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A "What If" on Hudson Restoration - for research

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A "What If" on Hudson Restoration - for research
Posted by RedSocks on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 3:41 PM

First, yes, I know there isn't anything out there to restore...except in my mind. However, I am a writer with a small publisher and am putting out a series of fantasy novels based on the old railroads and steam engines. The first one has been out awhile and is titled "Tracks" (I write under K M Tolan). 

So, here's my "what if" . This is aimed at anyone who's been involved in the restoration and preservation of steam locomotives. If you came upon an old Hudson in the forest that's been sitting out there for, say around seventy-five years in reasonbly good shape (don't ask, heh) - what would be the major concerns about getting this thing running again? I'm assuming that the boiler pipes would have to be replaced. Things like that. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that this Hudson has the streamlined fairing in place to help shield the engine from the worst of the elements. Assume the engine has seen only a few days service before finding itself abandoned and forgotten.

I prefer to be factual as I can, even in a fantasy, and my rail knowledge (and Google) only goes so far. So, any help with research would be appreciated.

And yes, this is for the novel I'm preparing to write (grin).

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Posted by RME on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 12:28 AM

First, large pieces of the streamlining would be among the first things to rot ... on a typical NYC streamlined Hudson, where the pieces were carbon steel.  The lagging insulation on the boiler would hold water against it, accelerating the likely corrosion.  And of course that insulation is asbestos -- likely not the kind that induces mechanical DNA breakage and carcinogenesis, but don't expect the Government agencies that hear about it to care.

Other parts of the streamlining will likely resemble what happened to the last of the GG1s, or the 'Lion Gardiner' passenger car.  So ther would be in essence nothing there to 'restore'; you'd almost have less time and trouble just getting the plans from NYCSES and Kohs and replicating thr pieces from scratch.  This becomes somewhat less clearly troublesome if the shrouding is largely aluminum (as it would be on a PRR T1, for example) and perhaps even less if it is stainless, as in one of the CB&Q Big "Alice" the Goons -- but there isn't as much love or romance for those types.  Yet.  And there will be galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals at the attach points...

You are fortunate to live in an age where one substantial rebuilding (ATSF 2926) is just winding down, and another (Dixie 576) is just getting under way.  There is a rich mine of photographic evidence for you on the various pages of the former's site, and opportunity for firsthand observation (and perhaps even some volunteer firsthand experience!) on the latter.  Meanwhile, in New Zealand a team pulled a carcass out of a river and restored it, which reads perhaps even better than any fiction you could write with believable verisimilitude...

Mind you, if this restoration were being done on the sly in the woods, a fair number of the steps required will require more people or more care.  The "requirement" to tke the tubes and flues out isn't a formal requirement, for example; the space they occupied is needed to gridmark and then inspect every square inch of the inside of the pressure parts of the boiler and its seams.  This is not waived when you check integrity with a 'death ray' ultrasonic tester (contact Kelly Anderson at Strasburg for a full story) BUT it might well be avoidable if you were to build a suitable robot and define a full methodology to use it correctly.

Assume the locomotivr has been in a quiet, vibrationless location that does not flood over about a foot high, if it is equipped with roller bearings.  There is a good chance they willhave survived without fretting or excessive corrosion/pitting if so, and -- again with reasonable portable jacking --- inspection is comparatively simple.

A good kind of 'bad news' might be if the stack wasn't capped, and water has been pouring in to rot out the smokebox, and the plates and screens in the front end.  Have fun redesigning this according to exciting new theories that make the locomotive perform much better with little external change to its historic appearance...

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 1:16 AM

Good pithy to the point explanation RME. 

How about Paul Kieffer in a fit of sanity, and for his grandkids,  watching his beloved Hudsons herded off to the torch merchants, stashed one away in a fine enclosed location, some where away from prying eyes. Along with 200 years worth of spare parts and appliances.

He certainly would have had the means and the power to do so.

Or our hero whips out his Harry Potter wand and bingo! 

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Posted by RME on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 2:19 AM

Miningman
He certainly would have had the means and the power to do so.

