|(1/7/18) - Adam and I went to Medina to get a start on the brake valves. Our goal was to remove the conductors' valves from inside the cars and we accomplished that. We also had to dig through snow a bit over a foot deep to make a path to the cars. I know we have plans to go back tomorrow and that Bill has made special arrangements in order to help so here is the situation. While it is supposed to be warmer tomorrow it is also supposed to be very windy so it could still be unpleasant. Also, neither generator would start so we had no heat. Whether they will start in 10's warmer weather I don't know. The batteries are run down now.|
||(1/9/18) - Well, the lunch counter car is going to fight us right to the end. George and I went to his work to pick up the compressor. We had hoped to blow out the lines, replace the relay valve, the "decelostat" piping and do an unofficial test with our test device. However, the compressor was buried inside a building behind a snow drift. We did get the new piping in place but that was all.
|(1/10/18) - Okay, so today I have some good news and some better news. Cody, Brody and I went to Medina, taking advantage of the relatively mild weather, to remove the brake valves from the cars. It took us about 4 hours to do all five cars, which I felt was pretty good. More good news is that both diesel generators started. They ran for the entire time we were there so they should be fully charged. The next step is to find someone with a big pickup truck that wants to drive to Pittsburgh Air Brake to deliver the valves for rebuilding and testing. We also found out that Brody is a lean-mean-lifting-machine. He picked up the 100 plus pound service portion from the ground and carried it up the steps to put it inside the coach. I would suggest not messing with Brody. The old guy, that would be me, survived the day pretty well but, in all honestly, I let the young ones do the heavy lifting. And we finished before it started to rain.
(1/12/18) - We brought in the test device to test the brakes and Dave Fleenor, our Certified Airbrake Technician did the test. The service portion, yep the 130 pound monster, failed the test and had to be replaced. After replacing the service portion we tested again. This time the indication was the relay valve failed because the brakes would set but not release. So, we ordered a new relay valve. This was a day in early January when the temperature was 16 degrees and after messing around in the cold too long we called a day.
(1/14/18) - Well, some more good news from Lockport. George, Al and I braved the 14 degree weather to replace the "relay valve" and retest the car. Once again, it did not release the brakes. We spent some time trying this and that before finally placing a call to an expert. You know, one of those guys that has “forgotten more about railcars than we’ll ever know”. After being on the phone with him for about 20 minutes he had George loosen a pipe fitting on the pipe bracket where the service portion hangs. We got a hiss of air and the brakes released. After that they worked every time. Had we been less gentlemanly we would have jumped up and down and cheered. Or maybe we couldn’t jump because our feet were frozen to the ground.
Here is what we think happened. This car is equipped with a retaining valve and the air from the relay valve vents through it. Apparently the valve gave the folks that sent us the car 12 years ago problems, so they disconnected the line to it which allowed the release to take place. Since we didn't know that, we never checked the line and over the years it got plugged with wasp mud so it would not allow the release. We have to do a quick re-piping, install a "wasp excluder" and then do another official test.
|(1/20/18) - It was nice to be able to work outside today with shivering. Art and I met Brody and Cody in Medina to transfer the brake valves from the passenger cars into Art's Toales' truck. My little truck would have been dragging under the weight of the five valves. A quick guesstimate puts the weight of valves for each car at about 200 pounds. So, we moved half a ton of valves from the cars and then into Arts' truck.
|The valves need to go to an "Federal Railroad Administration" certified shop. For our cars, we use Pittsburgh Air Brake, which is actually located in the town of Carnegie across the river from Pittsburgh. It’s a 3.5 hour drive each way. So as soon as they are serviced, we’ll go back to Pennsylvania to get them. In the meantime the cars sit with all the mounting points covered with duct tape and the Falls Road Railroad has been notified that the cars have no operating brakes. We also loaded six seat bottoms into the back seat of his truck that we will take to the upholsterer before we head to Pittsburgh. George is soaking the locks on the compressor cabinet at the HDC to remove the hoses needed for the COAT&S test.
(1/23/18) - Art and I had a productive day but a long one. First we dropped off the six seat bottoms to the upholsterer to be recovered. From there we headed to Carnegie, PA to deliver the brake valves for rebuilding. The trip down was uneventful but we hit a brief period of some nasty weather on the way back north on Route 79.
