Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:15 pm

I've been remiss in providing updates here. There have been a couple of status updates posted at http://www.557.alaskarails.org.

If you happened to see a set of locomotive drive wheels on a flat bed truck somewhere between Tennessee and Seattle during the last couple of weeks, they are ours, on their way home after having the tires, crank pins, and journals turned.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Sun May 31, 2015 5:56 am

Now sporting a new coat of paint, the drivers are done! Over a dozen volunteers removed many layers of old paint and grease, smoothed casting flash on the spokes, did a detailed inspection for cracks, and applied a couple of coats of primer. Machine work was contracted to Tennessee Valley Railroad where tires were turned and all bearing surfaces were cleaned up and burnished. Their discovery and correction of a couple of problems may put the drivers in the best shape they have been in since USATC 3523 rolled out of Baldwin's factory 70 years ago. For the immediate future they will be placed in storage until journal boxes and other parts of the running gear are overhauled and 557 is ready to get her wheels back under her.

On the boiler front, the crew is in the process of doing the preliminarily fitting of the new front tube sheet. In June, our contracted boiler makers will be in town for a couple of weeks and we are hoping to get a good start on installing the new firebox sheets.

Status reports are at http://www.557.alaskarails.org/restore/index.html and our Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/557-Rest ... 0931790950
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Newly painted drivers 4 - reduced.jpg

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Sat Aug 01, 2015 2:04 am

The last few weeks have been productive and rewarding. For the last year we have been removing the mud ring rivets, cutting the old stays, removing the old fire box, and carefully removing over 1,000 stay bolt stubs. During that time our contractor, Steam Services of America, fabricated and flanged a new rear tube sheet and door sheet in North Carolina.A local firm cut out the crown and side sheets with their CNC plasma cutter, including all the holes, and put the curve in the crown sheet. (All the stay holes lined up!) Our contractors spent two weeks leading our crew of volunteers in the final fitting of the new parts and just before they left we spent a 12-hour day hot riveting the new firebox to the mud ring. Root passes were done on most of the fire box the next day.

In another bit of good news, we learned today that the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust had awarded a $10.000 1:1 matching grant to support the restoration. We still have a good ways to go until we are fully funded, but each grant gets a closer.

Below are a few photos. There are more photos in the status reports on our web page at http://557.alaskarails.org/restore/index.html and on our Facebook page at "557 Restoration Company." included are links to several videos of the hot riveting process.
Attachments
557 crew July 11,2015 reduced.jpg
2015-06-27_stewart_sterling_024 reduced.jpg
2015-07-11_stewart_sterling_044 reduced.jpg
Last edited by Dick_Morris on Sat Aug 01, 2015 2:45 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Sat Aug 01, 2015 2:11 am

One more photo showing a new line of rivets.
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2015-07-11_stewart_sterling_059 reduced.jpg

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:01 pm

A lack of posts doesn't mean we haven't been busy in our overhaul. Three years were spent mostly disassembling, cleaning, inspecting, and making plans on how one overhauls a 70-year-old locomotive. Repairing and putting things back together makes the progress a lot more evident. Monthly progress reports are posted at http://557.alaskarails.org/restore/index.html and the October edition is hot off the press. Facebook at "557 Restoration Company" is updated frequently. The local TV station also did an piece on the restoration - http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/assignmen ... 7/36002078 (Some may recognize President and full-time volunteer project manager Pat Durand from a tour he took of the "Lower 48" with his 1/8 scale Alaska Railroad F7 several years ago.)

Recently, most of our efforts were directed at overhauling and reassembling the tender. The frame and water tank have been sand blasted and painted. We hope to get the tank secured to the frame and have lettering applied by the end of the year. A substantial project was the replacement of a missing buffer between the locomotive and tender. After a year of cordination within the bureaucracy, we got permission to move the tender of ARR #556, which has been displayed in an Anchorage park for the last 50 years, back about three feet and remove buffer parts as well as several other parts. (Who could have known that in addition to 1" chocks welded to the rails that the tender wheels would also be welded in place?) The donated parts were combined with a newly fabricated receiver and the buffer now looks as if it had never been removed.

In way of thanks, the Mechanical Department fabricated and installed non-working replica safety valves and whistle on #556 to replace items stolen at some point in the last 50 years.
Attachments
rolling-frame - reduced.jpg
Rolling the frame after cleaning and painting. The donated Case loader has been worth it's weight in gold for any number of "little" projects.
receiver - reduced.jpg
We were quoted about $800 for the 1" plate and 12" diameter, 1" wall pipe needed to fabricate a new receiver, but one of our in-kind donors came to the rescue. Our only expense for replacing the buffer was for welding rod.
chaffing-plate - reduced.jpg
Smiles all around as the tender is rolled up to the locomotive and the new buffer lines up perfectly.
tender frame with tank reduced.jpg
The tank has been returned to the frame and is temporarily placed on blocks so piping can be fitted.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:00 am

Most of my 20-30 hours a week volunteer time in support of the 557 restoration is on the business administration side, but I got a chance to make a couple of parts in my shop over the last few days.

