Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weyerhaeuser Timber locomotive 1 rehabilitation

Weyerhaeuser is perhaps the best-known forest products company in the Northwest and has a long and colorful association with railroads. It was formed in 1900 shortly after Fredrick Weyerhaeuser purchased nearly 1 million acres of forestland from the Great Northern Railway’s James J. Hill (athough technically Northern Pacific Railway land). By 1903, Weyerhaeuser had over 1.5 million acres of land and would soon become a dominant industry force.

In the coming decades Weyerhaeuser got involved in many of the most successful forest product operations in the Northwest including the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company and the White River Lumber Company, two of the most significant forest industry operations in King County.

White River Lumber was based at Enumclaw, Washington until its operations wound down in the early 21st Century. In its earlier years, logging was conducted by rail. A series of railroad spurs was built into the woods and radiated from Enumclaw. Steam locomotives dominated these lines until the summer of 1951 when a brand new locomotive arrived – a Fairbanks Morse H12-44 diesel electric locomotive. This modern locomotive was designed around the famous FM opposed-piston D38 1/8 marine diesel engine. This workhorse was well-built by standards of the day but its unusual diesel engine design was poorly understood by the railroad industry and did not become widely popular.

White River’s Fairbanks Morse locomotive carried the number 1 and for nearly three years operated on the logging railroads radiating from Enumclaw. (For a period of time, it also operated with White River caboose 001, also in the Museum’s collection.) However by 1954, logging operations had transitioned to trucks and the locomotive 1 was relegated to the short branch line connecting the mill with railroad interchanges on the Northern Pacific Railway and the Milwaukee Road. Later, it was transferred to Weyerhaeuser’s operation at Vail, and still later was sold for use as an industry switcher.

Locomotive 1 was acquired by the Northwest Railway Museum in the 1980s. It is complete and has remained in service for nearly 60 years. It saw a number of repairs and minor modifications but remains largely “original.” Notwithstanding, 59 years of service exacts a toll and locomotive 1 was in need of attention.

Beginning in November 2009, locomotive 1 has been undergoing a major rehabilitation in preparation for exhibition in the new Train Shed exhibit building and to allow its continued use on the interpretive railway. Work has included electric traction motor cleaning and brush replacement (see 18 November 2009 blog post), replacement of the piston rings in the upper pistons (to be detailed in an upcoming blog post), steel carbody repairs, and extensive preparation for repainting. Aided by a grant from the National Railway Historical Society (“NRHS”) the work has been performed in the Conservation and Restoration Center by a combination of volunteers and contractors. The project is expected to wrap up later in 2010 and is valued at nearly $25,000.

Carbody: Fairbanks Morse built a very robust carbody but steel plus water still equals rust. So badly deteriorated steel sheeting along the side of the battery boxes was cut out and replaced. A plasma cutter was used to remove the rusted panels and a Metal Inert Gas (“MIG”) electric welder was used to replace them with new. Meanwhile, a metal skirting – part of the Raymond Lowey-designed streamlining – was cleaned and primed for reattachment. New metal studs were cut and welded to the side of the locomotive and the skirting was in turn welded to the studs. Several broken and cracked welds found elsewhere on the carbody were also repaired.

Paint preparation: At some point in the locomotive’s past, two incompatible paints were applied. As a consequence, at 59 years of age, paint was peeling off in large sheets. Unfortunately, the only effective way to address coating failure is to remove the failed coatings. Abrasive blasting is often used to remove old paint from steel but it can be very hard on old locomotives. Grit can get into bearings and the force of the blasting can damage the steel panels. So the Museum used a more labor intensive but less damaging method called needle scaling. A needle scaler has a set of metal pins that are fired at paint or rust and the concussion causes the foreign material to break off and separate from the steel. A common application has also been to remove scale from the inside of a boiler. After the majority of the paint and rust has been removed in this manner, a sander is used for final surface preparation. Then it is primed with a polyurethane primer.

