Frame Welding Repairs Underway

Posts to this page on the rebuild of the C&NW 1385’s has been a bit light as of late, but the same cannot be said of the type of work that is taking place on the locomotive’s running gear. This first set of photos taken in mid-May show some of the work going into the removal and marking of inside and outside wedge bars as well as inside and outside shoe bars and preparation of the frame for weld repairs.

An excerpt from a 1945 locomotive repair text summarizes:

The primary purpose of shoes and wedges are to keep the driving axles in proper alignment (perpendicular to frame), to take up lost motion between the driving box and the pedestal as wear progresses, and to prevent the pedestals from taking wear.

When the locomotive is shopped for general repairs, the frames, the pedestals, and the driving boxes are all trued up and the shoes and wedges that are badly worn or that are broken or too thin for the maximum thickness of liner applied, are replaced with new ones.

These alterations require that the shoes and the wedges be again marked off and machined so that the locomotive will be in tram.

All photos in this post our courtesy of project photographer Brian Allen.

Above photos taken May 13, 2014. More photos on Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

The following photoset was taken on June 25. The welding research conducted discussed in the previous post is being put to good work. As this series of photos illustrate, the 114-year-old locomotive frame has numerous cracks in need of attention and have begun being repaired. The 1385 will hopefully not need to be taken apart to this degree again for many decades, making this the opportune time to most easily conduct repairs.

 

As described in the April 6th posting, the 1385’s 63-inch driving wheels were shipped to Strasburg Rail Road for repairs at their facility which includes a wheel lathe capable of handling 1385’s drivers. More photos and info should be forthcoming, but for now here is the one photo available thus far courtesy of a Pennsylvania railfan.

One of Chicago & North Western steam locomotive No. 1385's 63-inch drivers with tires removed at Strasburg Rail Road for maintenance and repair.

One of Chicago & North Western steam locomotive No. 1385’s 63-inch drivers with tires removed at Strasburg Rail Road for maintenance and repair.

In-Depth Running Gear Inspections In Progress

The completion of sandblasting on the C&NW 1385’s running gear last month has cleared the way for detailed inspection work to begin. Without the years of paint, grease, and rust interfering, clear views of the condition of various running gear components can now be had.

On February 3 and 4, 2014, project members gathered at SPEC Machine to inspect the locomotive. While in its disassembled state, this will be the best opportunity to find and correct any existing or developing issues. With any luck, it will be another 107 years (the locomotive’s 107th birthday is next month) before the locomotive would be disassembled to such an extensive degree again. Aside from inspecting for signs of defects and fatigue, the inspection included taking many measurements of the frame, driving wheels, driving boxes, and other components and comparing the current measurements with the original Chicago & North Western specifications to examine the amount of wear.

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal published a nice story about the C&NW 1385’s restoration work. Unfortunately, there are a few items in the story in need of clarification. They include:

  • The article gives 2016 as the 1385’s “likely” completion date. That date is a goal among the those working on the engine and depends on keeping a tight project schedule as well as being reliant on the continued success in fundraising at a pace faster than the restoration work expends those funds. The latter is an especially difficult challenge. Because of the inherent uncertainty in fundraising timelines along with the chance for unforeseen delays, Mid-Continent Railway Museum does not have an official estimated completion date for No. 1385. The best way to help finish the restoration in a timely fashion is to make a contribution.
  • The article states “In 1998, the last year the 1385 ran, about 50,000 visitors made the trek to North Freedom. The following year, without operating steam, attendance plummeted to half of the previous year.” There are two errors here. The first is that 1998 was not the last year of steam at Mid-Continent – it was the last year the 1385 ran. Steam engine Saginaw Timber Co. No. 2 actually continued to operate until Feb. 2000 before it too had to be pulled from service for repairs. The second is that while attendance has fallen by half, that drop has occurred over the span of 13 years during this period in which Mid-Continent has been without steam, not one year as the article suggests.
  • Phrasing of the article suggests the original 1907 boiler is being repaired. Rather, a new boiler is being manufactured. Engineering work is ongoing. Look for further information on the boiler in future updates.

Don’t forget – the C&NW 1385 open house takes place this coming weekend (Feb. 15-16) at SPEC Machine (see previous post). Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s Snow Train special event also operates Feb. 15-16.

Mike Wahl, C&NW 1385 project manager provides light for the group as they comb the locomotive’s frame for any possible defects that need to be addressed. Inspecting up close is Steve Sandberg. chief operating officer of the Friends of the 261, the group responsible for returning Milwaukee Road No. 261 to operation. Sandberg has been brought on as a consultant for the C&NW 1385 rebuild. Mid-Continent’s Ed Ripp and Kyle Gehrke along with Steve Roudebush of SPEC Machine also look on. Feb. 3, 2014. Brian Allen photo. Click on the image to browse more photos from the day on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

Chassis Sandblasted, New 1385 Displays Taking Shape

Following a premature end to sandblasting on Friday due to cold weather conditions causing equipment hiccups, Howard Grote & Sons’s Surface Preparation Division was back on site at SPEC Machine in Middleton, Wis. on Monday, January 20th. While last Thursday’s sandblasting featured work on the driving wheels, Monday’s work centered on clearing grease, paint and rust form the chassis.

