Installation Of Staybolts

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Now that the firebox sheets have been replaced, the primary focus is now on the installation of the staybolts. Approximately 300 staybolts were cut out in the areas where the new firebox sheets were applied.

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Assortment of old staybolts that were removed.

The firebox sheets are supported by many stay bolts. The boiler shell (wrapper sheet) around the firebox has a water space between the inner and outer sheets.  The staybolts function is to hold the boiler shell and the firebox firmly together.

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Diagram of a Flexible Stay-bolt showing the wrapper sheet (left) and the firebox sheet.

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Staybolt layout

 

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The original stay-bolts were 3/4” diameter according to the original build sheet. The new stay-bolts are 1” in diameter. They are increased in size due to repeated renewal of the threads during the tapping process. Re-threading the staybolt holes ensures a snug fit with the new staybolts.  The holes are stepped up in 1/16″ increments.

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New staybolts  awaiting installation.

A staybolt tap is used to clean up the threads prior to installation of the stay bolts. An air motor is used to turn the stay bolt tap to cut threads in the wrapper and firebox sheets. The staybolt is then threaded into the sheets and the ends peened over with an air hammer.

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Tools of the trade.  Three reamers and a staybolt tap.

 

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Running a reamer through a mud ring rivet hole.

 

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Bucking Bar

While the staybolt is being driven with a pneumatic hammer it is simultaneously being braced. To prevent damaging the staybolt’s threads, the opposite end must be supported. A bucking bar is placed on the end of the staybolt to back it up.

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Peened staybolt.

 

 

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Annual Maintenance on the Sierra No. 3

Every year, in accordance with the Federal Railroad Administration Regulations (FRA), Railtown 1897 State Historic Park conducts an annual inspection on all operating steam engines. Locomotives that are not operated often enough to accrue either 31 or 92 service days in a 368 day period will have those inspections conducted, at a minimum, of once every 368 calendar days. This annual inspection is a preventative maintenance approach to keeping this famous “Movie Star” locomotive in prime running condition. All moving components of the locomotive are investigated and gone over with a “fine tooth comb”.  Active engineers on the engine give their input on running condition and what may need to be examined. Overall the No. 3 was in exceptional shape and only needed a few minor modifications during this year’s winter maintenance.

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Smoke Box cleaned.

One of the dirtiest tasks maintaining a locomotive is cleaning the smoke box. The most efficient way to remove ash and soot from the smoke box is to crawl inside the smoke box and manually shovel and brush the debris out. The hard to reach areas can be whisked through the clean-out plug located on the bottom of the smoke box. On a very active locomotive a smoke box must be cleaned every 90 days. With the minimal use of the Sierra No. 3, it is only required once a year.

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Tender removed from the cab to prepare for maintenance.

Here we see the engine’s cab separated from the tender. The tender was taken outside of the roundhouse to allow working space both for projects on the engine and tender. The tender’s interior was wire brushed to remove scale and debris build up, while the engine was lifted with air-jacks to inspect various maneuvering facets of this locomotive.

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Park employee’s Phil Hard and Scott Botfield removing the drawbar from the engine and the tender.

A drawbar is a solid coupling between the engine and it’s load. The drawbar is removed annually and examined for any cracks. After removel, a thorough cleaning must be done.

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Park Volunteer Garret Hanford removing grease and debris from the drawbar.

First, grease and other substances must be scraped off. A grinder with a cut brush will remove the rest of the surface debris. Once cleaned down to the bare metal, it is ready for a 3 part dye penetrate examination.

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Park volunteer Dave Tadlock applying dye penetrate to the drawbar.

First it is sprayed with a cleaner. Once dry, it is sprayed with a colored dye. If there are any cracks the dye will submerge and be seen after the final step. Next, the colored dye is then wiped off with a rag. The final step is spraying the drawbar with a developer. At this time if there are any cracks they will stand out through the developer. Luckily there were not any cracks discovered.

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Journal box staple seen between center spokes of wheel. (Note: Skewed leaf springs)

Examining the geometry of the leaf spring suspension and observations of an arm moving too close to the frame, it was decided that adjustments were in order.  It was determined that the journal box staples needed to be removed, built up, and milled to exactly 11”.

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Journal box staple removed.

This journal box staple was removed, measured, and inspected.

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Park Employee Scott Botfield adding weld to build up the staple.

After measurements and calculations, weld was affixed to the staple legs to lift it to slightly above 11″.

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Affixed weld on staple.

Weld applied to staple legs and waiting to be milled.

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Machinist Tony Stroud milling the staple.

Milling or machining, is a process of using rotary cutters to remove excess material. This process will ensure precise sizes and shapes. Here we see the journal box staple being milled to exact specifications.

