A great big thank you to all who joined us for the Steam Shop Tour during RailFest weekend! It was such a great success, with many out of state guests joining us along with locals, whose excitement was only fueled by the chance to see the progress.
#1702 was on full display along with, the steam shop, #777 diesel engine, and if you notice, a small replica engine that we repainted and displayed just in time! This little green guy will be placed in Bryson City beside our historic depot and will be a great photo op!
Here are a few fantastic captures of the engine. Photographer Charles Hardin was kind enough to share these great images. Enjoy!
The shop guys were happy to host everyone for the afternoon, and really enthused by all the questions everyone had. After a nice holiday weekend they were back at it! The biggest project has been fitting the interior sheets in the boiler. All but one sheet has been placed inside and the contractors have been working to get them set. A door sheet had to be removed so it could be realigned.
New bolts for the steam pipe on both sides have been installed!
Joe has been working on the lathe making some much needed tools. All the belly brace bolts are completed, and he just finished up on a new welding fixture for the flexible staybolt sleeves.
After months of hard work we are happy to say that the turntable has been set. Although this doesn’t complete the entire project this is a major advancement! Enjoy some photos from today’s setting.
Project Manager, Tom Falicon was able to push the very first full rotation of the table!
In addition to our exciting Steam Shop Tour taking place during the RailFest celebration, the turntable will be open for viewing and photos. Tom Falicon will be present to answer questions! Visit the turntable site behind the GSMR parking lot on Saturday Sept. 5, 9-10AM & 3:30 – 4PM!
The steam shop has been busy with the latest rounds of sheet work.
They are fitting, reforming, trimming and reaming the side sheets. A few of the sheets have been placed inside the boiler so that they can be properly marked and grounded for the best fit. A new contractor, Gary, has been working alongside the team for the past few weeks.
Joe has been busy on the engine lathe making new belly brace bolts.
Brian and Marshal were also able to craft some formers for the boiler plate.
There are still tickets available for the Steam Shop Tour and the guys are looking forward to showing everyone around! If you haven’t made your reservation you should. This will be the first ever specialty Steam Shop Tour hosted during RailFest, we’d like for all of our steam patrons to join us if you can!
Steam Shop Tour got your attention? Keep reading for a special announcement!
Steady progress continues at the shop this month! The new door sheet has been returned from its heat treatment. It is ready to be sandblasted and installed. The flu sheet has also been heat treated and is now waiting be polished and sandblasted. Work continues with the stay bolt holes on the top wrapper sheet as well.
The ultra sound thickness test was conducted on the boiler shell and everything was in tolerance! Another step forward!
The guys took on a tedious 2 day project with one of the water glass valves that needed to be re threaded. Thanks to Marshal for the before and after photos showing the valve in the process of being tig welded below:
We are really excited for the upcoming RailFest 2015 celebration. Although the #1702 won’t be ready for its debut we will be prepping for an exclusive STEAM SHOP TOUR! So if you have enjoyed following the blog, now is your chance to see all the progress in person! Find all the details HERE. Better book fast! There will be a limited number of seats available and it is limited to ages 12 and up only. We look forward to seeing you in September!
Here is the latest from the Project Manager Tom Falicon on the Bryson City turntable :
The turntable concrete is COMPLETE!
As usual, the work was tough but both the Swain County and the GSMR crews were up to the task. Next step is to back-fill the outer ring wall as well as install the inspection pit and the storm water runoff system. After the surrounding earth has been cut down to actual grade, Concrete aprons will be poured around the inspection pit as well as the outer circumference of the turntable.
We’re planning on a 150 ton and a 90 ton crane being brought in towards the middle of August to do the job. The turntable was primed and painted, and it’s now ready for it’s trip across the parking lot and into the pit.
The two cranes required for the task are scheduled for Monday August 31st to make the parking lot move and Tuesday September 1st for the setting of the table into the pit. In the mean time, back-filling and compacting of the outer pit wall will continue and a bulldozer will be brought in to lower the earth to the proper grade and also make things more presentable for our Railfest 2015 Celebration!
After several months of deliberation, we are happy to announce that Robert Franzen, owner of Steam Services of America, has been selected as the official contractor for the boiler rebuild of #1702. Franzen is also currently working on a steam engine rebuild, similar to that of #1702, in Alaska. During the boiler rebuild he will be joining the team a few days a week in the shop, as he is going between two projects.
The first order of Franzen’s work began this week as Bob Gold, was brought in to aid the placement of the new stay bolt holes. Original layouts of #1702 are being used as the reference point to which the new holes will be placed. Marshall has been cleaning the dirt and removing the pink die used in the crack tests. He has also spray painted the surface with a temporary gray in order for the fresh marks to be visible when applied. A few reference markings have already determined that on both sides the blowout valve will be moved from its former position to allow the boiler wash to operate more easily than before.
