Mid-September 2019 Boiler Update

With structural welding and the post-weld heat treatment complete, the next step on Chicago & North Western #1385’s boiler progression was sandblasting and painting. This step was recently completed as seen in these photos supplied by Continental Fabricators. Paint has only been applied to the inside of the boiler at this stage. The exterior will be painted a bit later in the process.

C&NW #1385 boiler after being sandblasted. Photo courtesy Continental Fabricators.

The paint is APEXIOR No. 1, a product that has been used in locomotive boilers going back many decades and is proven effective and typically lasts for decades. The paint is designed to withstand continuous immersion in boiling water and steam up to 698°F (370°C). It serves to aid in preventing corrosion and scale buildup in the boiler by preventing the boiler water from touching the metal of the boiler shell.

Next on the to-do list: rolling boiler tubes.

C&NW 1385 Front Truck Complete, Cab Receiving Finishing Details

Work continues at a steady pace on Mid-Continent’s Chicago & North Western No. 1385 steam locomotive. SPEC Machine’s Steve Roudebush took some time out of his day on August 24, 2016 to show off the latest progress on the locomotive’s rebuild for this report.

The change most instantly noticeable upon walking into the shop was the shiny, like-new front truck sitting in the center of the shop floor. Like-new may not be a fully appropriate term, as considerable portions of the front truck are new. One wheel set had a goodly amount of life left in it and merely required machining to bring it into proper profile. The second wheelset had been worn quite thin and needed to be replaced with a brand new wheelset forged in Pennsylvania for the 1385. Binders, spring hangers and truck equalizers were also created new to replace heavily worn originals.

C&NW 1385 completed front truck

C&NW 1385 completed front truck

Additional work on the front truck included pouring Babbitt, lining the pedestals with bronze, and polishing pins and bushings. The front truck is fully complete and ready to be rolled under the locomotive, which is anticipated to happen sometime in September.

Above where the front truck will be rolled under, the pistons have been fully bored and the valve cages nearly completed. One of the valve cages that was found to have cracks is being replaced with a new one. The new valve cage is anticipated to be machined on SPEC’s CNC machine in the coming weeks. Work has also begun on the crosshead guides and valve gearing. After those tasks are complete, brake rigging and appliances will be next on the task list.

The two major components missing from the 1385 as it sits in the SPEC Machine shop is the cab and the boiler. To see the cab, we took a short drive to the shop of Loren Imhoff. Imhoff has graciously donated all his time spent working on the cab. Inside was a nearly complete cab. Already quite sharp looking with a bright green interior and a black exterior, another coat of paint will be added inside and out. The ceiling vent, which had proven to be a challenge due to limited available drawings, was complete and functioning. A few items remained to be completed: the ceiling needs a few boards painted and installed yet, the windows need a few hardware items remade to replace lost or broken originals, the seatboxes are not yet constructed, but all is expected to be completed by October and the cab brought to SPEC Machine so it can be made ready to mount to the frame and the roof weatherproofing material applied.

The other major component on which the 1385 Task Force has focused a great deal of attention on lately is the boiler. It has taken longer for the boiler to reach construction phase than was originally anticipated, but this was one area of the locomotive rebuild that was not to be rushed in any way. As the single most expensive component of the project, there is no room for error. Finally satisfied that the boiler design is ready for production, the 1385 Task Force has now begun gathering quotes for manufacturing of the new boiler. Once a vendor is selected and the order signed, production is expected to occur fairly quickly.

New Year Begins with a Splash (of Paint)

The rebuild of the Chicago & North Western steam locomotive is in full swing as of the start of 2015. There are a number of sub-projects at various stages of progression all happening simultaneously involving the frame, driving boxes, wheels, cab and boiler. This post will cover the frame, but additional posts covering other aspects will be posted in the following days and weeks.

Painting of the frame began on January 2, 2015 and is continuing on January 3rd as this post is being written. Mid-Continent volunteers were joined by Tom Hartling of Howard Grote & Sons, a Madison-area company specializing in protective coatings. Howard Grote & Sons volunteered to provide Mid-Continent with Hartling’s expertise in mixing and applying the epoxy primer and urethane topcoat paint used (Carbothane 134 for those interested).

Work started at about 7 AM on Friday the 2nd, with the first of two coats of primer, the first being black in color. After a break for lunch, the second coat, gray in color, was applied with work mostly wrapping up by 4:30 PM. Application of the topcoat was left for Saturday January 3rd.

Work on Friday went quickly thanks to an enthusiastic response by volunteers. Mid-Continent volunteers joining in on Friday were: Mike Wahl, Pete Deets, Ron Kokemuller, Jeff Huttenburg, Bobbie Wagner, Kyle Gherke, Robert Hasheider, Mike Laabs, Larry Stanley, Rich Gruber, Brian Allen, Al Joyce, and Jeffrey Lentz. These MCRM members were also joined by Steve Roudebush (of SPEC Machine), Kayla Roudebush, and Clayton Hendrickson.

Nearly 100 additional photos of the January 2nd workday are available on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr photo album. The video below is a one-minute timelapse showing the roughly three hours of work adding the second coat of primer.



Volunteers Help Ready C&NW 1385’s Frame for Painting in the New Year

Mid-Continent Railway Museum volunteers remained in the holiday giving spirit as they descended on SPEC Machine’s location near Middleton, WI on December 27, 2014 to give their time to help get the locomotive frame ready for painting. MCRM members Nancy Kaney and Richard Gruber took photos of the work session.

Following the work day, Pete Deets of Mid-Contient’s C&NW 1385 Task Force wrote in a message to MCRM members, “THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!! We had a fantastic day filled with success cleaning the frame in anticipation of paint. Let me gratefully say thanks to Bobbie, Nancy, Dick, Ken, Kyle, Gary, Ron, Jim, Richard, Guy & Ed.”

Painting of the frame is scheduled to begin on the morning of January 2, 2015 and last one to two days.

Tender Back at DRM Industries for Lettering and Final Assembly

The shiny new tender tank for Chicago & North Western No. 1385 moved recently from the paint shop back to the construction contractor’s shop near Wisconsin Dells in preparation for final assembly. Lettering began being applied today and is expected to take about three days to complete. The tender is on schedule for a November delivery to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum grounds.

C&NW tender tank after painting. Photo taken Oct. 22, 2013. Photo courtesy of Mike Wahl.

C&NW tender tank after painting. Photo taken Oct. 22, 2013. Photo courtesy of Mike Wahl.