SP&S Boiler Inspection Continues into the New Year

on Monday, January 2, 2017

A lot has been accomplished in 2016 toward the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association efforts toward the 700's 1472 Day Inspection, in regards to our tear-down, and rebuilding of major boiler components. All appliances that limit access to inspection points have been removed, and all of the superheater assemblies have been removed, as well as all of the firebrick in the firebox. The boiler surface has been mapped out, and the tedious task of making all of the ultrasound measurements is now well under way. Additionally, replacement components to the superheater such as return bends, ball-ends and bifurcates (junction points where a tube splits off into two routes), have all been in the process of being fabricated.

Work is beginning on the assembly and welding of the various components to replace each superheater assembly. These will be stored in order to be ready for later installation. We hired a local boiler cleaning contractor to come in to "sweep" and vacuum out the 700's boiler. The technique consists of using a variety of augers to scour the flues, and a big vacuum hose to remove all of the debris inside the tubes. 

The use of this method for cleaning ended up being an excellent decision, as the operation went smoothly, efficiently and without the tedious, dirty, backbreaking labor required if we did it by hand (and with brushes). This was especially beneficial to keeping things relatively clean inside the Oregon Rail Heritage Center during a potentially dirty operation, as it minimized the amount of stray "stuff" floating around the building and coating everything with grime. After all, this is a working museum and we do have to respect our guests and partner organization neighbors. Now with the boiler interior cleaned, we are beginning to remove the larger flue tubes for inspection access. The first step is to carefully use a cutting torch to remove the tube end from the flue sheet. 

Good progress has also been made on the fundraising side. Our superheater sponsorship was very successful in 2016, and we experienced a surge of donations toward the end of the year. Our accomplishments in funding resulted in a successful Superheater Campaign, a grant from the Tom E. Dailey Foundation and a grant from the State of Oregon from their Preserving Oregon Grant program. We also received two more grants in the second half of 2016: a grant from the BNSF Foundation, and a matching grant from an individual well know in the local Railroad Preservation community, Al Baker. Al is offering a Matching Grant of $20,000. For every dollar our generous donors give, Al will match it dollar for dollar. The grant total to date is $47,500 and we hope to see more awards come through in 2017. We are appreciative of all of our donors to the Superheater Campaign, and any future donations through this channel can be matched by the Al Baker grant. I want to give special thanks to the Tom E. Dailey Foundation, the State of Oregon and the Preserving Oregon Grant, the BNSF Foundation and Al Baker for all of their generous support! Please visit our website at to make your contribution!

One last comment about the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation. Every year, ORHF runs the Holiday Express trains out of Oaks Park in Portland. Over 70 trips for the season are typically run, and we are now up to 4 weekends per year for the trains. 2017 was our most successful Holiday Express event so far, with every train sold out. In many cases we were selling out 2 weeks in advance of scheduled trains. The 4449 did the honors in 2016 for all of the trains, since the 700 is down for its inspection, and the performed well for all of the runs! We appreciate the support of everyone who purchased Holiday Express tickets and rode the train.We look forward to your support next year! The Holiday Express is a significant source of income for ORHF and this money helps keep our facility running that houses the 700 and 4449.


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