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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:00 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1312
Location: Youngstown, OH
For those of us who may need to make new boiler plugs, what grade of bronze is used?

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J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:34 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1419
Location: Strasburg, PA
Rick Rowlands wrote:
For those of us who may need to make new boiler plugs, what grade of bronze is used?

SB-61 (historical, sand cast and prone to being porous) or SB-148 (aka C-954, stronger, and not porous).

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Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1312
Location: Youngstown, OH
Thanks. That will be most helpful.

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J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 788
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
msrlha_archivist wrote:
Ross isn't bullying anyone. His truth is to the point. Safety is safety.


No, of course not, he's only personally singling out the guy who spun an anecdote about patronizing a very well-respected garage that royally screwed up with an underhanded way of calling the victim of their screw-up not an "experienced driver"............

Spare me. That wasn't a safety lecture.


Nor is this post.


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:38 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:41 pm
Posts: 110
Dave wrote:
I'd appreciate getting back to washout plugs and boiler fitting safety and let oil change issues in IC engines go to another place - maybe the Car Talk forum?


Again, I agree. Thank you for sharing your experience on the previous page. Kelly's citation of the NBIC standard for washout plug bronze was most useful.

Perhaps we should narrow the focus a bit. What are accepted safe principles for anyone with tapered plugs to follow when removing, inspecting and reinstalling in their respective vessels?

DC


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:57 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:28 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Florida
Now that I'm a bit older and experienced, I think my procedure using a checklist while tightening plugs leaves much to be desired. I was talking with a friend yesterday who mentioned that he used to put a witness mark on plugs that he had tightened so there would be little question before fire up. I am very interested what procedures exist at different operations to document what work was completed and perhaps by who.


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:47 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1419
Location: Strasburg, PA
Donald Cormack wrote:
What are accepted safe principles for anyone with tapered plugs to follow when removing, inspecting and reinstalling in their respective vessels?

Here is our practice:

Tapered Plugs

Each plug is stamped on the top of its head with its location, because each plug is lapped to a fit with its hole, and will not seal as well in any other hole.

The plug threads are cleaned with a brass wire wheel in a bench grinder, then visually inspected for rounded, smashed, crossed, or otherwise damaged threads, and if it has compressed an excessive hollow in its length where it tightens in the sheet.

The hole threads are cleaned with a wire brush and inspected for being worn round or otherwise damaged.

Take the cheap Home Depot Teflon tape in the tool box and wing it into the trash where it belongs. Buy #6802K55 Teflon tape from McMaster Carr, you will be glad you did, and wrap it on the plug in a clockwise direction when looking at the wet end of the plug. Corner plugs only also get a coat of Teflon pipe dope (such as McMaster #8149K22) over top of the Teflon tape due to the sheet it screws into not being flat, causing interrupted threads.

Start the plug by hand and be certain that it isn’t cross threaded. If you can’t tell, get someone who can, this is life and death.

Once the plug is started, stay with it until it is fully tight, do not walk away from it when it is only hand tight. That, and being cross threaded are behind the majority of bad leakers when steaming up. In both cases, the person responsible for installing the plugs should be removed from that job, they are not ready for that level of responsibility. As simple as screwing in a washout plug seems from a distance, it requires serious skill and attention to detail to get consistently right.

Regarding tightening when hot, in some cases it is necessary**. Sometimes plugs that are extremely tight when cold will have a sizzle coming out around them when steam is building, and can easily take up ¼ turn more when hot. However, it is a process that needs to be taken very seriously. Don’t wait until full pressure is on before inspecting the plugs for leaks. Take an inspection tour of the plugs every few minutes while raising steam, and deal with leakers as they are found. Often, they will show themselves and can be taken up before much pressure has built up at all.

When tightening is necessary, precautions need to be in place. If you don’t personally know that the threads are in good condition and that the plug is not cross threaded, don’t touch it, drop the pressure first. If you do know those conditions are met, clear the area, stand well to the side, and be sure that you have an escape route. Inside the cab or between the frames doesn’t meet those standards, drop the pressure first.

Huron Plugs

Huron plugs are quick and easy to install and remove, and the seal is on the 45 degree seat above the threads (no need for Teflon tape), but they have their disadvantages. The sleeves they thread into restrict access to the boiler, that access being the reason for having a washout plug in that location in the first place. The square threads are prone to cracking at their bases due to age and overtightening, and so are subject to sudden blowouts without warning. In one case, Ben Kline stripped the threads off a Huron plug (that a young Linn Moedinger was about to install) with his thumb while he held the plug in his other hand.