Kiefer, as you yourself noted, was out on his ear by 1953, and his relevance to NYC motive power was already critically marginalized, perhaps even prior to publication of the Review of Motive Power, by the 'official' NYC push to Dieseliners for any traffic efficiently using Niagaras, let alone Hudsons.

Aperhaps better scenario -- and one which I believe has been used for more than one April Fool's scam -- is that a Kai Woodham-like figure did the Lost Engines of Roanoke thing with a Hudson after buying it for scrap ... the 'catch' here being how he got it from one of the 'official' NYC contracted scrappers, who I think had firm policies about any subsequent sale of anything except as 'scrap' -- that's why we had no Erie Train Master or PA preserved, btw (thanks for nuttin', Pielet Brothers!)

Of course, the real story is the secret effort to build a replica Hudson, of course far less difficult a project than either a T1 or a modern English Pacific, which apparently got all the way to contract-manufacturing discussions with the Chinese (for fabrication at Datong, I believe, which had all the steam manufacturing capabilities needed sitting idle after the Chinese rejected modern steam) - the thing that supposedly killed the project was discussion about the second (and subsequernt) Hudsons that would be built with the paid-for tooling, drawings, etc. after the expensive first one was done...

Suppose enlightened economic common sense had prevailed?

(I might also add that we have a whole tender, a whole trailing truck with booster, and a raft of common parts off 3001 as a head start toward restoring 'the rest' of a J1, the "real" Hudson...)

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Posted by RedSocks on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 10:27 AM

Folks, thanks much for both the leads and the initial guesswork as to what condition the engine would be in. Apparently I'll be needing a new boiler and front end, as well as a complete restoration of the outer shell. Sounds like the cab and carriage assemblies would just need some rework rather than replacement. 

The story isn't going to be so much about the restoration itself, as it will be about the community being built around the effort. And no, we won't have any wands being whipped about - the magic I use is a lot more subtle for the most part. What I've done in this series so far is look at old railroad tails and such, and then coat them with a little extra. This Kiefer fellow and his hidden horde of parts, for instance. Perfect tall tale for me to play with just a little bit.  

That said, I don't have to get too technical, but I would like to use the correct terms so that proper rail fans won't choke on my wordage too much (grin). The story will be set some time in our near future (artificial intelligence and automation is costing a lot of creative folks their jobs), so I have some leeway in ensuring that measurements and such get done right. 

Again, my thanks. You're watching the beginnings of a new novel, here.

Kerry (who has several Lionel O-scale trains displayed around the house)

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Posted by RME on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 6:19 PM

A somewhat better story may start taking shape when you look at a couple of alternative 'plots'.  A retired chief of motive power can't do much alone.   But think about what happens if a Nelson Blount quietly bankrolls him, ideally with some corporate "disaster recovery" scheme a la Poland providing cost-recovery -- you need parts, consumables like firebrick, special tools like big cylinder hones and driver quartering machines ... three cents on the dollar to people with cold hard cash and cheap climate-controlled storage.

I suggest an adjunct to civil defense ... money was thrown at stockpiles that could be utterly forgotten.  When I joined one of the 'eating clubs' at college, we found cases and cases of supplies, enough for a large percentage of both the university and the town for the presumable duration of the fallout decay curves: no one in the club's management or board remembered, until prompted, that the club had been the designated CD shelter in the early '60s.  You'll find many other such examples.  Obsolete steam without high scrap demand (as in the Korean War) might well follow a similar course...

Then Blount dies suddenly, unexpectedly, the heirs squabble about the 'known' assets ... and the second historical example, the unusual story of one of the CNJ double-end Baldwins, might be applicable.  The shop people modified the thing slightly to be, if I recall correctly, a shop-air compressor, actually walled it up inside part of the shop, and tinkered with paperwork in the hope it would become forgotten and costed-down (which with Baldwins could happen pretty quick for reasons we can explain).  A bit tougher for plausible denial in steam -- perhaps something like a HRSG on process gas -- but remember why we have N&W 1218 and why, somewhat agonizingly to consider, we almost had one of the most beautiful 4-8-4s built (RF&P) - it survived to 1966.

