Friday, August 3, 2007

2007 Steam Work Week Report

The WPRM steam work week at Portola was productive to say the least. Tons (literally) of parts were removed from the 165 in preparation for boiler shell ultrasound testing. Dana Greeley and I arrived Friday evening July the 27th to find our hero Charlie Spikes removing nuts from the smokebox front. After settling into the Edenwold we joined him in the attempt to remove the curved handrail on the smokebox front. The bolts holding the handrail stanchions were also holding the front on, so I grabbed the trusty pneumatic hammer and laid into them with little success. We grabbed some Chinese food and called it a night.


Boiler front coming off.


Saturday the 28th we awoke to a fresh pot of coffee in the Silver Shower brewed by Charlie, which automatically got him the Hero Award for the day. By the time Dana and I suited up and got into the shop Charlie had the pesky handrail off, and all but a few of the nuts were dealt with. Off came the front. By this time Roger Stabler had made it up from Woodland, and he began removing the exhaust nozzle and the 24 superheater units using his array of air tools. True to character, he stuck with it until all of them were removed, including a few that were still full of water! At that Roger began the task of cutting out the 2 inch diameter boiler tubes, which were full of greasy soot left over from the 165's final use as a stationary boiler. Roger earned his hero badge over the next 2 days cutting out roughly half of the 2" tubes. The carbon left in the tubes tended to blow back on you when cutting the tubes, which is bad enough, however the flame from the torch ignites the soot and you get the upper part of your body covered with tiny flaming specks. The Finnegans were up early on Saturday and removed all of the firebrick in the firebox, thanks to them for seeing the job through. Kenneth spent the rest of the day wire brushing the boiler shell exterior. Dana took turns needle scaling the side sheets and taking some pics, and Eugene wire brushed for a few hours after he finished up in the Hostel. The ever dependable Eddie Chase began cleanup on the left side cylinder casting. Charlie and I removed the throttle valve using the air hoist. Charlie was the first inside the boiler, he performed some initial hammer testing on the stays while he was in there. We had a total of 8 workers on Saturday, which kicked off the week nicely and got the momentum started.

The throttle valve being hoisted out by Charlie and me.

Charlie in the boiler.

Roger heats up the Superheater Unit T-Bolts.

Superheater units removed.

Tubes coming out.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, except that the shop and the workers were getting increasingly carboned up. When we smiled all you could see was teeth. The floor around the rear damper was as black as night. Of course this stuff was tracked all through the shop courtesy of the Steam Dept. Boiler tubes were flying out at a frightening rate. John claimed a pile to use as fence posts. Roger departed our company Sunday night after leaving us another generous monetary donation, thanks again Roger!

On Monday Charlie and Dana removed the air reservoirs from each side to gain access to the boiler shell.


The air reservoirs come off.

The riveted tanks don't hold much hope (or air) so we will have to find or purchase replacements. I took my turn at cutting out tubes, a frustrating task. This was our third straight day of soot. Not much took it off in the shower at night except for that orange cleaner, which also managed to take off a layer of skin as well. I vowed that Tuesday would be a soot-free day for us. Grilled Kielbasa never tasted so good that night.

Tuesday was storage boxcar day. The three of us, Charlie, Dana and I, stacked all the removed parts on pallets and moved them into the steam boxcar. The car was previously cleaned out by Charlie and Don Borden, it took them three days and several dumpsters. As luck would have it Norm was moving out one of his vintage trucks parked right next to the car which made forklift logistics interesting while we both jockeyed for space. In the end everything made it in. Roger came into town on an empty coal train and joined us for dinner at the Pizza place. We all opted for the salad bar as well, since we had been craving roughage all week. Roger introduced me to Fat Tire Ale, which is a meal in itself. Sure beats the other watery stuff I tend to drink. Roger took the van home, and we retired to the Silver Shower's deck and sat full of pizza and watched the stars come out.

Our final work day, Wednesday started again with Charlie's heady brew of coffee. Dana opted to take a turn at tube removal, and managed to get another 20 or so out. We were hoping to save the 5 3/8" superheater flues, but upon further inspection it doesn't look like we will be able to due to their condition. They have already been safe-ended twice and other indications of condition don't make me feel too confident about them. These will be expensive to replace, but we will be happy we did, in the end. Our beloved Pres. showed up in the afternoon and inspected our progress, he seemed happy with what we had accomplished. We certainly have a lot to be proud of, we stuck with the program and got the ball rolling. No unrepairable conditions were discovered in the boiler shell or sheets during tube removal. We will continue the work in the Fall, date TBA. Until then Charlie has his work cut out for him!

Thursday morning, fill out the work reports, say goodbye to Portola. I dropped off Dana in the Bay Area, and continued back to LA. The family was glad to see me home again. I miss the soot already.