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Journal box staple in process of milling.

Milling the staple to precisely 11”.

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Journal box staple after milling process.

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Park Employee Scott Botfield using a cutting torch to cut off excess slag.

A cutting torch is used to remove excess material from the legs of the staple.

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Scott Botfield using a chipping hammer to remove slag from the staple.

A chipping hammer is used to remove remaining slag (waste material) from the staple. It was then planed with a grinder.

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Journal box staple and leaf suspension reassembled.

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Scott Botfield using a cutting torch to remove a section of the brake bar.

30” of the brake bar was removed and replaced due to apparent defects. The section was removed by a cutting torch and a new section was welded into place.

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Park Volunteer Eric Nielsen doing the “Dirty Work” of cleaning the pit.

While the No. 3 was removed from the roundhouse for inspection, park volunteers were able to clean out the pit and surrounding shop area. A clean work space will enable future maintenance to be performed safely and more efficiently.

The Sierra No. 3 was inspected, fine tuned, and is awaiting park visitors for the upcoming running season.

 

 

Railtown’s Motor Car Collection

Behind the scenes at any railroad is the mighty track car. A track car or speeder (also referred to as railway motor car, putt-putt, track-maintenance car, crew car, jigger, trolley, quad, trike, or inspection car, and also known as a draisine (although may be unpowered), is a motorized maintenance vehicle used on railroads around the world by work crews, track inspectors and emergency response crews to move quickly to and from work sites. The track car is slow in comparison to a train or automobile, it is called speeder because it is faster than a hand car or human-powered vehicle. Most cars have a top speed of about 35 MPH. Track cars are small in stature however these maintenance of way vehicles perform any number of tasks.  On modern railroads, this unique type of vehicle was replaced by ‘Hi-Rail’ (or HyRail) vehicles.  Hi-Rails are modern trucks specially fitted with flanged wheels.  The rail wheels can be raised and lowered as needed and they are legal for use on both the highway and rail.

At Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, track cars are most often seen as “fire patrol”, ferrying a crew of dedicated volunteers that keep a lookout for fires started by errant sparks from our steam engines and to promptly extinguish the flames.

Not all of the speeders in use today are historic to the site. We catalog here, a visual sampling of the speeders or motor cars at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Some of the more restored speeders are the ones we use in daily operations while the older and more “crusty” looking ones are kept intact as collections pieces because of their documented relevance to the Sierra Railway during the earlier years of operations, before the diesel era.  In the preservation world, they are highly valued for their original, unrestored condition in their original context.  Under the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Preservation, this is known as preservation integrity, and we work hard educate visitors to appreciate them in this state.  Anyone can apply a fresh paint job, but it is rare to find original equipment, in original context, in un-restored condition.

Meet the Track Cars

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MW 80 “Great White”

MW 80 is known among the engine crew as the “Great White”.  A Fairmont A-8 motorcar, it came to Railtown from the Sacramento Southern Railroad at the California State Railroad Museum. We use this car often during the operating season, and since it holds 8 people it is usually our offering for special events that include speeder rides.

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SRy #102

Tucked away in the track auto house or “Speeder Shed” is speeder #102. It has been here since the early years. It is a Fairmont A5-A series car, this dates to the early 1930’s. These cars were called Large Extra Gang Cars and could carry up to 11 workers. No longer operable, its engine is a Continental Motor Company Red Seal, 4 cylinder engine. With parts missing, and a frozen engine, it may sit for quite some time as is.

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Sry #104

Sry #104 is one of the older Sierra motor cars. It is a Fairmont A5 series B-4 manufactured around 1937. The car operated with a 4 cylinder Waukesha engine, and has a capacity of 9 men. This car was once abandoned at Chinese Camp, and came to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in the early 1990’s.

SRy 106 in machine shop of the roundhouse.

SRy #106 in the machine shop of the roundhouse.

SRy #106 is a sister car to the 104, it is of the same make and manufactured in 1937. It operates today, but is reserved for very special occasions. It has a canvas top. It was acquired from the Sierra Northern Railroad in Oakdale in the early 1990’s and brought back to Railtown. Both the 104 and 106 ran on a Waukesha 4 cylinder engine. Today, both are kept under cover.

SRy #108 May 1978, Jamestown, CA

SRy #108 May 1978, Jamestown, CA

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SRy #108-current condition.

SRY #108 is a newer Sierra addition. It was painted SRR 108 back in 1978. This Fairmont  A-5 was part of the original facility acquisition by California Department of Parks and Recreation in 1982. It was probably manufactured in the mid 1950’s. Though it is historic to the site, its age puts it right on the cusp of the advent of the diesel era and Railtown’s period of significance.  Today it is fully operable and is carfully cared for by our dedicated volunteers.

