Tools of the Trade Explained

Momentum is a wonderful thing and we have it going here at MCRY! March 5 and 6 have been no exception with the help of Jeff Bloohm, Dave Bierman, Jason Sobcyznski, Jim Connor, Kevin Reihl, Tye Hasheider, Doug Klitzke, Dave Lee, Jeff Bloemers, Doug Crary, Steve Seibel, Mike Flood, Mike Wahl, Kelly Bauman and Skip Lichter.

A whole list of things were accomplished starting Friday evening as Steve came in then and prepped an air jam to be used for riveting. The air jam takes the place of one of the rivet guns by holding the rivet in place by means of an air cylinder that extends when the throttle is opened. The rivet is then “jammed” into place and held tightly enough that the other end can be riveted over and the head formed. This is a much safer approach as you don’t have two air guns pointed at each other near the edge of the work. It is also much easier on the crew as you don’t have to hold the rivet gun against the blows of the other gun.

Saturday Steve then finished a staybolt buck that had been started a while ago. The bucking bar is a heavy, solid cylinder of steel about the size of a rivet gun that has had the end machined just like a rivet gun to be able to accept the rivet snaps or forming tools. The end was case hardened to withstand the hammering it will receive and a handle was fabricated. The purpose of the buck is to be held against one end of a staybolt to counter the blows of the rivet gun applied to the other end.

The staybolt is a threaded rod (in our case 7/8” in diameter) that is screwed into threaded holes in the firebox walls in order to counteract the force of the steam pushing the sheets apart. The process of driving the staybolt is to hammer one end enough to cause the metal of the staybolt to swell into the threads which will ensure a strong and steam-tight joint. The buck is held against the other end of the bolt to keep the hammering from just pushing the bolt through the threads. In blacksmith terms this shortening and swelling of the bolt is also called upsetting.

While this was going on, the final length of the undriven staybolts was determined and the threads of the bolts were staked with a punch so they wouldn’t turn while being driven.

Another task undertaken was to drill the countersink portion of the rivet holes in the smokebox. As no magnetic base drill was immediately available some of the crew were introduced to an old fashioned approach–using an air motor and the “old man.” The air motor is an air-driven drill motor which can handle drilling, reaming, countersinking, tube rolling, or most any other job an electric motor can do. The old man is a bracket that is bolted to the work piece such that its arm will extend over the hole to be drilled, reamed, etc. Built into the back of the drill motor is a lead screw with a point on it exactly opposite the drill point. As the lead screw is turned it will extend away from the drill motor. If it is properly captured by the old man, it can be used to keep constant pressure on the drill bit and hold the drill motor straight and square to the work.

Mike Wahl went on an expedition and found the tubes that were purchased to go into the boiler of the #1.

Lunch was provided by Jeff Bloohm and was delicious bratwurst fresh from a butcher shop in Brownsville. What a treat!

After lunch work continued on the countersinking and then the ashpan was brought inside. After laying out the new pieces and examining the old much head scratching was employed to come up with an initial plan of attack. Mike Flood headed up putting the new pieces together. The pans themselves are now welded together and we must now come up with the best approach to either repair or rebuild the frames.

The Sunday crew of Bloohm, Bierman, Connor, Crary, Bauman, Klitzkie, Reihl and Sobczynski were up and ready to drive rivets. The air jam was employed and between 9 am and early afternoon the job was finished. Skip repaired the unloader of one of the air compressors to help speed the job.

The smokebox is finished until it is time to first fit it to and then attach it to the boiler and then fit it and the boiler to the cylinder saddle and the frame.

And as a side note, as of the end of the day on March 8, the third course patch in the boiler barrel is ready for inspection and then welding can begin on it.

A great many things have been accomplished in a short time by the willingness and giving of the volunteers. THANK YOU!

