Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Restoration shop update to Saturday, the 16th of April, 2011

Greetings Everyone,
This morning I have no problem dedicating a few moments to updating our recent activities at the shop given the alternative would be wandering outside in 32 degree rainy/snowy conditions to do some "spring?" pruning work to my apple and pear trees. My God, April 17th and winter is still managing to hold the area within its frigid grasp! Despite the reluctance of "Old Man Winter to leave, the hardy souls of "The Dirty Hands Club" have begun outdoor activities at the shop which will prepare our fleet for the 2011 summer operating season.  Herein please find my best recollections of what has transpired at the shop since my last update, advance apologies to those persons and activities missed.
The Pontiac Chieftain Hy-Rail Car No. 26:
The finish line is in sight ladies and gentlemen and the checkered flag is in the air! Our core team consisting of yours truly, Duncan, Ed Sr. with notable contributions of time and effort from Andy C. and Jim L. have pretty much reduced the refurbishment list of items to a shadow of its former self. The carburetor and vacuum power brake booster unit which I sent out for a factory fresh rebuild are back, installed and after some initial setup problems  have been road tested and judged to be in line with the GM Service Manuel's defined measurements of optimum specified performance.
 New 8.50 X 14-4ply B.F.Goodrich spec tires which were ordered from Coker, a Chattanooga based wholesaler of speciality tires for the North American antique car market arrived in Ottawa last week and as soon as I can acquire a trip permit**, car 26 will be driven to the shop. Here the tires will be installed, valve stems replaced, wheels ground if necessary, balanced and aligned.
**The current snag has been in my attempts Friday to get 26 registered with the Provence of Ontario and thereby obtain the aforementioned trip permit! I have no intention of boring our faithful readers with numbers of forms requiring completion, Affidavits and Notary Public attestations which will be required, (along with the vetting of the vehicles original line-built artifact status, which incidentally can only be, (in the Ministries eyes), attested to by a Provincially licensed "Historic Vehicle Dealer". Suffice to say myself, Dave Stremes and Ed Sr. are currently amassing a paper trail sufficient to please the most cynical of bureaucrats! Stay tuned. 
The OCR Woodings CBL Speeder: 
    I'm happy to report this is yet another winter project that is making great headway and approaching completion. Charles has returned from a work assignment and has completed the re-enforcement and fabrication of the damaged areas of the lower cab shell with sheet metal and fibreglass. 
    This allowed the team last week to mount the fibreglass shell back on the chassis and temporarily bolt it in place. I use the term "temporarily" because now Ross has to begin the fabrication of a metal box frame vertical support system on the cab sides adjacent to the left and right doors.  In the completion of this step the shell may well come off the chassis two or three more times prior to its final installation!
      Finally, last week Jack L. and Jim L. also managed to diagnose and fix the "won't turn off" issue in the units ignition wiring. When the ignition work was complete, they put the little Wooding Speeder on our main line and took it for a "shake down" test run. Another item off the "Snag List"!
    While Ross works on reinforcing the speeder's shell (which thereby facilitates the installation of the refurbished doors), Jack and Jim will now be undertaking the rewiring of the shell. The new body harness will handle all the electrical requirements of such on board items as the dome lights, head and tail lights, horn, radio harness and the windshield wiper motors. The goal is to bring the harness back to the control stand with a single pigtail connector. This will facilitate simple, fast, "on-off" of the shell for maintenance requirements to the chassis and drive line.   
    John Bryant and a parka attired team of hardy souls, (Duncan on no. 10 and the parka team on the ground) went out last Wednesday and worked cars in the yard to lift the crane and return it back to the shop.
    The following Saturday Duncan assembled a group of us who had attended the winter BRS Steam Course and gave us a hands on operational lecture in the crowded confines of the crane's cab. He identified the major components of, and their orientation in, the stationary boiler. He also explained the start up process and identified all the controls relating to the operation of the boiler and the crane.
    When Duncan had finished, John B. took over and showed us how to prepare the unit for seasonal operation. We were shown how to re-install the crane boilers steam gauges, the webbed mud rings (boiler wash out plugs), external lubrication and oil cups, etc. In effect, by the end of the morning we had had a most informative "hands on" experience with the cranes operation and the intricacies of a vertical steam boiler. Once again we owe a debt of gratitude for the time and efforts of John B. and Duncan in sharing their knowledge, ( did I leave out patience?) and ultimately giving many of us a greatly expanded understanding of steam operations. 
On our most recent gathering this past Saturday John B. organized a group of us,(the same newbies previously alluded to) and we assisted in the process of readying the boiler for steaming. Here are John's observations and comments on the mornings work with the crane: 

  "The problem with the brake system was traced to a cracked pipe elbow.  The cause is a mystery.  It rather looks like frost damage but, unless the entire air brake system was full of water there's no way in which there could have been water in this elbow ( it's at the top of a vertical pipe). 

  Until we replace the elbow the crane can't function as a vehicle in an air braked train, but the problem doesn't affect  it's "stand alone" braking system (the one we normally make use of). 

  The hand hole covers have were installed and the boiler filled.  As usual there was some weeping on the upper tube sheet but otherwise everything looked fine. 

  Most of the grease cups were refilled, the oilers for the travelling gears were reinstalled, and some oiling was done."


Sundry Bits:
    Over the past few weeks Duncan, Bill W. and Andy performed the preseason service on our little GE center cab switcher, no.10. They did a circle check style lubrication and fluid level service, greased the rods etc. Most recently they dumped the the oil and replaced all the engine filters on both no. 1 and no. 2 engines. 
    Ross, Dave and Paul now that the weather is a bit more spring like are back to working on the baggage car end doors refurbishment. Saturday one door was removed and brought into the shop to be re-hab'd.
    Ross and a few helpers have also started the finishing grinding and painting of the rail hooks for the crane which he had fabricated over the past winter. The plan is to have them ready for mounting on the crane prior to our first steaming of the unit.
Finally I have attached some photos Jim and Bob took last week at the shop which relate to the projects noted above. Under the heading "totally irrelevant to this shop update" and at the risk of exceeding the literary latitudes given me by our editor I have also attached a "Mystery Photo" entry. I took these last summer in New Orleans near the KCS marshaling yard just west of the lower 9th ward, (Treme). Can anyone tell me what it is and provide some background on the end-use for which it may have been obtained?   
        Steve Harling