Sierra No. 28 Repair Project: Ultrasonic Testing and Boiler Inspection

To meet the Federal Railroad Administration’s  1472-day inspection requirements (for more information, see previous blog post), the Sierra No. 28’s boiler must be thoroughly inspected for boiler integrity,

Grid marks are applied to the boiler in order to guide the ultrasonic testing.

Grid marks are applied to the boiler in order to ensure all surface of the boiler is consistently tested. (The blue tubing is part of a ventilation system in the boiler for employee safety while working in the confined space).

Volunteer Dan Mayer uses a grinder to spot-clean mineral build-up from the outside of the boiler. Two tennis ball sized spots per grid were needed for ultrasonic testing.

Volunteer Dan Maher uses a grinder to spot-clean mineral build-up from the outside of the boiler. Two small spots per grid were prepared for testing.

Project Volunteer tests the boiler using ultrasonic equipment, and marks the thickness onto each spot as he goes. Early results were looking good for the No. 28's boiler health.

Project Volunteer David Ethier tests the boiler at each spot using an ultrasonic probe, and notes the thickness of each spot as he goes.  The probe works similarly to the way that a dolphin uses echolocation–by sending and receiving a frequency and measuring the time it takes to return.  The device is calibrated to measure steel in this case.  You can see the numbers written directly where the measurements were taken.

Here, most of the ultrasonic measurements have been taken and results are looking good.

Here, much of the needed testing has been completed, as you can see by all of the numbers written in the grid.

David completing the final samples, on the backhead.  The UT device can be seen in his left hand, as he applies the sensor in his right.

David completing the final samples, on the back head. He is standing where the engineer would sit, if the locomotive were reassembled.

A copy of the previous Form 4, completed in 2003.  The form is several pages long.  Measurements are listed on the form, in addition to the results of calculations.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s “Form 4″ is the document that must be submitted to document the condition of the boiler.  This is the first page of the previous Form 4, completed in 2003.   Measurements are listed on the form, in addition to the results of calculations.  The Form 4 is submitted, as well as the Form 3 (annual inspection) and the Form 19 (Alteration and repair report for steam locomotive boilers).  In addition to meeting FRA requirements, these forms become an important part of the artifact’s history, particularly the Form 19 which will help us document changes over time.

 

Previous Sierra No. 28 Update: Removing Boiler Tubes

Next Sierra No. 28 Update:  A History of the No. 28

Advance Tickets on Sale Now for Holiday-Themed Train Rides With Santa at Railtown 1897

“Santa’s Starlight Express” and “Santa By Daylight”

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Photo by Michael Sharps


JAMESTOWN, Calif.
– Santa is taking some time out of his busy schedule to make special daytime and nighttime appearances at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) in Jamestown this holiday season!  Special train rides with Santa will operate over the three-day Thanksgiving weekend (November 29, 30 & December 1) and again the weekend of December 14 & 15.

Nighttime Rides Aboard “Santa’s Starlight Express”

For two nights only — on Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30 — visitors are encouraged to bundle up and join Santa and his musical friends for two lighted Christmas trains departing at 5:30 and 7 p.m.

The special train rides — lighted and filled with the music and magic of Christmas – are sure to get visitors in the holiday spirit with live holiday music and caroling aboard the train.  Santa will join riders on a train of festively lit cars pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive.  Every child will have plenty of time to whisper their wishes to Santa as he and his elves make their way through the train, accompanied by entertaining live music.  Also, free hot chocolate will be served on board the trains.   And, as another special holiday treat, Sierra No. 3 — known as the “Movie Star Locomotive” — will be all decked out and on special display as well.

Tickets for the nighttime rides aboard “Santa’s Starlight Express” are $24 for adults, $12 for youths, and free for children 2 and under (traveling on a lap).  New this year, first-class tickets are available for $33 for adults and $15 for youths.  Discounted train ride tickets are available to members.

 Rides Aboard “Santa by Daylight”

Popular “Santa By Daylight” train rides also continue this year on November 29, 30 & December 1, and again on December 14 & 15. With Santa on board, a holiday-lit vintage diesel locomotive will pull the trains on November 29 & 30 whereas Sierra No. 3 will do so on December 1, 14 & 15.   Trains run hourly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $15 for adults, $8 for youths, and free for children 5 and under (and for members).

Advanced tickets are strongly recommended and are available online at www.railtown1897.org or by calling the depot store at 209-984-3953.

