Replacing the flues and getting the boiler water tight.

Back in the early 20th Century, when labor was inexpensive the boiler flues were assessed and if found to be sound, they were cut out, cleaned of scale and then reused. This was because material was expensive. Today, it’s the other way around, materials are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of labor it would take to clean and repair 148 flues.

Now that all the old tubes are out of Engine 28’s boiler and the crown sheet has been repaired, and stay bolts replaced, we are completing the tube job and getting closer to the hydrostatic testing.

Photo of tubes with letter key Fig 1

This image is a close up of the tube sheet, also called the flue sheet. You can see that the tube sheet has been cleaned and ground off (C), this was done to clean up any chipping or unsavory remnants left behind from the removal of the old flues. Removing the old flues requires the use of force in hand with some sensitivity to the surface of the flue sheet. However, at times even the most seasoned boiler worker can chip the flue sheet.

The copper ferrules ( F) are gently tapped into the flue holes with a hammer. The ferrules are expanded into place to ensure that they do not move when the tube is applied.  They act as a seal between the tube sheet and the new tube. Next, the tubes are inserted into the flue holes (D) leaving  a small protrusion.   The standard measure of protrusion of the new tube is ¼”. Then they too, are expanded and rolled. The result is a tight fitting tube with a visible indentation on the interior (A ) and a slight flare at the end of the tube. The extra ¼” of tube allows for a good bead (B) that seals the flue to the flue sheet and makes the boiler water tight. After the beading of the tubes, another light roll is given to each new tube because the beading is an aggressive action.

Beading is an art. It involves using a pneumatic hammer or riveter and a specialized tip. In the image above (E) shows a bead that is rough, and (B) shows a bead that is more controlled and refined. It takes a bit of practice to get all the beads looking smooth, but regardless of the appearance, the work will hold.

Fig.2

This image shows the business end of the tube roller/expander. The old rusty shaft next to it is one of the older pieces of a previous roller/expander from the earlier days of boiler work in the roundhouse.

For this project we used this modern electric motor to roll and expand the tubes ( left), but back in the day a pneumatic model would be used ( right)..

Fig 5 drawing from REB

This diagram is from The Railway Educational Bureau Instructional Papers of 1927. It shows a beaded flue end from the side and the front views.

Phil beading, Fig 6

Here you can see Phil Hard beading one of the flues. The pneumatic hammer weighs over 20 pounds, so you can imagine the amount of strength required to do beading all day.

 

After all the beading is done, each flue then gets another straight roll to ensure the tube is tight in the flue sheet. Beading is intrusive work and it can cause the flues to loosen. The final roll remedies this.

expander rollers Fig 7

These are the tips that are used with the electric motor for the final, straight roll.

 

After all the beading and rolling, it is time to fill up the boiler and check for any leaks. With the boiler full of cold water at local pressure we begin to assess and address leaks. Once these are addressed it will be time for a true Hydrostatic Test, adding pressure and heat to the 93 year old boiler of Sierra Engine No. 28.

 

Hydrostatic Testing on the Superheater Tubes

Advancement on the No. 28 project-

IMG_0730

Pressurizing superheater tubes.

A hydrostatic test was conducted on all 21 superheater elements. 300 lbs. of pressurized water was applied to determine if there were any leaks. Steam engine Superheaters were engineered to increase efficiency by transforming saturated steam into dry steam.  Saturated steam moves from the throttle valve through the dry pipe into the superheater header attached to the tube sheet in the smoke box. This steam then passes through elements which are housed in the superheater flues. Combustible gasses from the firebox move through the tubes and heat the water and the steam inside of the superheater element.  At the end of it’s cycle through the elements, it proceeds into a separate compartment of the superheater header into the distribution pipes, then on to the piston valves and then on to the main steam cylinders. Dry “superheated” steam is more efficient than wet saturated  steam.

Superheaters are more expensive and require extra maintenance however the benefits are reduced water and fuel consumption.

Interior view of a superheater unit

Interior view of a superheater unit

Performance of a steam locomotive superheater.

caption here

Warren Smith polishing seats prior to hydrostatic test.

Photo of a hydro test conducted on the super heaters.

Park Volunteers Warren Smith and David Ethier performing the hydrostatic test.

 

caption here

Superheater tubes awaiting inspection.

Leaks that were found were marked for repair. Only 3 had leaks and were welded to repair.

 

Tube marked to be repaired

Tube marked to be repaired

After the cleaning, testing, and repairs were completed, the superheater tubes were stored awaiting installation.

