rear of the locomotive – to the smokebox – located in the front of the locomotive – where they can then escape through the smokestack.

The front flue sheet also has multiple larger diameter holes for supporting the superheater flues. In a superheater-equipped locomotive such as the 1385, the superheater re-heats the steam generated by the boiler, increasing its thermal energy and decreasing the likelihood that it will condense inside the engine. Superheating the steam increases the thermal efficiency of the steam engine.

Lastly, the single largest hole in the front flue sheet supports the dry pipe. The dry pipe carries the saturated steam (i.e. non-superheated steam) from the steam dome to the superheater header before being directed to the superheater flues. Inside the superheater flues the saturated steam becomes superheated and is then directed to the cylinders, which in turn provide power to the driving wheels.

flue sheet before installation

C&NW 1385 new front flue sheet. March 21, 2018. Photo courtesy Gary Bensman.

The following two images show 1385’s old boiler to help give perspective of where the front flue sheet resides within the locomotive.  You may notice the pattern of the smaller holes for the tubes is different between the new and old sheets.

One advantage of building a new boiler is that we can correct some compromises made when the Chicago & North Western modified the engine to add the superheaters.  We can also incorporate an updated design for arch tubes in the firebox which will allow us to put tubes back into the area formerly blanked off in the old boiler.  The old boiler has a patch in the belly of the barrel to repair cracking believed to be caused by uneven heating.  Those thermal stresses were thought to be the end result of that bottom area of tubes being removed.  Another advantage of populating that area with flues again is a gain in heating area so the new boiler should steam a slight bit better.

The last image from St. Louis shows the hole cut into the top of 1385’s new boiler where the steam dome will be installed.

boiler steam dome hole

The large hole is where the 1385’s steam dome will sit. Photo courtesy Gary Bensman.