In my opinion you need to capture some of the generational torch-passing here, and the Doc who worked on the 1225 restoration will be a fertile source for you.  It takes special people to undertake a steam restoration, and special people to want to mentor them, sometimes in a curmudgeonly fashion.  I won't go so far as John D. MacDonald did and say it's all about the people and not the machines and science ... but you have a wide cast of people development that goes with the equipment resurrection 'and all that that implies'.

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Posted by Penny Trains on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 6:55 PM

RedSocks
(who has several Lionel O-scale trains displayed around the house)

Have you checked out the Classic TOY Trains forum yet where Lionel is 85% of the subject matter?

One suggestion on the book, a locomotive abandoned in a forest would easily end up with a tree growing through the boiler.  Descriptions of that would be fun to read!  Big Smile

Welcome aboard!

Becky

A waking Lithium Flower just about to bloom

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 6:59 PM

Now I don't know if this is true or not, it's such a good yarn I'd like to believe it is, but I read that the NYC Mohawk in the Museum of Transportation in Saint Louis survived because some NYC shopmen hid the thing!  When it's existance was revealed in 1962 scrapping it would have been a PR disaster for the Central, so they donated it to the museum.

Reminds me of what Sir Winston Churchill said about the Arthurian legend...

"It is all true, or it ought to be, and more and better besides!"

That being said, it's highly unlikely we're going to have the steam locomotive equivalent here of all those T-34's, Panthers, Messerschmitts, and Focke-Wulfs the Russians have been pulling out of the swamps, rivers, and bogs of Mother Russia the past few years.

Per what Becky said, my Colin Garrett books have a number of photos of abandoned steam in third world countrys with trees and assorted foliage growing through darn near all parts of them.

And welcome aboard RedSox!  Anyone with Lionels in the house is OK with Becky and me!

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Posted by RME on Thursday, July 27, 2017 12:16 AM

Firelock76
... I read that the NYC Mohawk in the Museum of Transportation in Saint Louis survived because some NYC shopmen hid the thing!

Hid it?  Story I heard was they had it parked relatively out in the open in Selkirk Yard, where none of the bean-counters evidently would go, and it sat ... and sat ... and sat ... until it was politically better to send it to what was then NRM.

The other half of the story, of course, was that the locomotive had been kept in use for some purpose, I don't now remember what it was but probably easy for Mike to find, and at some point where it stopped being useful ... nobody 'fessed up that they had stopped, and that the locomotive had become "available" for other uses.   A good example of the 'Never volunteer information' principle?

Wish people had succeeded equally well with the double-end Baldwin and the RF&P locomotive!

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Posted by RedSocks on Thursday, July 27, 2017 12:12 PM

Thanks for the ideas. I've been a bit hesitant to explain the story and tie-in with previous novels as the intent here was research and not promotion. I'm thinking on settling with the idea presented of the Keifer family still holding on to pieces of a Hudson as suggested. Will probably make the main character a very distant descendant as it only seems right at this point.

The locomotive being restored is the Blue Goose (ATSF 3460), which played a part in the line of stories preceeding this novel. Yeah, I fell in love with that engine like a lot of folks. If you're going to have a fantasy series involving steam locomotives, I mean, why not that engine?

I will be looking at the 1225 restoration articles to be sure. The trick with writing these stories is to keep things credible enough that when the incredible happens, it's believed too.

Again, thanks all, and I'll happily discuss how things progress should there be interest in it. Anyone tossing in ideas of how you'd solve some hefty challenges in a forest-based restoration attempt will be appreciated - understanding that this might end up in print one day (grin). 

Kerry

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, July 27, 2017 7:16 PM

Hey RME, your story's as good as mine.  Parked out in the boondocks of Selkirk Yard is just as good as parked at Harmon behind a stack of hay bales. 

I sure wish the RF&P boys had hidden a "General," "Governor," or "Statesman" 4-8-4, there were plenty of sidings between Acca Yard and D.C. in the old days where they could have done it.  As the old saying goes, "Well, what are you gonna do?"