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SRy #110 with park volunteers.

SRy #110 is a Fairmont M19-AA two man light inspection car. It also is a later Sierra acquisition from the Western Pacific. It was manufactured in 1955 and is operable. This model is configured with the aluminum cab and painted “federal yellow”.

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SRy #114

SRY #114 is also a newer addition to the Railtown roster. This motor car came from the Western Pacific originally.  It has had extensive rehabilitation work done on it in the past few years, including a new engine, paint job, and most recently a new tool box. 114 is currently running as our primary “fire patrol” speeder. This type of motor car is a Fairmont A-5.

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Sheffield #33

This is by far the oldest and most mysterious motor car at Railtown. It is a  Sheffield No. 33 model. It has a 2 stroke, 3 cylinder engine with a direct drive. This means you pushed the car to start and away you go. No idle, it runs when on. Records show that there were six of these running along the Sierra lines in 1922. This one is probably a remnant from this original fleet. It is stenciled “S.R. Motor B.” in white with dark red body.

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Western Pacific S-2

Out on “speeder hill” at Railtown, you can find a number of speeder bodies and parts that are sometimes used for surplus. There are two relatively intact speeders on the grounds that were acquired by the Sierra from Western Pacific. Manufactured in about 1960, one of these cars (above) has a belt drive, and the other (below) has a transmission. We do not have record of Sierra numbering for these cars or if they ever ran on the Sierra line.

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Western Pacific S-2T

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Actress Olivia de-Haviland driving the #8 during the filming of “Dodge City” 1939.

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SRy #8 Model T

One of our crown jewels found in the historic belt driven machine shop is SRy #8. This Ford model T is mounted on a Fairbanks-Morse frame and dates from around 1922. Though technically a track auto, this two-seat rolling stock was most likely used for light track inspection, or as a paymaster’s car. Today, the car still operates for special occasions, but does not go far from the Roundhouse.

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#19 “Hetch Hetchy”, circa 1920 at the San Francisco Muni shops where it was built.

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#19 “Hetch Hetchy” with park volunteers.

The #19 “Hetch Hetchy” is an upscale track car. Its frame and motor were built in 1919 by the White Motor Company. The passenger body is by Thompson-Graf-Edler of San Francisco and interior appointments by Meister & Sons of Sacramento. The front rail trucks, wheels, brakes and self-contained turntable were added by the San Francisco Municipal Railway shop. The first “track bus” No. 19 could carry thirteen passengers, but was originally furnished as an ambulance car during Mountain Division construction and was used on the Hetch Hetchy dam project. Faster than most “speeders”, it originally could travel up to 5o MPH on level track, running in overdrive. This vehicle was refurbished to its original configuration and operating condition at Railtown 1897 State Historical Park in 1998-1999.

More on this unique track car: Hetch Hetchy Railcar #19

https://railtown1897.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/hetch-hetchy-railcar-19/

Historically, the track autos were used for track inspection, to transport VIPs to work sites, as the paymaster’s car,  or as ambulances for injured workers. The Sierra Railroad rented them out for private use in the early 1900’s.

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Newspaper article taken from the Pott’s family scrapbook, 1907.

It is interesting to note how expensive it was to rent the track auto (with chauffeur) for a day, $15.00. That would be about $300.00 in today’s currency.

Visit Railtown 1897 State Historical Park to see the motor car collection in person. During special events you will have a rare opportunity to take a ride on the house tracks in one these unique cars that were once vital to the railroad.

Sometimes it’s the Little Things

The accessibility of the shop operation is a unique feature of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Most of the maintenance, repair, and train operations are on full view in the roundhouse.  When a malfunction occurs, it can be an opportunity to demonstrate these activities.  Working with historic equipment gives us lots of opportunities to demonstrate!  Today, for example, it was a malfunctioning gauge that was giving us some grief.  During hostling, the crew noticed that the gauge was reading 25 lbs, even when the air reservoirs were empty.  Some troubleshooting led to the diagnosis of a misbehaving gauge.

While most of the crew transitioned to a back-up diesel to keep the trains on schedule, David Ethier and Dave Tadlock worked to coordinate the repair.  All of this work was done on public display, with a stream of visitors touring the roundhouse and the cab of the locomotive.

Step 1: Remove the Air Brake Gauge from the cab (hot!)

Step 1: Remove the Air Brake Gauge from the cab (hot!)

