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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:32 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
from what we have researched, that is correct. We are making her very road worthy and removing the doubt that was in the original build.
Art


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:42 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
Posts: 377
Location: Minneapolis, MN
557 mechanic wrote:
The 3/8" plate will be replaced with an upgrade to 7/16" and additional flexible stays from factory. The firebox tube sheet has been replaced already once from new, we found a carnegie steel stamping from 1956 on it indicating 52,000 psi, interestingly 3000 psi short of the original spec.


This statement and the allusion to a replacement boiler being available because another locomotive had a broken frame seems to point to the operative problem. The strength of the locomotive was not up to the specifications. Probably applies not only to the tube sheet but to the enntire firebox. Little wonder there have been problems. Obviously in the world of Part 230, repair "in kind" will not cut it. I suspect with the proper materials used there will be no further problems. Wonder how much "wastage allowance" is left on the boiler shell?

It also begs the question to be asked if the construction of these boilers was "minimized" to save materials during the war. If these locomotives were regarded as expendable by the wartime planners, did this thus justify a mindset that said "shave a little off the safety factor" that resulted in lighter than specified construction? I am sure that there was lots of finger pointing between the designers, specifiers, builders and operators back in the day when these things were going boom. And of course, the railroads that were operating these locomotives had no choice but to repair them if they weren't too badly damaged.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:27 pm
Posts: 93
Location: Vt
hamster, while I hate to think that steel plate a little thinner than needed would have been used, it's certainly possible. My other hobby of antique WW2 vehicles showed that cutting corners to expedite getting material to the war front happened a lot. Jeeps designed to last 90 days, destroyer escort hulls 1/4" thick, jeep engine blocks cast from whatever was available, jeep trannys with 1 bearing, everything else sleeves, etc. Would the specification writers have risked mens lives in order to save material to build more to win
the war...it's possible
And yet C rations seemed to last forever!

Alan W.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
Bob,
I know this has been addressed before and there is no finger pointing. I like exploring thoughts on the matter...

The level of the inspection that took place before the locomotive returned to Alaska was fair as to the level that the inspection was asked for. But we have taken the engine down to the very frame and shell. Things that could not have been seen, without doing what we have done, would not have been seen in the "inspection level" that was asked for.

Ya know, this locomotive could have had lesser things done to her and she would have run. But here is the reason why. We are rebuilding a locomotive that will be required to run track speed, with train, in some of the harshest enviornment on the earth and we want there to be no worry that she will be able to perform. Reliably.

In my opinion, and we have experience and professional consultantation backing us on this, we are going to make this machine better and more reliable. The cost are significantly higher in Alaska than anywhere else in the country. What you might get some where else for reasonable price, we have to pay triple for up here. Labor, materials, time are all much more exspensive here.

As to the question you had about 'estimate of the consultant and the actual costs.' First that was a number that 'might' have got the locomotive operating, in the lower 48, thats all. My feelings on the budget was that it 'is' a cost to make something very right. Our group is simply looking at that(cost) as a 'tool' and we are dedicated enough that it doesn't matter...we are going to have this locomotive back on the rails and running, right and reliably. Nothing went wrong, it is based on location, requirement and reality. A 'guess-tamit' can ruin any project, but it is simply part of a tool to accomplish something. If it rules the end product, why in the world would we ever restore a locomotive, they are just dollars thrown in a firebox.

If there is a worthy project out there, the reality is that it is gonna cost time and money, "tools" that accomplish a task. I have seen and been part of locomotive operations where all that was wanted was train chugging down the track...and they failed after all the peices where torn down, never to be put back together again. We are gonna spend some time money and it will be what it will be. Any group out there who wants to make it happen, have to have reality on the radar all the time. Never lock yourself into a dollar fix or it will doom it from the beginning.

I am part of the 557 rebuild team, this is my opinions, I have been there since the moment she cuddle up in the warehouse. I have seen every inch of that loco and some no body else has. I can tell you that this group is very professional and dedicated. She is going to be done right. That is the only way to do it.

Thanks, that was a good question.
Art


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5250
Location: southeastern USA
These were built to run on lighter track with a much smaller loading gage that had been worn down with minimal maintenance during wartime conditions. Minimal weight was a necessary evil, with predictable effects on robustness. They were not built to US weights for heavy US style roadbeds.

That said, we should not lose track of the reality that fireboxes, courses, and entire boilers were considered consumable parts to be replaced as necessary during the days of mainline steam in the US as well as the rest of the developed world. The idea of conserving rather than using up and replacing is a new one. I think in retrospect the longevity of the S160s has been much greater than the designers and builders of that class would have anticipated.

