Smokebox Removal and Replacement Progress

Pete Deets cut off the rivet heads holding the old smokebox to the boiler shell on WC&C #1 in preparation for removing the smokebox for replacement with the new one. Bob Jackson followed up by grinding down each of the cuts. This makes the rivets easier to drive out and will also reveal where more cutting may be necessary.

Tools of the Trade Explained

Momentum is a wonderful thing and we have it going here at MCRY! March 5 and 6 have been no exception with the help of Jeff Bloohm, Dave Bierman, Jason Sobcyznski, Jim Connor, Kevin Reihl, Tye Hasheider, Doug Klitzke, Dave Lee, Jeff Bloemers, Doug Crary, Steve Seibel, Mike Flood, Mike Wahl, Kelly Bauman and Skip Lichter.

A whole list of things were accomplished starting Friday evening as Steve came in then and prepped an air jam to be used for riveting. The air jam takes the place of one of the rivet guns by holding the rivet in place by means of an air cylinder that extends when the throttle is opened. The rivet is then “jammed” into place and held tightly enough that the other end can be riveted over and the head formed. This is a much safer approach as you don’t have two air guns pointed at each other near the edge of the work. It is also much easier on the crew as you don’t have to hold the rivet gun against the blows of the other gun.

Saturday Steve then finished a staybolt buck that had been started a while ago. The bucking bar is a heavy, solid cylinder of steel about the size of a rivet gun that has had the end machined just like a rivet gun to be able to accept the rivet snaps or forming tools. The end was case hardened to withstand the hammering it will receive and a handle was fabricated. The purpose of the buck is to be held against one end of a staybolt to counter the blows of the rivet gun applied to the other end.

The staybolt is a threaded rod (in our case 7/8” in diameter) that is screwed into threaded holes in the firebox walls in order to counteract the force of the steam pushing the sheets apart. The process of driving the staybolt is to hammer one end enough to cause the metal of the staybolt to swell into the threads which will ensure a strong and steam-tight joint. The buck is held against the other end of the bolt to keep the hammering from just pushing the bolt through the threads. In blacksmith terms this shortening and swelling of the bolt is also called upsetting.

While this was going on, the final length of the undriven staybolts was determined and the threads of the bolts were staked with a punch so they wouldn’t turn while being driven.

Another task undertaken was to drill the countersink portion of the rivet holes in the smokebox. As no magnetic base drill was immediately available some of the crew were introduced to an old fashioned approach–using an air motor and the “old man.” The air motor is an air-driven drill motor which can handle drilling, reaming, countersinking, tube rolling, or most any other job an electric motor can do. The old man is a bracket that is bolted to the work piece such that its arm will extend over the hole to be drilled, reamed, etc. Built into the back of the drill motor is a lead screw with a point on it exactly opposite the drill point. As the lead screw is turned it will extend away from the drill motor. If it is properly captured by the old man, it can be used to keep constant pressure on the drill bit and hold the drill motor straight and square to the work.

Mike Wahl went on an expedition and found the tubes that were purchased to go into the boiler of the #1.

Lunch was provided by Jeff Bloohm and was delicious bratwurst fresh from a butcher shop in Brownsville. What a treat!

After lunch work continued on the countersinking and then the ashpan was brought inside. After laying out the new pieces and examining the old much head scratching was employed to come up with an initial plan of attack. Mike Flood headed up putting the new pieces together. The pans themselves are now welded together and we must now come up with the best approach to either repair or rebuild the frames.

The Sunday crew of Bloohm, Bierman, Connor, Crary, Bauman, Klitzkie, Reihl and Sobczynski were up and ready to drive rivets. The air jam was employed and between 9 am and early afternoon the job was finished. Skip repaired the unloader of one of the air compressors to help speed the job.

The smokebox is finished until it is time to first fit it to and then attach it to the boiler and then fit it and the boiler to the cylinder saddle and the frame.

And as a side note, as of the end of the day on March 8, the third course patch in the boiler barrel is ready for inspection and then welding can begin on it.

A great many things have been accomplished in a short time by the willingness and giving of the volunteers. THANK YOU!

Photos by Jason Sobczynski

Snow Train Visitors See Shop Crews in Action

What a Snow TrainTM we had in the shop! Along with fairly cooperative weather and many fine guests we had probably the most successful weekend the mechanical department has seen in years. So many things were happening with so many people I did not get all the names. If I missed you somewhere, please let me know because I don’t want to short anyone and it takes the efforts of everyone to keep us going.

As of Friday, February 18, Becker Boiler finished the welding of the second course patch in the boiler. With that part done, we began preparations for the third course patch. As of this writing, the second course welding was X-rayed and no faults were found so that welded repair is finished.

By the end of Monday, February 21, the third course section was cut out and on the ground. By the end of Thursday, February 24, the replacement patch had been rough trimmed and most of the shaping and grinding on the boiler had been completed. Donations to cover Becker’s work have allowed us to make some very fast progress.

Friday of Snow Train (February 18) started on the rocky side with a few leaky tubes in the power car boiler but with the help of Dan Angles, the crew of Pat Campion, Johnny Winter, and Doug Crary, we were up and running in short order and the train was well warmed for the first trip out at noon.

Bob Ristow showed up about 7:30am and after breakfast got to work in the shop to not only clean up but also to make ready for riveting. We were planning to try the novel idea of inviting the public in while we riveted the smokebox so there were considerations of safety, crowd control, a clean walking path, and earplugs to be worked out. Through the day Bob was helped by Doug Klitzke, Doug Crary, Kevin Pickar, Ken Ristow, Kelly Bauman, Dan Griffith, Jim Baker, Tim Weaver, and myself. Ken Ristow and another helper ground off staybolts in the boiler firebox in preparation for hammering. Hopefully those will get started on March 5.