Photos by Jason Sobczynski

Snow Train Visitors See Shop Crews in Action

What a Snow TrainTM we had in the shop! Along with fairly cooperative weather and many fine guests we had probably the most successful weekend the mechanical department has seen in years. So many things were happening with so many people I did not get all the names. If I missed you somewhere, please let me know because I don’t want to short anyone and it takes the efforts of everyone to keep us going.

As of Friday, February 18, Becker Boiler finished the welding of the second course patch in the boiler. With that part done, we began preparations for the third course patch. As of this writing, the second course welding was X-rayed and no faults were found so that welded repair is finished.

By the end of Monday, February 21, the third course section was cut out and on the ground. By the end of Thursday, February 24, the replacement patch had been rough trimmed and most of the shaping and grinding on the boiler had been completed. Donations to cover Becker’s work have allowed us to make some very fast progress.

Friday of Snow Train (February 18) started on the rocky side with a few leaky tubes in the power car boiler but with the help of Dan Angles, the crew of Pat Campion, Johnny Winter, and Doug Crary, we were up and running in short order and the train was well warmed for the first trip out at noon.

Bob Ristow showed up about 7:30am and after breakfast got to work in the shop to not only clean up but also to make ready for riveting. We were planning to try the novel idea of inviting the public in while we riveted the smokebox so there were considerations of safety, crowd control, a clean walking path, and earplugs to be worked out. Through the day Bob was helped by Doug Klitzke, Doug Crary, Kevin Pickar, Ken Ristow, Kelly Bauman, Dan Griffith, Jim Baker, Tim Weaver, and myself. Ken Ristow and another helper ground off staybolts in the boiler firebox in preparation for hammering. Hopefully those will get started on March 5.

Saturday dawned early and started well on the railroad with a breakfast prepared by Pat Campion and Tric Stankemuth. From there the shop crew and operations crew went to work. Here is where I’ll do my best to thank the operating crew that allowed the shop crew to work. In the power car were included: Pat Campion, Tim Weaver, Bryon Schumacher, Don Angles, Al Joyce, Bob Ristow, Ken Ristow, Robert Hasheider, Johnny Winter and probably a couple I’m missing. The operating crew including Greg Vertein, Jeff Bloohm, Lee Nelson, Jim Connor, Ken Hojnacki, Rick Peters, Doug Klitzkie, Steve Brist, Stan Searing, Ray Zilvitis and I am sure others. These folks are all part of the teamwork that makes Mid-Continent go.

Our riveting crew included Steve Seibel, Jason, Kevin Reihl, his dad, Tom Lines, Ed Ripp, Dave Schumacher, Bob Ristow, Mike Wahl, Tim Weaver, Dave Lee, Pat Campion, Kevin Pickar, Dave Bierman, Dan Griffith, and Doug Crary. We were able to get the front reinforcing ring attached to the edge of the smokebox and after lunch get half the seam welt on the top riveted in.

At the same time, our guests were invited in to observe what they could (mostly due to safety considerations) of the process and the tools of the job.

Further down Track 1 in the engine house, Rick Peters with the help of Bob Dischler welded up a crack in the hub of one of the Montreal’s drivers. That leaves one major crack left to be addressed and the drivers can then be sent out for machining. Rick termed this a major hurdle now overcome.

Lunch Saturday was provided by Evan’s mother and on Sunday by Sharon Crary. This is a great help not only for a needed break but much better use of time.

Sunday was again breakfast in the depot and back at riveting with a smaller crew. One addition was Stan Searing as lead docent to talk with the few patrons that braved the snowstorm that really wasn’t.

Other docents through the weekend included Pat Campion, Dave Schumacher, and Bob Dischler.

As with any weekend with so much going on, things tend to blur but we had so much fun we’ll be doing it again March 5 and possibly 6. We are also keeping the normal work time of March 12 and 13.

As I said in the opening if you didn’t see your name here please correct me because everyone involved deserves credit for the work done.

January 2005 WC&C #1 Work Sessions

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.

Patch Preparations and Driver Repairs

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.

Progress on Fitting Second Boiler Course

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.