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PLA Club Car 9/04
918 article in September 2004
Club Car - PLA newsletter

By Don McPherson
918 Project Manager

The restoration of the WP918D (the 918) has been steady, interrupted by spurts
of inspired accomplishment and slowed down by occasional bad decisions.

 The pilot has been rebuilt and installed on the locomotive. It is not really done, done, since two slots have to be cut in the removable center plate for it to be really done. But that is not a major job and it will get done when we are wondering what is left to be done it is one of those “Oh, yeah we gotta do that” tasks. Part of reassembling the pilot was returning the coupler and the pesky coupler carrier-centering device. Why pesky? It is heavy. But almost all parts of a locomotive are heavy. As events developed, it was too large in the rebuilt pilot to allow the coupler and draw bar to fit. However it was not too large to fall out at an inappropriate time (one of those bad decisions). After some removing of parts, a back door approach and pushing with hydraulic jacks, everything fit.

The newly restored pilot.

All the three layers of panels for both sides of the 918 have been built or refurbished and installed on the locomotive. Virtually all of the support structure for these panels had to be fabricated and welded to the locomotive frame members. Since the panels are held between these support items and “battens” (steel strips acting like clamps) by bolts, holes had to be made for the bolts. Approximately 900 stainless steel bolts are used to hold these various parts together. Some time ask Al how he made these holes in the 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch steel supporting channels and battens.
L -The fireman's side of the 918D before restoration got underway. Just oxidized paint gluing together rust.
R- The skin has been removed, showing the rusty skeleton now exposed underneath.

A continuing focus is the brake system on the locomotive. The hanging brake parts on the front truck have been removed. Ray is making new bushings and pivoting parts to replace the worn ones on the brake heads,  links and levers. Some of these parts are so badly gone that what once looked like a circle now looks like an egg. And seventeen valves, controllers and regulators (plus one regulator from the SD9) were removed (mostly by Al), and shipped off  to Pennsylvania. They were rebuilt-refurbished by the Pittsburgh Air Brake Company. They are now back on the 918 and all appears to be working well.
L- The rust and old paint has been removed from the support structure, and the area primed and painted.
R- The middle porthole panels and the upper ventilation panels have been restored.

 As more parts are put back on the locomotive, painting of the major assemblies takes on greater effort. Dan is the lead on this. His eye and striving for correct detail are what is making this a locomotive you will want to see when it is finished. But the final layer of paint is only one step in a first rate paint job, especially on a fifty plus year old locomotive. Surface preparation is essential. Steadily doing that have been Matt, Guy and Luke. Before even thinking about opening a can of paint, the old paint has to go by remover application, needle scaling and wire brushing. These are not so glamorous, but are fundamental. As this is being written, the roof of the 918 is receiving its final coat, and painting of the nose has begun.

The remaining lower side panels have been replaced. Soon the locomotive will be ready for painting.

 And the restoration would be no where without the steady hand of Jon. Whether it is rust removal,
parts replacement or the continuing saga of putting in those 900 bolts, Jon has a hand in it.

Photos by Don McPherson