Thursday, October 10, 2019

Inside a caboose

Yes, a real caboose.  White River Lumber Company 001.  It was built at Enumclaw in 1945 and restored to its original appearance here at the Northwest Railway Museum by Dale C., Martin N., Rich W., Dick H., and others more than 10 years ago.  The effort earned an award from the King County Historic Preservation Program.

Beginning Friday, October 11, 2019 visitors to the Train Shed exhibit building will be able to visit inside caboose 001.  New steps and LED lighting are making this possible, and opening this new exhibit was encouraged by visitor feedback asking for the opportunity to go inside a caboose.

White River Lumber 001 is pretty spartan, as were most cabooses.  Its plain interior reflects the short trips it was used on from Enumclaw into the forest and back again.  In the closing days of WW II it may have traveled as far as Mt Rainier National Park, but always returned home the same day.


Notably, 001 was built during the war at Enumclaw.  This was because the war time ration board denied White River permission to purchase a new caboose.  Yet a caboose was required on log trains with ten or more cars.  So the logging company managers tasked their workers with building a caboose.  It is not a prime example of the fine art of car building, but it is an example of the thoughtful and utilitarian improvisation that was common in logging camps throughout the Northwest.  

Come and visit caboose 001 Thursday - Sunday from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm through the end of October.  Members are free.  Admission is included with all regular train tickets; trains depart Snoqualmie on Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 3 pm.  A la carte visitation is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Mending a fence

Or building it from scratch.


Posts have been set in concrete just 
behind the paved trail edge.

Rails and trails are able to co-exist, but authorities do need to take measures to protect the trains from people (and pets) who try to wander off the path.  Protect the trains?  Yes, trains and engines generally do an outstanding job of staying on their tracks. It's the people and pets that don't stay on their "track."


The fence is actually adding a 
finished look to the trail, and looks
great in the presence of a
Northern Pacific Railway switch
stand.
A trail fencing plan was included in the City of Snoqualmie's 2013 downtown revitalization phase two, but unfortunately there were issues that prevented its full implementation.  Contract disputes, bad weather, and cost overruns all conspired to cancel a portion of the project.  So while a barrier was constructed in front of the Snoqualmie Depot and across from downtown businesses, it was not built along the trail from King Street to Northern Street.

In 2017 the Museum, City of Snoqualmie, and Washington State's Utilities and Transportation Commission discussed  options for adding a barrier between the tracks and the trail in the remaining "barrier free" zone.  Prefabricated metal fencing set at 42 inches was the option closest to consensus, and it was the design option that looked the best, too.


The fencing is now complete making
Snoqualmie safer for trains, people
& pets.
Funding 1,600 feet of fencing can be challenging, but the project was and is safety related.  Thanks to the support of Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, Snoqualmie City Council and the Snoqualmie Public Works and Administration, the project remained a priority and was successfully funded.  A contract was let earlier this summer and the work was completed this week.


Pro tip: don't try to walk this
fence line.  Or sit on it, either!
Excursion trains now operate with a greatly reduced potential for people or pets running into them, making Snoqualmie safer for trains, people and pets.  Check it out for yourself: trains operate weekends through the end of October, and for Santa Train.





Thursday, September 5, 2019

Hydro-static test

Locomotive 924 circa 1908
Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924 has been undergoing restoration in the Conservation and Restoration Center.  This 1899-built Rogers locomotive served the Northern Pacific Railway until 1924. It is a King County and City of Snoqualmie Landmark, with project support from many individuals, foundations and public agencies including 4Culture, Washington Heritage Capital Projects, the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association, the Emery Rail Heritage Trust and more.

Fire in the 924 firebox
For the last several years a variety of project work has been underway, but the most important division of work has been on the boiler.  The boiler is where water is heated and converted to steam, usually with an oil, coal or wood fire.  The boiler must withstand high temperatures and considerable pressure.  

Locomotive 924 is filled with water, 
and then the water is lightly heated so
as to reduce the strain on the boiler 
when it is pressurized.
For the general public, a little known fact about locomotive boilers is that they must be designed to withstand four times their operating pressure.  So an operating pressure of 180 psi requires the boiler be designed to withstand 720 psi.  This is called the factor of safety, and must consider any wasting or other deterioration of the boiler that occurred since it was built.

FRA inspector Brandon King witnessed
the 924's official hydro-static test.  He
found no exceptions, which is the best
possible outcome.  This means the
inspection found that the Museum
is complying with the regulations.
After measurement, analysis and calculations demonstrate that the boiler construction is capable of withstanding 720 PSI, a non-destructive test called a hydrostatic test is performed.  This test is performed by the locomotive owner, but is witnessed by an inspector from the Federal Railroad Administration.  During the test, the boiler is filled with water, lightly heated, and pressurized to 125% of its stated operating pressure.  

Kyle I. operated the hand
pump.
It was a beautiful morning on Thursday, September 5th when Museum volunteers and staff arrived to "fire" the boiler on locomotive 924.  Recycled wood logs and waste wood were used as fuel, and the temperature was brought up to 100 degrees.  At that point, the fire was dropped and a hand pump was used to bring the pressure up to 225 psi. Visual and aural inspections were all positive - just some light weeping from a handful of rivets.  Most impressive to the Museum volunteers and staff was how tight the boiler was.  One stroke from the hand pump every 15 or so seconds was sufficient to maintain 225 psi.

