RyPN Briefs November 4, 2007
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FEBT Rockhill Restoration: 2006 Year in Review
Friends of the East Broad Top Rockhill Furnace crew made great progress in 2006. Many projects were brought to completion and many more began or moved along.
For those unfamiliar with the East Broad Top Railroad, it is America's oldest surviving narrow gauge railroad, and the only original narrow gauge surviving east of the Rocky Mountains. Built in 1872-74 the EBT's primary business was hauling coal from the remote Broad Top coal field to the Pennsylvania Railroad at Mount Union. The EBT closed in 1956 due to declining coal demand, but five of the original 33 miles of track reopened in 1960 as a tourist operation. The infrastructure of the railroad was never removed and it remains the most complete and original historic railroad site in North America.
The Friends of the East Broad Top, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark. FEBT's efforts take on many facets, only one of which being the direct restoration work detailed here. For more information stop by at our website at www.febt.org.
Rockhill Furnace has historically been the operational center for the East Broad Top, containing the repair shops, dispatching, locomotive facilities, and management. The FEBT crew has been working since 2002 to restore the facilities there. Work is performed on structures, rolling stock, track, and other facilities.
Below is a summary of our projects we have pursued in 2006 in Rockhill Furnace.
With the Coal bin in good order, attention was turned back to the Boiler House. The center of the north wall is held up by a "floating post" that was supported by truss rods to the other posts. During the Coal Bin reconstruction a temporary post was installed under the trussed post with shims holding them tight. In order to give the appearance of a serviceable coal bin, yet actually use the coal bin for storage, a much taller permanent post was installed on the coal bin side of the trussed post, and they were bolted together with threaded rod. This allowed the crew to reinstall the coal boards across the opening which would have regulated the flow of coal out of the bin. Behind the coal boards, a plywood wall was installed, with the plywood painted black. This will enable coal to be placed in the gap and appear as though the coal bin is full of coal. At the top of the north wall, the rotted soffits were removed for later replacement and the soffit cavity cleared of decades of debris. During the last session of the year the north side was resided and window sashes removed for rebuilding.
Four of the six sashes in the east wall of the Boiler House were removed for repair when that wall was rebuilt last year. The four sashes, now fully repaired, were reinstalled in the east wall. Some temporary siding was installed on the Foundry building across the alleyway from the Coal Bin.
In 2007 the Coal Bin and north side of the Boiler House will be completed. The structural work will shift to the Foundry building, which is connected to the Coal Bin.
While unused #802 sat on a spare set of cast Vulcan trucks. However, in it's operating days this car was equipped with arch-bar trucks equipped with extra bars to which pushing wings could be attached to spread the dumped material. The Vulcan trucks did not fit the car and would require heavy modification to fit. The original Arch-bar trucks had been heavily modified to fit under the never finished Aughwick coach. But an identical and unmodified set were under one of the Aughwick's sister cars (this one known only as Carowinds #7). It was decided to swap the identical trucks to #802.
However, when the first of the proper trucks for the car were retrieved, it was found to be too badly damaged to be used as-is. The top bolster plate and center bearing plate were both found to have numerous cracks, too many to be repaired. Most of the work done on #802 in 2006 was the complete rebuilding of the south truck of the car. New, stronger versions of both cracked pieces were fabricated and installed on the car. Specific points of corrosion were addressed and every part of the truck was thoroughly cleaned, primed and painted. The bearings, brake rigging and journals all were thoroughly addressed. In order for the car to be able to accommodate the spreading wings, the original trucks under the Aughwick had to be disassembled and specific hardware swapped to the trucks under #802. By the end of the year the truck was not only fully repaired but was of a stronger design than the original. As parts were made for the south trucks, identical pieces were made for the anticipated rebuilding of the north truck. Unfortunately, when the north truck was being removed, it was found to have even more serious problems, including a major crack in the cast bolster. Fortunately, Aughwick's other sister also was currently riding on EBT arch-bar trucks. One of these was found to be in rebuildable condition and will be the truck rebuild project for 2007.
