It is currently Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:13 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 171 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 12  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 11:56 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:22 pm
Posts: 339
Amen to the previous post. A few more thoughts:

Once you're deposed in a civil case, you're often under a gag order. We were dragged through a very long lawsuit by a man whose behavior is almost precisely that which has been alleged in the UP cases. We couldn't answer questions about it. The plaintiff could, and did, say, or have his lawyer and his few friends say, anything they wanted about us. It got surreal. (If you're wondering, just one example: an old Mercury Tracer compact is a "semi-luxury car" and buying it with your salary means the company "provided" it.)

When one person at a workplace has a problem with a boss, I assume it's a personality problem. When two have a problem with a boss, maybe they're friends and have the same confict. When three or more have a problem, I wonder what's going on. It's much like the Cosby case; one accusation can be anything from spite to the truth, two are less liable to be spite, and three or more get my attention in a serious way.

Third, while there are civil suits ongoing, UP is operating under serious constraints. In some circumstances, disciplining an accused employee before the lawsuits are setted actually increases the company's liability. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. That's why the victim in a lot of harassment cases gets reassigned or sent off on a pension--it's legally safer than dealing with the alleged offender.

_________________
--Becky


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 12:00 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 907
What I find disheartening is a bit different.

The original post (by a respected participant here, who is not unacquainted with steam restoration and 'all that that implies') was simply this:

Quote:
Just looking for some authoritative word on the status of 844, 3985, and 4014 as of 2015. Did a Google search and came up with 2010 updates, which are as cold as a dead boiler.
I am specifically interested in the readiness of the Northern and Challenger.


The first response was essentially a warning that the 'usual suspects' were going to start the timeless-topic discussion of things UNRELATED to the question that was asked. Sure as night follows day, on this 'decayed' version of a preservation board, that is what has happened.

Now we have a 15th rswponse, at great length, rightly bewailing all sorts of things but not addressing anything about the original post or the question it posed.

I, personally, find it pathetic that the supposedly 'highly functional PR/corporate comms program' can't provide any coherent information about the state of its locomotives or when they are expected to be in service. I won't go further than that, but I, again personally, find it sad that UP doesn't consider the preservation community worthwhile enough to address even its concerns.

Perhaps ironically, at this very moment over on one of the Reading 2100 threads is an example of how tuly responsible people address a situation like this:


http://theroundhousepodcast.com/?p=374


I'm presuming that there are, in fact, people reading the Interchange who have some objective knowledge of the service status of these locomotives (and not just rumors-to-the-x-power) and know when they are expected to run again. I am not particularly concerned with internal office politics or other aspects of management style -- I am only concerned with how the engines operate, when we can see them again, and whether there are meaningful things that UP's experience or practices might contribute to other organizations' best practices.

There is no reason that czannot be done in a civil and objective way, by adults considerate of each other. Insofar as that may not typify some of the recent 'action' here ... it's a heads-up that we are better than that and ought to 'comport ourselves accordingly'.

Now, it does occur to me that 'we' did not start the name-calling regarding 'a private citizen being known far and wide by an unflattering nickname' (at least if some of the material Mr. Wilkins has quoted in the past is accurate). That doesn't change the point that in order to criticize any such childishness, we have to hold ourselves strictly above doing it ourselves. I thought that was part of proper professional demeanor.

_________________
R.M.Ellsworth


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 1:47 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
Overmod wrote:

Perhaps ironically, at this very moment over on one of the Reading 2100 threads is an example of how tuly responsible people address a situation like this:


http://theroundhousepodcast.com/?p=374



Excellent point, R.M.

The #2100 team has a couple of things that don't exist in every large restoration project: the first is Kelly and the second is a management team unencumbered by other circumstances. Of course, the other thing the #2100 team did brilliantly was to stay off the radar until they were ready to go public. The spotlight is on them now, by their own doing. That's the way to do it.

Rob

_________________
The long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we're going, but where we want to go. B. Phillips


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 6:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:57 am
Posts: 183
Location: Sandpoint, ID
OK, try this.

I worked as a contractor for steam locomotives in Cheyenne and Omaha for the UP in the early to mid 2000's. I have a business degree, railroad operations degree, am an ESC member, etc, etc.

