730 Old Boiler Dissection

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ccvstmr
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730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by ccvstmr » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:25 am

Okay guys, as part of the new boiler install on the Rutland 730, noted from the start, that I would share what happened with the original boiler. Even though I'm suffering with some lower back issues right now, figured I better get this started (have to wait for pain relief).

Recap
Before getting into the old boiler, let me review some of the original boiler history:
1) the Allen 10-wheeler boiler/loco was originally out-shopped in February 1995.
2) believe the original Rutland boiler was built by the late Pete Bialecki. The boiler barrel was piece of 8" DOM (drawn over mandrel) steel tube, with a square/rectangular firebox and steel flues. Photos of the exposed boiler were posted in another thread.
3) I purchased the locomotive in late 1999 and ran/operated the boiler from 2000 to 2017 when the boiler failed.
4) loco was originally coal-fired and converted to propane prior to the 1999 purchase.
5) in 2004, one of the original steel super heater flues failed and was plugged. A 2nd super heater flue fail in 2005. It was decided then to replace all the steel flues with copper tubes. The original super heater flue sheet openings were bushed for the smaller flues.

During my ownership, averaged 100-150 actual miles were put on the loco each year. Distance is measured with a bicycle computer mounted on the tender. In short, didn't purchase the Rutland to sit around and collect dust.

A Disclaimer
Let me be the first to point out, I'm not an expert when it comes to...
- boiler design
- boiler fabrication
- chemistry
- metallurgy
- water treatment
- and a few other subjects for sure.

We all tend to learn things along the way of steam loco ownership and operation. We hold tight to ideas and concepts that sound reasonable and justified...and toss other ideas aside based on experience and probably some hear-say. As I've said before...ask (10) live steamers about some subjects and you'll likely get (20) different opinions...and some heated discussions. On many occasions, simply have to agree to disagree. In many instances, there is no clear answer or solution.

When it came time to examine the old Rutland boiler, all I have is observation and speculation. It's a safe bet as this discussion continues, there will be more questions than answers. Have also pointed out...the worst part about determining boiler life expectancy is the time needed to evaluate if the choices made were good or not. From the starting line...nobody can say if some of those changes will extend or reduce the overall boiler life. If only we could take (2) identical boilers being operated similarly over time with only (1) variable changed...we could determine which way was better. Now, multiply that by maybe (50) variables. We'll never determine all the right combination of boiler elements. At this point, I'll take the best info made available and drive the stake in the ground...make some steam and have some fun.

Okay, with the preliminaries out of the way, I'll get started with the photos in the next post. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

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ccvstmr
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by ccvstmr » Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:04 pm

Follow the line...

When word got out of the original Rutland boiler failure, one of the local club boiler inspectors, we'll call him Tom (cause that's what his name is) asked what was going to happen with the old boiler? Thought Tom's interest was to make a display model for the train club. Found out later on he wanted to make a display for his pipe fitters union hall. Even later, Tom opted NOT to use the boiler for a display at all. My goal goal from the start, was to part the boiler...lengthwise. Thereafter, make some cross cuts thru the water legs. My concern was sediment collection. The local club indicated some interest in having a boiler display. As such, I had (2) boiler halves to choose from.

Took the boiler to HDS - shop #2 (Honest Dave's Shop). Dave had an old vertical band saw with a 12" high throat to pass the boiler thru (without the steam dome). Tom was still on hand to assist with the cut. He was still interested in the internal view of the boiler as I was. We had a stand set up and a board to rest the boiler on so nobody would be stuck holding up the end of the boiler.

A line was drawn down the top center center. While we did our best to follow that line...because of the narrow blade width, the bottom of the blade wandered a bit. Tom and I took turns pushing the boiler thru the saw. It appeared after the fact, the blade wrapped around various layers of flues. Here's what the boiler looked like during the cutting process...

IMG_1570.JPG
IMG_1571.JPG
IMG_1573.JPG

We started cutting from the front of the boiler. After we cut thru the steam dome mounting flange, we turned the boiler around and started cutting from the firebox end of the boiler. Took some time cutting thru the back head and rear firebox wall. Because the boiler sat pitched forward from the mud ring and before the final cut was made thru the top of the barrel, Tom wrapped and fastened a long hose clamp around the boiler barrel near the center. Good thing he did...because when the top of the barrel was finally cut thru, the boiler sprang open like a clam shell with a loud BANG...as 23 years of stress from use or original welding were finally relieved. In the end, it took (3) band saw blades and 3 hours before the last couple inches of the barrel were cut and the boiler halves separated.

Next time, first look inside the boiler. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

doublereefed
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by doublereefed » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:35 pm

Watching with great interest!

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BigDumbDinosaur
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:18 pm

ccvstmr wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:04 pm
My goal goal from the start, was to part the boiler...lengthwise...
I know how that feels. I went through the same procedure early last year. :D
...Tom wrapped and fastened a long hose clamp around the boiler barrel near the center...the boiler sprang open like a clam shell with a loud BANG...as 23 years of stress from use or original welding were finally relieved.
DOM tubing has a lot of residual stress from the drawing process. The mandrel slighting expands the tubing to final size, work-hardening the metal and adding to the stresses that already existed from rolling the flat piece into the tube shape and then resistance-welding the seam. Back in my days working for a certain railroad supply company whose steam generators used DOM pipe-size mechanical tubing in their coils, I would occasionally make things out of that tubing that required a lengthwise cut. The tubing would always spring open to some extent when the saw got through the other end. I later discovered that the spring-back wasn't as severe if I sawed through the weld. Of course, that was kind of abusive on the saw blade... :D
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all10wheels
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by all10wheels » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:55 pm

Very interested in seeing what it looks like inside!