We came back with a certified test device to, hopefully, complete the work on the lunch counter car. I also picked up a new wasp excluder but we'll have to fabricate the piping we need.
(1/28/18) - Adam and I spend a couple of hours in Medina and Lockport today. In Medina we tore out a section of the center aisle carpet in 2932 to see what was under it and how bad it would be to replace. What we found was that, at least in the section we did, it was not glued down. It was just held in place by the rubber strips that run the length of it. However, the backing is falling apart and leaves a pile of black dust behind. The carpet is laid on a plywood sub-floor that is held in place by some weird sort of fastener that will need a bit more investigating to see exactly what it is. It appears to be a large head "bolt/screw" except it is round and has no place to put a screw driver. The metal under that is stainless steel and I suspect is part of the center sill. The plywood itself is maybe half inch.
We pulled down some of the wood-look paper that goes between the windows. In all cases but one the panel underneath is stainless steel so the cause of the paper coming down was water getting between the stainless and the paper. We took 6 window sills back to my place so I can re-cut the notches at the ends of the sills for a better fit. On the outside we removed a nut and bolt to match so we can replace the missing ones on a slack adjuster motor on 2941. Don't ask, we have no idea where they went.
We also got a couple of in date car end hoses, went to Lockport and put them on the lunch counter car so no one could slow things up by finding out of date hoses. Overall, a good day.
"The Blue Flag" - 2/2018
|(2/4/18) - Art and I picked up the new seat back covers and the recovered seat bottoms from the upholsterer and delivered them to the cars. Art and I took another look at the devices that hold down the wood sub-floor and there might be a hex head hole in the top but things will need to be cleaned out to see for sure.
I emailed "Forbo Floors" for more information on the flooring I'd like to install and to, hopefully, get a sample. In fact, I already got a response. I asked if the floors could be put down like a traditional wall-to-wall carpet using tack strips instead of glue. The answer came back "no". The flooring must be glued. A sample will be on its way shortly.
(2/21/18) - It seemed that getting the brakes back happened almost by magic. I had contacted Jim Szymanski and asked if he could sneak in a trip to get them. He works for CSX and had a couple of false starts but one day I got a phone call saying he had a truck full of brake valves to be transferred to the train.
(2/22/18) - Thanks to Cody, Brody and Jim Szymanski for going to Medina today to transfer the rebuilt valves from Jim's truck into the coaches. Oh - boy! Now we can start installing them.
(2/24/18) - First the bad news. The lunch counter car failed another test. The car has to pass a "flowrater" test, which is a rate of air leakage test. If it is above a certain point the car does not pass. Eventually the problem was traced to the angle cocks, which were allow air to bleed through them to the atmosphere. By now the buyer has decided to send a crew down. Today George and I removed the bad pieces and I will order a new ones.
The good news is that Bill, Adam and I went to Medina where we installed 9 seat covers on the worst seat backs in 2932 (coach 1) and installed the brake valves on 2932 and 2941. (coaches 1 and 2)
In looking through 2932 it needs a lot of interior work and I would like to make it a priority for early in the season. A number of the shrouds over the steam heat lines are coming off, more seat back covers need to be replaced and there are a number of other issues. Next weekend, unless the weather turns horrible, we need to get back to Medina to finish the valves. Thanks to all!
(2/25/18) - I order a cellular shade for us to look at to see if we might want to use them in the coaches. I ordered a gray color called "Mineral" but there are other colors available. If you want to check it out the site is Just Blinds and I ordered the heavier duty shade. One FYI about choosing a color. If you are thinking of going with blue we would have to see if we can get a sample because my wife, who was an interior decorator for many years, says not all blues go with every other blue and you have to be careful. It'll be a couple of weeks before it gets here.
"The Blue Flag" - 3/2018
|(3/2/18) - The guys from Canada replaced the angle cocks on the lunch counter car and it passed the air test! YEAH!!!
(3/4/18) - Brody and I hung 8 more valves today. That leaves 11 of 30 left to do.
This page was last updated: March 10th, 2018
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