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11-29-2011, 06:48 PM #1
Steam Railroad Crane for Free or slated to be scrapped!
I saw this on another forum. Railway Preservation News • View topic - ex-SP Steam Wrecking Derrick available I am not sure if anyone here has the resources to come and pick it up but it is scheduled to be scrapped if not taken in 10months!
The interesting question is with it being at a trolley museum I wonder if they were to convert it to air if it occasionally could earn its keep as a heavy duty shop crane?
11-30-2011, 06:34 AM #2
Where is the crane located ? If it is somewhere close to Kingston, NY, we're interested. Whom do we contact ?
Back in 1986, NYS Canal Corp had a small Brownhoist or Industrial steam locomotive crane working in their Utica, NY maintainence yard. This was a little self-propelled steam crane. I remember that in January of 1986, I was staying in the Best Western Motel on Genessee Street in Utica. I was working up at Hinckley Dam on a hydroelectric project at the time. This one morning, it was colder than cold out and as I walked into the parking lot of the motel, I heard a steam whistle. It was kind of weak, and a single note whistle, but it was a steam whistle. I followed the sound and came to the Canal Corp's yard about 1/4 mile down Genessee Street from the Best Western. No mistaking what was up, there was a cloud of steam over the Canal Corp's yard. I put on my NY Power Authority hardhat and walked in. Wearing a hardhat and a set of greasy Carhartt coveralls, no one was too concerned as to who I was. I explained I was with the NY Power Authority and was working up at Hinckley Dam... and was told to help myself to looking at the steam crane.
Thye crane was scooting up and back on a straight run of rail, picking "buoy boats" out of the basin of the NYS Barge Canal for winter storage. Each buoy boat is an old fantail type motor launch, steel hulled, with four picking eyes welded to the deck and framing.
The crane came rumbling by, belching steam from every gland, covered with ice from frozen condensate and dragging an electrical extension cord. When it stopped, I caught the operator's eye and gave him the hand crane signal for "stop". He waved me to come on. I got aboard the crane and off we went, picking out the next boat and rumbling down the rails to land it on its blocks. The crane boiler had a home oil burner gun set to fire in the the firedoor opening. A 55 gallon drum of number 2 fuel oil was lashed to the door opening of the house of the crane, piped to the boiler with loose copper tubing. It was that simple a lashup. The operator told me the crane boiler had been de-rated and could only carry 100 psig. He also told me that they had tried to run the crane on air, and it had no balls and could scarcely move itself, let alone pick a load. They went back to jury rigged oil firing as this was the last season the old crane would be used. It was a loose old thing, belching steam from numerous piping leaks, worn rod glands, and shaft journals visibly moving in their boxes due to excessive wear. What wasn;t belching steam was covered in old grease, open gear lube, or cylinder oil. The operator knew his business and had it moving right along, making it looks easy.
We tried to get that steam crane from NYS Canal Corp and got nowhere. First, they told us it was "historic" and they would be preserving it in some sort of museum they had planned. Then, they told us it was "hazmat" (the "A" word), and pushed it into the weeds at the back of the Utica yard. I wonder if it is still there. That was a little bitty locomotive crane, kind of light for us to justify going after, but we've lusted after a steam locomotive crane for years.
Looking at the crane you've posted in this thread , I believe it has friction bearing trucks, so a move over CSX or any mainline on its own wheels is not going to happen.
If that crane gets moved, it is going to have to come apart and be trucked. We moved an Alco S-1 off Staten Island that way. The good part about a crane like this one is stuff unbolts to make loads that are movable on low boys or flatbed trailers.
The other big question is whether the group that has this crane has another crane on site to handle the dismantling. My guess would be the boom and rigging come off and go as one load; the "house" with the hoisting engines and boiler goes on a low boy; the trucks (being a self propelled crane, these are going to be heavier than regular trucks) may be a load apiece; and the carframe makes another (and probably a permit) load. Trucking costs are going to be a killer, so having a crane to dismantle/load might be the determining factor.
At our end, we have a 60 ton all terrain crane on rubber, with high rail gear, so we can handle a lot of the offload/reassembly. We'd have to hire a heavier crane with more capacity and reach to pick and set the "house". We usually get a 120 ton Demag or Krupp truck mounted crane up out of Kingston for this sort of thing.
