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.
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.
C&NW 1385’s boiler, front view. Oct. 31, 2018.
C&NW 1385’s boiler, side view. Oct. 31, 2018.
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.
C&NW 1385 new front flue sheet. March 21, 2018. Photo courtesy Gary Bensman.
A Continental Fabricators welder installs C&NW 1385’s front flue sheet. Photo courtesy Gary Bensman.
C&NW 1385’s new front flue sheet is welded in place. 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.
This image of 1385’s old boiler shows the location of the front flue sheet at the front end of the boiler where it connects to the smokebox. Note the steam dome visible on top of the boiler toward the rear. MCRM photo.
Detail of 1385’s old boiler showing the front flue sheet and smokebox.
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.
The large hole is where the 1385’s steam dome will sit. Photo courtesy Gary Bensman.
Ever since the C&NW No. 1385 restoration was resumed in 2011 work has progressed steadily thanks in large part the financial support of the 1385 project’s enthusiastic followers. That financial backing has allowed hired professional machinists to work on the project 5-days-a-week and allowed progress to occur exponentially faster than could be accomplished by volunteers alone.
As we head in the home stretch we’re asking for your continued support so that the 1385 restoration can continue moving forward without delay. Please consider joining the growing list of nearly 1,000 project contributors by donating today. You can do so by visiting our Donation Page and specifying in the donation form that you want your contribution to support C&NW #1385.
Donating is easy thanks to our online donation form which accepts all major credit cards and Paypal, or you can use our printable donation form to send with your mailed contribution. Thank you for helping us get this far!
With your help this will soon be a common scene at Mid-Continent Railway Museum.