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project- Removing the Boiler Tubes

A major component of this repair project is the 1,472 day inspection, as mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration. The inspection requirement is that every fifteen years or 1472 “service days,” the boiler shell must be fully inspected, and an ultrasonic thickness (UT) survey of the boiler and firebox must be performed and documented.  From these test results, support the Form 4 engineering calculations for working pressure of the boiler.  The No. 28 would have been close to this milestone when the scheduled repair project was finished, so it was built into the project to avoid disassembling the locomotive twice in a row.

The boiler tubes must be removed to access the boiler for inspection. These tubes carry hot gasses from the locomotive’s firebox to more efficiently heat the surrounding water in the boiler, and make steam. They were last replaced during the last 1,472 inspection in 2003. When they are installed, a tool is used to expand the tubes into the tube sheet so they will not move or come loose.  To remove them, the tubes are cut away from the tubesheets at both ends (in the firebox, and the smokebox).  Then they are pounded loose and pulled out through the smokebox.

Senior Maintenance Aid Phil Hard uses a crafted lever to remove tubes through the front end.

Senior Maintenance Aide Phil Hard uses a shop-built lever to remove tubes through the front end of the locomotive.

A view of the front boilerplate. Tubes are being pulled forward through this plate. The smaller holes each contain a boiler tube, the larger holes are for superheater flues, which are not being removed.

A view of the front tube sheet. Tubes are being pulled forward through this sheet. The smaller holes each contain a boiler tube. The larger holes are for superheater flues,  which are not being removed.

____________ works inside the firebox to detach the boiler tubes from the rear boilerplate and help "push" them forward to be pulled out the through the front.

Machinist Tony Stroud works inside the firebox to cut the boiler tubes from the firebox tube sheet and help “push” them forward while another staff member pulls each tube through the front.

In this video, project volunteer Warren Smith shows the process in a bit more detail. Due to their position behind the branch pipe, some of the tubes could not be pulled out straight.   This problem was solved by pushing the tubes into the boiler, where they rolled to the bottom, were retrieved with a tool, and pulled out of a more accessible hole.  An alternative removal method is to pull out and cut off in segments, but the method used here was more efficient. The voice you hear at the other end of the boiler is that of Norm Comer.

The No. 28 has 148 of the 2″ tubes.  Removal took approximately 13 days with paid and volunteer labor.  The tubes are in generally good condition, and some cases could be re-installed.  However, for this project, we decided that it would be more time-effective to replace them with new material.  With the removal of the tubes, the final demolition is complete, and we are moving into the next phase of the project!

Previous No. 28 Update: Removing the Jacket

Next No. 28 Update: Ultrasonic Testing and Boiler Inspection

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park Announces First Female Engineer

Stephanie Tadlock, Engineer

Stephanie Tadlock, Engineer

Volunteer Stephanie Tadlock recently joined an exclusive club, she was promoted to the position of Steam Locomotive Engineer at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, the park’s first female to hold this position.

Engineer is the most advanced position on the train crew. Commonly confused with conductor (who directs the movement of the train), the engineer is charge of operating the locomotive. To qualify for the position, Stephanie put in years training in every position on the train crew, including brakeman, conductor, hostler and fireman, before qualifying as an engineer earlier this summer.  Railtown 1897 State Historic Park’s railroad operations are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration.  The park currently employs 20 volunteer train crew members who adhere to the training, testing and operating requirements administered by the FRA, and operate steam and diesel excursion trains from April-December.

A resident of Merced, Stephanie grew up on a small farm outside of Madera, CA. In her day job, she works as a program analyst in Fresno, with a 2-hour round trip commute. One wouldn’t imagine that would lend much free time, but somehow between cross country motorcycle trips, helping her dad with antique shows, and spoiling her granddaughter, Stephanie has shown the drive, energy, and aptitude to become Railtown 1897’s first female engineer.

Stephanie began volunteering at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park  after her husband, Dave, transitioned from volunteer tour guide to volunteer train crew member in 2007. After realizing that Dave was at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park every weekend, Stephanie and her son began volunteering on the fire patrol crew during Dave’s second year in order to be able to see Dave once in a while! After spending a year learning and becoming immersed in the camaraderie of Railtown’s volunteer crew, in 2008 Stephanie volunteered for train crew and, as she says “that’s about the time I got bit by the steam bug.”

Though excited about her new position as engineer, Stephanie still enjoys hostling and firing. “There’s just something indescribable about bringing a cold mechanical hunk of metal to life with your own two hands,” she says.