We have one diesel locomotive crane, ca 1940, built for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard by Brownhoist. It is close to a steam crane, but not the same. It was a lighter duty crane with a lattice boom. It has the original Cummins diesel for the hoist and travel. It also has a Continental diesel with DC generator for running an electromagnet. The USN Shipyard was using it for handling scrap steel. We use that crane with a clam bucket to handle rip rap and fill material along our ROW. The crane in this thread looks like a wrecking crane and would come in handy for some of our bridge work and other heavier projects. All we have to do is find out about where it is and if it is feasable to get it up to our RR.
11-30-2011, 08:19 AM #3
I found the link, but it does not open for me. I searched on Railway Preservation News which worked and then scrolled down to find the crane thread.
Railway Preservation News • View topic - ex-SP Steam Wrecking Derrick available
The crane is at this electric train museum in California, which does not want to use their resources to store steam equipment. http://www.wrm.org/
11-30-2011, 03:13 PM #4
I am not sure how come the link didn't work for everyone but sadly that machine is quite the distance away being off in California. Given the very neat almost weekly articles the guys at your railroad post over there Railway Preservation News • View topic - Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2011 each week showing them press on and open up another few hundred feet of line, rebuild another bridge etc... that someone from your railroad has to be aware of this crane being available and has already decided to pass on it.
With that being said I was wondering on the move of a crane like this do you think it may be possible to either send out a set of ball bearing freight trucks, or locate one out on the left coast and borrow them for the duration of the move? I don't know how compatible one bolster would be with another one, nor what the complete logistics of the mate would be, however I would have to think that there would be a huge savings if one could interchange such set of equipment over trucking.
The only thing I could also see being a potential issue is I am not sure if a crane gondola set like that can be "humped" (i.e. sent over a railroad hump yard for classification on a new train). Outside of that I would have to think especially if it needs to go as an over sized cross country move that it would be very expensive if it wouldn't be already.
As for the steam crane you watched working what a neat site that must have been to see so relatively recently speaking. I would have thought that even by 1986, the chances of any non museum rail operation in this country being able to staff a competent crew to run a steam crane like that would be almost zero. Outside of that sighting and also the discussion of the steam crane here recently in NYC it really makes me wonder when the final extinction of industrial steam engines in this country came. Note I will exclude from this large power boilers or stationary plants that use steam engines for waste energy recovery such as steam engines used as reducing valves.
11-30-2011, 05:28 PM #5
Adammil, railcar trucks are tapered roller bearings. That is not the only problem with interchange. There is a rule against interchange of rolling stock over 50 years old. It might be possible but very difficult to move it as a charity move if you had connections on both carriers. I would put the carbody and trucks on one flat car and the house and boom on another. the flatcar might be truckable, it's old and doesn't look too heavy. Moving on it's own wheels, even with roller bearing trucks, is not practical. Even when new these things could not be moved at more than about 25 MPH.
If someone can make the deal, it's close enough to me that I would go and assist.
What about the tender on the other end of that flat?
11-30-2011, 07:06 PM #6
I have never heard of their being a ban on the interchange of cars older than 50years. In fact with a car today that was 50yrs old only being from the 1960's it wouldn't surprise me to know that there are a bunch of cars that age still on the road. It could be someone has snapped the line of 50yrs and I just don't know but I haven't heard of it.
On the other hand what I think what you are confusing is the railroad's ban on plain bearings. Though some of the trucks have been converted one of the easiest ways to spot plain bearings is if they have the flapped covers on them they are usually plain bearings;
I found this link which has more photos derrick :: DSCN4761.jpg picture by allan_family - Photobucket notice how there are the flapped covers on the trucks. They used to be able to lift those up and lubricate the oil soaked cotton wadding that they placed in there to keep the journals lubricated.
Here's a good little Wikipedia article describing how they lubed the plain journals as well as on what is called a "hot box." Hot box - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. A little piece of trivia for you is when you look at an old caboose and notice the elevated cupola that was there so the crews could sit up high and watch for the smoke coming from the hot boxes on the trains. Back then they didn't have the trackside radio controlled hot box detectors.
