Thursday, September 17, 2015

Track Update and Improvements

The Valley Railroad Company just completed a major project to improve its route of tracks in Essex, Deep River, and Chester. 32 hopper car loads of stone ballast, purchased from French River Materials in Thompson, CT, and delivered to our connection at Old Saybrook by the Providence and Worcester Railroad, were distributed along 6-1/2 miles of mainline track.
Work Extra 0901, crossing Chester Creek - Lee Carlson

C&G Surfacing Specialists were hired to laser align, surface, and "tamp" (force the stone ballast beneath the ties) the track. Valley Railroad has been replacing worn crossties for many years, and has very near 100% solid tie structure on this section, the most heavily used of the Valley mainline. This project was funded entirely by The Valley Railroad Company.

The tamper at Dock Road, Chester, with the ballast regulator following. - Lee Carlson
Tamping at Milepost 9 - Lee Carlson
Valley undertook this project to both improve the ride quality for our guests, as well as to better preserve our historic train equipment by having it roll over smoother track. Although we only operate our trains at 20 MPH (and have no intent on changing that) the quality of the track would now support trains of 45 MPH or faster.

Track expansion to the north has been steady, and our Essex Clipper Dinner Train now may operate to Milepost 13.25, which is a full mile north of the Route 82 crossing in Haddam.

Robert W. Bradway, Jr.
VP & Track Superintendent

Want to keep up to date on Valley Railroad Company track and rolling stock projects? Visit the I Like the Valley Railroad group on Facebook!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rolling Tubes

Boiler tubes must be expanded to make them water and steam tight using a tool commonly called a roller.

Here Wayne rolls another of the 253 tubes. The machine he holds is an air motor which drives the roller.

Once all the tubes have been rolled, the next step is to form a bead on the end with an air hammer and special forming tool. - J. David

Thursday, July 9, 2015

We See What You Did There....

Yesterday, the Hartford Yard Goats, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, announced their new mascot, logo, and look.

Hartford Yard Goats Unveil Logo, Pay Tribute To Whalers With Colors - Hartford Courant / July 8, 2015
The name, submitted by a New Jersey man who attended UConn, is an old railroad slang term that had no apparent connection to the market.

There was an effort to incorporate the train theme into the logo, from giving the goat a conductor's hat to including railroad tracks at the base of the image.

"It felt too cartoonish," Domino said.

Domino Googled the defunct New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company and was struck by that logo. He loved the lettering — classy, old-school and traditional. "I realized this was the way to honor the railroad part of it," Domino said.
 Now why is that logo so familiar? 

Ah yes, the Friends of the Valley Railroad Boxcar 35386, repainted and lettered in 2008, and captured here in all it's glory by Lee Carlson. 

The Valley Railroad (operating company behind the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat) was part of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad (or more commonly, the New Haven) system from 1892 - 1968.  

We're proud to have the railroad heritage of the "Yard Goats" recognized in their new font, and wish them the best of luck as they get ready to bring professional baseball to Hartford in 2016. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Only 246 to Go...

A milestone in our rebuilding of No. 40 has been reached: All of the new boiler tubes are in the boiler! Wayne and Kjell, assisted by Morgan and Ron made short work of sliding the tubes into their holes in the front and back tube sheets.

Here Kjell lines up a tube in its hole.

Now the process of expanding the tubes into their holes making them water and steam tight will begin. Once expanded, the ends at the back (fire box) end will be beaded using an air hammer and specially shaped tool. Then any excess material at the front (smoke box) end will be trimmed off, the beads seal welded to the rear tube sheet and then lightly expanded again.

When all this has been done, No. 40 will be ready for a hydrostatic test of the boiler. - J. David

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hot Stuff!

As part of the 15 year inspection of our No. 40, all 253 boiler tubes were removed from the boiler to enable a minute inspection of its interior. A new set of boiler tubes were purchased to replace the old ones.
Here, Kjell anneals the ends of the tubes in our rivet forge. Annealing softens the steel so the tube can be easily expanded into the tube sheets and made steam tight. - J. David

FVRR Cabin Car Nears Completion

A last minute push by numerous volunteers brought the restoration of the former Pennsylvania Railroad cabin car (most railroads called this type of car a caboose), now owned by the Friends of the Valley Railroad, almost to completion.

Last year the lower portions of the sides were replaced with new steel. This year all of the welds were ground smooth and the entire car sanded. After cleaning, it was primed, painted and minor repairs made.

Here, Tom repairs a window while the car sits in the sun with fresh paint. - J. David

Lee Carlson was kind enough to capture some images of the lettering and finishing work, and a lovely shot of the cabin car making its debut on the July 4th Saybrook Special.

Veronica, checking the layout / Lee Carlson
Veronica, mounting the big stencil / Lee Carlson
A work in progress. Not finished, but coming along / Lee Carlson

PRR 477449 / Lee Carlson
July 4th Saybrook Special, near the RMNE yard,
with Roman Daniels and Paul Goodman / Lee Carlson

How Thick is the Firebox?

Our steam locomotive No.40 is in the midst of its 15 year inspection as mandated by Federal Law. This inspection must be completed before No.40 can operate again.

One of the requirements is for us to recalculate the maximum pressure every part of the boiler can withstand. To make our calculations, we must measure the actual thickness of all parts of the boiler and firebox. An Ultra-Sonic Thickness Tester is used to make the hundreds of measurements.

Here, Kjell measures a portion of the firebox. The numbers seen are the thicknesses he has found.

The numbers for each portion of the boiler will be compiled and the lowest values will be used in the calculations. The weakest part of the boiler divide by four (the allowance for safety) will determine the Maximum Allowed Working Pressure (MAWP), for No. 40's next term of service. - J. David

Happiness is a Rebuilt Jack

Visitors often ask: "How on earth do you get under the cars to work on them?"

Well one method is to jack them up. Of course the jacks we use are not anything you might use to jack up your auto, our cars weigh between 55 and 85 tons, so we need jacks designed for the job. Recently, we had our set of 35 ton, air powered jacks rebuilt, load tested and re-certified.

Here, Wayne and Morgan have car 601 raised up so the springs can be shimmed to level the car body (a second jack is on the opposite side of the car).

Keeping the cars level side to side and front to back and the proper height off the rails insure that parts wear evenly and, of course there are governmental regulations to be mindful of as well. - J. David

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Meet the Goodspeed!

We are pleased to announce the arrival of our newest member of the VRR passenger car fleet. Last Friday, the long-awaited arrival of our new First-Class car Goodspeed came to fruition. Formerly located in Florida, the car took a circuitous journey to finally be delivered to the Old Saybrook wye by the P&W Railroad. Valley crews brought her home to Track 11 where she now awaits renovations for future First-Class service, adding capacity for our popular North Pole Express.

Kevin Dodd adds: We owe a debt of gratitude and appreciation to Dave Conrad for his time, during his vacation, to make repair, inspect, and prepare the Goodspeed for its journey north.   Dave’s efforts to find good and exceptional investment opportunities like this have been a huge factor in the success of the Essex Steam Train.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Engine House News

Bob Wuchert reports: Over the winter months, the Engine House was, and continues to be, a beehive of activity.  Work progresses on Locomotive 40’s boiler; coach cars have been in and out of the shop receiving inspections and repairs; the Open Car received a great amount of steel work, floor refurbishment, seat painting and staining, new lighting throughout the car, a service bar, new beverage holders and other improvements.