Southern Pacific 18 restoration – November and December 2013

November 15 was an important day for the restoration, the FRA made their first official inspection and report of the locomotive. The on site inspection lasted about an hour and included an interior and exterior boiler inspection as well as running gear inspection. They were very impressed with the quality and amount of work that had been done so far and gave us the go ahead to install tubes. With the help of the FRA’s fancy inspection camera we did discover what at first glance appeared to be about an 18 inch crack in one of the firebox side sheets that we had not seen before. After a more in depth investigation it was discovered that it was actually a welded joint from an old railroad repair in which the weld had not fully penetrated, thus looking like a crack from the inside. In short, it is a relatively easy fix that our welder Robbie is already scheduled to take care of after the first of the year.

With things going well on the boiler side of the project, the photos below show the driver work is also moving along up at the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR. As of December, the #1 and 2 drivers are complete as are most fo the driver boxes while the #3 driver is scheduled to receive a new axle as soon as the material arrives at Mt. Rainier’s shops.

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Machining the “jaws” of a driver box. These are the surfaces in which the shoes and wedges ride against.
Machining the grease grooves in the crown brasses.
Reprofiling the drivers.

December 22 we were back at work in Independence. A warmer than normal December day allowed us to make good progress. After having had removed it one more time for the FRA, the throttle was once again (and hopefully for the last time) re-installed.

Perhaps the most exciting thing was that after numerous fittings and adjustments the second water glass was finally finished! This project really turned out nice. With all the machine work in fittings and valves, and acquiring the second water glass, this little project cost in total about $2000 dollars. With the completion of some other little projects such as a new steam gauge line and lapping and installing the new engineers side boiler check, we are coming down the home stretch of sealing up the boiler!

Completed boiler check

With half of us working on the smaller items, the rest worked on cutting and installing the remaining tubes. In all, about 70 tubes were cut and put in the boiler by the end of the day, which means all of the tubes are cut to length and in place! Next up is to install the copper ferrels and roll the tubes in place.

Dave and Dave slide tubes in place.
Rick Cromer (AKA Phil from Duck Dynasty) works the firebox end.



Scott, Larry, and Robbie cut tubes.
Scott, Larry, and Robbie cut tubes.

What a great 12 months of work that has occured on the #18 in 2013, THANK YOU ALL that at one time or another have come up and helped or just supported us with your donations, we couldn’t do it without you. 2014 should be even more exciting in Independence.


The December 22nd crew
The December 22nd crew

Southern Pacific #18 Restoration – October 2013

October 26-27 was our latest work session in Independence on SP #18 and the 26th was the night of our 4th Annual Birthday BBQ fundraiser. The fundraiser was a great success, with over 170 folks in attendance from near and far for the evenings dinner and activities.  We took in a total of just over $14,000.00. That included the BBQ, raffle, merchandise and membership sales as well as individual donations. That is the largest amount we have raised to date on one of our dinners. One such donation came from Sara and Bob Bauer who donated $6500 toward the purchase of the air tanks and boiler insulation. They gave the donation in memory of Chard Walker who was a long time station agent at the Summit station on Cajon pass.

Cake made for the BBQ.Boy was it good.
Cake made for the BBQ.Boy was it good.

As for the restoration, a significant part was started on Saturday.We began the installation of the tubes in the boiler. We installed 65 tubes (one third the total amount) and cut them to length; none of the tubes were permanently rolled into place. Once the first tube is rolled we have one year before the clock starts on the 1472 days of operation, or 15 years before they must be replaced per the FRA form 4, so we will not start rolling until the drivers are back in place.

The first 14 tubes in position, looking at the rear tube sheet.


Dave Mull and                  cut tubes to the propper length for later rolling.
Dave Mull and Gary Johnson cut tubes to the proper length for later rolling.








Front tube sheet with tubes sticking out. Look carefully at the right side of the photo.
Front tube sheet with tubes sticking out. Look carefully at the right side of the photo.

Other work done included the installation of the throttle valve and linkage, now when the handle in the cab is pulled the valve in the boiler opens. Bob and Gary also worked on the water glass steam valves and made some plumbing adjustments needed to make the second water glass fit properly.

The double seated poppet throttle valve after installation into the steam dome.
The double seated poppet throttle valve after installation into the steam dome.
Original (left) and new (right) water glass steam valves
Original (left) and new (right) water glass steam valves

On Sunday while more tubes were being installed I did some body work on the firebox door. The door was pretty beat up and out of shape. It also had several cracks in the sheet metal. I worked the metal a bit and welded some of the cracks. There’s more work to be done but its closer. Compare it to the photo in the last post.

Fire box door after some body work.
Firebox door after some body work.

And mean while up in Washington, the drivers are coming along but will be slightly delayed. After completing the work on the first two drivers it was discovered that the #3 driver axle is too small and will require replacement. It has also been determined that one journal crown brass will also require replacement. All together, that means that we probably will not see the drivers completed until the first of the year and they will cost us a bit more than initially estimated. Its all just part of the process required to bring the #18 back to life!