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ccvstmr
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by ccvstmr » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:12 am

Open Sesame!

...and now, here's the first look inside the old Rutland boiler after 23 years of service. Will start by calling this a "high level view". Have more details pix to share. Here's the 1st half of the boiler...

IMG_1574.JPG

Next photos shows the 2nd half of the boiler resting on top of the 1st half. Was interesting how the band saw blade "wandered" in/out of a few flues. Kinda looked like a museum cutaway view of a boiler on display...

IMG_1582.JPG

An interesting item...the band saw managed to slice the dry pipe down the middle...lengthwise (not that that means anything). Note too: when the old boiler was originally taken up to Ridge Loco Works, the dry pipe was cross cut using a sawzall, down thru the steam dome mounting flange to remove the throttle for service work. Hence, the cut off dry pipe.

Realize when the boiler was removed from the loco frame and uncovered, all the holes were plugged and the boiler pressurized with shop air. Soap solution was brushed on crown sheet and rear flue sheet surfaces. The surface foamed up. Was already known at that time the crown sheet was thin...but not HOW thin...

IMG_1579.JPG
IMG_1581.JPG

No wonder Marty Knox at Ridge Loco Works was able to drive a center punch thru the crown sheet with little effort. Still more amazing...the boiler passed a hydro test just 3.5 months earlier! Would certainly NOT categorize this as a violent boiler failure. The crown sheet perforations opened up and allowed water to spray on the burners...couldn't get boiler pressure up and the water level kept dropping.

Other than the residue coating the inside of the boiler and flues (and I'll get back to this)...found some of the "low" quality joint welding that was done. This kind of welding penetration (or lack thereof) was evident in several locations. The next photo shows a joint under the firebox door. A lot of loose material was removed from the water leg to inspect some of the stay bolts. Have other photos showing "virgin" water legs.

IMG_1591.JPG

And yet...the boiler still kept on steaming and steaming and steaming....

Next time, will continue to elaborate on other internal boiler observations. Stay tuned. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

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BigDumbDinosaur
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:35 am

That's a mighty thin crown sheet. Amazed that boiler pressure didn't cave it in and reward you with a good steam cleaning between your legs. :D
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doublereefed
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by doublereefed » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:46 am

Carl, so very interesting! I’m noticing that the flue sheet and the rear firebox sheet areas are still thick. What is the metallurgical process that thinned just the crown sheet but not the front and back sheets? All of those surfaces are hot and backed by water.

10 Wheeler Rob
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by 10 Wheeler Rob » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:49 am

It s
Appears to me from the photos the bulk of the crown sheet corrosion occurred on the fire box side, not the water side. I know condensed gas burnner combustion gasses are corrosive. So is that what primary cause of the crown sheet thinning?

Rob

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ccvstmr
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by ccvstmr » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:32 pm

BigDumbDinosaur wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:35 am
Amazed that boiler pressure didn't cave it in and reward you with a good steam cleaning between your legs. :D
BDD...having foot stirrups on the tender and the firebox opening directed towards the ground...was never concerned about such a steam cleaning. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

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ccvstmr
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by ccvstmr » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:46 pm

doublereefed wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:46 am
I’m noticing that the flue sheet and the rear firebox sheet areas are still thick. What is the metallurgical process that thinned just the crown sheet but not the front and back sheets? All of those surfaces are hot and backed by water.
Doublereefed...good observation! If you followed my other Rutland 730 thread, I reported that the rear flue sheet was replaced in 2005 as a result of a original steel flue failures. So the flue sheet had considerably less hours then the sides, top and back sheets.

You bring up a good point and raise a question I've had on my mind. That is...what''s the difference between "boiler rated steel plates" and non-rated steels? What makes them different? Chemical make-up? Method of rolling? Purity?

Want to believe the original boiler builder did NOT use materials rated for boiler service. As noted earlier, I'm not a metals specialist. If anyone else has some experience in this area...inquiring minds would like to know.

FYI...I did take one half of the boiler and ran the band saw thru the firebox cross-wise to examine the outer water legs. Will be sharing those pix with all soon enough. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

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ccvstmr
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Re: 730 Old Boiler Dissection

Post by ccvstmr » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:03 pm

10 Wheeler Rob wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:49 am
Appears to me from the photos the bulk of the crown sheet corrosion occurred on the fire box side, not the water side. I know condensed gas burner combustion gasses are corrosive. So is that what primary cause of the crown sheet thinning?
10 wheeler...we touched on this in the 730 New Boiler thread. The chemical formula for propane is C3H8. There are no nitrogen or sulfur components part of the fuel. Just like there can be no water in bottled liquified fuel. We're supposed to be paying for fuel only.

However, there are free nitrogen and sulfur molecules in the atmosphere. When carbon based fuels are burned (coal, oil, propane, and other), the byproducts of combustion (H2O vapor, CO2 and CO)...DO combine with the N's and S's in air to create nitrous oxides and sulfur oxides. Combined with water vapor, these might well create a corrosive atmosphere in the firebox with nitric acids and/or sulfuric acids. Any steel in the vicinity of either acid vapors will corrode, but it's not like there's an acid rain storm in the firebox.

Can't answer your question about crown sheet thinning. It appeared there was thinning on both sides...fire and water. And here again, will share photos showing steel "residue" on the water side. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

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