It's always gratifying to hear from restoration project managers taking the rational and long term approach. Best wishes to all concerned.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:35 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:38 pm
Posts: 234
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
This is just a thought and not meant to point fingers and say you should have done this, but would it have been smarter for it to be restored in the lower 48 when the locomotive was still here? If costs are 3x's as much in Alaska as they are here, that would have meant that it would be 1/3 the cost to restore it. When that was finished it could then be shipped to Alaska in a restored state. Again, just thoughts.

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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2438
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
I think if you carefully read his post , he says some things may be 3x more expensive, not that the total costs were 3x more across the board. Also, it appeared to be more if a general statement than a specific example.

Also, a lot of this work is being performed by volunteer labor, something you may not have as much access to in the lower 48 for this project. Paid labor may sap up any projected savings.

It's good to see someone take the long view. Also, Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. These guys have to secure the funding and do the work. So far their judgment seems impeccable.

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Last edited by wilkinsd on Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
yes, it would have cost less and maybe done easier, but you might be hard pressed to find a group of tradesman who know how to take care of an Alaska engine in Alaskan climate and know how to make the corrections that will make her better for Alaska.

We are from across the state and we have all wanted this locomotive up here. We will know her intimately for the operations she will run in.

Art

Just a note, these photos are from June, add three more months of progress since then! it's even better still. And yes the cost was a general statement.


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File comment: Just before we removed the fire pan.
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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
Reading 900 wrote:
hamster, while I hate to think that steel plate a little thinner than needed would have been used, it's certainly possible. My other hobby of antique WW2 vehicles showed that cutting corners to expedite getting material to the war front happened a lot. Jeeps designed to last 90 days, destroyer escort hulls 1/4" thick, jeep engine blocks cast from whatever was available, jeep trannys with 1 bearing, everything else sleeves, etc. Would the specification writers have risked mens lives in order to save material to build more to win the war...it's possible


My father was a combat engineer in World War Two. He didn't speak much of the war (he noted that the more one talked or bragged about their military service, the less actual combat they tended to have actually seen, and vice versa), but one thing he did note was that German military hardware was horribly over-engineered compared to the American stuff. One example: a snazzy brass fuse lighter that, after the war, he had someone calculate probably cost the Germans 47 cents each to make, whereas American combat engineers were given glorified match-striker sets that cost about a third of a cent in bulk, occasionally might not work, but so what, you just grabbed the next one and lit away.
So did the Germans build the Kriegsloks to last, since it's looking like the American war locos may not have been prime material? Has anyone found inferior workmanship, material skimping, etc. in other "war locos" such as the Army 0-6-0s, 0-6-0Ts, etc?


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:27 pm
Posts: 93
Location: Vt
Good point Alex!
Things made in the USA were made only tough enough to do the job they had to do, and all of them were expendable, as in any war. Over engineering just waste time and material.
The restoration the folks in Alaska are doing will correct any deficiencies left over from the war. I wish 557 was closer, I'd sure like to ride behind her!

Alan W.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:52 am
Posts: 21
Brendan-

With the stay bolt spacing used on this engine the 3/8" plate is just adequate for 225 psi operating pressures with very little margin left for wastage, that is what has driven the firebox replacement, 7/16 gives us two advantages, more margin in plate thickness for the crown and side sheets and more thread engagement for the stay bolts. Stay bolt pull outs were one of the plagues of these engines in europe during WWII exacerbated by improper water levels. This very process was the cure for these engines at the tail end of the war and thru thier life in areas such as Poland. Remember these things were the "liberty ships" of the high iron, built cheap and in quantity. As an answer to someones earlier querry about updates for these problems- yes they do exist and we will be using them.

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:52 am
Posts: 21
By the way Art Chase Is my boiler rat, good at it too. He was the only one who could fit thru the firebox door until the door casting was removed.

On budgeting, there was no misunderstanding here in Alaska about what it would take to revive this old gal. The group of us that now make up the 557 restoration company knew full well what was coming, as I said earlier in one of the posts its a matter of perspective and background information. I would not put it in terms of whose right and whose wrong, that's not appropriate. Still we have even been taken by surprise by some things, they just have not been major in nature. Robert Franzen gave us an option to remove the boiler and send it via our free transport by Lynden to Steam Services of America and he would return a hydro'd ready to run boiler, a pricy option, or come to us to assist us with repairs, a large part of the labor being volunteer ( much more palatable ) Still cost does not drive 100% of any decision. The more that can be done here in our facility the more intimate the eventual operating crew will be with the product. Something I learned many years ago at MRSR and I am sure Bob Harbison will echo that is essential in succesful operation.
This engine will eventually make its way into the anchorage corridor which is single track main with 60mph speeds which in summer has gravel, coal , TOFC and passenger traffic all day. I for one do not want to be the one standing next to a broke locomotive with three trains stacked up behind us, not going to happen.

I just hope after Art had a chance to play with QJ's he doesn't start throwing stones at our little engine.

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:23 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2438
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
One must remember that the S-160 class was designed for a service life of 8-12 months. As such, it lacked many "thrills" such as drift valves and power reverse. The USATC considered the S-160 to be a "disposable" asset, designed to transport to the theater of operations easily and set up to operate quickly. The goal of the USATC in Europe was to get the railway network operational as soon as possible to support advances of the army.

The fact that many of the class went on to live long and useful service lives after their military service is a testament to their deisgn. The ones that ended up in Poland, for example, were a very successful class of locomotives and were rebuilt several times. One of the S-160s that was brought to Great Britian in the 1970s had a boiler from one builder, and each half of the frame repersenting a different builder(!). I tend to think the firebox issue is overblown (no pun intended), but one of those things that's easily corrected when you decide to replace the firebox. It wad done during the war and in the post-war service of these fine locomotives.

People also seem to forget that Warren & Saline River/Reader/Great Smoky Mountains 1702 is an S-160 and had a long career in the tourist railroad business with no apparent firebox issues.

David Wilkins
Toot-Sweet Express, UT

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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:34 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1603
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
First a hearty thank you to the 557 crew for all they're doing to see the steam torch come back to life in Alaska!!

One lesson I've come to learn after my share of locomotive restorations with me writing the checks..................

EVERY PROJECT COSTS MORE AND TAKES LONGER THAN ESTIMATED.

Just a hard fact of life. My best wishes to the 557 crew for every success.

Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:24 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
I'm another of the 557 crew. I'll add to Jeff's and Art's comments and respond to some of the other comments and questions -

From what I have found on the boiler failures, (Mostly from the book, "Over Here - the Story of the S-160 locomotive) there were several factors behind the small number of catastrophic boiler failures in the U.K. One was that a reflex water gauge was used instead of tube style gauges which the British were familiar with. Another is that the water gauge shutoff valves requiring several turns instead of the British standard of quarter-turn cocks. The valves were also operated through a shaft and universal joint when if damaged, would make operators believe it was fully open when only partially opened. Another was that early fusible plugs didn't blow cleanly when the crown sheet was overheated. Lack of experience with the American locomotives and, for some crews, a general lack of experience may also have been a factor. There was also at least one arch tube failure.

Fixes included making sure crews were familiar with the water gauges and to make sure the valves were fully open. Fusible plugs were modified so that they used tin instead of lead. There was a boiler redesign for the S-160s in 1944. One of the changes was to increase the thickness of the fire box plates.

In my opinion, the basic design and "bones" are solid, but there were a number of "efficiencies" adopted in the original design - some affected the long-term reliability and need for service and others didn't. The design made heavy use of flame cut and welded parts. For most locomotives this included flame cut frames and all the spring and brake hangers and equalizers. Rod and journal bearings were lubricated with an oil can and were subject to failure. Many of the suspension and brake wear points lacked bushings. There was no electrical system. Vacuum, air, and steam brake systems were fitted, with none of them being particularly effective. On 557, these shortcomings were generally corrected during service on the ARR and included an electrical system, forced lubrication to the journals and hard grease lubricators on the rods. Where bushings are still lacking we will be fitting them when we deal with a lot of egg-shaped holes and worn pins. I'm assuming that the Poles and others who used them for many years did similar fine tuning.

In the 1944 boiler improvements one of the changes was to increase the thickness of the fire box plates. Since the fire box is being replaced we will upgrade to the thicker material as well as make other improvements to ensure a long life for the boiler and minimize maintenance where practical.

I haven't seen any reports of catastrophic boiler failures after those reported during the short period that S-160s operated in the U.K. and the locomotive continued to operate for a many of years around the world. I'm assuming that means that they were considered to be safe and efficient after the early teething problems were overcome.

Concerning the suggestion that 557 could be rebuilt outside of Alaska - If all things were equal, and a contracted restoration was going to take place whether it was in Alaska or the Lower 48, a restoration would be cheaper and quicker in the lower 48. However, all things are not equal. We have relied extensively on volunteer labor (3,100 hours for the locomotive and another 1,200 on administration and project management during the first year) along with a heavy infusion of donated goods and services to get us to our current point in the restoration. If the restoration were taking place "outside" all the Alaskan donations would have had to be in the form of hard dollars - lots of them. By doing the restoration in Alaska with volunteers doing as much as possible and with the support of many businesses, we have established a cadre of several hundred stake holders and advocates for the project which we wouldn't have had if a fully restored locomotive were just dropped on our doorstep.

Dick


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