Unpleasant Discovery

After a successful opening weekend, with the current Sierra Railway #2 (a 1922 3-truck Lima Shay),  shop operations turned back to the restoration of the Sierra #3, the ongoing boiler assessment of the Sierra #28, and routine maintenance of the #2. 

Unlike the Sierra #28,  which is a dependable, and relatively low-maintenance locomotive, the Sierra #2 seems to require constant work.  

While conducting routine maintenance, volunteers removing accumulated grime from the running gear discovered a large crack in the center plate on the center truck.  This is the piece that connects the body of the locomotive to the wheel assembly (trucks) of the locomotive. 

Center plate on the truck, with visible crack throughout.

Center plate of the shay center truck, with crack.

In order to assess the damage and make recommendations for repair, it was necessary to remove the truck.  For our other locomotives, this would be accomplished by driving over the drop pit, which is specially designed for the removal of the heavy truck assemblies.  However, this equipment doesn’t work for the Shay, due to its uneven weight distribution from the off-set boiler and side-mounted gears. 

This front view of the Shay shows the off-set boiler.

This front view of the Shay shows the off-set boiler.

The Shay also has a different tender configuration than our other locomotives– its oil tank is connected to the cab.  This means that even with the removal of the tender, the locomotive was still holding 4,000 gallons of oil.  It was necessary to pump the oil back into the tank car to relieve some of the weight. 

The locomotive was then jacked up, and  cribbing was installed under the frame to ensure safety.  This process took several days, then the truck was rolled out, allowing staff to access the broken part.

Rear view of the Shay, with the tender removed.  You can see the damaged truck in the foreground, and the back side of the oil cistern.

Rear view of the Shay, with the tender removed. You can see the damaged truck in the foreground, and the back side of the oil cistern on the cab.

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