I stopped by to see Mr. Dickens in late March on the way to the last ESC meeting. The shop and its tools have been or are in the process of being disassembled, inspected, repaired and qualified or replaced to meet the latest standards used in UP's diesel shops, but specialized for steam. This also includes the formation of a contemporary quality processes for working on the steam locomotives. The techniques used are primarily Six-Sigma, which is the heart of what has been driving-down the RR's operating ratio. The Six-Sigma process is a ruthless pursuit of quality with zero defects accepted. I advise on some stationary steam engine compressors in refineries which similar processes are used on. The difficulty is that quality processes have to be formulated for this equipment which was built and repaired in an experience-based culture to a much lower standard than today - hence part of the large factor of design. Contemporary repair processes do not rely on feel, knowledge, intuition, etc - you take it all apart to pieces and evaluate every part. Yes, it takes a lot of time and expense to do it this way, but kids and retired garbage men can be trained to do the work.

When I saw the 844, it was a boiler on a frame much like it was when I first saw it. The evaluation criteria being used appears to be "to print" specs, as well as strict interpretations of jurisdictional code as a minimum. The more that is taken apart, the more that is found to not meet the criteria. Apparently, Ed has his whole desk full of specific examples.

This is a slippery slope - on the stationary compressor steam engines I assist with, they press the crankshaft apart every overhaul. Why? To evaluate it! Then they rebuild all the shafts, bores to get the fits and press it back together! Apply this mentality to the 844. What are the press fits? Then there are things like the axle bearings and trucks which he hasn't been able to measure yet and everything in-between. They want it to run, but the process does not allow unknowns. An articulated like the 3985 is 2X these problems, and obviously there is a push to do the 4000-class first. I did not look at the other steam locomotives, and only saw the 96 stored on a roundhouse whisker track in passing.

I'm not going to put down this approach because I am seeing a lot of quality issues for mechanical work everywhere from the automotive tire shop to steam locomotives. Experience and feel for mechanical systems is just about gone from the active workforce and that is obviously a societal objective. Steam programs which still have some of the old talent may be able to overhaul a locomotive more quickly and have operating success but expect this to be gone in the near future due to retiring leadership and workforce as well as this type of qualification not being acceptable to host railroads.

In short, the status of the U.P. steam fleet seems to be "in process"

I will not answer any posted questions.

Matt Janssen


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 6:58 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
Posts: 305
As somebody who has ZERO interest in the UP program,

If a fraction of what has been thrown around the internet is true, it does not leave one with warm feelings.

Actions speak louder then words at times.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 7:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5262
Location: southeastern USA
Thanks Matt - it not only provides a context that makes it understandable, but is an interesting experiment in applying modern technological philosophies to obsolete technology.

dave

_________________
"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 7:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 286
Location: Oroville, CA
Mr. Janssen's post is quite interesting. In some ways it verifies what some have said about the leadership not "understanding steam" and it also explains what is going on. It reminds me a bit of when Steve Lee took on the 844's rebuilding way back. he found all sorts of "make-do" repairs to keep the locomotive running, but not good for its longevity. Likely at the time no one thought it would keep going for decades (this is conjecture on my part). So a lot of work was done "from scratch" to bring it back to specs.
Here is where the "modern thinking" goes awry; much antique machinery was not built to modern specification, and oftentimes cannot run if built to them. For a well-documented example (not steam, but antique machinery), the Model T ford transmission. It is a planetary transmission, and the three triple-gears that mesh the three transmission & brake drums together ride on bronze bushings on steel pins. Modern bearing tolerances are 1 to 1.5 thousands. If you build it to that tolerance, the transmission seizes after a short time. The specifications are actually 1.5 thousands RUNNING clearance--in modern parlance, 3 thousands.
Steam itself will not, IMHO, translate well to the "modern thinking" due to the heat and various materials used, which expand and contract at different ratios (one of the things that does in the T transmission bushings). I'm reminded of my first trip in the Delta Queen steamboat, with a new engine crew. Almost all of them were just "out of the academy" and were doing the best job they knew how. There was a knock in the engine and they were trying to find it. The sound telegraphed everywhere. I was down visiting the engine room and noted the concerned look on one assistant's face. I told him, 'Son, if you grab hold of this reach rod" (connects the valve to the valve links) and I grabbed it, "you can feel the knock and trace it out." Egads, TOUCH the running machinery! Yes, if you are careful and know where its going; the reach rod goes back and forth about a foot, and was quite clear of any other moving parts. So he did the same and the look was "AH!!" I told him, "you listen, feel and smell and she'll tell you what she needs!" (which is mostly true, sometimes something else happens).
So, while I understand the need for standardized procedures and set tolerances, they must be done to the machinery's needs, not just to a modern standard. And the folks around the machinery have to be more than box-boys, they need to understand the "feel" of the equipment. It's like a machinist; the print says make to this dimension, and he does, but while doing it, he's listening to the cut, avoiding chattering, etc. It does take time to acquire this experience, it's not easily taught from a book.
BTW. I've seen folks RIDE the piston rod on a Liberty Ship Engine--would I do it? Probably not, too much an "E ticket" ride for me, but it was thought to be the best way to observe what was going on at the crosshead under load!
And it just occurred to me that we are drifting far from the original question. . . .

