Southern Pacific #18 Restoration – February and March 2014

The period between the 13th of February and the 3rd of March will undoubtedly go down as a major mechanical turning point in the restoration of the #18. It will also be remembered as a period of some of the hardest work we have performed; by the numbers that means over 2000 miles driven to get the drivers in Washington and over 800 volunteer hours spent in Independence over two weekends. While the full story would be worthy of any reality TV show (or our newsletter), the end result was that Dave, Rick and Forest - despite a few flat tires, rain, a broken axle, and a helpful guy named Lucky - were able to retrieve the drivers at the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR between Feb 13th and 17th. Stathi and his crew at MRSRR did a great job at rebuilding the drivers.

CMO of the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR, Stathi stands with one of our drivers.

CMO of the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR, Stathi, stands with one of our drivers.

With the drivers back in Independence, the subsequent work over the weekends of the 23-24th and March 1-2nd have put the locomotive back on the rails…..almost.

The big pushes on the 23rd and 24th were to unload the drivers, get the driver boxes assembled on the axles with new grease cakes and most importantly, complete the layout and machining of the shoes and wedges, know as tramming.

Unloading the drivers. so work can begin

Unloading the drivers. so work can begin

Travis and Dave setting a driver on the rails.

Travis and Dave setting a driver on the rails. Feb 23rd.

The driver boxes are all sitting ready to receive the final grease grooves and be installed on the axles.

The driver boxes are all sitting ready to receive the final grease grooves and be installed on the axles.

The finished job, all the boxes ready to go with the grease cellars repaired and repacked. Note the new axle on the #3 driver farthest away in the photo.

The finished job, all the boxes ready to go with the grease cellars repaired and repacked. Note the new axle on the #3 driver farthest away in the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from the driver prep work, we also installed the steam dome lid, finished the left boiler check valve and installed all the boiler plugs. All that’s remains is to roll the tubes in place and fill the boiler with water. Marty and Scott spent most of the weekend lapping the right valve in place. Aside from some quick machining the valve is about together.
With things more or less ready to go, a group of a dozen volunteers arrived for the big weekend of March 1st and 2nd.

First off, thanks need to go to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad for kindly loaning us their four Duff-Norton high lift pneumatic jacks for the weekend.

After spending a few hours taking care of a couple small items that were missed the previous weekend it was time to lift, and lower. The first job was to go up one lift to have the engine high enough for the drivers to clear as well as remove the frame binders which go under the frame openings.

Clear track and getting ready to lift.

Clear track and getting ready to lift.

As high as we need to be with the locomotive.

As high as we need to be with the locomotive.

The drivers are in place and the engine is coming back down.

The drivers are in place and the engine is coming back down.

With it past dinner time on Sunday, the engine is almost back to earth and on the wheels.

With it past dinner time on Sunday, the engine is almost back to earth and on the wheels.

Once the wheels were rolled in place, the engine was slowly lowered back down, and that’s when the frustrations started. During the process of lifting and lowering the engine for the removal of the wheels the engine had shifted about 3″ to one side of the rail line, before things could go back together it had to be shifted back over. To do this safely with the engine on jacks was a chore. The jacks were set at a slight angle and the engine was repeatedly lifted and lowered to inch it over, once close, the engine was then lowered over the wheels and small hydraulic jacks were used to push it the last 1″ into alignment. All totaled, it took the crew until about 9pm Sunday night to have the engine back down and almost in place, it is still blocked up about 4″, or just above the point of where the spring rigging will begin to take the weight.
As if all the locomotive work wasn’t enough, a few guys worked over at the museum inventorying rail and track components as well as moving out scrap iron in an effort to get the new museum site ready for track later this year.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped over the course of the month on this big project, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Some of the crew that made this all possible enjoying another Independence lunch.

Some of the crew that made this all possible enjoying another Independence lunch.

Southern Pacific 18 restoration – January 2014

After a great 2013, we kicked off 2014 with our awesome and talented welder Robby Jett repairing some old Southern Pacific welds inside the firebox. Back in November when the FRA was in town they had examined the areas between the firebox sheets and outside sheets with their inspection camera and in doing so discovered two areas that totaled about 24″ in length which the S.P. had not achieved 100% weld penetration on their repair. While this old repair was likely done in the late 40′s and operated as such for numerous years it is not considered acceptable. Whenever doing flush patches – such as the wrapper sheet patch we did in 2012 – you must have 100% weld penetration between the old and new materials. Thankfully this is a relatively easy fix if you have a really good welder.

To achieve the desired full penetration on the new weld, Robby first ground out the old welds in question until he had about a 1/16″ gap.

The old weld has been almost fully ground out. Note the gap starting to form between the sheets.

The old weld has been almost fully ground out. Note the gap starting to form between the sheets.

The 6018 root pass has but put down.

The 6018 root pass has been put down.

The completed weld showing the 7018 on top.

The completed weld showing the 7018 on top.

The new engineers side windows.

The new engineers side windows.

After having the desired gap he went about welding in his “root” pass of weld. The root pass is done with 6010 welding rod. Robby – like many pressure vessel welders – lays his root pass in a keyhole manner, burn through and then pull out, over and over.

Once he has a root pass to his liking he starts to lay his “hot” passes. In our case he put down 3 hot passes with 7018 welding rod. He would start on one end, weld about 6 inches and then jump to the other end and weld about 6 inches. This is done to keep the heat concentration at a minimum and not distort the sheets.

Finally, after about 12 hours of grinding and welding he had fixed everything that needed fixing. And Robby donated his time to do this! We are now almost ready to roll flues in and fill the boiler with water.

Aside from the welding, we also have received word from the Mt. Rainier RR that our drivers and boxes will be done by February 10th. Dave and Rick’s trucking will be headed north and should have them back in Independence the following week. Currently we are planning on putting them back under the locomotive in early March.

Other January progress occurred with the completion of four new cab windows. The new windows were constructed all to the same size (the old were not) and of poplar wood. They also had tempered safety glass installed in them. All four windows are now ready for paint.

Finally, we are working on getting all the final signatures from the county officials for our museum plan to permanently house the locomotive. If you would like to contribute funds towards the track and building please feel free to do so. Your contributions towards that aspect of this project will be greatly appreciated.