Sandblasting of C&NW No. 1385’s running gear continued on Monday, January 20th. This time, efforts centered on the locomotive’s chassis. Click on the image to browse more photos from January 20th on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

Not all work on the C&NW 1385 involves grit and grime. There has been a great deal of work lately on 1385 in the non-mechanical realm. A meeting date later this month has been set with officials from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Village of North Freedom to inspect the rebuilt tender and associated display. The 1385 project has had the fortune of being aided by a TEA-21 grant administered through WisDOT and the Village. The successful completion of the tender rebuild and its subsequent display is anticipated to release the final set of funds from the grant which began during the locomotive’s initial overhaul work shortly after being pulled from service in 1998.

Design work on additional displays about the 1385’s career and current restoration efforts has been an ongoing effort with members of the restoration team and volunteers coordinating their efforts. A special tip-of-the-hat goes to Randy Long of Long & Associates Creative Services. Randy and wife Lynn have been a boon to the 1385 project since joining Mid-Continent in 2013. The Long’s have been crucial in the creation of the new display sign created for the 1385 tender and is currently making headway on new 1385 displays planned for inside the depot. The 1385 project team is putting forth a great deal of effort to not only put 1385 back under steam, but also make sure museum visitors are able to appreciate why the locomotive is worth restoring.

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.

 

Tender History and Plan

Written by Mike Wahl

For this installment I will start with the history we have gathered about the original 1385 tender.

The original Chicago & North Western builder’s specifications from March of 1907 call out the following specs for the tender. I have summarized part of the information below.

Frame: The frame is to be substantially built of 13 inch steel channels and thoroughly braced.

Truck, Wheels, and Axles: The tender will carry two 4 wheel trucks. It was to have 5 1/2 x 10 inch journals with 33 inch wheels.

Tank: The tank is to have a capacity of 7500 gallons of water and 10 tons of coal. It is to be made of steel ¼ inch in thickness.

Included below is a picture of the 1384 which shows what the tender of the 1385 looked like in March 1907 when completed by the American Locomotive Company’s Schenectady Works.

The Chicago & North Western kept valuation records on all of their equipment. Each locomotive and tender was assigned a number to keep track of the cost spent on the equipment. The valuation record number for the locomotive was the locomotive number, the 1385 was 1385. The tenders were given a unique number. In the case of the 1385, tender number 7303 was with the locomotive when purchased by MCRM.

Using this record we can tell a few things about tender. On 10-19-1926 the tender received a cast steal frame, replacing the original steel channel frame, for a cost of $235.73. This is the first entry on the valuation record. It also states that the only engine it was in operation with was the 1385. So we do know that from 10-19-1926 until it retirement this was the tender the 1385 used. At this point we can only speculate that this was the tender it used from 1907 until 1926.

If you examine the photo of the 1384’s tender verses the tender photo’s of the 1385 I have included you can see some differences in the coal pocket area. The R-1 class locomotives with 7500 gallon tanks had a tender modification done, to add more coal capacity. They added radius wings to the edges and height to the front board to increase the tender’s capacity. There is a drawing called Tender Tank – Alteration for increased coal capacity date March 7th, 1944 that shows this change.

The Tender Plan

As I stated previously, the tender will be broken down into smaller tasks. They are the tank, tender frame and tender trucks.

Tank: The plan for the tender tank is to engineer and design a new welded tender tank to replace the original. The current tank will be used for reference along with the original drawing in the design of the new tank. The design goal of the new tank is to preserve a look as historically accurate as possible with the utilization of modern materials and manufacturing processes. To make this a restoration, not a completely new tank, we plan to use as much of the original hardware as possible like the coal board brackets, hatch parts and any other components that are salvageable.

Tender Frame: The tender tank was removed from the frame a few weeks back which allowed for us to perform an inspection. The overall condition of the frame was good. The contractor has removed the components from the frame, sandblasted it and it is in red oxide primer. The next step on the frame will be to examine it after cleaning and priming to determine what repairs are needed. I have included a picture of the frame taken by our contractor.

Tender Trucks: The tender trucks are in very bad condition. When the tender was parked at the end if the line at Quartzite Lake the trucks were buried in dirt and gravel. The team is currently evaluating rebuilding using roller bearing replacements as an option for the trucks. This decision will be made down the road once all of the options are evaluated.

Alco Historic Photos; Paul Swanson collection

Sister #1384 builder’s photo, 1907. Alco Historic Photos; Paul Swanson collection.

1963 at Quartzite Lake, MCRM collection

#1385 at Quartzite Lake in 1963. MCRM collection.

Sandblasted and primed original tender frame for the 1385.

Sandblasted and primed original tender frame for the 1385.