_________________
Steamcerely,
David Dewey
Help save the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!
Write your congressman to support and co-sponsor House Resolution HR-619. This bill only grants her permission to run; there is no cost to us taxpayers.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 10:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8396
Location: Baltimore, MD
One of the reports/rumors that floats about is that the UP management's attempt to impose the Six Sigma program and protocol upon the Steam Department is what led to the retirement/resignation of previous department administration.

IF (and I repeat, IF) the reports cited above are accurate, this would seem to explain the philosophical differences that may be the heart of the issue.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 11:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5262
Location: southeastern USA
It's an interesting contrast with the 611 project - not that the scopes of work are close by any means. I'm looking forward to seeing how the process works out. My gut feeling here - and it's nothing more than that - is that more effort will go into compliance with Six Sigma than will go into the real needs of the hardware itself. Perhaps we will need to follow it over many years and thousands of miles to see if it's worth the extra investment in reliability, robustness and availability....but is availability going to be a requirement at all? Will there be daily intensive service as if it were 1949?

dave

_________________
"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 12:24 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:22 pm
Posts: 219
OK, I am not going on a long discussion, but I was present at a presentation by Ed Dickens, Jr. and members of his steam crew in March, 2015..

Bottom line.
There were many more problems than first thought.
844 WILL be in service in late 2015 or early 2016.
4014 Will be ready for the 2019 celebration.
3985 is on the back burner for the foreseeable future.
All of this is subject to change as more work occurs.
A good deal of the time has been spent in overhauling the roundhouse back to a steam shop from a diesel shop.
That is my story and I am sticking to it.
Ira Schreiber


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 1:21 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 723
I used the rather unorthodox method of actually asking the people who worked there and some who still work there about this, figuring they should know what they are talking about.

At the start of 2011, there were 11 full and part time steam crew employees. 2 years later, all 11 were gone. This was a combination of early retirements, resignations, and seniority moves out of the department. 10 more were hired. At this time, only 6 of those remain, the other 4 having exercised seniority or quit.

If you are keeping score, that is 6 left out of 21. All of this occurred in less than 4 years.

In the previous 22 years, there was one resignation, 2 promotions, 3 retirements and 2 deaths (not work related). Total of 8.

Draw your own conclusions.

Further:

844 will not operate this year, and probably not next year. Parts are being evaluated
to standards and tolerances unheard of when the locomotive was built and during it's service life and far beyond current codes. Using these goals it is highly doubtful that anything on 844 or any of the other locomotives can come close to what is being demanded. We are talking tolerances and specs far more applicable to NASA than to ALCO.

As to the shop, everyone I spoke to pointed out that the shop, which was built in 1918, served it's purpose admirably as a steam locomotive repair, overhaul and servicing facility for 97 years. Only within the last year has it become "totally unsuited for steam locomotive repair."

I encourage others to exercise a little less denial and little more due diligence. Anybody can do what I did.

