Thursday, November 27, 2008

Boiler Washing! (2008 Edition)

Every fall after the various operating events, the volunteers of the MCRR clean the engines and quite literally, wash the boilers.

The following pictures and text describe the washing of the Henschel (16) and Baldwin Mogul (6) which took place on 1 November 2008, the day following the last Ghost Train.

Who would expect a November day to be warm enough to be comfortable without a jacket? A beautiful sunny sky and temperatures in the high 50Fs allowed the staff to deal with two engines in one day. The Shay (9) was not attempted today since it will be in service for North Pole Express . The Shay's washing usually is problematic due to it being mid December!

Volunteer Bill showing what happens after the smoke box of the 16 is cleaned. Several inches of soot accumulated. Since the 16 is coal burning, the soot isn't oily, just dry, black, fine powder.

"Shop Supervisor" Mike E. is checking the action of the train brake in the 16.

One of the volunteers is seen crawling under the 6's cab behind the read drivers to get himself ready for the high pressure hose. The high pressure hose is fitted with various nozzles which allows the operator to get a stream of water into all the places inside the boiler.

Not shown is the staff's effort to remove all the boiler plugs. Depending on the use of leak-stop compounds, the plug removal usually takes about 2 hours per engine. (Last year, the smoke box boiler plug had a leak-stop compound which caused its removal to take several days! Generous use of the torch finally solved the problem. )

Shop water is sucked through the pump attached to the tractor's PTO to give it sufficient pressure for the cleaning.

Jesse V. operates the water flow while Griffin operates the nozzle.

Griffin W. takes a breather from the washing.

Jesse V. smiles for the camera. Notice how he is wearing a tractor tire for protection? Boiler washing is a sloppy job!

A close up of Griffin under the 6 reaching up to the rear firebox boiler plugs.

Dustin B. and Bill discuss the next few tasks for the 16's bath. The smoke box door is open for the removal of soot and eventual pressure washing. The 55g barrel to the engine's left is a special chimney vacuum lent to us by another volunteer, Steve B (not shown).

This shot is from the engine's left side; Griffin has to get close up and personal with the engine to give it a good bath. Notice the water draining from the blow-off port. In this picture, the water is running clean -- a good sign.

Jesse V. watches while Griffin continues to flood the boiler.

Jesse V. is checking the outflow for "chunks." Our aggressive water treatment plan is designed to minimize boiler deterioration. The "jury is out" on its effectiveness until the drain water is analyzed and visual inspections take place.

Dustin B. hooks up the powerful air compressor's hose to the 16's air brake storage tank. This allows the engine's operator to use the brakes as they propel engine back and forth in their attempt to rid the lines, cylinders, and other passageways of residual water.

The boiler is pressurized by the external air compressor. The pressure, although far less than typical operating steam pressure, is enough to make the engine travel to the extent that the hoses allow it to move.

After attaching the hoses to the engine, Dustin checks the air compressor for proper operation.

"Shop Supervisor" Mike E. takes a well deserved rest from the cleaning operation.

Bill and Griffin discuss the next phase of the boiler washing while the PTO operated pump spews water from the auxiliary connection.

Jesse V. is washing the 16's boiler from the fireman's upper access hole.

Another shot of Jesse, this time from the left side of the engine.

Water can be seen dripping from numerous places as the boiler gets the high pressure blast

Griffin W. in a rare shot with his "son" Brian Y. Brian is operating the pump while Jesse is hosing down the boiler.

The ash screens are hosed off with the output of the pressure washer.

Dustin B. uses the tractor powered pump to clean the smoke box and flues of the 16.

Shower time!

Every bit of soot and ash needs to be removed from the smoke box.

After washing the 6's boiler, Griffin operates the pump while Dustin does the dirty details on the 16.

Dustin awaits the water to be turned on.

Water drains from the open boiler plugs on the engine's right side.

The water is running red ( ! ) from rust that has accumulated inside the boiler. The washing continues until it runs clear insuring all damaging material is removed from the boiler.

The rust leaves numerous traces on the track's ballast.