After the entire locomotive is prepared, it will be painted with a high gloss industrial polyurethane coating. It will be placed on exhibit in the new Train Shed exhibit building in 2011.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hot riveting

Traditional methods and materials are essential to good collections care at a railway museum. So over the last nine months, Volunteers and full time staff at the Northwest Railway Museum have been learning to hot rivet. Hot riveting was (is) used to attach two or more metal parts and was widely used in car and locomotive construction prior to the widespread introduction of electric welding. It is labor intensive and is almost a lost art.

The riveting crew recently had an opportunity to try out their skills. The Museum has contracted to perform some rehabilitation work on Issaquah Historical Society’s former Weyerhaeuser caboose. A damaged section of side sheet needed to be reattached to the side sill. So approximately 36 replacement rivets were required.

A gas-fired forge was moved from the Conservation and Restoration Center to the Issaquah Depot. An air compressor, a rivet gun, and some hand tools also made the trip. And on a cool September morning, all the tools were set up to begin riveting.

The replacement section of side sheet was welded to the existing car side a few days prior. Holes were predrilled and aligned with the side sill. The gas forge was lit and rivets were set inside to begin heating. Meanwhile, the rivet gun was oiled and connected to the air supply. Allan W. volunteered to do the honors and climbed under the caboose to operate the gun.

When the rivets were orange, Roger S. picked up a rivet with the tongs and inserted it into a hole in the caboose side. Clark M. alternating with Bill W. “bucked” the rivet with a second unpowered rivet gun while Allan W. operated the powered rivet gun. The die in Allan’s gun shaped the now red hot end of the rivet into an oval head to secure it on the inside of the caboose frame. As the rivet cooled, it shrank and pulled the side sheet very tightly against the side sill.

Check out this video showing the process:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dining by rail

The shelf labeled “Dining on the Train” is always a big draw for browsers at the Northwest Railway Museum's Depot Bookstore in Snoqualmie, WA. With a couple of recent additions, the selection has broadened, ranging from serious biography to cookbooks, and from the East Coast to the West.

The biography is the newly published Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West by Stephen Fried. Fred Harvey created the best-known food service operation in America, encompassing restaurants, hotels and dining cars on the Santa Fe Railway from Chicago to the West Coast. Fried details Harvey’s creation of “the first national chain” – a chain that, unlike modern-day chain stores and restaurants, was known for raising, rather than lowering, quality standards when it arrived in a new town.

The Fred Harvey phenomenon has inspired more than one book (not to mention a Judy Garland musical). The Depot Bookstore also offers the popular Harvey House Cookbook: Memories of Dining Along the Santa Fe Railroad by George H. Foster and Peter C. Weiglin, which combines history with recipes from various Harvey venues. Then there’s When Molly Was a Harvey Girl by Frances M. Wood, a novel about the adventures of a teenage (13 pretending to be 18) Harvey House waitress in New Mexico, written by the great-granddaughter of a Harvey girl.

Moving on from the Santa Fe, the latest addition to the dining shelf is Dining on the B&O by Thomas J. Greco and Karl D. Spence, a handsome volume of recipes and menu reproductions from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad published in association with the famed B&O Railroad Museum. And from the other side of the continent, the bookstore has Dinner Is Served: Fine Dining Aboard the Southern Pacific by Jim A. Loveland, a former public relations manager for the SP.

Two items in the store offer looks at a variety of railroad dining experiences: Dining Cars and Depots: Train Food in America by Patricia B. Mitchell, with recipes from regional carriers such as the Georgia Southern and the Missouri Pacific; and the Great Recipes From Great Trains notepad, with two dozen recipes from the likes of the Twentieth Century Limited and the Super Chief.

Finally, Dining Car to the Pacific: The “Famously Good” Food of the Northern Pacific Railway by William A. McKenzie, tells the story of dining service on the Snoqualmie depot’s own railway, and concludes with more than 150 recipes. Written by a former public relations manager for the NP, it includes photos of the line’s dairy and poultry farms in Kent, and its Seattle commissary. The latter, when constructed in 1914, featured a 40-foot representation of the NP’s famous “Great Big Baked Potato” on the roof, complete with a glowing cube of butter and a spoon.

The recipe for those famous potatoes is included, but if you’re going to try one, bring your appetite – and your patience. They took two hours to cook, and ran up to two pounds each!