Mid-July 2015 C&NW 1385 Update

Although updates have been a bit sparse of late, activity on the Chicago & North Western #1385 has continued forging ahead. The work completed in the last few months is not the kind that make great headlines, yet all of it is equally important toward achieving an operational 1385. Without further delay, here is the latest:

  • The driving boxes, shoes, wedges and hub liners are all now complete, save any modifications needed for grease or oil lubrication and any adjustments found necessary at final assembly of installing the drivers into the frame.
  • The footplate has been fitted, holes reamed, and tapered bolts installed to hold it place.
  • The locomotive’s spring rigging has been fully rebuilt. It is being installed onto the frame and will be stored in place unless it proves to be in the way of other work.
  • Most recently, work has begun on the machining and renewal of the connecting rods and bushings.

Other tasks coming up in the near future (In no particular order) include:

  • Rebuilding of the front truck.  The wheels on the front truck are currently being assessed as to whether they can simply be re-profiled and still offer adequate service life, or whether replacement is necessary.
  • Renewal and machining of the valve cages.
  • Cleaning/polishing of the finished rods.
  • Boring of the cylinders.
  • Cleaning and test fitting of the valve gear to determine wear and repairs needed.

The 1385’s new boiler is nearing the end of the engineering review phase and is expected to enter the build phase within the next several months. The boiler will be discussed further in a future post.

Photos provided by Brian Allen. View full album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/7777754@N08/sets/72157655692852722

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Brasses, Bolts, and More

To start this post is some photographs and videos taken earlier this year but never posted until now. These document some of the work that was performed at Hercules Precision, LLC in Baraboo on C&NW 1385’s crown brasses and driving boxes.

A driving box is a box-shaped casting which is fitted to slide vertically in the pedestals of the locomotive frame. The driving boxes hold a brass that rests on the journal of the driving axle. The weight of the boiler, locomotive frame, and the cylinders rests upon the driving boxes, with the exception of the weight that is carried by the 1385’s leading truck.

Inspections revealed one crown brass out of the six required replacement. The remaining five had a good amount of service life remaining.

Photos and video courtesy Donald Blausey, Hercules Precision, LLC.



In more recent photos, taken June 17, 2015 at SPEC Machine, the finished driving boxes can be seen being installed into the frame pedestals. Additional photos show holes continuing to be reamed for the many custom tapered bolts being created and installed as the frame and it’s components are reassembled.

Also of note in the photos is the new footplate that has been installed. The original was found to have a significant crack (see March 30, 2014 post). The drawbar, which connects to the tender and thereby the rest of the train, is attached to the footplate. Given the heavy stresses these parts are placed under, it was determined that for safety reasons, it was best to replace the footplate entirely rather than attempt repair of the original casting.

Photos courtesy Brian Allen.


April 4 Volunteer Opportunity for 1385

The semi trailer containing various C&NW #1385 parts loaded during the March 21 volunteer session has now been moved to SPEC Machine where restoration and repair work is taking place.

Volunteers are needed once again to help unload the parts from the trailer at SPEC Machine. The unloading “party” is planned for Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. at SPEC. Please join and lend a hand if you can.

SPEC Machine
7175 Riles Road
Middleton, WI 53562


A small team of volunteers came out to complete the task on Saturday morning. In addition to lending a hand, Fred and Kathy Vergenz snapped some photos of the unloading as well as scenes around the SPEC Machine shop.


Parts Loaded and Ready for Transport

On Saturday, March 21, volunteers answered the call seeking help with loading various stored parts of the Chicago & North Western #1385 steam locomotive in anticipation of delivering them to SPEC Machine in Middleton where work is taking place to bring the locomotive back into operation.

From 1385 Task Force member Pete Deets:

“Another great day! I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everybody who lent a hand: Brian, Mike, Mike, Richard, Kyle, Fred, Kathy, Steve & Moore Space. We had such fun getting a load on the trailer we will be planning an unloading party as well. The date has not yet been set but will be within a month. We were even able to put in some time taking measurements from the old boiler to try to clear up some of the differences between the drawings and the actual vessel. Thanks again to all because your time is truly appreciated and valuable to the Museum.”

An announcement of the next volunteer opportunity to help with unloading the trailer will be made here and on our Facebook page when the time and date is known.

All photos courtesy Fred and Kathy Vergenz.


Moving Parts to SPEC Machine

We have a new volunteer opportunity to help move the C&NW 1385 project forward. Saturday, March 21st we will be removing all the 1385’s parts parts presently stored in a boxcar at Mid-Continent Railway Museum and placing them into a semi trailer for transport to SPEC Machine where rebuild work is continuing on Mid-Continent’s flagship steam locomotive.

We’ll start at 9 A.M. and, with enough willing hands, should be done by early afternoon – if not sooner. There is very little really heavy stuff left to move, it is primarily piping and jacketing that is just unwieldy. The trailer will be spotted right next to the boxcar so we’ll need people in the boxcar, on the ground and in the trailer. Any time at all will be much appreciated and gratefully accepted. Members can refer to the Locomotive Shop forum on the members’ webpage for additional information.