Saturday dawned early and started well on the railroad with a breakfast prepared by Pat Campion and Tric Stankemuth. From there the shop crew and operations crew went to work. Here is where I’ll do my best to thank the operating crew that allowed the shop crew to work. In the power car were included: Pat Campion, Tim Weaver, Bryon Schumacher, Don Angles, Al Joyce, Bob Ristow, Ken Ristow, Robert Hasheider, Johnny Winter and probably a couple I’m missing. The operating crew including Greg Vertein, Jeff Bloohm, Lee Nelson, Jim Connor, Ken Hojnacki, Rick Peters, Doug Klitzkie, Steve Brist, Stan Searing, Ray Zilvitis and I am sure others. These folks are all part of the teamwork that makes Mid-Continent go.

Our riveting crew included Steve Seibel, Jason, Kevin Reihl, his dad, Tom Lines, Ed Ripp, Dave Schumacher, Bob Ristow, Mike Wahl, Tim Weaver, Dave Lee, Pat Campion, Kevin Pickar, Dave Bierman, Dan Griffith, and Doug Crary. We were able to get the front reinforcing ring attached to the edge of the smokebox and after lunch get half the seam welt on the top riveted in.

At the same time, our guests were invited in to observe what they could (mostly due to safety considerations) of the process and the tools of the job.

Further down Track 1 in the engine house, Rick Peters with the help of Bob Dischler welded up a crack in the hub of one of the Montreal’s drivers. That leaves one major crack left to be addressed and the drivers can then be sent out for machining. Rick termed this a major hurdle now overcome.

Lunch Saturday was provided by Evan’s mother and on Sunday by Sharon Crary. This is a great help not only for a needed break but much better use of time.

Sunday was again breakfast in the depot and back at riveting with a smaller crew. One addition was Stan Searing as lead docent to talk with the few patrons that braved the snowstorm that really wasn’t.

Other docents through the weekend included Pat Campion, Dave Schumacher, and Bob Dischler.

As with any weekend with so much going on, things tend to blur but we had so much fun we’ll be doing it again March 5 and possibly 6. We are also keeping the normal work time of March 12 and 13.

As I said in the opening if you didn’t see your name here please correct me because everyone involved deserves credit for the work done.

January 2005 WC&C #1 Work Sessions

January has turned out to have three work weekends this time around. The 15th was populated by myself (Pete Deets), Al Joyce, Chris (can’t remember your last name so please correct me), and Doug Crary.

This was in anticipation of the next weekend being too cold to work. Al continued with the stud work, Chris did a fantastic job of laying out the large hole and rivet and bolt holes on the smokebox liner.

On the 22nd and 23rd braving the cold were Kevin Riehl, Jim Connor, Kelly Bauman, Doug Klitzke, and Doug Crary. Jim Connor cleaned out the new smokebox and then he and Doug Crary found the center and laid in the liner. They also started drilling the pilot holes for the rivets. Kelly Bauman and Kevin Riehl laid out a gridwork on the firebox area to guide the ultrasonic thickness testing. Doug Klitzke used a hand grinder to clean off spots on the boiler shell where the readings would be taken.

The 29th and 30th have seen Kelly Bauman taking the ultrasonic readings, Doug Crary continue with drilling the smokebox and liner, and Rick Peters working on the drivers as well as giving direction on work to be done.

During the weekdays much has been going on also. Becker Boiler has been fitting the second course boiler patch and as of this writing is very nearly ready for welding. Dave Lee has also been working on drilling out and then threading repaired staybolt holes. The lower firebox area is beginning to look like a virtual porcupine with over sixty new staybolts sticking from freshly threaded holes as of this writing. The next steps will be to cut them to the proper length and hammer them home for a steam tight fit.

December 2004 WC&C #1 Progress Report

Santa Express was a boost for MCRY all around! Not only did we have better ridership than last year but Santa loaned us a few elves for a week!! The work started off Nov. 26th with Head Elf Bob Ristow beginning the transformation of a pile of parts into a smokebox for the WC&C #1. Also up to help was Bob Jackson, Kelly Bauman, Ed Ripp, Jim Baker, Jim Busse and later on to include Doug Crary & Al Joyce.

One step was to lay out the spacing for the door ring studs on 2 half-circles of steel and then drill the holes. The holes will later be threaded and have studs inserted to hold the ring that then holds the smokebox door and engine number plate. Another step accomplished was to lay out the location for and cut the hole for the smokestack in a cylinder of steel that had been rolled and then tacked together. This cylinder forms the body of the smokebox.

There also was a hole laid out and cut for the inspection/cleanout hole on the fireman’s side. As the week progressed and with the aid of a tool loaned by Skip Lichter the two half-circles of steel for the door ring support were fitted to the inside edge of the front of the smokebox and then drilled for the rivets that will hold them in place. Two reinforcing plates or welts for the seam of the smokebox were fitted and then drilled for the rivets that will hold them in place and the smokebox in a circle.

The photos show the semi-finished product.

On the 4th we had additional help from Elf Eric. Sorry but I didn’t get a last name but would be glad to include it later. He helped Al Joyce with the continuing stud program and from Al’s words he’s welcome back any time. Doug Crary ran a welded driving box from the frame through the shaper. This is to give a smooth surface to the repaired face as well as cut the box to the proper dimension. In the photos you can see Doug attending to the machine and then the box at the end of the day. Some work needs yet to be done. The Christmas present of Bob Ristow all week long, Jim Baker for five days, and the others each weekend has been a huge boost on the project.