A section of the outer throat sheet that revealed cracks earlier, was removed and a new sheet has been cut (roughly 3 quarters of an inch steel). The piece has now been sent off so that a special 8 degree bend could be formed to allow the fit to be exact. In order for the guys to get a good handle on the section that was cut, they removed the air tank which opened up plenty of room for access. In the air tanks absence the guys constructed a brace to support the boiler so that it wouldn’t sag.
Brian finished up his dirty job of removing the cylinder valve covers and the insulation was cleaned out. The cylinders themselves need more work, but they have been cleaned as much as possible for the time being.
Here is the latest from Project Manager, Tom Falicon, on the turntable project in Bryson City:
A pivotal point was passed in the turntable build this week by completing the building of the forms and re-bar and then successfully pouring 47 cubic yards of concrete for the first quarter of the lower ring wall. The force of 47-yards of concrete pushing against the forms and bulkheads was tremendous, but everything held tight and the pour was a complete success.
In order for the concrete to cure slowly and properly, we must wait five days before the forms can be removed. To aid the concrete in hardening properly, we assembled a watering system using a pump in the nearby creek and a series of garden hoses. Water is continuously flowing over a blanket of burlap keeping the concrete from drying out, overheating and curing too quickly.
We have already begun assembling the re-bar for the second 1/4 of lower ring wall pour and we will also start assembling the forms for the upper ring wall pour on the first 1/4.
Another monumental mark was reached in the past weeks, when the large bearing assembly that the turntable pivots on was set and secured! The installation of this pivot bearing means that the center pivot pedestal build is complete and able to support the entire weight of the turntable and any locomotive placed on it. The bearing assembly install could not have gone any better!
The last few weeks have been very productive at the steam shop! The guys have really made great progress in the tender; it’s been a pretty nasty job removing the years’ worth of epoxy. So far they estimate to be about 2/3 of the way done with the needle scale removal. New drain pipes were installed finally replacing the dated ones that were rusted and not holding water.
Test patch bolts have been threaded into the mud ring. The testing revealed a few minor modifications need to happen before the rest are installed. The outer throat sheet will also eventually need to be removed due to the cracks that were revealed on the interior side of the sheet. Those will be repaired before installment.
Brian has continued his needle scaling work on the cylinder covers. He has also begun to try and clean out the old insulation underneath the cover. Presently the covers are stuck in place and he is working to loosen them so they can be removed and all the insulation can be replaced.
The turret parts as well as the boiler check valves have been taken apart and readied to be hand lapped and cleaned.The steam dome cover has also been set aside. That won’t be placed on the engine until the final stages.The old brake shoes have also been removed and those will be replaced.
Using the diagram that was drawn last week, Marshal and Brian have constructed the new blower piece.
The oilers have been drained and the oil lines are being purged with air to clean them out. The guys will begin to identify the lines that need repairing and those that will need to be replaced. Joe was nice enough to showcase the old oil that they are glad to see removed.
The engine was moved a few feet in order to access an area behind the wheel for cleaning. Below is a short video!
Here is the latest turn table update from Project Manager, Tom Falicon-
All primary excavation has been completed and all 19 over length steel I-beam piles were felled like tall hardwood trees and then stacked neatly in the parking lot.
Concrete sub-footers were poured for both the ring wall and the center pivot. These sub-footers will provide a flat, solid work area to erect the concrete forms as well as provide a solid surface to secure them to in order for them to be able to handle to excessive force of poured concrete.
30,000 lbs of steel concrete forms for the entire project arrived from Charlotte early last week.
The storm water drainage system and piping for the center of the pit was installed and capped off just outside the poured sub-footer of the ring wall. The build of the re-bar cage for the center pivot started last week followed by the forming. The concrete pour for the center pivot will be completed soon.
The large steel plate that the turntable bearing attaches to had holes machined in it too large by the supplier so four reducer spacers were machined and welded them in place. The dead center of project has been identified and clearly marked. The plate will have to be painted before installation to help prevent future corrosion.
The underground water intrusion from the river and the creek has been challenging to deal with; water is constantly streaming into the pits. A gravel sump system has been built to help keep the pits relatively dry.
The project is moving along in an extremely timely manner! Great job by the crew working to get it done!
The guys at the steam shop have been hard at it, as usual. A good majority of the work has been focused on trying to prep and clean for the coming work. Tim and Marshal have been inside the Tender working on the removal of the old layers of epoxy with a needle scaler. In some places the epoxy can be at least a quarter of an inch thick.
Joe has been working with the engine lathe making boiler studs and mud rings.
A few various spare parts have been brought into the shop to be lapped and cleaned. Focusing on the blower, Marshal was able to diagram the plan for its rebuild.
The guys were sporting their new Full Steam Ahead t-shirts! Looks like they are pretty proud of them! These brand new shirts hit our merchandise shelves last week and are hot sellers. If you can’t physically make it to our GSMR retail store you can order yours by calling 828-488-5200.
The turntable project is moving along nicely as well. Here is a report from the Project Manager, Tom Falicon:
The contract excavating crew has been working tirelessly and flawlessly to excavate the site. The father and son team are perfectionists and are really producing some fantastic attention to detail work! The approximate depth of the bottom of the turntable pit has been reached. All that is left is to excavate deeper for the outer ring wall and center pivot foundations and structures.
