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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 4:09 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 12
Thanks for your comments Becky!

I do not wish to hijack or derail this thread into a discussion of process improvement/ quality systems. With this is mind I would first say that is up to the organization to determine the need for, contract for and manage their consultants. We do this with employees. We must do it with contractors.

One really important aspect to Six Sigma/Lean improvement efforts is that they deeply involve the key knowledgeable and skilled people actually doing the work. This is where I think we may have a solid chance to integrate this precious craft information into a documented quality system and make it our standard practice. This will become the base for any possible process improvements. Please note that the process improvements will be generated from and approved by the knowledgeable and skilled people doing the work or are directly affected by this work.

We have a huge advantage these days I think - many of the career restoration specialists and even a good number of experienced volunteers are multi skilled. They are welders, machinists, fitters, plumbers, electricians. The boilermakers are much more specialized. Having multi skilled competent talent available can accelerate a good quality improvement process.

With respect to the Union Pacific ( I am a long time shareholder) and their steam operations - I have no personal knowledge of the skill levels of their current employees. From what I have read - it is my opinion this body of knowledge may not be sufficient to build a good quality improvement process upon without taking substantial risk and a much longer than necessary amount of time. Time will tell. I hope I am wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:01 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:49 am
Posts: 231
Location: Cambridgeshire UK
OK folks, but.... what is the status of the steam fleet, ...ie... what work is currently going on,.... status of Big Boy restoration, work on 844 boiler, etc...?


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:13 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Quote:
OK folks, but.... what is the status of the steam fleet, ...ie... what work is currently going on,.... status of Big Boy restoration, work on 844 boiler, etc...?


I guess the videos of Pickens presentation are the best answer available.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:16 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:08 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Amherst, Oh
Frisco1522 wrote:
It's not exactly rocket surgery to operate these machines safely, even with the dumbed down generation.


I think people tend to get caught up in the "well if I know how to do this it must be common knowledge to everybody". Just because our generation doesn't know how to instinctively operate and maintain machinery doesn't mean we're "dumbed down", it means we have a different skill set. For instance I'll tear into a computer without a second thought but will need instructions on how to rebuild a carb. Some of us tinker enough to learn it slowly but a mentoring program would be extremely useful.


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:37 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8358
Location: Baltimore, MD
The more I read about this Six Sigma stuff, the more I'm reminded of a "Dilbert" cartoon from the strip's earliest days where the Pointy-Haired Boss comes in with the latest Japanese management technique, telling the employees to don the costumes of their favorite animals to motivate themselves, a second panel with Dilbert and Wally standing in silly animal costumes, and the third panel of Japanese executives almost doubled over in laughter, with one saying ".... and they BELIEVED IT!" and another saying "Hey, remember when we told them we did group exercises each day before work?"


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:59 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:22 pm
Posts: 339
It can be that, but it doesn't have to be. There are people who will use Six Sigma, or Lean, or the combination, or any of the other ideas, to improve their worksite. They're usually good managers to begin with and the strategy that attracts them is the improved version of what they're doing anyway. Hearing what you want to hear can be a good thing sometimes.

I started another thread to get the what-next discussion out of this one.

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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 11:26 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1058
Location: Pacific, MO
Emmo213 wrote:
Frisco1522 wrote:
It's not exactly rocket surgery to operate these machines safely, even with the dumbed down generation.


I think people tend to get caught up in the "well if I know how to do this it must be common knowledge to everybody". Just because our generation doesn't know how to instinctively operate and maintain machinery doesn't mean we're "dumbed down", it means we have a different skill set. For instance I'll tear into a computer without a second thought but will need instructions on how to rebuild a carb. Some of us tinker enough to learn it slowly but a mentoring program would be extremely useful.


You covered the whole issue in the final sentence. A MENTORING PROGRAM!
That's the key and when the mentor isn't on board, you still have an unintentional dumbed down crew.


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 12:10 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 896
Frisco1522 noted

Quote:
You covered the whole issue in the final sentence. A MENTORING PROGRAM!
That's the key and when the mentor isn't on board, you still have an unintentional dumbed down crew.


This is essentially the antithesis of what a good mentoring program is intended to produce, and different too from the body of codified knowledge and best practice I was advocating.

'Mentoring' is not, or shouldn't be, one of those buzzword things, where the pointy-haired guy shoves the blockheads in with Dilbert to acquire knowledge by osmosis. I look at it as being much more akin to the relationship between a graduate professor and his students -- the emphasis being to learn not just what he knows but how he knows it and perhaps came to know it. With the explicit assumption that sooner rather than later the student will have not only the knowledge of the teacher but the wisdom and insight as well.

