Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Boilerzoph (16 Jan 2009)

From this ...

.... to this ... 10 weeks, courtesy of the Shay Racing Team!

What happened?

(Note: More pictures of the boiler removal project can be found at the author's picassa shared website. Look for the "WWE-2008-12-06" through "WWE-2009-01-11" albums.)

During the 2008 summer hydro testing of the Six's boiler, the MCRR shop staff discovered a leaking flue. After plugging the leaking flue (several times!) the shop and engine crews were able to continue using the engine through the rest of the operating season. The shop staff consensus was that if one of the 20-odd year old flues was leaking, more were ready to start leaking. From there, it was an easy decision to replace all the boiler's flues during the winter break.

The flue removal project started the week following the early November boiler washing . Many of those destined to do the flues, while well experienced in many mechanical aspects, had never participated in a flue replacement project. Fortunately, several in the MCRR had previous experience with replacing flues to balance those that had no experience.

Lots of acetylene was consumed cutting the flues loose from the flue plates. Lots of dirt was ground into the shirts and overalls of those sitting in the firebox and smokebox of the Six's oil-burning boiler.

Numerous volunteers were relieved when the opening in the steam dome was measured at 37 inches. This left a select few who would fit into the boiler. (Note: I have 36" hips; I am one of the select few!)

At first, those that fit into the boiler tried to chop the long flues into pieces short enough to be extracted through the steam dome. That idea didn't last long due to the dry pipe and several standpipes blocking easy access into the boiler. The first solution was to extend the handle on the cutting torch so the pipes could be cut without going into the boiler. Not much better. The real solution was easy: remove the dry pipe. Of course, the dry pipe was reluctant to leave its 20 year home and required cutting. With the dry pipe gone, the flues departed their dark home through the massive hole created by the vacated dry pipe in minutes.

Well surprise, surprise! Once the flues were cut out and a close up inspection of the staybolts took place we found something else calling our attention: many staybolts had eroded to the point where their replacement was prudent. Roughly at this point it was decided the work was best left to professionals so we embarked on the boiler's removal for its eventual delivery to a boiler shop (boiler room?).

The next phase of the project was removing EVERYTHING from the boiler so it could be lifted off the frame. Scroll up to the "before" picture of the Six. That's right; there is a lot of cr** on the boiler.

Over a period of about ten work days spread across ten weeks, numerous volunteers meticulously removed everything obstructing the boiler and by 9 PM on Sunday January 11th, the boiler was sitting on the floor next to the Six's frame.

The following pictures tell the whole story.

Griffin W. and Matt C. begin the process of cutting the front portions of the flue pipes.

This rear view of the engine shows the tender disconnected from the engine. To begin with, the Six really isn't that large, but with its tender on the next track it looks more like a toy than a serious steam locomotive.

Dustin B. wonders where the whistle and a few other trinkets usually found at the top of the steam dome went. Then again, perhaps he is wondering exactly why he is up there in the first place?

Griffin W. has decided to take a break from flue cutting at the firebox end of the boiler. It looks like the Six is giving birth.

What better place to have a meeting than on top of the Six's boiler. That's me facing the camera.

How weird! We found a young woman in the boiler! That's Shelby emerging from the steam dome after disconnecting the linkage between the throttle and the dry pipe.

Abe C. tried going down the dome the hard way and found himself stuck ... with the droplight turned off! (Remember, this was before the flue pipes were cut out. He reported it being "dark.") I wasn't able to capture the scene where his legs were flailing but had Dustin and Shelby hold him still long enough to catch this scene.

Shelby went back down the dome to do what Abe wasn't able to complete.

Griffin W. continues cutting flue pipes.

A closeup of the cutting action.

That's me down the hole, cutting the flue pipes for extraction through the dome. While down there, I overheard one of the young whipper-snappers say "Gee, I didn't know the old man could bend so much."

Who is that with the cool "Foster Grants?"

Griffin W. tugs at the dry pipe.

Shelby operates the crane while Dave O. looks on. The crane, towards the boiler's smokebox was attached to the dry pipe.

Abe C. disconnects the brass bell while Bill and Dustin look on. (Well, Dustin is looking away.)

What's a day at the MCRR without Dustin B. on the telephone? Jesse V. is on the left, Brian Y. and Griffin W. are on the right.

Shelby and Coreliss B. remove glamor panels from the Six's cab prior to its removal.

Hey! That's me! Who took this picture?

Mr. "If you can't move it, ground it" says "If the bolts don't come off, cut 'em off with a power tool."

Dave O. and his son, Kendell removing fasteners on the cab.

Matt C. enjoying the tear down of the Six. He remembers putting it together years ago. ("Hahaha...those guys think this is so easy. Wait until they start putting it back together.")
The cab is off and being pulled to the side.
The operator's platform really looks odd without the cab shrouding the pipes and valves.
There goes the turbine.
Matt C. explains to "Shop Super" Mike E. and Dave O. that, yes indeed, that is the brake stand.

Dave O. persuades some stubborn bolts with the torch.
Did you ever wonder what the firebox looks like from the inside of the boiler?
...or what the smokebox flue sheet looks like from the inside?

1. Removing flue pieces from the smokebox flue sheet. The flue remnant just under the flue support rod to the left of the dry pipe exit hole will be removed. The next few pictures show how each side is collapsed and finally punched through the flue sheet.

Veteran flue-remnant-puncher-outers may wonder why this series of pictures shows crushing the flue piece every 90 degrees. As more pieces were punched, it was found that having the chisel as close to parallel to the flue sheet usually resulted in one crush being sufficient to free the remnant. Then again, some pieces still resisted removal.

2. Removing flue pieces from the smokebox flue sheet.

3. Removing flue pieces from the smokebox flue sheet.
4. Removing flue pieces from the smokebox flue sheet.

5. Removing flue pieces from the smokebox flue sheet.

This is what prompted the boiler removal. Notice how the staybolt tapers down as it reached the crown sheet? That isn't good!

Abe C. is removing the smoke stack.

Brian B. wonders "what did they DO to my engine!"
Removing one of the two air tanks.

Floor boards and both air tanks off, it looks like a boiler on a frame, not a beautiful steam locomotive.

The boiler is a few inches off the frame.

Now, it is a few feet off the frame.

Away from the frame, it is being pulled to the side by Mike C.Almost at a 90 degree angle to the frame, the boiler is clear of the frame.
On the floor.

The first boilermaker is expected to visit the boiler very soon so we can get the first of three estimates. There have been some discussions about adding staybolts, converting from welded staybolts to threaded staybolts, and switching from a flat crownsheet to a curved crownsheet. Until the estimates come in, it is impossible to tell just what will take place. (Oh...does anyone have a spare $20-, or $30-, or $40,000 to finance this? The MCRR would love to hear from you!)

Once the boiler is repaired, we get to reverse the project. ...And we thought the removal was tough.