Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:15 am

This has been a busy month for the 557 crew. Lots of progress on the engine and we hosted 140 NRHS who were in Alaska for their annual convention. Rather than me giving the details, I encourage everyone to take a look at our September progress report at http://alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/ ... index.html and to view all the linked photos.

Our fundraising materials carry the slogan, "Dream Big, Dream Steam." As you can see, we are doing a lot more than dreaming.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:47 am

An update at 15 months into the restoration and overhaul of ARR 557. We continue to be amazed by what can be accomplished by a group of volunteers with a vision.

The drivers have been cleaned to bare metal of paint and grease, inspected, and primed. They look good and they left for Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum the first of the last week to have the journals turned and roller burnished and a very light machining done on the tires.

The air pump has been cleaned externally and shipped to Steam Services of America in North Carolina for rebuild.

One of our crew has been inspecting and rebuilding all the valves.

The process of cutting out the stays in preparation for removing the firebox is coming along well.

The power reverse has been dismantled and may require as little as cleaning, lubrication, and new seals. (Does anyone have a line on tech data/drawings for a BLW type T power reverse?)

New flues and tubes are on order. Half of the cost is coming from a recent grant awarded for the their purchase with the other half is coming from our major matching grant. :D

The locomotive suspension has a nested coil spring set on each side. The spring package OD is 5-1/4" with a 7-1/4" working height. One of the outer springs is broken and a duplicate of that one spring made to the BLW drawing would have cost us over $800. However, by ordering stock sets of nested springs that are very close to the same capacity and rate we can replace both sets of coil springs, including USPS flat rate postage, for just over $100. How do they sell them so cheaply?

When we started the project and became the owners of the locomotive in August of 2012, there were no drawings. We now have drawings from several sources and continue to find more. The Pennsylvania State Archives recently sent me a list of their drawings for the class, including large drawings of cylinders, frame and frame drilling, boiler, elevation and sections, and spring rigging. On Friday I received drawings for several of the valve gear links from the California State Rail Museum and expect we will be able to get most of the remaining valve gear drawings from them. From these two sources, the Allen County Historical Society, and another collection drawing images we should finish with close to 700 drawings.

An interesting discussion involves the electrical system and how much electrical power will be needed to operate a 1943 steam locomotive on a modern railroad. The generator is rated at 500 watts. When the locomotive was in service and a radio was installed, a second generator was installed, but that was removed before the locomotive was sold for scrap. We are checking loads to see if a modern radio and replacing most of the incandescent lamps with LEDs will allow the existing generator to support the load.

Our most recent status update with photos is at http://alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/ ... index.html. One interesting item is the numbers that were revealed when the paint was removed from the cylinder block. The number "43306" is the Baldwin order number for the locomotive. I believe that 716 is the BLW sequential number for this locomotive within the class.

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Bruce_Mowbray
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Bruce_Mowbray » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:51 am

Dick,

RE: Radio. Our newer radios are Motorola 12 v units that do use a fair amount of power when the mic is keyed for radio transmission. Otherwise, the radio uses little power. We run our radio off of 12v car battery power that is charged through a voltage regulator from the locomotive's 32v dyno. The car battery provides enough amperage to support the radio while transmitting and the output of the charger is more than the radio uses during non transmit times. We use all of the locomotives original lighting plus an electronic speed indicator with a light and a crown brass temperature sensor unit with power to spare. We can tell if the battery is going south by the excess drag on the dyno when the mic is keyed.
I recommend using a relay for the battery disconnect that is triggered "off" when the dyno powers down. For some reason, it is impossible to train engineers and firemen to turn off the transformer when they are done playing with their trains.
Bruce Mowbray
Springville & Southern RR
TMB Manufacturing & Locomotive Works

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LVRR2095
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by LVRR2095 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:52 am

Bruce_Mowbray wrote:For some reason, it is impossible to train engineers and firemen to turn off the transformer when they are done playing with their trains.
Bruce, you don't want to get in the crew's way when they are running for the early quit! :)

Keith

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:56 pm

Thanks Bruce, that's helpful. I've passed it on to our Chief Mechanical Officer and the people doing the electrical work.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:50 pm

The progress continues. A new update was posted today at http://www.alaskarails.org/pix/former-l ... index.html.