If this gets the thread locked, so be it. I think Randy has been very patient so far.


Last edited by Lincoln Penn on Sun May 03, 2015 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 2:13 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 286
Location: Oroville, CA
I hope it doesn't lock this thread, as so far it has been the most thoughtful discussion of what may or may not be happening to the UP steam fleet. There have been on direct accusations of anyone, just a listing of visible observations, and now we are discussing to what tolerances should steam locomotives be kept to in this modern world where experienced hands are a dwindling resource.
When it was time to update federal boiler standards, a committee of knowledgeable folks was formed, and I believe the results were pretty good. Common sense was apparently used--and that's a rare commodity nowadays.
To hold Steam Locomotives to Modern internal combustion engine standards is just foolishness. They weren't designed for it! If you want to standardize your locomotive servicing and inspections is a noble plan, but the standards must recognize the technology and be adapted to it. What I'm trying to say is that somehow you take experience and systems operation understanding and somehow document it so it can be passed on. In the old days this was done by "working your way up" which was the American version of the apprentice system so popular in Europe.
Knowledgeable people are not the "interchangeable pegs" that modern managers think they should be. Perhaps that is a failing of our management education system.
I just flashed on my own life--I grew up in a family resort; I was renting cabins when I was 12 years old (was cleaning them since I was about 7, although that "cleaning" was more likely me being underfoot!), taking reservations, recommending places to go, smoothing things over, fixing stuff "on the run" and helping the maids out (that's what we were taught was managing them--make sure they've got everything they need to do their job) was just a part of life--I was shocked years later to find out there was a college course in "Hotel Management." I had been apprenticed without realizing it. Quite recently my nephew had to suddenly move to a new town and was wondering what to do for work--I reminded him that he had a world of experience as a front desk clerk, reservations, concierge, and maintenance. Landed a job immediately, and the place thought he was a god-send. I don't know how you can teach all that experience, but that's what modern management believes is the wave of the future.
Hmm, somehow I suspect I've drifted far from the subject in trying to illustrate what somehow has to be done to make that "Six Sigma" idea work.

_________________
Steamcerely,
David Dewey
Help save the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!
Write your congressman to support and co-sponsor House Resolution HR-619. This bill only grants her permission to run; there is no cost to us taxpayers.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 7:20 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
Posts: 728
Six Sigma is a great tool in industry, but there are a couple of things essential to making it work- an ongoing process where problems can be dissected and cured, and having sufficient staff- who thoroughly understand both the technology and the Six Sigma methodology.

A very good Six- Sigma trained person can successfully work with others who have the detailed knowledge and experience, even if he/ she knows little about the specific process, as long as good communication and cooperation are present. Sometimes this ability to ask "dumb questions" without being blinded by years of habit can be a godsend in getting to the root of problems.

It's not as useful in a shop doing "one off" work, such as a steam shop trying to get its fleet back on the road, but it could easily be used to address things like management system issues.

Throwing new methods into an existing shop with guys who have been used to working a certain way "forever" can be fun, to say the least.

Regardless of the cause, a high employee turnover rate will cause chaos in even the best run operation. Many places are having problems, simply because massive numbers of experienced workers are retiring.

Hopefully UP can find the right mix of people, skills, and methods to get things happily rolling along again before long.

Steve Hunter


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 10:18 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1895
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Quote:
It's not as useful in a shop doing "one off" work, such as a steam shop trying to get its fleet back on the road, but it could easily be used to address things like management system issues.


I teach business management and quality, and I had exactly the same thought. All of the six sigma stuff focuses on repeatable operations. Everything in steam preservation is a one time, craftsman task.

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 10:44 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3749
Location: Maine
I want to publicly apologize for unsuspectingly opening this can of worms. I wanted to know what was happening in one of the most progressive railroad organizations, with a strong, demanding love of its heritage fleet and what it represents. In spite of whatever is happening behind the scenes, I'm certain UP will figure it out and put all three locomotives back to service. The expansion of the steam shop has been known of for a long time. That expansion and the addition of a Big Boy, which has been an inevitable conclusion since the 3985 was awakened, can only be good.

_________________
"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 171 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 12  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: