Longing Strongly, Again

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Frank Sanoica, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    I yearn so strongly to build another, before I depart.

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    Taken when about 75% completed. About 2007. I worked incessantly, nearly every day, in Missouri heat, cold, snow, stoked the homemade stove in my shop with firewood......9 years, to completion. I estimate about 8000 hours devoted to it. Why? Because I had vowed many, many years earlier to someday build a working duplicate of the steam locomotive which had taken me and my high school friends on what turned out to be a highly-documented steam excursion trip, my Junior year in high school. Two locomotives headed it up. The front locomotive, a Texas type, bigger and more powerful than it's trailing "helper", # 5632, broke down during the trip.

    This pic below was taken during a "movie run" during that trip. If the bottom wording is legible, it's self explanatory. Two locomotives are followed by an REA (Railway Express Agency) baggage car with it's broad doors wide open, 2X6s nailed in place to keep young fools from falling out. When the above photo was taken, on Sep. 6, 1959, I was IN the baggage car behind the locomotives!

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    Memorable, it was. But to fulfill the dream of building a working model of # 5632 required a lifetime of interruption. I started the project (of building) in Missouri, in 2002.

    Here is a pic of that monster in full-size, shortly after she was built, in 1940:[​IMG]

    Here is a shot when about 80% completed, resting on the rails I put in to get in and out of my shop. The locomotive weighed ~ 1000 lbs, the tender about 400. Supporting them required gravel ballast carefully placed. Late tonight, I'll continue tomorrow. Frank

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  2. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    Here goes nuthin'! Many years after the 17-year old's steam excursion trip, I found when my Mother died, amongst a box of things she had saved that she intended for me to have, the original ticket, issued for the trip! She must have known how much I loved that old locomotive and it's feat of ditching the broken-down monster, then all stops pulled out, returning late, 5632 was said to have run many miles back to Chicago exceeding 100 mph! I recall seeing telephone poles zipping by like a picket fence! The caption below the image previous was right on the date, if you can make it out!

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    Below, my model's chassis and driving wheels.
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    One of those 8 big wheels being made on my milling machine.
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    Making one of the two main driving rods. In operation, those rods are subjected to about 1000 lbs. of force, alternating in tension and compression, as they turn the driving wheels. On the real 5632, it's rods withstood 155,000 lbs. of force, repeated many times per minute. Actually 252 times per minute at 60 mph!
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    Here is a view showing that main rod, as well as the eccentric rod (with the dog-leg!) which is the rod which broke in two on the big #6315 Texas locomotive which was pushed onto a siding and left behind. The Baker type valve gear is visible. All rotating parts were equipped with ball bearings, including the sliding crosshead, the part which conveys steam force to the small end of the main rod. Two of the brake shoes are visible behind the wheels, which were over 9 inches in diameter, 70-something inches on Burlington's locomotive, which, incidentally, was built by the railroad itself, in Iowa. Only the boiler was "farmed out", being built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone, PA. The road built 28 of those class 4-8-4 Northerns beginning in Sep. 1936, the last built Oct. 1940. 28 home-built monster locomotives in 4 years! A feat unimaginable.
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    I fear the forum will impose restriction on length of post soon, and anyway, I'm starved! Back later. Frank
     
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    I'm baaaack! The boiler......

    Building steam boilers is an art in itself. At start of my project, internet was not available at all, in the middle of Mark Twain Nat'l. Forest. It became available when I was about 3 years into this. Dial-up service only, we ran a modem marked 24K, but lucky to upload an image in, say, an email, at more than 2000 to 3000; thus a 3 megabyte picture took thousands of seconds to go, untenable, searches took hours. Still, I did find some help online, but not much.

    Budget being non-existent, I decided if compressed gas cylinders, like oxygen, commonly carried 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi), using one to build a boiler running 100 psi ought to be pretty safe. Could have had a boiler custom-built, maybe for a few thousand bucks, good luck with that! Ran an ad looking for old cylinders; a dentist over in Fredericktown had one from nitrous oxide (perfect), got it free! What I did first has horrified readers on other forums:

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    I sawed the ends off of it! A short section was cut for the front end, called the smokebox, wherein the smokestack performed it's miracle of making a chimney lying on it's side work!