The reference to straightening the front frame extensions on the photo of the priority list refers to a fix for something that must have happened in 1944. In the four feet from the front of the cylinder block to the pilot beam, the frame extensions are bent upwards by about 2". This also means that the guide for the pin the front truck is not plumb and the truck rides a bit higher than it should. The air pump was installed by the ARR when they received the locomotive, and the air pump is plumb - compensation for the out-of-level front deck is provided in the mounting bracket. Our best guess is that the locomotive was improperly lifted before the ARR received it. It shouldn't have happened as these locomotives were designed to be easily lifted into the hold of a ship using a special spreader bar that bolted in place of the dome cover and had a hook that fitted a lifting tab welded to the top of the smoke box front.

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:05 pm

The mechanical department hit another milestone yesterday. After many weeks of preparatory work, the crown sheet is now laying on the floor. Here is a wide angle view of the firebox from yesterday. There are several short Youtube videos of the removal work at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqOGgMR ... feKzw6H3g/
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Crown sheet removed 2014-02-01_050.jpg

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:52 am

An updated status report with new photos - http://alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/ ... index.html

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:05 pm

The Youtube video may just look like any other compressor, but it's our compressor. It was well-worn and the rebuild included boring all the cylinders and replacement of all the pistons and rods.

The remainder of the fire box was removed a couple of weeks ago and the door and tube sheet were sent to North Carolina to serve as patterns. Both these sheets require considerable flanging. The side and crown sheet are less complex and will be produced locally at a steel fabrication firm.

I've spent about 40 hours over the last few weeks going through the Alaska Railroad records that are in the National Archives to look for anything related to our locomotive. I have learned a lot about our locomotive as well as the other 11 in the class. One of the more interesting finds was 15 pages of specifications that Baldwin provided to the ARR.

The Anchorage branch of the Archives is falling victim to funding cuts and closes next week with all the records being shipped to Juneau or Seattle. With the short time remaining it's been difficult to stay focused. Some of the interesting documents (but unrelated to the S160s) included a report on a laborer that started a fire in a boiler that had just gone through the shops for washing - but he neglected to put any water into it. The results were a need for a firebox replacement. Another interesting topic was the retirement of the steam fleet and its replacement by diesels. There was considerable correspondence concerning 14 steam locomotives that were sold to a railroad in Spain. There were many 1950-55 letters from brokers and railroads trying to sell surplus steam locomotives. Another interesting letter was from the railroad general manager to the military concerning several soldiers who decided to use a Jeep and a 2-1/2 ton truck for a 60-mile round-trip joy ride along the main line. Alcohol was involved. Related to our locomotive was the report of a sister S160 that derailed due to ice packed in a grade crossing on January 1, 1951. There are several photos of it and its tender laying on their sides. Although there were no reports of the damages, but they must not have been too severe as it was returned to operation and is now on display in a local park.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKo_2xPP ... e=youtu.be

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:56 pm

A video taken three weeks ago. How to move a locomotive in Alaska when its drive wheels are in Tennessee. Rails are polished and greased and upside down tie plates are the sliding surfaces under the locomotive. The frame is at the normal operating height from the rails.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7eIHjHj_ow


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Bruce_Mowbray
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Bruce_Mowbray » Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:28 am

Ya gotta love American ingenuity!
Bruce Mowbray
Springville & Southern RR
TMB Manufacturing & Locomotive Works

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Dick_Morris
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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Post by Dick_Morris » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:46 pm

I can't add much to Pat Durand's most recent status report. http://alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/ ... index.html.

Writing grant proposals, doing the bookkeeping, and and working on fund raising are taking a toll on my doing the fun things, like working on my 1-1/2" scale version and the prototype, but I did get my hands dirty last weekend when we removed the second truck from under the tender.

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