Our Huron plugs are cleaned in the solvent tank and wire brushed then closely inspected for cracks at the base of the threads, and for the condition of the tapered seat. Be careful not to damage the seat while cleaning! The threads in the sleeve and its seat are also cleaned and inspected (a mirror is needed to see the back side of the threads to look for cranks).

If found to be in good condition, the plug is lubricated with a graphite and oil mix, screwed in and tightened. Where a tapered thread plug practically can’t be overtightened, Huron plugs are subject to failure due to that. We tighten them with a specific 1’ long wrench that is given two whacks with a 3 lb. hammer, no more! Remember, the 45-degree seat is equivalent to the seat in a globe valve, and you wouldn’t hang off of a 6’ cheater to shut off a 2” globe valve, would you?

We have had instances (none recently) of Huron plugs starting to back out inside the cab due to vibration while underway. Talk about sphincter factor! Not much choice but to retighten in that situation. Even worse would be to have one start backing out on the road in a place that the crew couldn’t see, so they would have no idea until it blew out.

In my opinion, tapered plugs are the safer choice due to the thread cracking issue of Huron plugs. Your mileage may vary.

**Tightening when hot is always a hot-button issue, no more so than this week. Like everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and if all the criteria are met, it can be done safely. And in the end it is going to have happen from time to time, as it has been since James Watt’s time. Once at an engineering Standards Committee meeting the question was raised about codifying a prohibition on tightening washout plugs while under pressure. Sitting in, I asked for a show of hands of the dozen plus in attendance for how many had done it. Every hand at the table went up, except for the person proposing to write the prohibition. Case closed.

In a perfect world, sure, no plug would ever be tightened while under pressure. The real world isn’t so cut and dried. I have had the experience of having had my forearm scalded from wrist to elbow, not from any blowout, but from getting distracted and losing my situational awareness, and I gained a lot of empathy for burn victims from that. For the first week, each day it hurt worse than it did the day before, due to nerves having been burned off healing and coming back to life. So, I feel for that poor fellow at Cass, however, you can get badly burned working with gasoline or electricity as well, so there is no reason to call out steam power for being “incredibly dangerous”. All technology is if you don’t treat it with the respect that it requires.

_________________
"It was not easy to convince Allnutt. All his shop training had given him a profound prejudice against inexact work, experimental work, hit-or-miss work."
C. S. Forester

Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:48 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1312
Location: Youngstown, OH
Thanks for that Kelly. Very appropriate and timely for me at least as once I get back from HRA the very next thing that I will be doing is addressing 58's washout plugs.

What is your opinion of teflon tape vs. pipe dope? I prefer to use Key-Tite as thread dope on all of my connections and hardly if ever use teflon tape.

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J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2292
Location: Northern Illinois
Baldwin feeder wrote:
Now that I'm a bit older and experienced, I think my procedure using a checklist while tightening plugs leaves much to be desired. I was talking with a friend yesterday who mentioned that he used to put a witness mark on plugs that he had tightened so there would be little question before fire up. I am very interested what procedures exist at different operations to document what work was completed and perhaps by who.


Marking the plug and the checklist really serve two different functions. The mark lets you know that you've been there before. However, the crewman chargedwith the first firing may not know where all the plugs are. That's the purpose of the checklist; he can use it to find every plug and confirm that it has been tightened. If the list is initialed and signed, it also serves to track who was responsible for doing each.

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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:09 pm
Posts: 361
Location: Los Angeles
Huron plugs, Kelly. The Baldwin folio and Huron plugs I have see have the copper seal radius at the sealing surface rather than a 45. The thimble installed in the boiler is cut at a 45. It is always prudent to do some type of UT annually on your Huron plugs since they are known to crack. Some type of sealing paste can be used on the mating surfaces however if the 45 is fresh and the radius copper on the plug not flattened from over tightening then the plug should easily seal. Marine grade anti-seize is a good option instead of a home brew graphite mix. Marine grade is good to around 1800F. Tapping any plug in with any procedure is not the best thing to do but we have all done, it just like tightening under pressure.


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:26 pm 

Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 10:27 am
Posts: 173
Location: New Haven Ct area
When it comes to checklists for wash out plugs what am I missing? I've never done a full size locomotive boiler washout but why would one put in a plug and not fully tighten it up before going on to the next one? Is it that one needs to get the water to really pool up in areas but also still needs to remove them to drain out?

We have this problem at when all the time with inexperienced hydraulic assemblers who leave loose fittings in the systems they are building. Sure it is usually nice to have the flexibility of having your fittings loose till you commit to how you are plumbing them, but the season veterans almost always tighten as much as possible before they move on to the next fitting for this very reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:54 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:41 pm
Posts: 110
Kelly Anderson wrote:
Donald Cormack wrote:
What are accepted safe principles for anyone with tapered plugs to follow when removing, inspecting and reinstalling in their respective vessels?

