Southern Pacific #18 restoration – January 2016

The base coat of high temp white applied.

The base coat of high temp white applied with lights on and night coming.

Gary Johnson bending air pipe.

Gary Johnson bending air pipe.

Gary's air line installed

Gary’s air line installed

Marty drills wedges for shims.

Marty drills wedges for shims.

The brake valves are back in place and new copper lines are being installed.

The brake valves are back in place and new copper lines are being installed.

The completed and installed bell ringer.

The completed and installed bell ringer.

Pneumatic sanders hooked up and ready.

Pneumatic sanders hooked up and ready.

A winter storm rolls over the Sierra's with Ray's Den Motel in the foreground.

A winter storm rolls over the Sierra’s with Ray’s Den Motel in the foreground.

Permanently installed injector and handrails.

Permanently installed injector and handrails.

The new rod brasses being fitted and measured.

The new rod brasses being fitted and measured.

Our two pizza artists and their oven.

Our two pizza artists and their oven.

The future engine house site now cleared of wagons and artifacts.

The future engine house site now cleared of wagons and artifacts.

The end of January brought us four solid days of work on the #18, each day lasted until dark when we had to turn on the tent lights. We are now in the 80-85% complete range on the restoration!

Starting mid-week our main focus was to shim all of the drivers ahead 3/8″ to compensate for the length of the main rods (see Nov. 2015 post). This task took three full days and was one of the toughest projects we have done in recent months. This really reminded us that we are still working in a park, without a pit or easy access under the locomotive. Thankfully a few of us are “narrow framed” and able to get under the engine and work; albeit uncomfortable, very dirty, and cramped. Even then it required the removal of the brake rigging to gain access. With frustrations of removing weight on each driver box to get the shoes out aside; by the end of the weekend we had all the drivers moved ahead and all the brake rigging reassembled.

With that work progressing, major focus was placed on the air system and piping. A new “train line” brake pipe was made as were numerous other smaller lines. Also at hand was replacing all the pipe unions on lines we were planning to reuse. We also worked on creating new copper and red brass lines. All of these lines were removed in the late 90’s when the asbestos was abated and were either bent beyond use or were not properly marked. As a result we have opted to make virtually all new. Depending on the application either a heavy wall copper or red brass is used, both of which require annealing. Due to the remoteness of Independence, we have found with this project one of the biggest challenges is to anticipate what materials and parts are needed in advance. With that in mind we did not have all the fittings needed and ultimately finished the week approximately two-thirds complete with the air system and entirely complete with the hydrostatic lubricator lines and sander lines.

After a comfortable week, Saturday morning dawned cloudy and cooler with a winter storm spilling over the Sierra’s. With weather on the way we finished the aforementioned projects and also permanently installed both injectors, water glasses, and the hand railings.  Even with a steady rain, as a bonus treat on Saturday we received delicious home made wood fired pizzas cooked up in an oven on the back of a trailer. Dave had previously used our forklift to put the oven on the trailer.

Thanks to Mark Wagner and his pizza oven for providing us with lunch.

One final job not yet mentioned was doing final fitting on most of the new rod brasses. Each brass was checked for fit on the pins, lateral, and proper radius. Each evening after dinner was spent at the lathe adjusting the brasses as needed. Now that they are fitted they will return to Durango, have grease holes drilled and be pressed into the side rods.

With all the work accomplished we are now closing in on the home stretch of the restoration, very much on track to be completed in 2016!

We were also excited that the County informed us to proceed with the geotechnical survey of the museum soil in anticipation for foundation work, which, based on the Counties stated time frame could occur as early as April!

In anticipation for the survey, all the existing museum wagons and artifacts in the way of the future building were relocated. We now have a large empty piece of dirt ready for groundwork, a building and track!

Check out Ed’s video of the weekend here. Thanks to everyone who continues to help make this project a reality!