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, July 29, 2017 2:04 AM

RME- " Wish people had succeeded equally well with the double-end Baldwin and the RF&P locomotive!"

I'm curious why the double ended CNJ Baldwin? The RF&P 4-8-4 very understandable. 

A baby face set, a Bp20 Passenger Shark, a Centipede, a DL109 but you choose that one. Perhaps because it was somewhat hidden and out of sight and there was a chance, whereas the others are just wishful thinking?

I think the New Haven had a stripped down DL109 used in maintainence service, forlorn and derelict but still salvageable well beyond the others. There may have been a chance for preservation. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, July 29, 2017 6:48 AM

Jersey Central's double-ended Baldwins were oddballs, which explains the attraction, same goes for Centipedes.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, July 29, 2017 8:11 AM

Those double-ended Baldwins, the "Jersey Januses," were actually a good idea, just poor in execution, which is why they didn't last too long.

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Posted by RME on Tuesday, August 01, 2017 10:05 PM

RedSocks
I'm thinking on settling with the idea presented of the Keifer family ...

Kiefer.  The man's name was Kiefer.  It matters that you spell it right if it is important to the story.

... still holding on to pieces of a Hudson as suggested. Will probably make the main character a very distant descendant as it only seems right at this point. The locomotive being restored is the Blue Goose (ATSF 3460), which played a part in the line of stories preceeding this novel ... The trick with writing these stories is to keep things credible enough that when the incredible happens, it's believed too.

But you couldn't ever, ever believe that one.  It would be like saying descendants of Holman and Moody kept a secret stash of 427 Cammers ... and then making the story about Chevy 427s instead because I liked them better or had some backstory going.

Kiefer designed 4-6-4 locomotives for the New York Central.  He certainly had nothing to do with the Ripley 3460 class engines, much bigger and from a different builder altogether.  The story would have less than no credibility no matter how much verisimilitude you might try to create.

Of course, at the risk of baiting certain posters, there is a much better approach if the Blue Goose is your object.  As it happens there is one of the 3460 class still extant, 3463 of no little recent fame in Topeka, and while it might still be something of a Hobson's choice between a historically-streamlined 3463 and the threatened 'science project' modifications I can tell you which alternative most ATSF fans would prefer... unfortunately, you'll have to research the ATSF guys like Ripley for the appropriate backstory.

Stranger plot devices involving steam technology have been used ... there was a very literary work a few years ago that delved into startlingly unfamiliar themes related to the two men commemorated in the "Kylchap" front end.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, August 02, 2017 1:49 PM

RME- Now about that double ended Baldwin? What up with dat? 

RME
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Posted by RME on Thursday, August 03, 2017 10:17 AM

You have to be something of a fan of what Baldwins do right to enjoy them (see SMS Lines, for example) and, while the double-enders had not one but two faces only a mother could love, they were comparatively effective on commuter trains.  (R.J.Russell described the procedure for starting NY&LB trains with BP-20s in the early '60s, which he said involved running the ammeter up to the red and letting it stay there for a couple of minutes until the train had come up to speed; I suspect things were highly similar for Jersey Central trains)  If you had shopmen who could take care of Baldwins, and a restricted range away from that shop (and, I suspect, the joys that come of a restricted time range of heavy use as in most New York-area commuter service) the idea of a 2000hp locomotive with Westinghouse traction gear that does not need to be turned for good crew visibility when run around a train is a good one.  Most other 'commuter' dieselizations were initially accomplished with four-motor power too, but with road switchers in the 1500-1600hp range; to my knowledge nobody else in the region had commuter locomotives like the double enders then.  PRR didn't get around to testing 6-motor higher-horsepower locomotives in commuter service until around the time I was born, and even then (unsurprisingly) didn't invest in them for that purpose.

