February may have only 28 days, but we managed to work 8 of them over the course of two weeks.
The first work week was three days that focused on drilling the new reservoirs and installing the lube and air lines. The reservoirs are newly built and certified, and along with the process of drilling them with a series of very shallow holes, allows them to not require annual testing per FRA regulations. This is the same practice on modern diesel locomotives. The lube lines, and air lines, are four lines that run from the cab under the insulation to the valves, air sanders on the sand dome, and bell ringer. These lines all had to be bent into position, threaded and, the copper flared and annealed.
After making tremendous progress with a small crew, a larger crew was on the job the following week for almost five full days. There were multiple areas of focus over the week, perhaps the most noticeable work was lagging the boiler. Installing the insulation, or lagging, is a dirty job that at one time would have been done with asbestos. Today we use calcium silicate block and mud. Utilizing the heavy wire we had previously wrapped around the boiler barrel we started at the front bottom and worked our way up and around wiring the block with light gauge stainless steel wire to the existing wire. Some areas were easy with full blocks, while some areas required custom cut pieces. After about 16 hours with three of us cutting, wiring, and measuring we had the entire boiler barrel complete (the cab and wrapper sheet areas will not be lagged until after the first steam up) and ready to mud all the rivet and pipe areas. It was exciting to see a different looking locomotive after all these years looking at a red primer boiler.
Before we had lagged the area around the dome we had our FRA inspectors in town to perform their post hydro interior inspection. All went very well with the inspection and we were able to re-install the throttle and the dome lid. This was their last inspection prior to the engine being steamed up.
Before putting the throttle back in we did a bit more lapping on it since we had discovered it leaked some during our previous hydro test. After lapping, it was then time to install the throttle, which, as we have come to find out is about the most difficult job on this engine. Travis kindly volunteered and squeezed into the dome to do the install. Hours later, the dome was installed and we performed yet one more hydro to make sure our previous re-sealing of the dry pipe joint on the front flue sheet was not leaking, thank goodness it wasn’t, or we may have given up the entire project in frustration.
With the dry pipe not leaking, we moved onto our other big – or at least heavy – job, installing the steam pipes in the smokebox…yet again. Thanks to the aforementioned dry pipe joint that was leaking we had to remove the pipes after our first install, did I mention they weigh about 300 pounds each. At least we were experts at doing it and this time it took only about 2 hours to have them both in and seated in place. The firemans side proved to be a bit tricky since the newly repaired ears were just slightly off of the correct angle.
With pipes in we then hydro tested them through the slide valves to make sure the joints were all sealing, which they were, with the exception of one that required a little more tightening.
Aside from the bigger more photogenic projects mentioned above, there were also many other important things occurring such as cleaning up the fire bricks (these were new bricks installed in the 90’s but the loco was never fired with) and prepping them for re-installation, installing some of the below cab floor air lines and brackets, and also fitting the injectors and their brackets and plumbing.
On our final day of work, after the insulating mud had dried we began to fit the new (old) jacketing. The jacketing was built in the mid1990’s when the asbestos and original jacketing were removed. While in generally good condition, it will require replacement of some pieces and refitting of others. To correctly fit the jacket we had to re-install the bell and lower steam dome rings.
For next months work we can now continue on with installing the petticoat pipe in the smokebox, install the firebrick and sand dome as well as continue on with the jacketing. Slowly but surely we are getting closer and closer to steam!
Finally, we received a new boxcar! Well actually it was delivered back to us from Olancha where it had been living. #451/13 is honestly in the best condition of the 3 boxcars currently at the museum. Currently we have no plans to do anything with it other than set it up for storage. Someday we would like to make one boxcar serviceable for behind the #18 at the museum and this may be the one.
As always a big THANK YOU to everyone that comes to work as well as everyone that helps house and feed those who do come from out of town, we couldn’t do it without you!!