Step 2: recalibrate the gauge on the dead weight tester

Step 2: recalibrate the gauge on the dead weight tester

Duplex air brake gauge- indicates two separate functions.  The red hand indicates main reservoir pressure and the black hand indicates equalizing reservoir pressure.

Duplex air brake gauge- indicates two separate functions. The red hand indicates main reservoir pressure and the black hand indicates equalizing reservoir pressure. The sticker denotes the date of calibration.

Step 3: Reinstall the gauge and give it a whirl!

Step 3: Reinstall the gauge and give it a whirl!

Final Step: Switch crews between locomotives

Final Step: Switch crews between locomotives

And the trains go on.

And the trains go on.

So, sometimes it’s the little things, but they provide an opportunity to share some of the details of running an historic railroad.  And if you were a visitor today, you were able to enjoy seeing two different locomotives in action, maintenance activities in the roundhouse, and tours of the cab of a steam locomotive while the repairs were occurring, all without missing a scheduled train.  Almost makes you hope we’ll break something when you visit, doesn’t it?

 

 

For a complete discussion of how Westinghouse air brakes work we suggest this article.

Just an Average Thursday

The SIerra No. 3 being prepared for 4th of July weekend

The Sierra No. 3 being prepared for 4th of July weekend

The Sierra Railroad passing through on the main line, hauling empty lumber cars to the mill in Standard.

The Sierra Railroad passing through on the main line, hauling empty lumber cars to the mill in Standard.

 

Park volunteers making lunch for other volunteers.

Park volunteers making lunch for other volunteers.

Railroad Restoration Lead Worker George and Senior Maintenance Aide Phil getting some office work done

Railroad Restoration Lead Worker George and Senior Maintenance Aide Phil getting some office work done

Maintenance Aide Ray murdering weeds in the pond

Maintenance Aide Ray murdering weeds in the pond

Volunteer Laverne collecting sign in sheets to record volunteer hours

Volunteer Laverne collecting sign in sheets to record volunteer hours

Volunteer David working on valve repairs for the No. 3

Volunteer David working on valve repairs for the No. 3

Volunteer Tim leading a tour of the historic machine shop for park visitors.

Volunteer Tim leading a tour of the historic machine shop for park visitors.

Volunteer Coordinator Dave!  Working on the volunteer schedule.

Volunteer Coordinator Dave! Doing what he does best.

 

Park Maintenance Aide Scott working on boiler repairs on the No. 28.

Park Maintenance Aide Scott working on boiler repairs on the No. 28.

 

Volunteer Leroy working on repairs to the first-class car ceiling.

Volunteer Leroy working on repairs to the first-class car ceiling.

 

 

Volunteers Bill & Bob decorating for the 4th.

Volunteers Bill & Bob decorating for the 4th.

Volunteer Al cleaning out the cars for the weekend

Volunteer Al cleaning out the cars for the weekend

Volunteer Jeannie- car cleaning!  One of the most important (and under-recognized) jobs at the park.

Volunteer Jeannie- car cleaning! One of the most important (and under-recognized) jobs at the park.

Volunteer Hal and Park Maintenance Worker Rob- working on a broken water pipe.

Volunteer Hal and Park Maintenance Worker Rob- working on a broken water pipe.

Just another Thursday at Railtown.

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.

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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

Railtown 1897 Offers Behind-the-Scenes Shop Tours every Tuesday Morning!

Visitors Will See the Famous Sierra No. 3 Up-Close & Personal Plus Learn About Current Projects Underway

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 Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) will now offer special, behind-the-scenes Shop Tours on Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon on an ongoing basis beginning March 26, 2013. Interested visitors will be treated to an up-close and personal view of routine maintenance and specialized work happening on current projects in the historic Roundhouse as well as in the Tri-Dam shop (a Cold War-era machine shop used to repair, replace or service parts for operating equipment, cars, steam and diesel locomotives). Keep in mind, parts for steam engines — and sometimes vintage diesel locomotives — cannot be purchased and must be manufactured on-site making Railtown 1897 SHP one of the most accessible places around to watch this specialized work being performed.  Along with educating visitors about our fascinating rail history, maintaining and repairing steam engines and diesels is an important part of the mission of Railtown 1897 SHP.

The weekly two-hour Shop Tours begin with a brief slide show that provides background of current projects to date.   After the video, a knowledgeable volunteer host will guide visitors to the historic shops to meet and ask questions of skilled paid and volunteer staff who are actively working on projects and activities that keep the historic shops alive.

Open daily, Railtown 1897 SHP Shop Tours are included with Park admission, which is as follows: $5 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under.  More information about the Shop Tours or Railtown 1897 SHP is available by calling 209-984-3953 or visiting http://www.railtown1897.org.