Experience is somewhat different, of course. Something that hasn't worked too well in this context is the traditional apprentice/journeyman/master system (much as I like some of its principles, and think it could be adapted within a mentoring model). I'm not sure how many volunteers have either the patience or the time to learn the craft of steam maintenance the 'old way', starting as a wiper and working up, with the more or less explicit assumption that all the tasks, practices, costs, and missions of the work are already proven to be 'best' in context, and don't need to be changed or refined. A question might then be what methods of reinforcement and review might be used in between 'live' sessions with the mentor to reinforce skills, attitudes, etc. What this method does assume, though, is that the 'mentors' actually be enthusiastic and willing to teach, and not be crusty old guys stingily and condescendingly doling out the bare minimum of wisdom to people they perceive as callow newbies...

I have been tempted a number of times to use the Marine Corps method for training -- or perhaps some of the methods misused by the old est organization -- using some combination of discipline and psychology to get new 'steam people' out of whatever their previous reactions or additudes might be, and giving them a shared sense of pride and camaraderie once they have shown commitment. (There are obvious Dogbert-style problems inherent in this approach, and some organizations Just Will Not Be Able To Avoid Them... I name no names here, but at least in theory organizational reform of the right kind would fix such difficulties.)

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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 12:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 712
Everybody take a deep breath.

It is not Six Sigma, Lean or anything formal. It consists of simply of staring at or thinking about a part or an assembly until becoming convinced that there might/must be something wrong with it, then taking it apart to see for certain.

Example: A bolt. This bolt has been performing it's function properly and safely for 50 years. One day it is decided that said bolt might be defective, based on the premise that it hasn't been removed, cleaned, measured and inspected since it was installed. There is nothing to indicate a problem with this bolt. No cracks, rust, wear, etc.

Said bolt is removed, cleaned, a sample sent to a lab to determine the type of steel it's made of, tested for cracks and measured against the original drawing. Nothing untoward is found in the course of this process. It's not cracked, it's not worn, it is made of the correct material.

The drawing says the bolt must be five inches long. Measured with a ruler, it is indeed five inches long. However, when measured with a high-accuracy digital device, it is discovered this bolt is not five inches long. It is 4.999999 inches long.

Horrors! This is not acceptable! Lives are at stake here! Not only is this bolt not up to drawing specs, but the fact that it isn't calls into question all the other bolts. If this bolt is "bad", others might be, as well. Other bolts are removed and put through the same process. Most are five inches long. A few are 5.000001 inches long and a few others are 4.999999. These must be replaced.

Now, what about all the other bolts on this machine? Can we assume that because there has never been a failure or an issue of any kind that we can blissfully assume they are all correct, too? Of course not! Not only must the non-conforming bolts already found be replaced, but every other bolt must be checked, too. This thing could fly apart at any minute! Obviously, this should have been discovered long ago. It reflects poorly on the manufacturer, but also on the authorities and the people who so carelessly operated this thing for all those years. To top it off, there is no record of regular testing of these bolts.

Then, if bolts are "bad", what about all the other parts of this thing? Just because there is nothing anywhere that requires each of tens of thousands of pieces
to be tested regularly (or at all), doesn't mean it should not be totally dismantled and everything tested and measured. We can't take any chances.

Even parts that have been tested and maintained to rigid standards are not to be trusted. Just because everything was fine last month, doesn't mean it still is fine. There may be something wrong. We cannot take the chance.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what is going on. And why nothing runs or will run in the near future.


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 12:57 pm 
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Posts: 1903
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Emmo213 wrote:
Frisco1522 wrote:
It's not exactly rocket surgery to operate these machines safely, even with the dumbed down generation.


I think people tend to get caught up in the "well if I know how to do this it must be common knowledge to everybody". Just because our generation doesn't know how to instinctively operate and maintain machinery doesn't mean we're "dumbed down", it means we have a different skill set. For instance I'll tear into a computer without a second thought but will need instructions on how to rebuild a carb. Some of us tinker enough to learn it slowly but a mentoring program would be extremely useful.