Kyle and David remove the steam dome
lid and throttle to allow an internal
inspection.
Upon completion of the hydro-static test, the boiler was drained.  After this 125% test, an interior inspection of the boiler and hammer testing of the stay bolts was required.  For the interior inspection, the steam dome lid and throttle was removed so an inspector could enter and crawl along the top course of tubes.

The Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924 rehabilitation and restoration project continues to progress.  The hydro-static test brought great news so now the next phase - steam plumbing - can begin.  Donor support remains critical to the ultimate success of the project; your support really makes a difference.  Please consider a making a donation on the Museum's web site: Donate Now

Thank you for your support!

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Grand Tour - see it all!


The Grand Tour Package is the premier tour offered at the Northwest Railway Museum.  It is a docent-led experience that begins at the Snoqualmie Depot in historic downtown Snoqualmie. 

Your docent will give a brief tour of the Depot before you board the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad for a short ride to the Train Shed Exhibit Building. There, you will detrain and enjoy a 30 minute tour of the 25,000 sq. ft. hall that includes large and small artifacts, and several exhibits including the award-winning Wellington Remembered exhibit. 

Your docent will escort you through chapel car 5: Messenger of Peace and the 001 caboose! Next you will walk over to the Conservation and Restoration Center for a first hand look at current restoration projects, including steam locomotive 924. Both of these experiences are unique to the Grand Tour - this is the only opportunity to see inside the chapel car, and is a very rare opportunity to visit inside the Conservation and Restoration Center.

Next, you board the train again and travel west to the top of Snoqualmie Falls where you will view water cascading over the top of Snoqualmie Falls, and a beautiful view of the valley and river below the Falls. Your docent will accompany you during your trip to the Falls, interpreting the scenery and providing both historic and contemporary context. The Package ends when the train returns to Snoqualmie Depot. This round-trip experience lasts approximately 2.5 hours.

Dates and Times: Saturdays @ 12:30pm, on August 3, September 7 and 14, 2019.  Visit Shop.TrainMuseum.org to purchase your tickets in advance.

Additional dates: you may reserve a Tour on any other operating day for groups of 10-20 people by emailing the Museum

Cost: Adults $24, Seniors (62+) $20, Children* (2-12) $12, under 2 no charge. *The Tour Package is not recommended for children under the age of 5.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Thomas the Tank Engine is thrilling thousands

July 12 was the first Day Out With Thomas for 2019 at the Northwest Railway Museum.  Thousands of children and their families came to see and experience Thomas the Tank Engine at his very best.  Check out these scenes from the first day; tickets and information are at Thomas.TrainMuseum.org






Friday, July 5, 2019

Back in the boiler

Steam locomotive 924 is a former Northern Pacific Railway switch engine that operated in the Seattle area from 1901 until 1924.  It is listed on the King County and City of Snoqualmie Landmark Registers, and is a property truly representative of our collective history in the settlement and development of the region.

The 924 has been undergoing a major rehabilitation and restoration inside the Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center in Snoqualmie, WA.  Despite several unanticipated setbacks in the project, it has moved forward and real progress is becoming evident.

This past week, the last major known work on the 924's boiler was performed.  Seattle Boiler Works visited the Museum to remove the portion of the throat sheet that supports the blow down valve.  A patch had been installed here with patch bolts at least 70 years ago, and the "new" material had wasted in places almost 50% of its original thickness.  So replacement was definitely warranted.

The original patch was removed, which also required three rivets in the mud ring to be cut out.  Then the affected area was cut out, and the perimeter was beveled to allow for welding.  A dye penetrant was used to check for cracks and other flaws.

Seattle Boiler Works installed a flush patch and welded a coupling for a new blow down valve.  The process involved a full penetration weld, and preheating of the native material to about 350 degrees.  Repeated passes, grinding, welding, and continual evaluation took a full day, but the results are impressive.

Up next: three replacement rivets, two new stay bolts, and more.



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thomas the Tank Engine arrives

Thomas the Tank Engine travels between heritage railways on a special truck, and on an unusually warm Wednesday, June 12 he arrived in North Bend for trans-loading to the high iron.  On hand to greet this VIE (Very Important Engine) was one of his biggest fans, Otto L.  Otto is 3 year of age, and a resident of North Bend.  He was so excited to see his hero pull up in front of the North Bend Depot.  Otto says, "Thumbs up for Thomas!"

Day Out With Thomas is an event for children 2 to 5 years of age - and sometimes for those of us much older who still LOVE Thomas.  It features a ride on a century-old train to Snoqualmie Falls, live music, a Thomas toy tent, Thomas story time, a puppet show, a bouncy house, and even a ride behind a Kalamazoo motor car!  There is also a photo opportunity with Thomas, and an opportunity to go inside the cab of a locomotive.  This is an event for all the important Thomas the Tank Engine fans in your life!

Day Out With Thomas 2019 is scheduled for July 12-14 & 19-21, 2019.  Tickets are available in the Depot Bookstore (inside the Snoqualmie Depot) daily from 10 to 5, or from TicketWeb.