Southern Pacific #18 Restoration – July 2014

The inmate “waterin hole”
Stacking tie plates and rail joiners
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A little cloud cover helped out with the heat, the backside of the Sierra’s provide some stunning scenery.
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Perlite car #73 heads across the yard to its new home.

What a few weeks! This update will cover a couple of weekends of work in July at both the museum and locomotive. First up, the Museum:

With temperatures easily in the upper 90’s to 100, we really got to house cleaning and clearing out unneeded stuff. Both weekends we were assisted by groups of 4 inmates from the Inyo county jail. These guys really did a great job removing sage brush and trash (8 trailer fulls over 2 weeks) and stacking all our tie plates and rail joiners on pallets. They worked their tails off out in the sun. It wasn’t all bad for them though, they did build a little watering hole in the creek for some relaxation.


With the help of a little cloud cover; Rick, Dave, Jeff, Gary, Ted, and Bob went about moving some of the museum pieces that were in the path of the ROW. Biggest of the pieces was perlite boxcar #73. Over the years we have discovered the one thing our group really excels at is moving boxcars without wheels. #73 was no exception and it took a 100yard journey relatively quickly.

Thanks to all the help, both volunteer and inmate, we are about two-thirds of the way to having the yard cleared out and ready for a track survey, which we plan to do in September. This project still needs your donations to make it a reality, any help is greatly appreciated!



New and old
New and old
Forest installs a new brass lateral shim.
Forest installs a new brass lateral shim.
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Rolling flues


The key to flue rolling, Crisco
The key to flue rolling, Crisco
Dave Mull with Independence's first fire truck.
Dave Mull with Independence’s first fire truck.
Independence's current fire truck and volunteer fire dept. give the #18 a squeeze.
Independence’s current fire truck and volunteer fire dept. give the #18 a squeeze.
Leaking throttle and water glass valve packings.
Leaking throttle and water glass valve packing’s.


Over at the engine things moved right along. The first weekend we installed the four new coil springs and #3 leaf spring, which along with some cotter pins has completed the spring rigging work!

Next up was installing a new lateral shim on the right crosshead and adjusting the guides. This took about a day and turned out very nice. This work along with some cotter pins, grease fittings and nuts completes the valve motion, aside from timing of course.

The major accomplishment was flue rolling. After figuring out which drill had the right torque, we were off to the races. Our new flue expander and a bucket of Crisco made relatively easy work of the rolling. All together it took us about a full day on each end to have them all rolled. Initially we had no intention of filling the boiler and doing a hydro but we were at a point that we were ready to do it on Sunday and figured why not.

We started filling the boiler with the garden hose and added 500 additional gallons with Dave’s 1943 fire truck. With the boiler basically full a quick request was put into the Independence volunteer fire department to do a hydro. About 10 minutes later they arrived and had us up to 125psi.

As has been stated before, this is truly a community project with a lot of local support, and we often see it with short notice assistance from the community in various forms like a fire truck or sandwiches from Jenny’s Cafe, it all helps make the project happen.

With the #18 up to 125 psi. we discovered one major leak and various minor ones. The minor ones such as rolling about 15 flues one more turn, adding some packing to a few valves and tightening a couple staybolt caps were easily fixed. A handful of staybolts will still need to be worked (the process of working over the bolt end on the firebox side with an air gun) during the next hydro to full pressure.

The biggest leak was the throttle. After removing the dome lid and looking at what was going on it appears that we did not get a good seat on the gasket between the throttle column and throttle valve. Once that is fixed and we have our plugs to put in place of the safety valves for the hydro we will be ready to do a full test to 225psi, or 1 1/4 times the max operating pressure. While the full pressure test will undoubtedly show us a few more little leaks, we are certainly on the downhill path with the boiler work.

Thanks again to everyone who has helped out these past couple weeks and we look forward to wrapping up all the boiler work in the next month or so and start putting things back together.