Here is our practice:

Tapered Plugs

Each plug is stamped on the top of its head with its location, because each plug is lapped to a fit with its hole, and will not seal as well in any other hole.

The plug threads are cleaned with a brass wire wheel in a bench grinder, then visually inspected for rounded, smashed, crossed, or otherwise damaged threads, and if it has compressed an excessive hollow in its length where it tightens in the sheet.

The hole threads are cleaned with a wire brush and inspected for being worn round or otherwise damaged.

Take the cheap Home Depot Teflon tape in the tool box and wing it into the trash where it belongs. Buy #6802K55 Teflon tape from McMaster Carr, you will be glad you did, and wrap it on the plug in a clockwise direction when looking at the wet end of the plug. Corner plugs only also get a coat of Teflon pipe dope (such as McMaster #8149K22) over top of the Teflon tape due to the sheet it screws into not being flat, causing interrupted threads.

Start the plug by hand and be certain that it isn’t cross threaded. If you can’t tell, get someone who can, this is life and death.

Once the plug is started, stay with it until it is fully tight, do not walk away from it when it is only hand tight. That, and being cross threaded are behind the majority of bad leakers when steaming up. In both cases, the person responsible for installing the plugs should be removed from that job, they are not ready for that level of responsibility. As simple as screwing in a washout plug seems from a distance, it requires serious skill and attention to detail to get consistently right.

Regarding tightening when hot, in some cases it is necessary**. Sometimes plugs that are extremely tight when cold will have a sizzle coming out around them when steam is building, and can easily take up ¼ turn more when hot. However, it is a process that needs to be taken very seriously. Don’t wait until full pressure is on before inspecting the plugs for leaks. Take an inspection tour of the plugs every few minutes while raising steam, and deal with leakers as they are found. Often, they will show themselves and can be taken up before much pressure has built up at all.

When tightening is necessary, precautions need to be in place. If you don’t personally know that the threads are in good condition and that the plug is not cross threaded, don’t touch it, drop the pressure first. If you do know those conditions are met, clear the area, stand well to the side, and be sure that you have an escape route. Inside the cab or between the frames doesn’t meet those standards, drop the pressure first.

Huron Plugs

Huron plugs are quick and easy to install and remove, and the seal is on the 45 degree seat above the threads (no need for Teflon tape), but they have their disadvantages. The sleeves they thread into restrict access to the boiler, that access being the reason for having a washout plug in that location in the first place. The square threads are prone to cracking at their bases due to age and overtightening, and so are subject to sudden blowouts without warning. In one case, Ben Kline stripped the threads off a Huron plug (that a young Linn Moedinger was about to install) with his thumb while he held the plug in his other hand.

Our Huron plugs are cleaned in the solvent tank and wire brushed then closely inspected for cracks at the base of the threads, and for the condition of the tapered seat. Be careful not to damage the seat while cleaning! The threads in the sleeve and its seat are also cleaned and inspected (a mirror is needed to see the back side of the threads to look for cranks).

If found to be in good condition, the plug is lubricated with a graphite and oil mix, screwed in and tightened. Where a tapered thread plug practically can’t be overtightened, Huron plugs are subject to failure due to that. We tighten them with a specific 1’ long wrench that is given two whacks with a 3 lb. hammer, no more! Remember, the 45-degree seat is equivalent to the seat in a globe valve, and you wouldn’t hang off of a 6’ cheater to shut off a 2” globe valve, would you?

We have had instances (none recently) of Huron plugs starting to back out inside the cab due to vibration while underway. Talk about sphincter factor! Not much choice but to retighten in that situation. Even worse would be to have one start backing out on the road in a place that the crew couldn’t see, so they would have no idea until it blew out.

In my opinion, tapered plugs are the safer choice due to the thread cracking issue of Huron plugs. Your mileage may vary.

**Tightening when hot is always a hot-button issue, no more so than this week. Like everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and if all the criteria are met, it can be done safely. And in the end it is going to have happen from time to time, as it has been since James Watt’s time. Once at an engineering Standards Committee meeting the question was raised about codifying a prohibition on tightening washout plugs while under pressure. Sitting in, I asked for a show of hands of the dozen plus in attendance for how many had done it. Every hand at the table went up, except for the person proposing to write the prohibition. Case closed.