When we received the locomotive the safety valves were full of volcanic ash from the Mt. St. Helen's eruption in 1980. It proved to be very corrosive to the three steel parts in the safety valves and there wasn't enough of the parts left to measure and replicate. Fortunately, the non-ferrous parts weren't affected. A U.K. owner of a locomotive which uses the same safety valves had new custom springs made to specification and we will be acquiring a couple them. We were able to find detailed drawings for a similar safety valve in an archive in New Zealand, so I tackled making the replacement buttons for the valves.

The photos show one of the valves when it was opened, the other valve after cleaning, and the replacement buttons.
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Safety valve spring reduced.jpg
Safety valve cleaned up reduced.jpg
Buttons reduced.jpg

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:29 pm

November's progress report is now posted at http://557.alaskarails.org/restore/prog ... index.html.

We continue to get closer to finishing the tender, the turret is overhauled, and the Governor pays 557 a visit.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:15 am

February's status report (as well as December's and January's) are available at http://www.557.alaskarails.org/restore/index.html.

While I was finishing the last of a 10-day run of the Fur Rendezvous winter carnival meeting and telling the 557 story to several thousand people, the crew at the engine house was making good progress.

A volunteer welder with all the requisite certifications spent the full day working inside the firebox, making additional welding passes on the firebox seams. At the same time, two more of our volunteers made good progress on placing some of the 400+ sockets for the new flexible stays. We learned a few days ago that the contractor has finished manufacturing the 1000+ new stays and we should be getting a pallet full in the next few weeks.
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welding fire box sheets - reduced.jpg
sleeves on backhead - reduced.jpg

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:35 am

The ARR 557 rebuild continues at a steady pace. The photos below are of the results of the tender rebuild and restoration, done over a couple of year period. The frame and tanks were sand blasted and repainted inside and out, several baffles were replaced, trucks converted to roller bearings, the missing buffer was recreated from parts from ARR 556 and new fabrications, and the correct brake wheel and hardware was fabricated. (When received, the tender had received a number of modifications for MOW service.) Aside from some reassembly, all that remains is to replace the axles and wheels on the original trucks. (The trucks under it temporarily are more modern shop trucks that we were able to commandeer.) One photo shows what it looked like when we received it in August, 2012. We're pretty proud of the results.

On the locomotive, essentially all of the welding on the new firebox is completed and a few weeks ago we received about 1,000 stays that we will begin installing soon and many smaller parts have been cycled through the shop, rebuilt, and put on the shelf until their time for installation comes.

We post regular status updates and at http://www.557.alaskarails.org and Facebook, "557 Restoration Company."
Attachments
Tender rear resized.jpg
Tender tank on frame reduced.jpg
tender as recieved, reduced.jpg

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NP317
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Steam returning to Alaska

Postby NP317 » Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:00 am

Truly remarkable work!
I am especially awed by your complete firebox replacement.
DId the USRA boilers have 1/4" thick firebox sheets, due to wartime steel restrictions?
And what are the sheet thicknesses you installed?
Keep up the incredible work!
~Russ

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby Dick_Morris » Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:25 pm

NP317, Thanks!

All the boiler work has been done under the oversight of Robert Franzen of Steam Services of America. He flanged the new door and rear tube sheets for us and was on site for the fitting of the firebox and installation of the mud ring rivets. He has also done the boiler calculations and prepared the package for the Form 4 boiler certification. Another of his projects is overhauling the boiler for Great Smokey Mountains #1702, another Consolidation built to the USATC design which had it's first steaming after receiving a new firebox a couple of weeks ago.

This locomotive wasn't USRA, those designs were circa WWI. 557 was WWII vintage. It was designed by ALCO, with input from BLW and Lima and under the oversight of the War Department. It is usually credited to be a USATC (U.S. Army Transportation Corps) project, but in the early design stages it may have been under the Corps of Engineers. The Army project officer had to approve every drawing and detail before they could be incorporated into the final design.

Original firebox crown and side sheets were 3/8". We increased them to 7/16" to give a larger safety factor and to allow additional material for the inevitable erosion of the plates. It has been published that the boilers for the last orders of locomotives to this design had a revised boiler using 7/16" crown and side sheets. I've done a huge amount of research into a lot of original documentation but have never found anything proving this. There were economies used in making the locomotives, but as far as I can tell, the boiler was consistent with industry standards for a steam locomotive from that era. Locomotive specifications for four other ARR locomotives to the same design, prepared by BLW. say, "Boiler built to comply in all respects with the A.S.M.E. Boiler Code, except that the shell shall have a factor of safety of 4."
Last edited by Dick_Morris on Sat Jun 11, 2016 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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NP317
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Postby NP317 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 2:06 am

Thanks for the corrections to my understanding, and for the additional information.
There's always SO much to learn. 'Never ends.
Keep working!
~Russ


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