Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is taking Spring Cleaning seriously... rebuilding the 40 year-old “Dickinson Crossing.” This crossing takes visitors over the tracks from Essex Station’s Main Entrance into the Parking Lot, as well as to offices in the original Witch Hazel Works building and to neighboring residences.

The project started when the track crew removed the crossing’s gravel surface with a backhoe. Next, a Kershaw Tie Handler was operated to pull up the rails and remove the old crossties. The track bed was prepared, new crossties were placed and rails were installed.

Rob Bradway, VP, Track & Property, says, “While modern machinery certainly helps, there is a huge amount of good ol' fashion back work including shoveling, spiking, bolting up the rails, lining and leveling the track, and tamping the gravel beneath the ties.” Perhaps that’s why we call Rob our Hero of the Rails!

A BIG thanks to the Track/Engine House crews, and the Friends of the Valley Railroad for their long, hard days. Essex Steam Train & Riverboat looks forward to welcoming our passengers in 2012 with a smooth crossing!

Happy Spring!

~ Susan

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No. 97 Inspection

J.David Inspecting Smokebox

March saw a brief flurry of activity on No. 97 as it was inspected by a crew of Valley Railroad staff and various Freinds. Ron Olsen began the work by loosening numerous nuts on the smokebox front and other parts. J.David removed all of the front end netting and baffles to access the front tube sheet for ultra-sonic inspection. By the 16th the locomotive had been moved to the shop. Paul Scarbrough and Pete Barrington gridded out the firebox and Burt began polishing spots for U-T testing. On the 17th Wayne Hebert and Dave removed the steam dome cap and inspected the boiler interior and water side of the firebox.

Wayne Removing Crown Stays (note gridding)
Several staybolts and crown stays were removed to assist with thickness testing and checking for any cracking of the firebox sheets. Dave and Burt removed the valve and cylinder heads while Wayne began the U-T work. On the 18th, Bill Wolf came in to inspect and measure the valve and cylinder bores. All of the wheels were measured as well.

Bill Measures A Driving Wheel
It is hoped that the inspection will be completed next week. Once Dave has all of the data, a scope of work and budget can be created. Figuring out where the funds necessary to accomplish the work will come from will take far longer than the planning. No work will be done until funding is in place.