Monday, July 12, 2010

Mt Pleasant Independence Day Celebration

Instead of having pictures of the parade, afternoon passenger train, or the nighttime fireworks, this blog entry has the usual "behind the scenes" activities of the MCRR staff. (After all, it is the "shop blog.")

Despite the fact it had been decided to use the diesel powered switch engine (14), a few of us hapless souls chose to ready the three truck Shay (9) for service. After all, the MCRR is a steam railway.

Ha! The 9 had other ideas!

Since the 9's boiler had been "washed and dried" last December, our railroad requires the boiler to be pressure tested before being put under steam pressure. The process consists of replacing the boiler washout plugs, injector check valves, cleaning the sight glasses, and cleaning the tender drains.

The set of boiler plugs is shown here. They had been wire-brushed and Teflon taped and were ready for installation.

We have a laminated "road map" for the plugs to insure the plugs always go into the same hole which they were removed.

With the plugs replaced and the other chores complete, we topped the boiler, started a fire to warm the water, and after reaching the proper temperature, extinguished the fire and attached the high pressure pump.

In keeping with years' past, several of the superheater pipe leaked at their connection with the boiler's superheater manifold. Actually, this indicates a possible second problem: a leaking throttle, as the steam (and water) should not be reaching the superheaters until the throttle is opened.

Fixing the superheaters requires someone to crawl into the locomotive's smoke box to unfasten the pipes. Griffin W. squeezes inside the smoke box which keeps this author from having to do so. (Thank you, Griffin.)

This is what a set of "well used" superheaters look like. These three are located in flue pipes on top of one another, hence their varying vertical size. A close look at the ends shows the erosion which we have to fix every year.

While a few volunteers were dealing with the 9, a few others took advantage of the wonderful weather to apply herbicide on the healthy set of unwanted plants (sometimes referred to as "weeds") which were populating the tracks and switch mechanisms.

Volunteers Brian B. and Paul K. mix the ingredients in the tank of our special UP (Unwanted Plants) "flat car."

Brian applies the herbicide around a switch stanchion.

By this time, we gave up on having the 9 pull the afternoon train. Although the superheater leaks were eventually plugged, we needed to determine why there was water in the pipes in the first place. This required removing the steam dome cover and lid to inspect the spool valve and throttle valve standpipe's connection to the dry pipe.

Removing the steam dome lid was far more difficult than in any time in recent past. The studs had splayed outwards, making removal of the lid extremely difficult. Usually, removing the 24 nuts shouldn't be a big problem but this time two nuts refused to budge, apparently having seized to their respective studs. A bit of torch to heat the nuts and a 3/4 inch impact wrench helped spin the nuts off but two nuts had seized so tightly, the nuts took the studs' threads with it. The only solution was to cut the nuts off and replace the studs. The studs had other ideas.

Sometimes, we can grip the studs with pipe wrenches but not this time. Paul K. and Griffin W. prepare to weld large nuts onto the studs for removal. The heat from the weld often loosens the studs in their seats. Not this time. The last I heard, remnants of the studs were still in the boiler, having resisted drilling and torching.

And the mystery of where the superheaters' water was coming from still exists.

A closeup of the broken studs.

I am not sure what Paul K. and Griffin W. were doing here but it looked interesting.

some photos courtesy Anita N.