    Below, looking into the smokebox end of the boiler, overall length about 5-1/2 feet.
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    This weird-looking device within the smokebox, suspended from the bottom of the smokestack, is called a pettycoat. It is actually a venturi which creates a vacuum, suction, as exhausted steam bursts forth from the pedestal below it. The exhaust nozzle, placement of the stand height-wise, venturi length, etc., are very "fussy" and design is sometimes hit or miss, or partly successful.
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    This thing is called the superheater coil, which uses smokebox heat to increase steam efficiency by further heating it.
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    Welding up the firebox, which is attached to the rear of the boiler.
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    The "backhead", where the cab's occupants faced the back of the boiler, with it's firedoor.
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    Here's how the boiler, smokebox, and firebox, all welded together and assembled (smokebox removable) looked after countless fit, mark, drill, unfit, drill, etc. The real 5632 had a tapered section of the center part of the outside cladding (the boiler, straight and smaller by 2 inches than what you see here) which I faithfully reproduced, don't know if the taper shows. The outer jacket cladding is 6061-T651 high strength aluminum alloy, 0.032" thick, hand formed over a tapered mandrel I made of wood.
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    Dang, this business makes me hungry, and it's past my suppertime! Roast pork cut up small, heated in no sugar added Hunts tomato sauce, with onion thrown in! Yummy! Frank
     
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  4. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Veteran Member
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    @Frank, I'm REALLY impressed!

    I had no idea you were a Live Steamer!

    That is truly an ambitious project, and so exacting in its engineering, construction and operation!

    I always thought the 4-8-4 Northern had Walschaert valve gear?

    I used to run G-scale trains indoors going from my Game Room through a Wall Port into the 3rd space in our 3-car Garage, and back, for a 150-foot loop.

    Shown are the 2 locomotives I used: A 4-6-2 Pacific and a 2-6-0- Mogul.

    Keep those great pix coming!

    Hal
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    @Hal Pollner Thank you so much for your response. Having at least expected something, no one had spoken up, and I thought to myself, no sense in spending yet more time for nothing.

    I'll be back with more! Frank
     
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  6. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    @Hal Pollner Missed these points: NYC I think it was, called Northerns "Niagaras". Either they or Pennsy preferred Baker Valve Gear over Walschaerts, but Northerns of various roads used both gears. Burlington chose it for their 05-A Northerns, built by the road itself. Steam distribution is about the same for both gears, but Walshaerts requires the annoying curved link in it's mechanism, where Baker uses all rotating joints, amenable to use of low-friction ball or needle bearings. Both use a "Union Link" to cut-off steam to the cylinders well before the end of the stroke.

    The largest Northerns were run by the Santa Fe. Here is my old friend, Charlie, and I standing before the big Northern preserved in kingman, AZ:

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  7. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    I sketched up drawings using photos for relative size comparisons, designed my own unique valve operating mechanism, and built this steam-operated air compressor over one weekened. It's purpose was to supply air for the brakes. I preferred air to steam, as condensation of water in steam brake cylinders is a troublesome (and dangerous) thing to get rid iof.

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  8. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Supreme Member
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    Wanting distilled water only for my boiler, Wal-Mart had a nice, 4-piece set of Stainless Steel cookpots on sale for only $ 17.99. I used 3 to build a steam still. Here's the pots:

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    The top pot, biggest, sits at the bottom, it's perforated lid supports the smallest, lower left, containing the 110-volt water heater element. Note all the alkali built-up. The middle-sized pot sits upside-down over the small pot, the steam condenses on it's walls and underside, and trickles down through the perforated lid below it, caught as pure water in the bottom pot.


    Here they are stacked up, ready to work:

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  9. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Supreme Member
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    I know little about the construction of steam trains , but I recognise a master at work.... Super stuff Frank!!
     
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  10. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Veteran Member
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    Frank, no response? Have you taken into account that your achievements may just leave people speechless and in awe? You build sophisticated machines like this one or the one you made for Penn, you built your own house, you brew your own beer. Is there anything you can't do? ;)
     
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  11. Hedi Mitchell

    Hedi Mitchell Supreme Member
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    Just Awesome Frank:)
     
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  12. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Veteran Member
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    Frank is not building a "steam train", Holly...he's building a steam locomotive. The train is what the locomotive pulls.

    Is the front of your head as pretty as the back?

    Cheers,
    Hal
     
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  13. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Veteran Member
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    @Frank, whether the loco uses Baker or Walschaerts valve gear, I always enjoy watching the Eccentric Rod chasing the Main Rod with its 90 degree offset!

    My LGB Mogul has its valve gear hidden between the drivers, so I can't tell how it works.

    Hal
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    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
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  14. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Supreme Member
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    LOL... answer to your last question...NO!!! ... there's a space where brains need to go... ;):p
     
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  15. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Supreme Member
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    Incidentally Hal...did you ever get the hang of that Copy and Paste instruction?;)


    Sorry off topic!!
     
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