The east slope of the site has been reduced so it will be easier for observers to walk up to the turntable observation area.
An access road has been cleared that will serve as the main access for the steam engine tool/service truck. The road will allow the service vehicles to pull right up alongside the inspection pit with tools and supplies for the servicing of #1702. Silt/mud fencing has been installed around each mountain of dirt and in other key areas. With last week’s rain there were no signs of muddy run-off.
Deep excavation for the concrete structures is well underway and the 19 piles have been cut to their proper height. The re-bar for the center pivot area was delivered last week and the outer ring wall re-bar steel is in Asheville and ready to be delivered as soon as it is needed. The Steel forms for both concrete pours are expected to arrive within the first weeks of May.
The steam shop guys have been busy this month and couldn’t be happier about the warmer/milder weather that has finally reached the Smokey Mountains.
The tender has been moved inside the shop and the cleaning has begun. Tim, one of our GSMR Operations crew members, has been recruited to help with Tender duties. He has been removing the old epoxy that has been inside the tender for several years along with prepping for the new marine grade epoxy that will be applied.
This past week Brian and Marshal have been pulling the studs off the firebox and wrapper sheet. The old rivets were shot out a few weeks ago! Stay tuned, there may be video footage of the rivet removal coming!
Joe has been working on the engine lathe making new rivet snaps. They are ready for heat treatment and then the next step of re-reviting the mud ring.
The remainder of the old firebox sheet has been removed and the mud ring inside was welded and grounded down.
Great news! The crack check was completed on the wrapper sheet and everything passed. There were a few minor repairs that the developer revealed when it was applied to the penetrant (the pink dye).
Things will be kicking up here in Bryson City as well! On Monday April 6 – crews officially broke ground for the instillation of the Turn Table! The heavy work will begin this coming Thursday when the pile driving begins. Stay tuned for photos and the latest information on that!
For a larger view of this plan, please visit the 1702 Gallery.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad and Swain County TDA move forward with Steam Engine #1702 Restoration
Original Release Date: 10/29/2013 – After further finalization of the historic agreement between The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad [GSMR] and Swain County Board of Commissioners and TDA, the plans for steam engine restoration has begun to move forward!
In April of 2012, by vote of the County Commissioners, overnight lodging taxes were raised to 4 cents, allocating a portion of the one cent increase to fund the renovation of the historic GSMR steam locomotive engine # 1702, and the construction of a locomotive turn table. Because of this innovative public/private partnership plans to put the steam engine back on the railroad line are now being put to action.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will be breaking ground next week in Dillsboro NC at the construction site of a new engine repair shop. This new indoor facility will be exclusive to the renovation and repair of the engine during the winter months and work can proceed without interruption of weather or other elements. Swain County, in cooperation with GSMR, has also begun soliciting for public bids from qualified private steam restoration contractors. Once selected, these contractors will work alongside current GSMR shop repair employees. The physical work is expected to begin next quarter after the engine is relocated from its current location in Dillsboro. After it is carefully transferred to the new engine repair shop the entire project of restoration is expected to take anywhere from 12-18 months
Details of the agreement state that Swain County agrees to loan up to $700,000 to GSMR, contingent upon certain terms and agreements. Terms include reinstating steam service operations within 36 months, installation of a turn table in down-town Bryson City, and creating 6 new full time jobs. The 75ft turn table was delivered to Bryson City in late June and construction is scheduled to begin within the coming months.
It has been over eight years since steam locomotive #1702 operated on the Murphy Branch Line. The historical value of the railway and steam locomotive is tremendous asset to the region. Although #1702 operations did not originate on the historic Murphy Branch Line, it is the first scenic excursion steam engine to delight thousands of passengers since the creation of GSMR in 1991 continuing up to 2004.
With the return of steam operations, ridership on a daily train service to either the Nantahala Gorge or the town of Dillsboro could increase as much as 20%. It is estimated that the overall economic impact, quickly followed by a “ripple effect”, would result in the creation of a conservative number of 20 new jobs in addition to the new jobs created at GSMR. These jobs would be additional personnel needed in shops, restaurants, lodging accommodations and other businesses.
GSMR’s Marketing team will begin to monthly update its’ website and social media outlets of the restoration project progress. Fans can expect to see insider photos, commentary about the process and behind the scenes footage. A special page will be dedicated on the GSMR website that will contain the most up to date information and references for contacts.
Owner and CEO, Allen C. Harper has been delighted by this partnership and excited for the progress saying, “The Swain County Commission is probably one of the most visionary and creative public groups I have ever worked with. In essence they have formed a joint venture in the rebuilding of Steam Engine 1702. Bringing historic steam engine service back to Swain County and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad not only will dramatically increase the potential for more visitors to the community, but creates new jobs. Working with the Swain County Commission has been and continues to be a great experience and the area residents should be proud of their leadership.”