Previous Sierra No. 28 Update: Removal of Firebox Pieces for Replacement

Next Step: Fabrication and Installation of Boiler Patches

 

Removal of Firebox Pieces for Replacement

The goal of this project is to replace corroded staybolts, and thinned sections of the firebox.  While we have the locomotive disassembled, we are also completing the 1472 day inspection.  It is helpful to understand the anatomy of the boiler in order to follow along.

The firebox is a compartment, within the boiler, where combustion occurs.  It is surrounded by sheets of steel on five sides.  It is through these sheets of steel, that heat is transferred to the water on the other side.  For heat to transfer efficiently, the sheets need to be relatively thin (about 3/8″).  The firebox is subject to up to 13 tons of pressure per square foot.  To prevent collapse from dramatic changes in pressure, the firebox is tied to the outer portion of the boiler (wrapper sheet) by hundreds of bolts which span the distance between the wrapper and the side sheets.  In oil burning locomotives, like the No. 28, the bottom and sides of the firebox are lined with firebricks.

Side view diagram of locomotive boiler showing the location of the firebox, and rear view of firebox.  J.F.Gairns, illustrator

Side view diagram of locomotive boiler showing the location of the firebox in relation to the boiler, and rear view of firebox. J.F.Gairns, illustrator.  (This diagram does not specifically represent the No. 28, so there are some minor differences)

thisi siisss

x

In his book, A.F. Huston makes the argument in favor of a new kind of boiler, due to the inherent flaws of the radial stay boiler.  The new design never took off, but these photos demonstrate how common these issues are in steam boilers, and underline the challenge of continuous operation of historic boilers today.

x Over time, changes in pressure, as well as exposure to water, condensation, and scale, corrosive forces will prevail.  When the annual inspection was conducted on the boiler in 2010,

Top (water side) of the No. 28 boiler. Over time, the effects of stress corrosion can be seen. When the annual inspection was conducted  in 2009, pitting like this  on the water side of the crown sheet was observed.

 

Butt welded patches are a common repair practice.  This is an example of a previous repair on the No. 28.

Butt welded patches are a common repair practice. This is an example of a previous repair on the No. 28

Staybolts, removed by acetylene torch.  Some removed due to corrosion, others because they were attached to firebox portions that were removed.  In all, approximately 500 staybolts were removed, and will be replaced with new material.

Staybolts, removed by acetylene torch. Some removed due to corrosion, others because they were attached to firebox portions that were removed. In all, approximately 500 staybolts were removed, and will be replaced with new material.

crown sheet being removed

Removing pieces of the crown sheet that have but cut with a torch.

The piece was lowered through the firebox and removed from underneath.

The piece was lowered through the firebox and removed from underneath. lifting eyes welded to crow sheet, handy electric chain hoist– 200 lbs.

The tube sheet bottom being removed

Grinding where tube sheet bottom was removed, in preparation for application of the patch .

To repair the No. 28, it is necessary to remove patches of steel under the tube sheet, under the firebox door, and the crown sheet, including the knuckle where the sides and crown meet, over the door.  On this boiler the rear corners have been repaired twice before, the front once, as the material has been consumed by use.

Next Step:  Hydrostatic Testing on the Superheater tubes

Previous Sierra No. 28 Update: Removal of corroded staybolts; firebox & tube sheet inspection.

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.

Railtown 1897 Offers Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Work Underway During Special “Roundhouse Day”

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Before the historic locomotives start rolling along for a new season of train rides this spring, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) is offering a special “behind-the-scenes” view of important maintenance, cleaning and preparatory work underway inside and outside the Roundhouse and Shops on Saturday, February 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

View of the Roundhouse and turntable. Photo by Michael Sharps

View of the Roundhouse and turntable. Photo by Michael Sharps

As part of this special event that showcases the inner workings of what keeps the historic locomotives and cars in operation at the Park, visitors will have the opportunity to watch the annual maintenance and cleaning of the Hetch Hetchy motor car and the Angels Camp “shorty” car No. 6.  Railtown 1897 SHP guests can also see the historic belt-driven machine shop up in full operation and filled with activity plus participate in hourly tours.  And, as a special highlight, Railroad Restoration Lead Worker George Sapp will present a compelling slide show highlighting the current Sierra No. 28 project, provide an in-depth walking tour of work being done on the project and be available to answer questions from Park guests.

Volunteer John Stier pilots the No. 19 "Hetch Hetchy Car."

