Monday, October 26, 2015

Progress on No. 97

Readers of this blog with long memories will recall that a couple of years ago we did a preliminary inspection of No. 97 to assist us with the development of a Scope of Work and a budget for the restoration to service of this locomotive.

Early this year, I received a call from Nick Kallas who was planning seminars and workshops for the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums convention, held this past year at the Illinois Railway Museum. Nick wanted ideas that would utilize some the specialized machines and facilities there. Knowing the IRM possesses a number of "McCabe Pnuematic Flangers", I immediately suggested a demonstration of one by the leading authority on their use: Gary Bensman of Diversified Rail Services. And oh, by the way, he could demonstrate the machine by making the firebox door sheet patch that we will need for No.97. 

I asked IRM's Steam Department Foreman, Tom Schnieder if this was possible and Tom thought it was a fine idea. Now, for those of you who don't know, a McCabe is a machine designed to bend the edges of parts for boilers or fireboxes in either straight or curved shapes. They could be used to manufacture new boilers or make repair parts for old ones in odd shapes with steel thicknesses ranging from 3/8" to 1". It consists of a frame to which is attached a large air cylinder, which operates a straight rack, which engages a curved rack, to which is attached a die (straight or curved in a variety of sizes). A corresponding die is mounted on the frame. The steel to be shaped is held on frame with clamps. When the piston in the cylinder moves, the die bends the steel. Of course, many small bends are made rather than a few big ones.

Gary Operating the McCabe Flanger

For the demonstration, Gary explained how to lay out the part to be made (his layout lines can be seen on the patch), how to set up, and how to operate the machine.

Section of No.97 Door Sheet Removed For Replacement

Special thanks to Gary Bensman, Tom Schneider and Kjell Benner (who removed the old sheet from No.97 and transported everything from Connecticut to Illinois).

J. David Conrad
Chief Mechanical Officer

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

No. 40 Returns to Service

After its 1472 Service Day / 15 Year Inspection, 95 year old Locomotive No. 40 is back at work hauling passengers.

Valley shop crews began the Federally mandated inspection shortly after the last runs of our 2014 North Pole Express trains.

The work included removing all the piping, jacketing and insulation from the exterior of the boiler and all the fire tubes from inside the boiler. Once this had been accomplished, the entire boiler was cleaned inside and out, "minutely" inspected for defects and ultra-sonicly tested for the current thickness of all its parts. Armed with fresh thickness readings, new "Form 4" calculations can be made to determine the boiler MAWP (maximum allowed working pressure) for the next term of service.

The boiler was painted inside and out with special paint designed for the purpose, a new set of boiler tubes installed, insulation, jacketing and the piping applied.

Mechanical work included babbitting the side rod bearings and making new bearings for the main rods. All the rods were converted to oil lubrication.

It will be remembered that the mechanical work was "fractionalized", with the locomotive's wheels being reprofiled to meet Federal standards two years ago. Also, the spring and brake rigging was rebuilt at that time.

No. 40 is back pulling our "Fall Foliage" trains through October 25th, and will be busy working our 2015 North Pole Express trains (along with No. 3025) beginning in November.

J. David Conrad
Chief Mechanical Officer