Dick Coudin and I arrived Wednesday evening in anticipation of performing our usual two or three hours of cleanup in the Pullman car. To our delight, Rick Gruninger had the place looking much better than I have ever seen it. All that was required was some light touch up, setting up the berths, and running some heat into the car. Thanks to Rick for his efforts to make us feel welcome!
Another winter was behind us, except that no one told Mother Nature. Our first workday, Thursday, April 26th in Portola was confined to mostly indoor activities.
|Driving box cleanup day.|
Steve, Charlie, Kirk and others formed a “scraping circle” and began the task of cleaning out the oil cellars in the tops of the driving boxes, as well as drilling out the oil ports that had been plugged up for likely most of the 20th century. Handling these heavy and cumbersome iron castings was made easier thanks to Hank Stiles and Dick Coudin, who came up with a handy lifting rig so the boxes may now be moved around using the forklift. Hank and Dick also started the cleanup on the grease cellars for each box, which were equally caked with multiple layers of journal lubricant.
|Hank and Dick show off their driving box lifting rig.|
Bob Sims has been busy converting our D&RGW wood-bodied boxcar into a tool car for us. He and Charlie spent some time in Reno procuring plywood and security doors for the interior stud walls. When complete the car will look like just another boxcar from the exterior, but inside will be a usable and clean space for the steam crew’s use. Thanks again to Bob for taking on this sizable task!
Our electrician, Duane, with some help from Charlie managed to get the 16” Lodge & Shipley lathe back up and running. Thanks guys for having it working in time for the steam session. Thanks again to the Union Pacific shops in Roseville for donating it to the cause. Severn Edmonds is repairing some of the previously broken handles, as well as making up tooling for mounting an Aloris tool block, which will make things much quicker and easier. Severn should be back in July, hopefully to start turning staybolts.
Thursday night saw the arrival of our friends from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum. During the course of the weekend we were joined by Jeff Boone, Ken Asmus, Nancy Harden, Deanna Knowles, Bob Bradley, Jim Prettyleaf, Dave Varley, Dave Hensarling, and of course the ever affable Dave Roth.
|Dave Roth happily chasing threads.|
Friday the 27th, after our morning safety meeting and carbo-load at Sharon’s Diner in historic downtown Portola, we emerged into a gloriously sunny albeit frigid morning. The task of the day was to attempt removal of the throttle dry pipe in the interior of the boiler shell. Prior to doing anything major with a cutting torch, Dave Varley ran the thickness readings which were taken by Dave Roth and Dick Coudin last Fall. Dave determined that given the thicknesses remaining, we were well within our factor of safety for the pressures we would be running at. The drypipe project was abandoned and we moved on.
More clean-up continued on the driving boxes while the patch on the wrapper sheet side was removed for drilling. First the holes for the cab bracket studs were located, which involved holding a heavy chunk of metal up on the side of the boiler while someone else marks hole locations; nothing light when it comes to working on a steam locomotive. The GGRM crew made quick work of clean-up on the pedestal binders as well.
Hank Stiles made up a handy round die holder so he could chase the threads on the flexible staybolts sleeves, followed by an application of thread lubricant to prevent deterioration. He and Dave Roth took turns over the weekend chasing threads and managed to get a large number of them chased.
|Dave Varley carefully taking down measurements for the FRA Form 4.|
Friday I met with Steve Lee (Union Pacific’s now retired steam program manager) and Dave Varley (GGRM Chief Mechanical Officer) to go over progress made toward generating our FRA Form 4. This document is in essence a huge number of stress calculations which ultimately allow us to determine the maximum allowed working pressure of the boiler. James Cowdery and Nathan “Maverick” Osborn have all but finished taking the thickness readings on every surface of the boiler shell and firebox; thanks to you two for sticking with it. Steve and Dave will perform the calculations based on this data, and quite a bit more information that Dave and his crew took Friday and Saturday.
Longitudinal braces and their pins were measured, inspected, and all of the rivets were hammer tested. None failed. Hammer testing of the stays will come later. Tapping on each rivet should give a resounding “ring” sound. If one is hammered with a “thud” it is most likely broken and would need to be re-set. The stayed surfaces on the backhead were measured as well. Roger Stabler began tapping out staybolt holes in the wrapper sheet in preparation for welding in the patches later this season.
|Nancy Harden hammer tests rivets while|
Dave Roth and Jeff Boone continue thread clean-up.
|Roger Stabler has a job briefing regarding the wrapper patch work. Jim and Jeff listen closely.|
Work continued on Saturday until the afternoon began to wind down. A few stories were told, some exaggerated for dramatic effect, some not. Hank and our newest steam team member, Kirk Baer of Portola, assisted me in putting a few more parts away in the second storage car, and after a clean sweep of the shop, we called it a day. Thanks to everyone for coming out, especially our friends from GGRM, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive through their loan of time and tooling. No small thanks also to our major financial donors, including Bob Sims, James Mason, and Roger Stabler, who will be footing the bill for the leaf spring repair! Thanks go to Norman Holmes for providing us with spare parts donated from his personal collection, such as the whistle off the WP 166. And of course another big thanks to Charlie and Steve Habeck for getting things ready for our arrival in the shop.
I look forward to our next session, Thursday, July 19th - Saturday July 21st. With some luck and persistence, we should have the boiler and frame back on its drivers in the Fall. Until we meet again, have a wonderful Spring and Summer season, and be safe. -JCA