Volunteer John Stier in the No. 19 “Hetch Hetchy Car,” just one well-preserved rare piece of history visitors can get an up-close and personal look at during Roundhouse Day

Widely known as “The Movie Railroad” due to the hundreds of films and movies that have been shot on-location at the historic site, Railtown 1897 SHP is home to the Historic Jamestown Shops and Roundhouse of the Sierra Railway. This one-of-a-kind attraction combines industrial heritage and railroad history with the lore of Hollywood’s film industry. The Railtown 1897 Interpretive Center, the authentic roundhouse and shops, and the Depot Store (a railroad specialty gift shop) are among the Park’s unique year-round offerings.

Railtown 1897 SHP admission costs are as follows:  $5 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under.  For more information about Railtown 1897 SHP, call 209-984-3953 or visit www.railtown1897.org.

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project: Removal of Corroded Staybolts plus, Firebox and Tube Sheet Inspection

 

The No. 28 Repair Project continues to move forward. Largely, staff and volunteers have been working to remove corroded staybolts in order to replace them. Dye penetrent testing of the tube sheets is also being done, which helps to visually assess damage to the tube sheets.

Project staff member Norman Comer uses a torch to burn out a corroded staybolt where it meets the boiler.

Project staff member Norman Comer uses a torch to burn out a corroded staybolt where it meets the boiler.

Interior of the firebox. The holes on the top right are a result of removed staybolts.

Interior of the firebox. The holes on the top right are from where stay bolts were removed.

Staybolts that have been removed due to excess corrosion.

Stay bolts that have been removed for replacement, due to thinning.

Project Volunteer David Ethier recently conducted a dye penetrant test on the front tube sheet. Here, he applies red dye to a tube sheet.

Project Volunteer David Ethier recently conducted a dye penetrant test on the front tube sheet. Here, he first applies a specially formulated red dye.

Ethier allowed the dye to sit on the tube sheet for 30 minutes before using a specialized cleaning product to thoroughly remove it from the surface.

Ethier allowed the dye to sit on the tube sheet for 30 minutes before thoroughly removing it from the surface. The dye will be left behind in cracks, pits, and other porous spots only.

Next Ethier sprays on a developer, which appears white when applied, but develops the red dye left behind in cracks and pits, making them easy to spot visually.

Next Ethier sprays on a developer, which appears white when applied, but develops the red dye left behind in cracks and pits, making them easy to spot visually.

Here you can easily see a small crack in the tube sheet, highlighted by the red dye.

Here you can easily see a small crack in the tube sheet, highlighted by the red dye. Cracked areas will be repaired by grooving out the damaged material and welding in new.

Previous Sierra No. 28 Update: History of the Sierra No. 28

Next Sierra No. 28 Update: Removal of Firebox Pieces for Replacement

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project: A History of the No. 28

The Sierra No. 28 was acquired new in 1922, along with a new-to-them turntable. This photo depicts both acquisitions when they were new.

The Sierra No. 28 was acquired new in 1922, along with a used turntable–the same one still in operation. This photo depicts both acquisitions when they were new to the railway.

Although the No. 28 spent its entire career at Jamestown, few records remain. Like so many locomotives all across the country, anonymously doing their jobs day in and day out, the No. 28 was built for the Sierra Railway by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in 1922 – two of only 684 locomotives manufactured in that recession year by Baldwin. The No. 28 is a 2-8-0 Consolidation type engine. Considered a design of great utility, Consolidations were popular throughout North America, and indeed all around the world.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works specification sheets list delivery for No. 28 as “Shipment on own wheels.” It was hauled in freight trains across the country to Jamestown, and entered service on March 7, 1922. The locomotive was built for freight service, carrying general supplies inbound to the region, including rock, cement and supplies into the mountains for dam building projects. Outbound it hauled lumber and other natural products of the mountain mills, mines and quarries, plus livestock and agricultural products – notably apples.

The Sierra No. 28 as it was when it left the Baldwin Motor Works in 1922

The Sierra No. 28 as it was when it left the Baldwin Motor Works “on its own wheels” in 1922

As a boy, Robert J. Hannah lived across from the depot and observed the daily activity of the Sierra Railway. He related the following information to Dave Connery for an article that appeared in the Sierra Railway Journal, #9, September 1995.

