Sunday, April 6, 2014

D&RGW 5516...

In early 2013 the Sumpter Valley Railroad was contacted about the possibility of selling Denver & Rio Grande Western stock car number 5516 to a private collector. The car had been acquired from the Sundown & Southern collection in 2001, but little work or refurbishment had been carried out since it arrived at McEwen. The Board decided to deascension the car, and the railroad was further contracted to refurbish the car cosmetically for display. The new owner wanted the stock car to be represented as it would have looked early in its career which meant a new paint job in red as opposed to black, D&RG as opposed to D&RGW lettering, and modifications to the body, siding, and doors. 
Number 5516 before work got underway. While the car was in rough shape, it was almost fully complete.

The car has been scraped down and has its first coat of red paint. The roof and most of the roof framing has also been replaced.

The name and number boards incorporate new and salvaged material. Eric Wunz is applying the old style D&RG that predates the 1921 reorganization where "Western" was added to the name. 

Test fitting the new sliding doors. These were built from salvage material to better match the rest of the car body. The later diagonal braces were not duplicated. 

Linda Raney painting the new doors.

Mike Hughes is priming the stock car roof in preparation for paint.

Mike applies the first of two coats of red paint.

Capacity, weight, and car number are all based on the earlier lettering and numbering styles.

Number 5516 is drying outside of the carhop in McEwen.

One of the last things to be completed on number 5516 was the fabrication and instillation of a new roofwalk to replace the unsalvageable original. 

 The new roof walk is in place and only needs the final coats of primer and paint.

The freshly completed number 5516 is being loaded aboard the truck at McEwen.

 So long number 5516, you're headed back home to Colorado!

720 Progress...

Though the primary focus for 2013 was the overhaul of number 19, work was also underway on diesel-electric number 720 as time and resources allowed. 

Volunteers removed the heads and pre-combustion chambers from the Caterpillar D-379 motor in number 720. New gaskets were ordered, and several new pre-combusion chambers.

When comparing a new pre-combustion chamber to an original, it's easy to see how much corrosion and damage they have taken in fifty years or service. 

Volunteers Sam McCloskey and Tom Young work on reinstalling the refurbished heads. 

The engine is mostly back together and almost ready for a test fire. 

Happy with their work, now to see if it works well enough to make them happy! 

The refurbished motor roars to life, practically an honorary steam locomotive when it's cold. 

The stack has cleaned up significantly as number 720 warms up in the yards. 

So far so good as the number 720 gets some of her kinks worked out in the yard at McEwen. Still to come is the reinstallation of the fourth traction motor, full inspection and refurbishment of the air brakes, and a lengthy list of small adjustments and modifications. It is hoped that number 720 will be fully serviceable in time for the 2015 season. 

What the Bell...

As the overhaul of Mikado number 19 was drawing to a close, the railroad was contacted in regard to a very interesting donation possibility. As many of you know, when numbers 19 and 20, or 81 and 80 if you prefer, were removed from service on the White Pass & Yukon in the late 1950s the locomotives were stored in the deadline in Skagway, Alaska. While out of service, the majority of the brass and smaller appliances were removed and either “acquired” for private collections or sent to the scrap heap. For years it had been rumored that the bells off the Sumpter Valley locomotives had been stolen, melted down, and cast into miniature brass cannons by a Skagway local. Luckily for the number 19 at least, this rumor turned out to be completely untrue. In 1968 a member of the Wilson family was working for the White Pass & Yukon while living in Skagway. The family wanted a dinner bell for the yard and decided to investigate the retired steam locomotives in the dead line. Most of the locomotives had already been picked over and no longer had their builders or number plates, bells, whistles, or headlights. One locomotive did still have its bell however, and the Wilson kids spent the better part of eight hours removing the bell and cradle from the boiler. Their mother had her dinner bell, and when the family moved to Idaho the bell went with them. Fast-forward 45 years to the summer of 2013, when Betty Wilson contacted the railroad. The Wilson’s had heard that two of our steam locomotives had once operated on the White Pass, and during a previous visit to McEwen had been informed that the original bells were missing and presumed long ago scrapped. They decided to send along some images of the bell they had and see if we could identify it or had an interest in it as a donation. Our response took about thirty seconds. The bell was identified as belonging to number 19 due to the fact that it was fully complete, and number 20 had returned to Oregon with the base of its bell cradle still on the boiler. It was arranged that the Wilson family would visit the railroad on Memorial Day Weekend and bring the bell with them at that time. Both the railroad and Wilson family are delighted that the bell has been reunited with number 19, and after a paint, polish, and minor overhaul, the bell is once again where it belongs. An interesting discovery was made during the overhaul however, and it is that the White Pass & Yukon modified the bell with an air-operated clapper. While it would not have had this feature on the Sumpter Valley Railway, it was decided to merely overhaul the mechanism for the time being and keep the air system intact. It still rings just fine with the bell cord as well. 

