Running Gear Gets Cleaned, Further Disassembly Underway

The rebuilding process of Chicago & North Western No. 1385’s running gear is underway. While the R-1 class locomotive had seen considerable disassembly already at North Freedom, further disassembly remained the first order of business on the running gear at its temporary home at Spec Machine in Middleton, WI.

Before starting, the entire running gear received a thorough cleaning. The parts need to be clean in order to allow for accurate inspections moving forward. The 1385 was pulled outside the shop on temporary track for the cleaning to take place on Dec. 2nd.

On Dec. 6 and 7, members of the 1385 Steam Task Force joined employees of Spec Machine to remove the brake rigging, valve gear and rods. After being removed, each part had an aluminum tag with the original C&NW part numbers then attached. Mike Wahl, Project Manager elaborates:

We were able to determine the original part numbers from the C&NW arrangement and layout drawings we were able to obtain from Lake State Railway Historical Association. Not only have we been able to obtain these arrangement and layout drawings, but also many details drawings of the parts. On items like the brake and spring rigging, we have a complete set of detailed drawings with the exception of one or two drawings. These will be extremely helpful in the rebuild process.

The next steps are to drop the wedges and remove the binders, pistons, rods and crossheads and prepare for the lift to remove the 1st and 2nd wheel sets. Once the wheel sets are out we will remove the rest of the spring rigging and begin preparation for inspection and measurement of the frame.

On the project fundraising front, the goal set earlier this year of raising enough donations to complete the $250,000 Wagner Foundation challenge grant by the end of 2013 is very close to being attained. With 16 days left in 2013, less than $8,500 of the challenge grant remains unmatched. For anyone wishing to have their donation matched dollar-for-dollar, this is the time to act!

NOTE: Clicking either photo below will link to the corresponding photo album with more images from that day.

C&NW 1385’s running gear gets steam cleaned on December 2, 2013 in preparation of further disassembly and inspections. Photo by Brian Allen. Click on image to browse more of Brian’s photos from the day.

An overhead crane and a good deal of muscle are used to remove one of 1385’s rods on December 7, 2013. Photo by Brian Allen. Click on image to browse more of Brian’s photos from the day.

Preparations to Remove the Boiler

A work session was arranged for Saturday, January 7, 2012 to continue work started before the holidays on the Chicago & Northwestern no. 1385. The primary goal in these recent work sessions have been to remove exterior appliances from the locomotive boiler and frame. This work is being done in preparation for boiler removal from the frame and the shipment of the running gear to a shop for rebuild. Having sat idle and exposed to the elements for much of the time since it last operated in June of 1998, removal of many of the pieces have proven to be no easy undertaking and to make matters even more difficult, items like the running board brackets have not be removed from the boiler in many decades.

The crew for the day was led by Ed Ripp and Pete Deets. Assisting were Kelly Bauman, Richard Colby, and engine house first-timers Adam Stutz and Jeffrey Lentz. Jim Busse was also on hand and performed some much-needed cleaning and organization of the engine house and surrounding area.

With the 1385 parked in the engine house and the large south door open to let in the sun and unseasonably mild temperatures, work began. Pete, Ed and Richard all took turns climbing into the smokebox to clean rust from the blast pipe and smokestack mountings. Removal of the engineer side air reservoir brackets also took place. Work proceeded slowly as the rust necessitated most bolts be cut with a torch.

Close quarters between the 1385 and the engine house wall on the fireman side of the locomotive required that the R-1 be towed by MCRY no. 4 to a location just outside of the engine house to reduce fire risk from the shower of sparks. Once outside, work was able to proceed on removal of the air reservoir tank brackets and running boards. Work also began on the removal of the smokestack. With the more advanced work left largely to Pete and Ed, restoration newcomers Richard, Adam and Jeffrey took on the removal of the pilot support brackets at the front of the locomotive, a job suited to their flexibility.

Work continued as darkness descended. Finally, with too little light to safely continue, work was halted at about 6 pm and the 1385 was rolled safely back into the engine house to await the next work weekend.