By 1930, the Sierra Railway was running only one freight train a day. It would arrive in the early afternoon with the No. 36 out in front and the No. 28 ten cars back, followed by another thirty to thirty-five cars. This somewhat unusual configuration of engines and cars was the result of concerns over the strength of the trestles. The No. 36 was the heaviest locomotive on the Sierra line and it was feared that two engines double-headed might result in a disastrous trestle failure.

Once the train arrived in Jamestown, the No. 36 was disconnected and returned to the roundhouse. The No. 28 was then uncoupled from the cars behind and would push the ten cars in front onto the house track, which just barely accommodated them. The No. 28 would then back up and pull the remaining cars onto the outside track across from the depot. The thirty or so cars were heavily laden with freight and the No. 28 often struggled and strained to pull them the short distance up the rails.

The cars on the return trip to Oakdale were also heavily loaded. As the train pulled out from the depot, the No. 28 would wait until it had cleared the Tuolumne main line switch and then backup and hook onto the caboose. It would then run backwards as a push/pull helper to get the train over the hill outside of Chinese.

The Sierra No. 28 was one of only six steam locomotives retained by the Sierra Railway in 1946.

The Sierra No. 28 was one of only six steam locomotives retained by the Sierra Railway in 1946. This photo depicts it in operation in the 1950’s.

On July 10, 1932, as the Depression deepened, the Sierra stopped running a separate passenger train between Oakdale and Tuolumne, instead running a mixed freight and passenger train. Locomotive No. 28 was generally used as the power for the mixed train, until all passenger train service was finally ended on August 31, 1938. The Sierra then ran a bus from Stockton for passengers and express. This bus service was sold to Greyhound in 1942.

By the 1940s, the Sierra had sold off most of their smaller, older locomtioves. The No. 28, No. 24, No. 34 and No. 36, remained as the workhorses of the railroad hauling freight, with No. 18 for movie service and light freight work. These were joined by No. 3 in 1948, restored from the dead line for movie and excursion service. Locomotive No. 18 was retired in 1952 when its tube time expired. This remained the pattern on the Sierra until the 1955 when the more economical and easier to maintain diesel locomotives replaced steam on the line. Locomotive maintenance was moved to a new shop facility in Oakdale, and the Jamestown shops with its steam locomotives became a time capsule of older technology.

For the next eight years, the No. 28 sat mostly idle, except for occasional excursions and movie work. The Sierra ended all excursions in October 1963, after No. 28 derailed while backing an excursion train out of the Jamestown depot lead. In 1963 the No. 28 also made a brief appearance on the TV show Death Valley Days. Although she was never a star like the No. 3, the No. 28 had bit parts in a number of TV shows and movies over the next fourteen years. Her credits include the TV shows Nichols, Overland Trails, Little House on the Prairie, the movies Bound for Glory, The World’s Greatest Lover, and The Granite Lady (a documentary made for the U.S. mint in San Francisco), plus several commercials.

The No. 28 at the Jamestown Depot during filming of Death Valley Days, October 6, 1962. Photo by Brian Curnow.

The No. 28 at the Jamestown Depot during filming of Death Valley Days, October 6, 1962. Photo by Brian Curnow.

In 1971, the Crocker family, controlling owners of the railroad since its founding in 1897, decided to develop the Jamestown land, shops, and equipment from the Sierra Railroad as a tourist destination and ride as Rail Town 1897, and the No. 28 began a new career regularly pulling excursion trains for tourists. While the trains were popular with visitors and locals alike, the Sierra Railroad remained a marginal operation, even with both freight and tourist revenue. In 1979 the Crocker family decided to dispose of their interests in the entire operation.

The Sierra Railroad freight operation and tracks were sold to a group of investors from Chicago. In order to protect the valuable, historically important resource of the Jamestown Shops and the excursion operation, the Crocker family sold the property and donated the equipment to the California State Parks and Recreation Department in 1982 and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park came into existence. Under state park management, the trains ran seasonally and the No. 28 continued to play an important role in passenger operations. However, in February of 2009 it was taken out of service when corrosion was found in some areas of the boiler during a routine annual inspection. Since then, the locomotive has sat patiently in the roundhouse waiting for funds to become available to make needed repairs.

In August of 2013, repairs began, funded by the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, the Tuolumne County Rotary Clubs and a grant from Sonora Area Foundation and the Irving J. Symons Foundation for Tuolumne County, a Supporting Organization of the Sonora Area Foundation.

 

Previous Sierra No. 28 Update: Ultrasonic Testing and Boiler Inspection

Next Sierra No. 28 Update: Removal of Corroded Staybolts, plus, Firebox & Tube sheet inspection