“Drawing” Conclusions on C&NW 1385

On the afternoon of Friday, February 24, 2017, the C&NW 1385 Task Force received the latest packet of shop drawings for the new boiler from Continental Fabricators for Mid-Continent to markup and approve. The painstaking process was started the following day at SPEC Machine and great progress was made.

Boiler review meeting

A C&NW 1385 boiler review meeting is held on, Feb. 25, 2017. The locomotive’s running gear and cab are just visible in the far left background. Photo courtesy Pete Deets.

Previously, Brett Morley of Performance Engineering had completed a SolidWorks™ 3-D model derived from countless hours measurements of the original boiler by him and others on the 1385 team as well as a study of the Chicago & North Western’s drawings for the locomotive, obtained from Lake States Railway Historical Association. The model provides a 3-D representation to check, among other things, whether and how well all the parts will fit together. Files derived from the model were provided to Continental Fabricators who then created their own preliminary construction drawings that are now being sent back to us to proof, mark up and return. The packet received on February 24th is the latest iteration.

boiler drawings

CNW 1385 boiler drawings undergoing review. Feb. 25, 2017. Photo courtesy Pete Deets.

The 1385 team must examine every minutia of the shop drawings to prevent any mistakes. It is a very painstaking and tedious process but the manufacturer will build precisely what is on the paper and it is Mid-Continent’s responsibility to make sure what is there is what we want and need.  

A few of the many details being reviewed include:

  • Diameters and shapes of each course
  • Overall length of the boiler
  • Mud ring size, shape, placement, and material
  • Shapes and placements of clearance holes
  • Size & placement of washout plugs
  • Placements of the throttle/superheater header/branch pipes
  • Size and placement of the safety valve outlet and appliance manifold outlet
  • Placement and size of cutouts in the smokebox

Every dimension on every drawing is going to be checked. Every description of every weld called out will be cross checked. The material listed for each part will be checked. These things will each be cross referenced against the C&NW drawings, actual measurements of the old boiler, and the SolidWorks™ model.

CNW 1385 drawings on table

The CNW 1385 boiler review meeting team sets up shop at SPEC Machine. Feb. 25, 2017. Photo courtesy Pete Deets.

With a project this scope, any mistakes are forbiddingly expensive so the team is proceeding as swiftly as they can without rushing the job. As the first round of checking concluded on Saturday, a fair sized chunk of the job has been completed. So far the Task Force have been quite pleased with what has been supplied from Continental and when finished, all the corrections will be sent back to them. Once those corrections are applied, Continental will send another packet and the process will repeat until there are no more corrections. Despite the intense workload on the Mid-Continent volunteers and partner contractors, the project is staying quite close to the manufacturing timeline and we are getting ever closer to the actual build.

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.

 

January 14-15, 2016 Work Session Update

Al Joyce reports:

“Just a work update on this past weekend. In short we made progress in the positive direction.

“Jim Connor and Ron Kokemuller drilled out the front tube sheet with the pilot holes (170). They did not do anything about cutting the larger holes because the core drill was only 2 inches instead of 2 1/16. One of the holes has a broken drill bit in it. That hole was marked for future work.

“Ed Dench worked on the smoke box by grinding the heads of the flush rivets. They look good. One may need some work as it did not fully fill the hole.

“With the combined help of Bryon Schumacher and Jim Connor, we got many more studs sized and installed in the boiler. They are in only hand tight so they can be removed. The boiler is starting to look like a porcupine with all the studs sticking out. Jim took some pictures so we hope to get them on the web site soon. With the help of Jim and Bryon we have doubled the stud crew membership. All the Stud Guys are qualified to work unsupervised at a pace that is comfortable to them.”

Jim Connor photos.

November 26-27, 2005 Work Weekend

Bob Ristow reports:

“Taking advantage of the heat being on in the shop, Jim Baker, Carla Larsen and myself worked most of the week between santa trains and finished removal of the smoke box ring and rivets. Laid out the front flue sheet, worked on the new ash pans, cleaned the shop a little and took photos and dimensions of various WC&C #1 parts. These included the check valve flange and deflector, smoke box front and door, and ash pan assembly.”

Wheel Center, Driving Boxes and Smokebox Removal

Work on welding WC&C #1’s driving wheel centers is nearly complete and the tire will soon be reinstalled on the driver. Rick Peters has been working on this phase of the project. Offsite work includes the machining work done by Dave Wantz in the Twin Cities on the new driving wheel boxes. Dave has been carving out three new boxes from solid blocks of steel. “It has taken a great amount of time, patience, and skill,” remarks Pete Deets. During Pumpkin SpecialTM weekend, Bob Ristow and Jason Sobcyznski led a team to remove the old smokebox. They also began scarfing rivets on the front flue sheet in preparation for its future removal.