Thanks, Stephanie, for your dedication to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, and here’s to many more years to come!

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project- Removing the Jacket

To access the boiler, the jacket and lagging must be removed.  Lagging is a kiln-like material that is wired and cemented into place, and encapsulated by a sheet metal shell.  The main purpose of the lagging and jacket are to retain heat in the boiler. On this project we will be replacing the lagging and jacket with new material.  The jacket will be preserved.

Many hands make light work.  Today's team.

Many hands make light work. Today’s team.

Tony Stroud uses grinder to cut wires holding the jacket in place

Tony Stroud uses grinder to cut wires holding the jacket in place

Lenny Guitelli, David Ethier and Robert Maciel working to remove the straps and wires that hold the sheet metal jacket in place

Lenny Guitelli, David Ethier and Robert Maciel working to remove the straps and wires that hold the sheet metal jacket in place

The No. 28 is pulled out of the roundhouse for the final time, for easier removal of the jacket and lagging

The No. 28 is pulled out of the roundhouse for the final time, for easier removal of the jacket and lagging

Volunteers swarm the locomotive and make quick work of the task

Volunteers swarm the locomotive and make quick work of the task (note: the haze in these photos was an effect of the Rim Fire)

The sheets of the jacket are removed to reveal the lagging underneath

The sheets of the jacket are removed to reveal the lagging underneath

Pieces of the jacket are laid out for reference in constructing the replacement

Pieces of the jacket are laid out for reference in constructing the replacement

Dave Tadlock removes the insulating lagging

Dave Tadlock removes the insulating lagging

All of the lagging and jacket removed

All of the lagging and jacket removed

In the meantime. . .other volunteers were working on the construction of the work scaffolding

In the meantime. . .other volunteers were working on the construction of the work scaffolding

Previous Sierra No. 28 Post: Preparing the Locomotive

Next Sierra No. 28 Post:  Removing the Boiler Tubes

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project- Preparing the Locomotive

Sierra No. 28's sand dome

To start work on repairs to the locomotive’s boiler and firebox, we need to be able to access those areas.  This means removal of a number of appliances, including the bell, sand dome, plumbing, jacket, lagging (cement and fiber insulation), and even the cab.

Rear Headlamp from No. 28.

Rear Headlamp from No. 28.

Parts are labeled before removal to aid in reassembly

Parts are labeled before removal to aid in reassembly

Removal of the cab allows easier access to the backhead and firebox

Removal of the cab allows easier access to the backhead and firebox

Previous Sierra No. 28 Post:  Getting Started

Next Sierra No. 28 Post: Removing the Jacket

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project- Getting Started

No. 2 Shay on the turntable

No. 2 Shay on the turntable with the Plymouth

In preparation to begin work on the Sierra No. 28, the work space needed to be prepared.  Our goal is to be able to have visitors observe the work as it progresses, in the historic roundhouse.  It was decided to switch the Shay No. 2 with the No. 28, because there is an excellent viewing area in front of stall 2, and there is more work space on either side.  The challenge was how to move the two locomotives.  Neither is able to move on its own power, so whatever is used to pull the locomotive out of the stall, must also be able to fit on the turntable with it.  The only option was our little Plymouth yard mule.  But would it fit?  And was it powerful enough to pull the Shay and its tender?

The little Plymouth that could-- barely fits on the turntable with the locomotive and tender!  Tight squeeze.

Tight squeeze.

With some huffin’ and puffin’ and ‘I think I can’ attitude, the switcher was able to pull the Shay No. 2 onto the turntable.

No. 28, tender removed,  being pulled out of its stall by "the little engine that could"

The Sierra No. 28 was a bit simpler– the removal of the tender reduced the length.  It was pulled out of the roundhouse. . .

Sierra No. 28 on the turntable, Plymouth waiting

Turned on the turntable. . .

Sierra No. 28 returning to the roundhouse, facing outwards.  Tender outside.

Then pushed back  into the roundhouse, in stall 2.  With the tender stored outside, this is where it will sit for the next 10 months.

2013 August 366

And now park visitors (like you!) can see the work up close as it progresses.  For a detailed look at the work, join us every Tuesday at 10AM for a Behind-the-Scenes Shop Tour.

 

 

Previous Sierra No 28 post:  Restoration Work Begins

Next Sierra No. 28 post: Preparing the Locomotive