Amen. I'm building a model train layout and got the track and wiring done about a month ago. I had to have a couple of pals come over and for the most part, do all the work for me (gotta be honest there) as I had no clue at all about how the digital command (DCC) systems work. On forums and from local guys during this timeframe I heard all the time about how 'easy' it was. None of them seemed to understand that nothing ever comes easy the first time around when you've never done something before.
Same when I've ever had any problems with my WW2 Jeep. I've learned as I've gone along and though I can do a lot of stuff on it alone, most of it is stuff I've handled before or watched someone do the same on theirs at one point.
Heck, I once landed a full Space Shuttle orbiter simulator (not one of those cheesy 'stick only' ones in a museum somewhere, I mean one that had to have two people in the cockpit and it had hundreds of buttons and switches). After training to realize what most of those buttons and switches meant and how to correct malfunctions (only with help from a 'mission control' at the other end), I could say that, for me, it really was 'easy' to follow the HUD and inputs to get it onto the unforgiving runway at Kennedy Space Center.
But it'd never occur to me to tell anyone else that it'd be just as easy to sit in the left seat and do the exact same thing.
As a former Army officer, I used a lot of skills that I had to learn. When we'd get a new LT into the unit, I'd never assume they had the exact same knowledge base I had as I'd done lots of stuff they hadn't had the chance for prior to then.
Yet, for so many people, what is easy for them must be equally easy for anyone else. I've never understood that.

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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 1:16 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 712
Mentoring:

In my experience, mentoring should be a two-way street. Meaning both the mentor and the mentee should be willing and able to learn from each other.

This also requires an attitude on the part of both parties that recognizes that neither of them know everything about everything right out of the gate. The mentor has learned a lot of what he knows through experience, making mistakes, seeing others make mistakes, understanding and correcting those mistakes so they are not repeated.

The mentee can show his mentor a lot about new processes or techniques or materials or methods, but he also has to keep in mind that just as some of the mentor's processes and methods may seem anachronistic to the mentee, the mentor might see some of the mentees ideas as short-cuts or cutting corners or crossing the lines of what is legal and what works. Chances are the mentor has seen a lot of bright ideas go down in flames.

If the mentee arrives with the attitude that the mentor is an old fossil and that he knows so much more than the mentor, there will be trouble. Sometimes it is difficult to accept that things are done the way they are because they work, and not only because they've "always been done that way."


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 1:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8358
Location: Baltimore, MD
Lincoln Penn wrote:
Said bolt is removed, cleaned, a sample sent to a lab to determine the type of steel it's made of, tested for cracks and measured against the original drawing. Nothing untoward is found in the course of this process. It's not cracked, it's not worn, it is made of the correct material.
The drawing says the bolt must be five inches long. Measured with a ruler, it is indeed five inches long. However, when measured with a high-accuracy digital device, it is discovered this bolt is not five inches long. It is 4.999999 inches long.
Horrors! This is not acceptable! Lives are at stake here! Not only is this bolt not up to drawing specs, but the fact that it isn't calls into question all the other bolts. If this bolt is "bad", others might be, as well.

In the so-called "Dilbert Universe," which is based far too much more on reality than any of us care to admit, the bolts actually measured 4.9 inches when checked, and were discarded on that basis.

Because nobody factored in the .1 inch piece sliced off for the metallurgical lab sample.

I wish it were only a joke.


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 2:10 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

Just for laughs, I worked for a company (c1992) that manufacture CPAP and SIDS machines to try to help out other's breathing problems.

The son of the owner/founder designed a part.

The head machinist told me the story. He did not understand 4.9/16ths. He went to the son. The explanation was "well I want it just a little but smaller than 5/16".

Being the son, the drawing was not changed (not even an explanation of 4.9/16") became an FDA controlled device (it was in a medical document).

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 3:47 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 712
Emmo213 wrote:

I think people tend to get caught up in the "well if I know how to do this it must be common knowledge to everybody". Just because our generation doesn't know how to instinctively operate and maintain machinery doesn't mean we're "dumbed down", it means we have a different skill set. For instance I'll tear into a computer without a second thought but will need instructions on how to rebuild a carb. Some of us tinker enough to learn it slowly but a mentoring program would be extremely useful.


Another take on it, especially when it comes to the blue collar trades: "Those guys do hot, dirty, greasy work. Obviously, anybody can do whatever it is they do, no training required."


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 Post subject: Re: U.P. Steam Shop status of steam fleet?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 6:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1241
Location: Strasburg, PA
Johnsox wrote:
I think it was Kelly Anderson who commented in the past something to this effect " we are building a railway steam locomotive - not a Swiss watch.

No, that was Burt Lancaster, and as I recall the line was, "You're working on a locomotive, not a pocket watch!"

Not too much mentoring going on there. I believe the sub-text was "get you ass in gear". I'm not too sure where exactly that fits into the new standards or manual being discussed, but it is also a necessary part of a successful project.

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Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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