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.

Sandblasting of Running Gear In-Progress

Sandblasting of C&NW No. 1385’s running gear began on Thursday, January 16th at the SPEC Machine shop in Middleton, Wis. All three sets of drivers were sandblasted along with one pallet of parts. Work was done by Howard Grote & Sons of McFarland, Wis. The chassis was to be sandblasted on Friday the 17th, but Mother Nature intervened with temperatures in the teens causing the hoses and air lines to freeze up. The unfinished sandblasting was rescheduled for Monday, January 20th, but as of the time of writing this post, temperatures are predicted to be similar to that on the 17th.

Sandblasting is used to help remove all the past accumulated rust and layers of paint. Exposing the bare metal makes inspections of the parts much easier and more accurate as as layers of rust, paint and grease can serve to hide cracks and other defects which need to be identified at this stage of the restoration.

A Howard Grote & Sons employee works through the snow and cold to sandblast the a set of drivers belonging to C&NW No. 1385. Click on the image to browse more photos from January 16 on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

BEFORE (photo taken January 11, 2014)

AFTER (photo taken January 17, 2014)

Locomotive Clean Up

With the C&NW No. 1385 running gear now mostly in pieces, a thorough cleaning of the various parts is now the immediate task ahead. The day’s task called for scraping grease, needle scaling rust, parts washing and other work in preparation for sandblasting. Some rough weather limited volunteer turnout, but a few brave souls braved the elements.

While some went about cleaning duties, others were pulling out their micrometers and measuring eccentric parts. Although large, numerous key parts of steamers such as No. 1385 have incredibly small tolerances and must be machined to to within thousands of an inch of specification in order to be accepted.

Once again, Brian Allen was on hand to photograph some of the day’s activities.

C&NW No. 1385 Task Force member Pete Deets passes along the following message: “Thank you to everyone who braved the elements & changes on the fly. A good day was had by all and parts are a greater step closer to clean enough for inspection. I’m fairly certain there will be another cleaning party but it won’t get planned until after the sandblasting.”

Nancy Kaney and an unidentified volunteer scrape built up grease off the 1385’s driving wheels. Click on the image to browse more photos from the day on photographer Brian Allen’s Flickr album.

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.