We’ll go back a couple months for this post – back to the start of June, where I headed over to the Valley Railroad shop in Essex, Connecticut over lunch. Why would I head there over lunch? Well, I received word that there was some activity on No. 97 – one of the Valley Railroad’s veteran locomotives.
No, 97’s FRA mandated 1472 day inspection/rebuild program has not officially begun. Instead the shop forces are working on a smaller project designed to stabilize the locomotive so her condition does not deteriorate while funding and parts for the entire rebuild project are secured. Part of this stabilization is the removal of 97s tubes and flues from her boiler.
The day I went to the shop, Chip Mahoney – a summer intern at the railroad – was cutting out some of 97s superheater flues with a torch, and thankfully he wasn’t camera-shy, not only allowing me to photograph him working, but also shared some of his incredible knowledge of steam boilers while he was working (even more impressive that he’s only 18 and recently graduated high school – see this post on the Valley Railroad’s Engine House Blog).
I started out wandering around, getting a few of my more artsy type shots as the guys finished up their lunch.
Once Chip finished up with his lunch, he suited back up and headed to 97, picking up where he left off. He began cutting a couple flues out from the smokebox side – explaining to me the process of cutting a few tubes on one side, then moving to the firebox side and cut them from there. Doing this lessened the twisting forces on the firebox tube sheet – something that can degrade the integrity of the boiler. Obviously an effect that needed to be avoided.
Some photos of Chip working on the smokebox side of the locomotive
Then he moved to the firebox side, squeezing himself into the opening
And getting to work on the opposite sides of the tubes he cut from the front of the boiler.
Of course, in between his cuts, I had to get an artsy type detail shot
And a shot of 97 without her boiler jacket and insulation
With those tubes completely cut, Chip made his way back out of the firebox, and over to the side of the shop to get a drink – it does get a little warm in that confined space. While doing that, he mentioned that something else interesting was going on in the Locomotive Servicing Facility – Mike Ozaruk was power-washing the underside of locomotive No. 3025.
Walking through the side door of the shop into the LSF, I found Mike in the pit, wearing a head-to-toe Tyvek suit and wielding a power washing wand. He was making his way through the undercarriage of the locomotive, spraying degreaser then hitting it with the power washer, cleaning the underside of the Mikado.
With a bunch of unique photos, I bid everyone at the shop farewell, which wrapped up a quite productive lunch.
Thanks for looking!