Here's what a taper roller bearing would look like as a comparison;
As to the speed restrictions on a piece of equipment of this size, I am not sure why if you swapped out the truck set with roller bearings they would place them on you unless they did some center of gravity or something calculations and found that this may not be stable. On the other hand from what I understand I believe that the railroads that still will allow the plain bearings to run on them which I believe includes most with the exception of CSX who has a blanket ban, do so with a 25mph limit on the speed as a precaution.
Now one last thing I should mention about all of this is that even with the roller bearings they still haven't as this photo shows eliminated hot boxes but I guess they are far less common.
Here's another good photo of the aftermath from another hot box that set the bridge and coal train on fire too!
Here's the story of this one. http://www.snopes.com/photos/acciden...fire.asp#photo I guess the moral is if you find yourself pulling a train with a hot box don't stop to inspect on a wooden trestle!
11-30-2011, 07:33 PM #7
I am quite familiar with railway rolling stock and bearings. CFR 49 part 215.203 says that rolling stock over 50 years old cannot be interchanged. Cars built prior to 1974 have a 40 year interchange restriction. This hook has a build date probably before WWI. The flat has later trucks but looks to be of the same era.
For someone who thought they had ball bearings 4 hours ago you have come a long way.
If I am not working I would go up there and assist with dismantling and loading.
11-30-2011, 09:27 PM #8
11-30-2011, 10:45 PM #9
I'm going to be going out to the SF Bay Area this coming February to visit my mother. The wheels are turning as to seeing this crane and taking some measurements, etc while I am out there.
Our railroad has something like 120 active volunteers. We field some huge work parties, and after Irene, had right of way damage to deal with. We are rebuilding about 30 miles of track, and this is the main thrust. We've got people working on restoration of rolling stock, people working on overhaul and repairs to ROW maintainence equipment, people working at anything and everything from cutting brush to running trains (in season). I know if I float the idea at the next meeting of our Board, I can get some interest. The shortline and tourist RR industry is a kind of lodge. We have a sister organization called Empire State RR Museum, chartered as such. They would likely be the vehicle to receive the crane as a donation. We've had moves of historic equipment donated. Having a few veterans of many years service on CSX and other mainline roads, we know how to manuver and arrange moves. There is no doubt in my mind that the only way that crane would move anywhere is in pieces on some other carrier. We got lucky years ago on the move of a 2-8-0 steam locomotive from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Kingston, NY. The engine came east on a General Electric depressed center car that was heading home to Schenectady.
Our group has a way of making things happen. We may not have a huge formal organization or much in the way of money, but we manage and grow.
As for competent people to run a steam crane: anyone who has been around machinery and has a reasonable head on their shoulders can figure things out. Get someone who'se been running "friction" cranes (the old clutch/brake cranes vs the newer hydraulics) and get someone who has some basic knowledge of boilers and they will figure out and run a steam crane. It's all in how you approach things. Nowadays, everyone is obsessed with having manuals, DVD's, interactive software, or formal training for anything they are called upon to do. Well, back in the day, all of this stuff never existed. The name of the game was "figure it out for yourself". We've had to do it many times with all sorts of machinery and equipment and systems. It's like anything else, you start off slow, trace lines, get things sorted out and you go from there. If you are "in the seat" to run a crane, you make various moves to get the feel of how the crane responds. You find out if the clutches and brakes work properly or slip, and you work up to where you are running the whipline and main load block up and down, raising and lowering the boom, etc.
My buddy Ron Zinski tells stories of his uncle, who was a wrecking master on the LS & I RR in Marquette, Michigan years ago. The wrecking crane was steam, and so old it was reeved with chain instead of wire rope. The friction lining on the brakes for the swing, and hoists was pretty much worn off. The crane operator used to keep a bucket of coal cinders and a can or kerosene handy. He or one of the guys in the crew would throw coal cinders into the brake bands to get the brakes to hold. SOmetimes, this would lock them on or the cinders would make the brakes drag, so they'd pour some kerosene onto the brakes. The operator knew the old crane and apparently untangled a lot of derailed ore cars with the crane in that condition. No manual would ever cover those sorts of situations.
