Locomotive No.28- Putting All the Bits Back On

After getting the boiler water tight and completing the hydrostatic testing, everything that was taken apart begins to come back together. All of the items removed from the locomotive for access to the boiler were closely inspected for wear and tear and either determined to be refurbished, replaced with like materials, or found safe and suitable to go back on the engine. The list of parts is extensive, but here are the highlights from the last few months.

working on the fire pan

New steel  plate installed in the firepan.

firepan with text

This image shows the old repairs (stabilizing the firepan with old rail) re-worked onto the new steel fabric under the pan.

The firepan and damper box had to have extensive work done on them. The bottom of the firepan was replaced with steel plate. The old firepan had been reinforced with 40 lb. rail in two places. The ends of the old rail had been forged smaller to fit flush with the firepan and then riveted on. This kind of repair clearly demonstrates the thriftiness and ingenuity of a lean short line railroad. The lead restoration worker was unable to determine whether or not this firepan was the original one from 1922. An entirely new damper box was constructed with exception of the riveted joints. The sides of the box were replaced with plate.  The damper box is now made up of both old and new fabric.

old damper box cropped

One of the more handsome shots of the old damper box

new damper box construction

Scott Botfield applying new sides while saving the old riveted frame.

Moving along to the front end, all the bits in the smoke box were reinstalled. The superheater elements, that had been tested previously for leaks went in and were tightened with a careful touch to avoid breaking the header. The header is a complex iron casting in the front end that receives saturated steam from the throttle, distributes it to the superheater elements, collects the superheated steam and delivers it to the piston valves through the distribution pipes.

superheaters going in

Scott installing the superheater elements

superheaters in

All done!

When the original nozzle stand was tightened back into place, one of the mounting flanges broke off while being tightened down. Inspection at the break revealed that the metal was extremely thinned from 94 years of being exposed to the corrosive environment of the smoke box. Miraculously, the new old stock replacement part was found outdoors alongside the warehouse. It was in pristine, unused, unapplied condition. The “new” nozzle was identical to the old one. Finding this part was a huge time saver, for had we not found it, we would have had to make a pattern and send off to the foundry for casting. Volunteer Robert Williams came in and machined the new holes for the studs and fly cut the base, as the “new” nozzle stand was a rough casting.


On the left is the old nozzle stand. Note the thinness at the base compared to the “new”  nozzle stand on the right. 

machining new nozzle

Here is the shop set up for machining the nozzle stand. 

After the nozzle stand was tightened down,  the petticoat and smoke box netting were installed. The smoke box ring and door were freshened up and placed back on making the front end look like its old familiar self.

smokebox front

Freshening up the smoke box ring

The bell was polished by spinning on a lathe and reinstalled after new pins had been made.

bell before


Polished bell



Here is the refreshed bell on its way to No.28. 

The sand dome went on.dome going back on


At the cab, the floor and cab braces were patched with new steel, replacing the old, bent and pitted plate that was there before.


patch Engineer's side floor

Where old meets new on the Engineer’s side floor



Lagging and mud

The lagging bricks are in the back and on the steam dome, the foreground shows the “mud”. 

The lubricator lines were reinstalled and then the lagging was applied. The lubricator lines go in at this time because they travel all along the boiler from the backhead. They are hidden under the jacket.

The lagging (insulation that covers the boiler) is composed of calcium silicate blocks. Until the early 1980s it contained asbestos. All of the material used today is asbestos free.  The blocks are held in place along the boiler barrel with wire, and then given a rough top coat of “mud”. The mud is calcium based cement that is plastered into the crevices between the lagging blocks. This insulation helps to retain the heat in the boiler. It also evens out the surface of the boiler so that the sheet metal jacket has continuous support beneath it which keeps it smooth and good looking.

Now we are working inside the firebox adding new refractory brick after reinstalling the old burner.  The burner is a Von Boden, made in San Francisco.

bricks going in

New refractory brick commencing at the damper box, eventually it will cover the bottom and sides of the firebox, leaving a space for the Von Boden burner shown at the  center.

Meanwhile Eric is putting the finishing touches on the tender and also painting the plumbing lines and accessories.

tender paint prep

Prep for the tender was extensive. Assistant Eric Dowty filled pits and dings, and then primed. 

fresh tender and many bits

In the back ground, the final paint on the tender, and the foreground showing all the bits that will be painted soon. 

The steam fountain comes next. It is the main manifold located at the top of the boiler in the cab that distributes steam to all of the accessories.  It comprised of the main steam shut off (turret valve) and other associated valves that control the flow of steam to all of the accessories such as the injectors, air compressor, fireman’s manifold, etc.  Look for details on our next blog entry.