I know it seems strange that shopmen liked those 6-4-2000s, and I would have to refer you to them for the true situation that prevailed; all I know is that they seem to have made an honest effort to preserve one.  And I for one would greatly enjoy having one, as a rarity and as, in its special Jersey Central livery, not an unattractive locomotive

 

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Posted by RedSocks on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 10:13 AM

RME,

Thanks for your input. Yes, I got the name right in the manuscript (grin), and yes, I get your point that this gentlemen had nothing much to do with the particular engine installed in the Blue Goose. However, this is where artistic license (and fantasy) come in. The average reader won't know or probably care that much when it comes to what actual steam engine design Kiefer was associated with when it came to the Hudson type locomotives. Believe me, I've made even more impossible gaffs (from a rail fan perspective) than that, but this is a fantasy after all - more of an "ideal" vision of what was rather than the nitty-gritty stuff that actually happened. 

So yeah, I'll take the hit on this one, but the idea of this fellow having a secret cache of parts was too good a story to pass up. That said, if anyone asks me, I'll point out your fact that the man had nothing to do with the engine design on that particular model. I will research Ripley just the same and see if I can use him (and the cache story) instead. Appreciate the lead.

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Posted by RedSocks on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 10:22 AM
Just looked up the ATSF 3463 - a treasure trove for my research, thanks. And no, I'm not really enthusiastic over the intended changes, either. Still, there's a lot here for me to work with. Kerry
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Posted by Paul3 on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 10:40 PM

Miningman,
The very last DL-109 on the planet was in Boston through the end of the New Haven on 1/1/69.  Formerly #0716, it was called PP716 (PP=Power Plant).  Her purpose was to act as a DC power generator to liven up small sections of 600VDC 3rd rail in Boston to test the NH's "tin trains" (three experimental high-speed train sets called "Dan'l Webster", "John Quincy Adams", and "Roger Williams").  They needed to pass 3rd rail inspection when getting their monthly maintenance checks, and the only way to do that was to build a small section of under-running NYC-style 3rd rail in Boston.  To power it, they grabbed a DL-109, painted it all orange with black NH logos and slapped "PP716" on it.

The "tin trains" didn't last long in service (one caught fire on the press run); only the Roger Williams survived because it was made of RDC's that could MU with the rest of the fleet (in fact, half of it it survives today and is up at the Hobo RR in New Hampshire).  All were withdrawn from BOS to NYC service by mid-1958 after only a year in service.

It's possible that PP716 continued to provide 3rd rail power in Boston longer than the tin trains lasted (post-1958) due to the arrival of the FL9's.  These also had to have a 3rd rail inspection, so I makes sense that PP716 was kept around for the FL9's.  As to when it stopped being used, I can guess with the arrival of the Penn Central, who shifted the FL9's to Hudson Line service and used E8A's on trains east of the city of New Haven, CT, making PP716 redundant.

Rumor has it that Jim Bradley, a railfan who had already amassed a multi-heavyweight car collection from the NH, tried to save PP716.  The PC scrapped it instead (yet another reason not to like the PC).

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 6:47 AM

While the "Roger Williams" trainset used a lot of RDC technology, the cars themselves were not RDC's.  The differences can be seen when an RDC operated in multiple with any of the surviving "Roger Williams" cars.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Paul3 on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 5:11 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH,
Um, yeah, the Roger Williams were RDC's.  Literally "Rail Diesel Cars" made by Budd in stainless steel.  Sure, they were 6" lower, had 41-BNO trucks, had a different pattern of corrigation, and had diesels with 50Hp ea. more than a regular RDC, but they were RDC's.  It's what saved them as they were, under the skin, a Budd RDC with twin diesels powering automatic transmissions to the two inner axles.  They could MU with all other Budd RDC's and were all coach seating.  The crews loved the full cab A-units vs. the normal RDC barstool cab seat and the B-units at least had a little more pep with their greater Hp (there's a reason why the NH men called them "Hot Rods").  They are even listed in the RDC book "Budd Car: The RDC story" by Crouse.

They are not standard RDC's with a diesel loco cab or blank ends slapped on, that's true.  Perhaps the frame is the same, and perhaps most of the appliances are the same, but overall the Roger was unique among RDC's.

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