At the same time as the truck work was going on, the two west doors for the car were rebuilt and installed. Also, the original spreading wings were disassembled and rebuilt with repaired steel and all new hardwood. The hopper body received a finish coat of paint and lettering in time for the annual Fall Spectacular.
The Boiler Shop was so named because it was the location of most of the sheet metal forming machines and equipment.
Preliminary work was done on this building in 2005, mostly consisting of power washing, priming and painting the lowest and most weathered part of the west wall. Work in earnest began in the spring of 2006 as the ground level windows on the west wall were all unboarded, repaired, primed and glazed. By the end of the year five of the eight lower windows had received significant work.
Because of the location of the west wall against the turntable track, work can only progress there before and after the EBT's operating season.
#14 has seen constant service since then. When not in service as a passenger car, the EBT used it as a caboose as well. #14 operated in the first tourist train in 1960 and has continued to serve since.
Alas, the years have taken a toll on #14. The car's structure had developed a pronounced bow and twist. Also the roof was in bad shape allowing leakage into the car. The siding also needed replaced.
At the end of the 2005 season, the EBT spotted #14 at the FEBT Restoration Shop for work to begin. A thorough photographic and measured documentation was made of the car prior to any work being done. Work then began by removing all the siding from the car to expose the structure.
The many layers of roof coatings were removed down to the wood. All interior furnishings including seats and lights were labeled and removed from the car to a storage location. The flooring and subfloor was then removed from both ends of the car to reveal the inner workings of the car bolsters. Also the passenger end platform was disassembled and removed to uncover the structural issues there. The car was jacked up and set on cribbing to remove the weight from the bolsters and begin straightening out the body.
Several problems were found with the car. The most important issue was that when the EBT cut baggage doors into the car many years ago, it weakened the structure of the car. There was sufficient strength for the car to be safe, but with wear and tear it greatly accelerated the structural issues. Also a major concern was the failure of two truss rods in the car bolsters. There was also significant rot in specific sections of the sills, particularly near the baggage doors.
Because the needed work was found to be much more substantial than was anticipated, most of the work on the car during the later part of 2006 involved exploratory disassembly, planning the restoration, and acquiring needed supplies.
As #14 has remained in the Paint Shop since it's initial disassembly, accelerated work was done to complete the restoration pad outside the Paint Shop so that other rolling stock work could progress at the same time. Also, as it was clear that the work on #14 would take several years to complete, it was decided to direct volunteer labor toward the conversion of a boxcar into a rider car to replace #14's capacity during its restoration.
Also, new reproduction gutter and downspout was installed on the east wall to replace the badly corroded original. The new downspout has helped to alleviate flooding outside the main door to the shop.
The last of the windows on the west wall was puttied. The upper window received finished paint. A few items remain to be done here in 2007.
The extensiveness of the rebuild of this vehicle is too extensive to detail here as it would fill an entire volume. Sufficient to say that every last piece of the vehicle was disassembled and rebuilt, down to the last nut and screw. The results are incredible as this drab old car has been transformed into a reliable running showpiece. The car arrived back at the EBT for the celebration of Community Appreciation Day in August. Prior to it's arrival, the M-3's shed, used for speeder cars in recent years, received some track and switch repairs so as to be in gauge and reliable.
The car ran several demonstration runs in August and during subsequent months. A few bugs were worked out and the car operated extremely well.
Also, the two leads from the three way stub switch to the Car Shop south end were repaired with dozens of new ties installed. This work also enabled the Hopper #802 crew to begin swapping trucks to place the proper trucks under the hopper.
In May FEBT acquired a used standard gauge tie inserter. During the June session the inserter was repaired and additional frame and wheel mounts were added to it so that it could be used on either size track. By the end of the June session the inserter was in use on the Car Shop lead. The number of ties a crew could insert manually in a day's work, the inserter increased five times over.
As there will be less track work in 2007, the speeder will be down for some additional repairs to increase it's reliability.
Early in the summer a crew removed the old rotted steps into the inspection pit and constructed and installed new pressure treated steps. The EBT locomotive crew was immediately appreciative of the improvement.
Work Days in 2007
To learn more visit our website at www.febt.org.
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