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Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:00 pm
by John Coker
I was reviewing the fascinating conversation James, Andrew and Brian had about NCNG #5. I agree that none of the 1870s era Baldwins ever received new boilers. Since th NCNG, and other n.g. shortlines were prpabably under state oversight, there was little objection to the wrought iron boilers, as long as the pressures were under 150psi.

Andrew also commented that #5 might not have had any driver work. On most roads a drop pit is necessary to remove drivers. It can be done without a drop pit by jacking and blocking a locomotive high enough to clear the drivers. Lots of little roads did that. However, if the engines are carefully cared for a railroad can run engines for many years without "dropping" drivers. The main thing to avoid is burning up the bearing surfaces in driving boxes, which sit between the driver axles and the frame. Somehow the C&TS ran from 1971 to 1980 without dropping any drivers!

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:58 am
by Andrew Brandon
To this day NCNG #5 has the center driver from the "Glenbrook". This was discovered during one of the first attempts at restoration in the 1980s. Herman Darr went over and talked to Johnny Nolan about this asking if they'd swapped out the driver that he remembered. He stated that they had not and it is believed to have been done on the C&TL&F up at Glenbrook. I'd love to know more behind that story as I am not too familiar with the full facilities they had up there. One of these days I'll get around to aiming my focus on the Tahoe lines.

I am also not sure if any drivers were dropped for the other locomotives. It is well known that parts were freely interchanged as needed. Though I believe the most heavy shopping work was performed by the CP/SP. There is a photograph of Grass Valley in Brown's book showing it shortly after it was returned from Sacramento for an overhaul. We've also determined that the SP supplied wheels for passenger and freight cars possibly on multiple occasions. So it is not unlikely that the NCNG simply farmed out the heaviest work when it could afford it. As the road was handed over to O&AE control a lot of the work became more home-brewed as Nolan became the master mechanic but they still farmed jobs to the SP like the cab replacement and overhaul for #8.

In future as I continue reading the local paper for NCNG news I suspect I'll start hearing clues to rebuildings or other happenings on the line. As I finish the 1875 issues the line is still very new and beyond the fellow from Baldwin setting up the "Grass Valley" and "Nevada" for operation there hasn't been much beyond construction news at this point.

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:08 pm
by John Coker
Andrew, it is hard to believe that they "never dropped drivers". #5 was in service on the NCNG for over 4 decades; they had to extract the drivers at some point. Outsourcing such work to the SP is a probability. The photo of #283 with the drivers out in Grass Valley on page 25 of "NG Pictorial" Vol. XI illustrates that it was done at Grass Valley, as well as the "no drop pit" technique I discussed in the first post. The NCNG had a lot of sharp curves, but was a short road. As illustrated in the photo log they rotated the engines frequently. It boils down to mileage, and here's why. The crown brasses in the driving boxes can last well over 10 years if mileages is kept under 5000 miles annually. C&TS 484 got its last heavy repair in 1966; it made it till 1980 before it had its drivers dropped! The biggest variable is TIRES. They wear out in 5-10 years, even if kept at low mileages. The C&T used cutters put on the brakes in 1975 to get a few more years of life out of the tires, but these products weren't available to the NCNG. Drivers have to come out for tire replacement.
So I remain perplexed at Mr. Nolan's statement. Nevertheless on small roads management can carefully manage train tonnage, snowfighting, engineer handling, proper firing, engine rotation and other factors to maximize the life of overhauls as well as the life of the locomotive.

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:19 pm
by Randy Hees
I believe I have seen, but can't find, a photo of the Glenbrook engine house with a replacement cylinder casting awaiting installation... if so, at least one of the three 2-6-0's had its boiler off the frame at Lake Tahoe. I suspect heavy work without benefit of proper facilities was more common that we might expect. 130 years ago, mechanics were familiar and skilled with jacks and crib work...


Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:00 am
by Brian Norden
To echo Randy's comment, I went looking for an on-line version of a photo I've seen in print and I found others associated with it. Back in 1886 Los Angeles schools relocated the High School that had been on top of Fort Moore Hill. Fort More Hill is up near the 4-level interchange where the school district general offices are located. I believe it was moved to the south side of then downtown Los Angeles near where Trade Tech High School was later located.

Look at this website: We Can Move It For You Wholesale

The school came off the hill and had to remain high to clear the cable car line on Temple Street as it was moved. There is a photo in Hilton's book showing one of the cable dummies and trailer going through all of the crib work.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The school before moving (about 1885)
Another early view

Here is the photo I was looking for:
Moving the School over Temple Street

Were they able to do it because no one told them that they could not? Or because that was how they just did things at that time?

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:37 pm
by Loco112
Pre goldhofer trailers and high torque diesels pulling them around.

It might be natural to think that everything was cheap then; labor, equipment, and thus time, but that also meant that the financial reward for doing such a job was also correspondingly less. So, just like todays efforts with all the high tech (high principle and interest $$) equipment they still had tight time lines that determined how much profit or loss they would have.

They might have been able to trade the (relatively) lower cost of the simple tools for more time and more labor, and that must have been the key to the project. They paid for much more labor and time, while today we pay for equipment.

It would seem the jacking it up and cribbing it would be simple, then what do you do?

They must have left the cribs stationary and moved the structure on top of the cribs. So that begs the question; how many cribs and how many guys it took to work on each crib stack? They would need one crew building new crib stacks in a line just ahead of the structure.

They must have used the crib workers to somehow create the small movement at each stack, moving the structure along on the top of each crib pile, all at the same time like a rowing crew, to get the tiny movement of the structure over and over again.

There must have been some kind of tool/devise that sat on the crib piles and under the structure, that allowed for low friction and a pre set amount, and direction, of movement. Perhaps like a railcar roller side bearing ?

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:35 am
by John Coker
To add to Randy's statememts, removing a boiler from a frame is a big job, but not much to it with small locomotives. Basically the smokebox is anchored by saddle bolts that run up from the top lip of the saddle to the base of the smokebox, around the nozze(cylinder steam exhaust). Of course these bolts would be hard to "crack", but do-able. On the firebox there are two "clips" bolted to the frame and to the firebox. Remove the bolts and then jack up the boiler from the frame. Locomotives received cylinder blocks occaisonally. RGS #42 has a Stearns and Rogers block (a big Denver foundry) ,with a cast date of 1928.

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:13 am
by James
I was reminded of this thread when reading Baldwin's 1885 Narrow Gauge catalogue earlier today. I noticed a letter to Baldwin from the Nevada County Narrow Gauge dated to 1877; the NCNG mentions having turned #1's tires once by that time (within two years of its purchase).

As a side note (but related in this case), NCNG #1 and #3 were built with odd-size 42.5 inch drivers with 37.75 inch centers (as opposed to the usual 42/38 for 3ft gauge 8-16C's). Those wheels were commonly used on metre gauge locomotives and I suspect Baldwin happened to have an extra set laying around when they built #1.

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:18 pm
by John Coker
James ,great detective work. This may dovetail with some the first big overseas orders that Baldwin was getting. King Dom Pedro II of Brazil was ordering a lot of meter-gauge locomotives for their new railroads.

When the NCNG turned the drivers on a two-year-old locomotive indicates to me they were very busy at the time. The r.r. was probably running two freights and two passenger trains a day(one each in either direction) and possibly a lot of extras.

Re: Changing drivers with almost nothing

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:01 pm
by Andrew Brandon
During 1877 they were operating multiple passenger trains a day. There were two scheduled roundtrips on the line each day and a local service between Grass Valley and Nevada City. I've only read through the news of this time briefly but I did note that the time table listed 2 daily roundtrips to Colfax and the local.

I cannot seem to find the reference at the moment but I did find a mention of the NCNG discontinuing a train that operated much earlier than the #1 which left Nevada City at 5 A.M. When I dig it up again I'll share it.