Saturday, November 28, 2009

October 2009 Work Weekend (2009-12-24 Update)

With the following week being the first Ghost Train (actually called "The Midwest Haunted Rails Featuring the Ghost Train of No Return and the Ghostly Trolley") it was thought a few repairs to the rolling stock was in order.

During the Old Threshers' Reunion, the grease monkey noticed the Quinn Coach had some bearing issues that warranted attention. The thrust surfaces on all four axles were quite warn allowing far more side to side travel than ideal. Fixing the problem required pouring new bearings on all 8 journals (4 axles times two bearing surfaces per axle).

One of the many challenges of pouring bearings is a proper mold to form the molten metal prior to machining. In the past, we have removed the axle from the truck and positioned the bearing shell near the axle end. This technique requires little or no machining since the surface used to shape the metal is the actual surface on which the bearing will ride.

One drawback to using the coach's axle is having to remove it from the coach which means disassembling the truck. Disassembling the truck invariably uncovers some broken part that needs fixing. While broken parts are not desirable, nobody was enthusiastic about removing the axles.

Instead of using an axle end as a mold, a chunk of steel was machined to the approximate diameter of the axle and a metal framework was built around it. The jig would be far more portable as compared to something that utilized an axle with its two wheels.

In the next few pictures, Mike E and Don E finish the machining of the axle substitute.

This is what two bearings looked like before pouring. Brass can be seen along the edges of both bearing shells. Shiny brass should not appear!

The odd piece of metal resembling a doll's picnic table to the left is a bearing keeper. The keeper rides on top of a bearing but below the journal box thus keeping the bearing in place.

Missing from the keeper are two "fingers" extending forward from the surface nearest the camera. Of 8 of the coach's keepers, one had both fingers, one had one finger, six had no fingers. It is unknown when the fingers broke off or where they went. Besides pouring new bearing surfaces, the six keepers had new fingers welded in place.

Mike E and Don E position the axle end on the jig prior to welding the bearing shell holder in place.

Having nothing to do with the bearings, one of the other projects started this weekend was the installation of the new waste oil burner. The previous burner had worn out after many seasons of use.

Here, the new burner is awaiting lifting to the perch above the bolt room.

Griffin W installs one of the freshly poured and machined bearing shells into the coach's journal box.

The author pouring babbitt into the jig.

Besides mechanical work on the coaches, props needed to be completed for Ghost Train.

Jennifer B uses a router to create the large "CARNEVIL" sign which was above the traction engine at the east end of the south station.

Griffin W checks a part before installation.

The 9 needed some dressing up for the Ghost Train. This curious looking figure was created by Brian B and hung over the 9's number plate on the smoke box door.

Besides inside work, the tracks needed attention. During a Saturday afternoon, several volunteers replaced a bunch of ties along the northwest corner of the layout. Over the years, the ties had disintegrated to the point where the 9 would start rocking as it passed.

The Case backhoe proves to be a great participant at spotting ties. Operator Dustin B carefully removes an old tie and pushes a new tie into place in a fraction of the time compared to the old method. The old method depended on the skid steer and generous helpings of chains and tie-tongs. The backhoe has a special bucket (I forgot its official nomenclature) designed for track work.

Rather than get the rotary screw aircompressor and pneumatic hammer, volunteer Abe C. shows how spikes can be driven in.

Elliot H. holds up a shovel while Abe C. carries the spike mall to the next tie.

Elliot H. operates the track jack while Dustin B. slides the track gauge onto the rails. The curves need a bit more than the standard 36" spacing. Braden B and Abe C. supervise the operation of the jack.

Abe drives a spike through the tie plate into the tie while Elliot H pries the tie upwards from the ballast. Additional ballast will be added later.

Gravel jockey Braden B shovels additional gravel from the backhoe's bucket to the ties.

Abe C and Elliot H use the electric ballast tampers. The ballast must be forced under the ties where the rails cross.