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Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

Apologize for being away, life and work have been in the way.
Thanks to Stewart Sterling for most of the photos.

The June report concluded with our Professional Engineer, Robert Franzen of Steam Services of America and Gary Bensman working with our volunteers in preparation for riveting the new firebox sheets to the mud ring. After a break for the July 4th holiday we all returned to the job of final fitting the five sheets that make up the inner firebox. No small task, as a years worth of preparation allowed for the fitting to proceed, with all five sheets being brought into position for final trimming to fit. All 1043 stay bolt holes on the new sheets also had to align with the 1043 holes in the outer wrapper of the boiler.
After final fitting all five sheets were laid out to receive a 6 mill layer of Apexior 1 paint on the water side. This followed removing and trial fitting the sheets a multitude of times under direction of Robert Franzen and our CMO Jeff Debroeck. Art Chase from Fairbanks came down to work for three days with the crew and here puts the final touch on the angled edge of the crown sheet to allow for full penetration welding.

With all the sheets fitted and bolted to the mud ring, Gary Bensman is tack welding the sheets together. Note the temporary bolts in the crown sheet supporting it in position. As work progressed, the volunteers were constantly in the process of relocating work platforms for the work as visitor, Spencer Arntz caught in these photos.

The big day came on July 11 when all was ready and the decision was made to install the mud ring rivets and secure the new sheets. Nine volunteers were on hand to support our contracted helpers. First step was determining the required length of the rivets and Ron Dudley cut them on the band saw and used the arbor mounted wire brush to remove surface rust. A firebrick oven fired by propane was set up to preheat the rivets. Stewart Sterling made sure there was a ready stock of rivets in preheat and passed them off to the next station. Heated rivets were moved to the forge oven for final heat, attended by Mike McKervey and Art Chase.

Soon a well choreographed process was in place. Jerry Cunnington would remove the next bolt to be replaced by a rivet. The hole was then flushed with a hot torch to burn and blow out any possible contaminants. Art used tongs to move the hot rivets from the forge and insert them into the cleanly prepared hole in the mud ring. Jeff Debroeck and Dean Sawyer managed the air operated bucking bar inside the firebox. Gary Bensman would then use the air hammer and set the rivet on the outside sheet forming the head. The right side of the mud ring showing the mud ring rivets and head detail.

The throat sheet rivets at the bottom of the rear flue sheet exemplify the quality of the job performed. The crew started at about two in the afternoon and finished about eight pm. The rivet crew at the end of a 12 hour day were still ready to go. Those pictured left to right are: Stewart Sterling, Gary Bensman, Ron Dudley, Mike McKervey, Art Chase, Robert Franzen, Ken Morton, Jeff Debroeck, Patrick Durand, Dean Sawyer and Jerry Cunnington. During the 23 days of June and July that we had professionals working the volunteers came in 7 days a week and 17 individuals worked 1,142 volunteer hours. In addition to those named above were, Ken Elmore, Jerry Christensen, Casey Durand, Lynn Willis, Jim Keene, Gary Eddings, and Rus Rudolph.

August 18th is the three year anniversary of Engine 557 Restoration Company beginning work on Alaska Railroads last operational steam engine. After a complete tear down to the bare frame and boiler, evident wear, damage and failures have been discovered and are being addressed. Many major components have been remanufactured, the 57” drivers, air compressor, power reverse, and many electrical components are ready for installation. New tubes and flues have been delivered.

In review, replacing the firebox interior was a $400.000 unexpected expense and set the project back by a year. Our professional engineer, Robert Franzen of Steam Services of America produced the new flue and door sheets and SteelFab provided the crown and side sheets. We have turned the corner to reassembly of 557 and I estimate the project is now 55 percent complete.

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File comment: Gary in the firebox.
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File comment: It's the details....
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

Some additional photos.

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File comment: Just a little warmer.....
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File comment: Easy bake....
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File comment: The process
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

Still a few more.

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File comment: Like clockwork.
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File comment: Mud ring work.
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File comment: Our work!
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

Yep, more

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File comment: The rivet heads!
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File comment: Rivet details
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

While the weather was good, a lot of work was accomplished on the tender.

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File comment: Side frames
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File comment: Trucks have been modified for roller bearings while keeping the cosmetic appearance of the original.
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

More tender details.

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File comment: The rain snuck up, but....
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File comment: Final pre-coat is applied.
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File comment: Work on the coupler.
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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

And finally for now, a preview of what's soon to be....

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Author:  artchase [ Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

And without beating things up any more, you can follow the progress of 557--

http://alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/ ... index.html

Any and all help/support is appreciated.

Author:  Dick_Morris [ Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

The local news ran a nice segment on our restoration yesterday - http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/assignmen ... 7/36002078.

The photo Art posted above is actually the tender buffer on ARR 556 just before it was removed. Courtesy of the Municipality of Anchorage, parts of it have since been installed on 557 as a replacement for the missing buffer on our tender. It had been removed many years ago when it was converted for use with a locomotive crane. Here are the parts in their new home.

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Author:  J3a-614 [ Sun Oct 25, 2015 6:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

I continue to be amazed at the quality of work I see in this restoration. Looking at the photos of the riveting work and the new firebox sheets, I can't help but think this engine is looking better than she did when originally built. That says a great deal about the workmanship--and the preservation ethic that drives it.

Again, great work!

Author:  Dick_Morris [ Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

J3a-614, Thanks for the kind words.

Much of the credit for the firebox and riveting goes to Robert Franzen and Steam Services of America. Robert serves as our consultant and is closely involved with the boiler work, both-hands on and by providing technical oversight to the project and volunteers.

While maintaining the original historic fabric of the locomotive as much as possible, some reliability and safety upgrades are being made. An example is seen in the tender truck frame photos above, the trucks are being adapted for roller bearings. Another is that the boiler will benefit from the addition of about 400 new flexible stays to replace rigid stays. Both upgrades will be nearly invisible but ensure the locomotive's long-term reliability.

Author:  Dick_Morris [ Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

The September status report has now been posted at http://557.alaskarails.org/restore/prog ... index.html.

Author:  Dick_Morris [ Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

After over a year the tender tank comes back inside and is reunited with the frame. It will be set in place after piping has been fitted. (These trucks are being used while the original trucks are overhauled and fitted with roller bearings.)

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Author:  Dick_Morris [ Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

Our October status report has been posted to http://557.alaskarails.org/restore/prog ... index.html. Included are details of the paints we have been using.

Mild summer and fall seasons without a lot of rain have allowed us to be very productive during the the warm months this year. Winter has now driven us indoors with the weather forecast calling for a low of -14 tonight. The cold doesn't stop us, it just makes us redirect our efforts to a different set of tasks.

Author:  Dick_Morris [ Sun Dec 27, 2015 6:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!

November's progress report is now posted at http://557.alaskarails.org/restore/prog ... index.html.

We continue to close in on finishing the tender, the turret is overhauled, and the Governor of Alaska stops by for an hour-and-a-half visit at the 557 engine house.

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