Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Steam begins to simmer

Museum's Curator of Collections peers
from the 924's firebox door opening.
Rehabilitation of locomotive 924 is underway!  Some important progress has already been achieved with significant and positive news emerging since bringing the locomotive into the Conservation and Restoration Center this past fall. 

Inside the boiler barrel, scale is removed
from the inside of the tube sheet.
The first objective was to inspect the inside of the boiler, which required the boiler tubes to be removed.  To allow for tube removal, some other appliances and components had to be removed first including the master mechanic’s front end (helps direct exhaust and improve combustion), smoke box front, steam dome lid, and throttle valve.  Once that work was completed, then all the boiler tubes were removed to allow scaling and inspection of the boiler barrel interior.  The process has yielded some wonderful news: the inside of the barrel is in great shape.  Some of the witness marks used to lay out the rear tube sheet can still be seen!

Boiler sheet thickness measurements
were entered directly into a spreadsheet.
With a clean boiler barrel and access to the firebox, the team measured the thickness of the boiler sheets using an ultrasonic thickness tester.  Measurements were taken along a grid and provided data that was entered into a spreadsheet, which performed preliminary "form 4" boiler calculations.  The form 4 is what the Federal Railroad Administration uses to evaluate a request for approval to operate a locomotive boiler, and at this point in the project it represents a sort of acid test as to whether an historic locomotive is feasible to rehabilitate.  And the 924 successfully buffered the acid: preliminary calculations suggest an operating pressure of approximately 170 pounds per square inches, and without any major boiler work, provided there are no serious issues on the exterior.

A Federal Railroad Administration
inspector examines the 924's firebox.
During the annual inspection of SCPC 2, inspectors from the Federal Railroad Administration were able to make a brief visit to the 924.  They reviewed the initial work plan and looked inside the firebox.  Ensuring the Federal inspectors remain apprised of the work plan and progress is also an important part of the project.

An area of firebox side
sheet is being removed
to allow for replacement.
Certainly there is work to perform on the boiler that is desirable and will help ensure a full 1472 days of operation before the operating approval expires.  One area of attention involves the side sheets inside the firebox.  This area received some type of repair many decades ago, and the repair was performed with gas welding.  Today, such repairs are generally performed with electric welding and to ensure the integrity of the vessel, the old repair is being removed and replaced with a new patch.  this process will also require the stay bolts restraining this area to be replaced, in all numbering about 200 items.

So as 2014 draws to a close, the 1899-built locomotive 924 has a wonderful New Year to look forward to, and your support can ensure that the work continues!  Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to the "steam program campaign". All contributions will be used to rehabilitate and restore locomotive 924.

Cutting around stay bolts in the firebox side sheet.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Successful Santa Train 2014

Last Saturday, the Northwest Railway Museum wrapped up a successful Santa Train, an event that was first hosted in 1969.  Reflecting on the eight-day event, 11,200 guests were served, more than 24,000 cookies were baked, about 320 gallons of hot cocoa were prepared, and 40 gallons of coffee were brewed.  This year's event also featured the first steam-powered Santa Train in 25 years.  In all, this was the largest Santa Train by numbers served, with 500 more guests than the previous record.

Many thanks are in order.  First and foremost, to the 61 volunteers that contributed time and talent to running the event and making it successful.  Volunteers put up seasonal decorations, served as Santa's helpers, addressed any problems as they occurred, served on the train crew, baked cookies, served the refreshments, helped in the gift shop, cleaned up garbage, and helped direct guests to Santa and the kitchen car.

Thanks are also in order to the many Museum supporters.  Many thanks to Continental Mills who donated Krusteaz cookie dough to the event; to the many media partners who helped spread the word; the City of Snoqualmie parks staff who helped clean the restrooms in the Snoqualmie Depot; the Si View Park District who maintained the restrooms in the North Bend Depot; the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce staff who helped publicize the event and host the ice rink for several days in downtown Snoqualmie; 4Culture and City of Snoqualmie who provided sustained support grants to the Museum using lodging taxes collected at the Salish Lodge and Spa, and hotels and motels across King County; and last but certainly not least, anyone who helped support the event who Spike has inadvertently omitted from this important list.

There are also thanks owed to the Museum's Board of Trustees who provide the governance and oversight that allow this event to continue, to the part and full-time staff who work additional hours to ensure the event operated smoothly (even helping clean the restrooms!), and especially to the two very talented Santa actors and their two elf actors!

And thanks to all the guests who purchased tickets, enjoyed the event, and made all the other efforts worthwhile!

Seasons Greetings from all of us at the Northwest Railway Museum.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Steam Santa Train

In another important 2014 development for the Northwest Railway Museum, the first steam-powered Santa Train since 1989 operated on December 19, 2014.  The Santa Cruz Portland Cement 2 pulled sold-out four-car trains from North Bend to Snoqualmie where passengers disembarked to visit with Santa and receive refreshments prepared inside the railway kitchen car.  The SCPC 2 is owned by the Museum's curator and is helping train volunteers in preparation for a permanent steam program.  While not indigenous to the Northwest, the SCPC 2 is an excellent example of a small steam locomotive and is a powerful tool for interpreting steam locomotive operation.
Steam Santa Train was quite popular and successful  More than 1,200 people made the journey on December 19, and younger visitors who still believe received a small gift from Santa, which this year was an LED flashlight.  The day closed without incident and will likely be repeated in 2015 - check out the steam-centric photos of the event below!

Steam Santa Train departs from the North Bend Depot and travels to
Snoqualmie where the Santa experience takes place.

Periods of sunshine brightened the day, but crisp air allowed escaping steam
to persist making the event feel rather ethereal.

Santa Train has a tight schedule: the train completes a run every sixty minutes.

To maintain the schedule, a water truck topped up the water in North Bend at
the end of each run.

The SCPC 2 was very popular with the visiting public and crowds quickly
gathered after each arrival.

Steam Santa Train included a very rare 4:00 departure, which meant nearly
the entire experience occurred after sunset.

Heading up the coach consist was the newly-rehabilitated SP&S 218, a wood
coach built by Barney and Smith in 1912.
There is something truly magical about a steam locomotive operating after

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!

From right to left, Gary, shipwright;
Peggy, marketing; Cristy, registrar 
and volunteer coordinator; Jessie,
deputy director; Jennifer, bookkeeper;
Stathi, curator of collections; James,
visitor services; Richard, director.
The museum staff got together this week to reflect on another successful year for the Museum.  Most importantly, the Museum served more than 120,000 visitors on the train, in the depot, on a tour, or in a classroom.  To advance the cause, a number of important projects were completed.  The first steam in 25 years, completion of coach 218 rehabilitation, major work on bridge 35, reconstruction of track at Snoqualmie Falls near the Snoqualmie Falls Depot, completion of a new exhibit "The Railroad built the Northwest," and completing design and securing permits for the new restrooms, classroom, and library at the Railway History Center were just a few of the year's highlights. 

How was all this possible? The generous support of local agencies, individuals, foundations, local and state government, business, more than 14,000 hours from 137 volunteers, and the governance of an engaged and supportive Board of Trustees of 11 people.  A lot goes into running a successful museum!

From all of us to all of you, thank you for your continued interest and support, and Happy Holidays!