Betty and Frank Wilson stand with the replica number plate from number 19, and Taylor Rush with the original bell. 

Number 19, Completing the Overhaul...

Slowly but surely the overhaul of number 19 progressed through the summer of 2013, with the goal being that number 19 would return to service before the year was out. Ideally, it was hoped it would be available for the Photographer's Weekend in October, but the December Christmas Trains were more likely. 

The new rear section of the door sheet is being drilled for staybolts and rivets.

The old rear door sheet on number 19. Note where the old rivets and stays have been removed in preparation for fitting the new sheet. 

The new fireman's side check valve reinforceing plate is finished and the new studs have been installed. 

Looking in through the top of the steam dome on number 19. You can see that the new tubes have all been installed, and are nice and shiny black. The open pipe in the bottom center is the dry pipe that leads to the cylinders. The surface has been lapped in preparation for the instillation of the throttle . 

On the steam dome are the original markings from 1920. ALCO is the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York, and 61981 is the construction number for number 19. 

An overall view of the steam dome just before the throttle is installed.

Lowering the throttle body into the dome. The large "U" bolt holds the throttle body onto the dry pipe, though getting everything to fit correctly makes for a challenging instillation. 

A short while later, and after a large amount of swearing and bruised knuckles, the throttle is back in place. Next on the reassembly is the steam dome lid gasket and the lid itself. 

Number 19 basks in the sunshine for the first time in over a year as she is readied for her initial hydro test.

No major leaks or problems were found during the hydro test. The FRA has given us the go ahead to reassemble in preparation for a steam test. 

With the hydro test successfully behind us, volunteers began the task of reassembling number 19 in preparation for the steam test. Most parts came directly out of storage and were able to be bolted right back in place. There were a few pieces that needed some attention though. Eric Wunz is pictured touching up a thin spot on the smokebox door. 

The cab floor which had been removed for the firebox repairs has been reassembled and installed. 

Eric Wunz, Taylor Rush, and Jim Grigsby installed the new firebrick in the firebox. it was a definite learning experience as the pattern had to be modified to accommodate some modifications that had been made to the fire pan. 

 Hooking up air lines and hoses beneath the cab.

The firing stand has been reinstalled in preparation for the first steam test. 

Hooking up the tenders hoses and inspecting the drawbar and buffer plates between the locomotive and tender. 

The last of the firebrick is in place and is being allowed to set for a week before the locomotive is fired up.

Bret Bane has overhauled the dynamo for number 19, and Heisler number 3 is providing the steam to test and adjust it. 

After a bit of adjustment the dynamo is performing just like it should.

Most of the back head has been reassembled for the first steam up. During the test the major appliances on the locomotive will also be checked to assure that they function correctly.

The first fire in her since 2010. 

The air compressor worked like a champ, needing only a light cleaning and a regular servicing.

Number 19 lets the valley know that she is back in business. The steam test was a success and the FRA approved the number 19 for a full return to service. 

Despite a large amount of effort, number 19 wasn't ready for the October Photographer's Weekend, though December was believed to be an achievable goal. The reassembly team was going for broke, and in this picture you can see that most of the boiler lagging and jacketing has been reinstalled, as well as most of the piping and lubricator lines. 

The air-operated power reverse is being reinstalled on the engineer's side. This appliance was added on the White Pass & Yukon and was actually supplied by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. As built, number 19 had a manual Johnson Bar, similar to what Heisler number 3 is still equipped with. 

As the sun sets number 19 is almost fully reassembled and ready for service. 

Number 19 is back in business and ready for Christmas!