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Good News about Repairs to Loco 93

Work continues on repairing Locomotive 93’s running gear. The exciting news is that her new axles are done and are in Salt Lake City. There in Salt Lake her wheel centers have been refurbished and trued. The tires have been turned on the inside. Eight new crown brasses are in refurbished drive boxes.

Now the axles will be turned and trued. Once this is done, the axles will be installed into the wheels centers. Then the tires will be installed on the wheel centers. Then the entire axle, wheel, and tire assembly will be put on a lathe and the outside of the tires will be trued. Then the crankpins will be installed and the wheel sets quartered. Once this is done, then the wheel sets come back to Ely for installation.

Meanwhile, work has continued on locomotive 93 here in Ely. The frame has been tramed. This means the frame has been measured and the shoes and wedges were machined so the drive boxes will hold the axles parallel to one another and perpendicular to the drive rods.

Also as part of this work, new patterns were carved for the shoes and wedges. In the beginning of the project, it was thought that new shoes and wedges would have to be cast. To cast a part you need a pattern. From the pattern, a mold is made and then molten metal is poured into the mold. This is how a part is cast.

The patterns for locomotive 93’s shoes and wedges were missing. It was thought it would be prudent to have new patterns made. Made out of wood, the new patterns are comparable to individual works of art. Now when locomotive 93 ever needs new shoes or wedges, we’ll be able to send the pattern to the foundry and have new ones cast. After we’re done with this project, we just might do this so we have new shoes and wedges on the shelf here in Ely.

The zero point for the traming was established in the steam cylinders and a music wire was stretched through the cylinder to rear of the locomotive. This served as base line for the measurements. This work is now completed. The pistons have been reinstalled in the cylinders.

Attached to the cylinders are two steel jaws known as the crosshead guides. These pieces literally guide the crosshead. The crosshead is the pivot point in between the rod coming out of the steam cylinder and the main rod. The guides have been trued. The crosshead itself has two shoes, a top one and a bottom one, that keeps it in the guides. These shoes have been renewed with babbit and machined to fit the newly trued guides. The crosshead guides and crossheads have been installed on the locomotive.

When locomotive 93 was disassembled, it was very evident that her spring rigging was worn out. Based on this, the spring rigging was completely renewed. Parts that could be renewed were. If the part was too far-gone, then new ones were constructed. Most of the new parts were pins. Some of the old pins looked like a crankshaft because they were so worn; these were replaced. Days were spent on the lathes turning pins. Other parts were machined out of bar stock or cut out of plate steel. Now the entire spring rigging is complete and has been installed back on locomotive 93.

Along with the spring rigging, the brake rigging was also worn out. The brake rigging was disassembled and again parts that could be renewed were. Parts that were just too far-gone were replaced. Other parts looked like a pretzel showing years of service. Ironically, these bent up parts were straightened in the press and look almost brand new. All of the brake rigging parts that could be installed have been installed. The rest of the brake rigging will have to wait for the installation of the wheels and axles. But it’s ready to go.

It’s been a challenge to get us to this point. Rebuilding a steam locomotive in the 21st century is not for the faint of heart. In addition to finding vendors for obscure parts, like steam locomotive axles, it takes money—bunches and bunches of money.

The only way, your museum could have even conceived of beginning a project of this scope was if there was the financial where with all to do it. Bluntly put—no money, no steam. Because of the generosity of our members, we will have steam. They stepped up to the plate last January with their checkbooks open. The money raised from that fundraising endeavor was then leveraged. The E. L. Cord Foundation donated $50,000 and the White Pine Tourism and Recreation Board donated $140,000. The combination of this money should be enough to see the project through to completion.

The project has been interesting. It has been a great learning experience. This hard-won knowledge will be put to good use. Once locomotive 93 is complete and steaming again, then it is locomotive 40’s turn. She is out of service for the same ailments that locomotive 93 had: cracked axles and worn out running gear. Our plan is to move locomotive 40 into the shop the moment locomotive 93 leaves and to start the process all over again.

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1100 Ave A, Ely, NV 89301

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