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 – September 2013

For the past year Scott Shaffer has maintained a time lapse camera in the tent to record the work that we do. Some days videos are not very interesting, but some give a great sense of what goes on. Click on the link below to see the work performed on Saturday  and Sunday August 30th and Sept 1. What you will see is about 16 hours of work in 3 minutes.

Now for the weekend of September 28th and 29th:  The most exciting news came during our second meeting with Inyo County regarding our engine house plan. The County has given us the preliminary approval for our project! While we still will need to go before the full Board of Supervisors to finalize the plan, the approval has been granted by all the necessary department heads, which is a huge step. To see some of the plans go the museum plan page.

As for the locomotive work: Dave, Rick, and Ashley spent the day putting the new cylinder insulation and jacketing on.

Ashley adds a little more curve to the cylinder cover.


Almost finished cylinder jacket

While they worked up front, Travis worked in the middle of the engine putting the last of the spring rigging up. The holes in which the equalizer pins go through the frame were very worn out. Since there is no easy way to bore out the holes we did the next best thing: welded them up and manually bored them out. It took a few hours but the results were what we wanted, relatively round holes that the pins fit very nicely in.


Fully installed spring equalizers and hangers

At the rear of the locomotive the rest of us worked on installing the new water glass, fitting some of the new cab plumbing, installing part of the cab floor and worked on the firebox door cover.

The weekend also saw the completion of most of the brake rigging repairs and the readjustment of Marty Westland’s valve grinding machine. Marty wanted to do one more finish pass with his grinder to really make it nice.

The old (left) and new (right) water glasses
New floor and getting ready to fix the door cover.










While we are just about ready to start rolling in flues down in Independence, up at the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR our drivers and driving boxes are well in process. MRSRR says they will be completed by the first of November which means we will hopefully have the #18 back on her feet soon.

Drivers being re profiled at MRSRR

And finally, mark your calendars for our annual BBQ fundraiser on Oct. 26th, don’t forget to stop by and say hello!