In a perfect world, sure, no plug would ever be tightened while under pressure. The real world isn’t so cut and dried. I have had the experience of having had my forearm scalded from wrist to elbow, not from any blowout, but from getting distracted and losing my situational awareness, and I gained a lot of empathy for burn victims from that. For the first week, each day it hurt worse than it did the day before, due to nerves having been burned off healing and coming back to life. So, I feel for that poor fellow at Cass, however, you can get badly burned working with gasoline or electricity as well, so there is no reason to call out steam power for being “incredibly dangerous”. All technology is if you don’t treat it with the respect that it requires.



Kelly,

Appreciate you sharing your experience on the matter.

Your discussion of Huron plugs and BobK's comments reminded me of another question I had for you. Has SRC ever made or considered making their modern Huron style plugs with a radial seating surface as opposed to a straight 45°? What would be the advantages/disadvantages in doing so?

DC


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:14 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 518
Location: Wall, NJ
> The real world isn’t so cut and dried.

Depends on the definition of real world here. Perhaps at Cass or Strasburg there is a sense of urgency that the engine must run and certain actions may be taken to achieve that goal. They are large scheduled operations with paid staff and for-profit. Most of us do this as a hobby, schedules are loose and a diesel can, at times, be pushed into service for a day. In other words, its not worth taking the chance.

In 30 years of running 3' gauge steam as a volunteer on a small tourist line, I never had to tighten a wash out plug while under steam. I did have one plug weep a little before we had any fire under way and we chose to drain the boiler, remove the plug and do it again. We only lost a couple of hours but did make it on time to the train.

My advice is that it may depend on your application. On some operations, yes it may be necessary. Otherwise, I would not do it. For a volunteer organization, it is not worth the risk.

This goes beyond wash out plugs. We once had a lower tri-cock start to spray hot water like a fan through out the cab from the threads. Being a shay, my concern as the fireman for a guest engineer was to get him the heck out of the engineers seat before anything potentially got worse. We stopped on the mainline, dumped the fire, turned on the injector and left the cab. We were towed in that day. Yes, the threads had been worn and had kind of a cut across them. Very odd. The water found its way through that cut and into the cab as a spray of hot water or mist.

So two points from my position:
1) How badly do you need the locomotive to operate that day? Is it worth the risk?
2) Its not just a wash out plug issue.

Kelly, many thanks. Learned a lot today.

J.R. May


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:20 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1419
Location: Strasburg, PA
Rick Rowlands wrote:
What is your opinion of teflon tape vs. pipe dope? I prefer to use Key-Tite as thread dope on all of my connections and hardly if ever use teflon tape.

I like high density Teflon tape, but what works best for you is the best thing for you to use.

adammil1 wrote:
why would one put in a plug and not fully tighten it up before going on to the next one?

Possible reasons why would be; wanting to put all the plugs in hand tight, then go around with the wrench and tighten them all (and possibly missing one), you forgot the wrench, and don’t want to make the extra trip to the tool board to pick it up, or “oh look, it’s lunch time”, etc.

Attachment:
smallIMG_6239.jpg
smallIMG_6239.jpg [ 194.42 KiB | Viewed 541 times ]

Donald Cormack wrote:
Has SRC ever made or considered making their modern Huron style plugs with a radial seating surface as opposed to a straight 45°? What would be the advantages/disadvantages in doing so?

No, not with a radius, but ours do come with a two angle seat so the 45 degree portion is pretty narrow, and they lap into a narrow sealing ring against the seat. We have found that satisfactory for our service. We can certainly make plugs with the full ¼ round seat, but you would be the first one to ask for one.

JR May wrote:
Perhaps at Cass or Strasburg there is a sense of urgency that the engine must run and certain actions may be taken to achieve that goal. They are large scheduled operations with paid staff and for-profit. Most of us do this as a hobby, schedules are loose and a diesel can, at times, be pushed into service for a day. In other words, its not worth taking the chance.

My advice is that it may depend on your application. On some operations, yes it may be necessary. Otherwise, I would not do it. For a volunteer organization, it is not worth the risk.

So two points from my position:
1) How badly do you need the locomotive to operate that day? Is it worth the risk?
2) Its not just a wash out plug issue.

That is all true.

_________________
"It was not easy to convince Allnutt. All his shop training had given him a profound prejudice against inexact work, experimental work, hit-or-miss work."
C. S. Forester

Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: Fundraiser For Severely Burned Cass Employee
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:52 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1042
I have a dumb question regarding the Huron plugs:

Given the known issues with separation of the threads from the body of the plug, why does the thread on the example pictured have so many apparent stress raisers 'machined' into the root, rather than a reasonably smooth radius from the body up to the engaging portion of the square threading? Seems to me there might even be advantage to roll this radius after machining to form it up against lateral bending stress when installed.

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