Gentle Forum Members,
The Trustees of the Railroad Museum of Long Island are pleased to announce that work is proceeding on Engine #39’s boiler at the erecting shops of the Strasburg Railroad Company, Strasburg, Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, August 5th the boiler was loaded on Boilermatic Industrial Welding’s low boy tractor and trailer for the trip to Strasburg.
Boilermatic Industrial Welding of Medford, NY remains the lead contractor on this Suffolk County Department of Public Works project. From the beginning Strasburg has been Boilermatic’s consultant on the restoration of 39’s boiler and remains a sub-contractor.
On Monday, August 18th I had the pleasure of meeting with Shop Foreman, Rick Musser and President & Chief Mechanical Officer, Linn Moedinger to go over the work Strasburg has begun.
At this point in the project we will be focusing on the rebuild of the Belpaire firebox. Like the PRR K4s #1361, our LIRR G5s #39 firebox suffers from the same faulty Pennsylvania Railroad design. The thickness of the roof sheet is too small for the distance between staybolts on top of the firebox. Calculations by today’s FRA standards, with this design structure, give us less than a 180 psi operating pressure. A normal G5s operating pressure is around 208 psi with a design structure of between 211 – 215 psi.
Strasburg will replace our roof sheet with new, heavier steel and/or more staybolts to bring the assembly up to FRA standards necessary to operate at our required pressures. Note the horizontal seam outlined by the yellow arrows. This seam is where the new roof sheet will begin and go up over the top of the firebox to the seam on the other side.
It is common knowledge that the Pennsylvania Railroad used “dirty” steel in the construction of their engines. Impurities and elements contained in this steel are notorious for giving unreliable UT readings. Strasburg has had experience working with this “Pennsy Steel” and knows what to look for in the UT readings and adjust accordingly for the variations.
Here we see a fresh grid has been laid out across the boiler. New Ultrasonic Thickness (UT) readings are being taken and documented by Strasburg for work on the vessel and the FRA Form 4.
A new backhead, door sheet and side sheets will be fabricated and installed. Following is the existing backhead, to be replaced by Strasburg.
This photo shows the INSIDE of the backhead. Note the welding seam above the sill outlined with yellow arrows. It appears the LIRR did a repair to the lower section of the backhead at one time, replacing the lower section and sill.
This neatly cut examination hole in the crown sheet will be repaired to FRA specifications with a deep penetration welded patch. The support rods and staybolts within will be replaced along with the new roof sheet.
Inside the yellow circle we see a broken support rod. All of the existing side support rods will be examined for strength before being reused. Critical areas of the support rods will be x-rayed for cracks and stresses. Faulty rods will be replaced.
The newly restored tender for Engine #39. This fine work was completed at the Boilermatic Industrial Welding shops located in Medford, New York.
Engine #39’s new fuel oil tank. Boilermatic Industrial Welding, Medford, New York.
We are very happy to have the project moving forward again after a hiatus of several months. That being said, as with any major steam restoration project there is never enough money to do everything we need or want to do when we want to or need to do it. Engine #39 is no different and I have stated on numerous Forum threads the need for additional funding to complete the drive train, brake system and locomotive frame components. Donations large or small for this restoration project will always be appreciated.
My next visit to Strasburg will be over the weekend of October 18 and 19. I will prepare a report first for the RMLI Trustees and then offer up those observations to the Forum in the weeks following. Sometime in late November or early December the Trustees of the Museum hope to make a one day trip down to view the progress of work on the boiler. Maybe, by then, we will have some exciting news about additional funds that have come in to keep the restoration on track. With your collective support and hard work, it may be so.
That’s all for now on #39.
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