Since the re-debut of #1702 we have made sure to take time and celebrate the return of this historical steam engine not only with our employees but our community as well. Because of the unique nature of GSMR’s public/private partnership with Swain County we indeed have a lot of fantastic supporters to celebrate with.
Friday, Aug 5, GSMR celebrated the official debut of #1702 with a specialty ceremony and evening reception train. Our guests along with employees enjoyed a train ride with #1702 leading the way to the Fontana Trestle and back while dining on a fantastic spread of food prepared by our excellent Food and Beverage Staff.
The evening began with a special ceremony in which our owners Al & Carol Harper recognized all the hard work and dedication of the steam engine restoration crew, turntable crew, and Swain County community leaders. Specialty plaques that will be placed inside the cab of #1702 and at the turntable were also unveiled. We made sure to grab some photos to share!
See below, our restoration crew paused for a photo op with some of the Harper Family, GSMR General Manager and GSMR Superintendent of Operations.
Mr. Harper cut the ribbon and officially christened #1702!
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!
We’ve got a short update for this week! Most of the work has been centered on drilling the new staybolt holes. As of Tuesday they had drilled well over 1000 holes.
The new piece of the throat sheet was returned with the 8-degree bend needed and the holes for the flexible staybolts have been drilled.
Marshall has been working on readying the section where the new throat sheet piece will be placed.
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!
On this cold and rainy Friday we are so thankful for the nice and dry steam shop! It’s been a great few weeks with lots of cleaning and “de-rustification” happening! Noticeable changes are beginning to become evident with the look of 1702! Brian and Marshal have been doing a bit of welding work on the flue sheet. Making sure the holes are cleaned up and ready for the flues and fire tubes. We welcomed our new steam mechanic Joe to the team! This week he has been working on removing rust from the reverse gears. He is tediously taking small parts from the engine and working on them piece by piece. The side rods and the main rods have also been removed to prep for their detailed cleaning. Small parts are starting to shine again!
Say hello to Joe!
Things are moving right along at the GSMR steam shop! The guys are preparing for a few days of sandblasting that will follow at the end of this week. The work has been focused on cutting the overhead crown bolts from the internal wrapper sheets, along with washing the rivets. Equipment has begun to arrive, ready to be put to use as everything moves forward. Enjoy these few photo snaps of the work in action along with some great interior shots!