Nowadays, people think every crane has a load chart, and the newer cranes have onboard computers that have inputs for boom angle, boom extension, and hook load that can shut things down if you get into trouble. The older cranes often had no load chart. The booms often had been scabbed back together after someone crippled them or damaged them... the counterweights were added onto with anything available.... it came down to the operator's sense of what the crane was going to do. On old cranes the turntable rollers and centerpin might be loose, so when the crane "got light in the ass end" on a heavy pick, that was the operator's sensor. I've seen lots of older cranes like that, and when it was all you had to work with overseas.... you went with it. You figured the weight of what you were going to pick, figured your rigging and what the wire rope on the crane was likely good for, and if that was good you left the rest in the hands of the operator.
I got up on the old Bucyrus Erie crane at Gasup the first year I fired it, and it took me all of about 15 minutes to trace lines out and figure out what I needed to know. The unknown to me was how the boiler would steam on slabwood and how it would respond to steam demand, how much induced draft the hoisting engne would put up the stack, etc. The only way to find out was to fire the boiler lightly and build a head of steam slowly, then see how the boiler responded under load. Hanford Mills' plant was much the same, determining how the boiler would respond, what draft was needed to make steam for the engines, and we got it down. I was taught the basics early on, and one thing I was taught was to trace lines, and to think things out, then start slow and feel my way carefully.
An example of this was back at Brooklyn Tech HS in the 60's. We all took machine shop courses. In one shop room, you might find Hendey geared head lathes. Another shop room might have some Lodge and Shipley's or Reed and Prentice's. Our teachers came "out of industry". They taught us kids the basics. No manuals on the machine tools, nothing labelled beyond the basic speed/feed/thread charts that the machine tool builders put on at the factory. What we were taught to do is to "put the headstock between gears and roll the spindle over by hand.... see what the levers on the apron do without the lathe under power...." We were pretty much on our own to figure out the particulars of how to actually "run" the machine tools after our first semester of machine shop class. We'd pull things over by hand and get the feel of things, and it worked.
It's not different in a powerplant or around heavy equipment. You need to keep your head and look, trace, and figure things our for yourself. I like to tell the people who insist they must have the manuals, DVD's, interactive training software, etc that SOMEONE at SOMETIME in the murky past had to invent and design and startup the first boilers, engines, turbines, and all else or we would never have come this far. Those predecessors had NO ONE to ask or to teach them. We cannot go through life expecting people to be running ahead of us handing us manuals, training or whatever we think we need to do a job. I, for one, never let a lack of manuals, or formal training stop me. I was taught to think and figure stuff out, and to proceed in a reasoned and safe way.
To digress, the alumni association of my alma mater has stopped calling me for donations. The reason is simple. I told them that engineering school was simply a place to get me "ticket to the game", a diploma which the front offices in this world seem to require. I told the alumni association that engineering school was too damned theoretical (and that was 40 years ago), and did a piss poor job of preparing me for the real world or practicing engineering. I told them the best professors I ever had were not found in their hallowed halls, but in the machine shops, jobsites, powerplants and engine rooms as well as a few barrooms in the form of machinists, toolmakers, boilermakers, millwrights, pipefitters, ironworkers, marine and stationary engineers and firemen, and a few barmaids thrown in. I told my alma mater that I got the most applicable parts of my engineering education at Brooklyn Technical High School, and no thanks to my alma mater, found my PE exam a complete snap. I told my alma mater to call when they started teaching young people to be "real" engineers. I haven't had a call in a few years, which is fine by me.
Oldtime engineers and mechanics simply figure stuff out. If we have to run a crane, we can handle it. If we have to fire a boiler, we trace lines and figure things out and handle it. If we have to move a locomotive or repair a bridge, we handle it. If I have to climb the iron on a railroad bridge and take measurements and "run numbers" to determine load capability or simply the weight of a built up section of bridge steel, I do it. If my buddies have to jack up a span and put new bearings under it, or if we have to do rivetted repairs, we do them. At work, it's much the same. If we have to overhaul a hydro turbine or swap out a 300 ton transformer or deal with a 500 year flood, we handle that too. I get calls from the equivalent of "Outages R Us", anytime we have an outage scheduled at our powerplant. These contractors want to come right in and do the outage work, handling anything and everything. They seem flabbergasted when I tell them we do our own outage work with our house gangs, and we do our own engineering in house. This is how it is supposed to happen. People have a full set of senses and a brain as standard equipment, but today;s world has done a real good job of minimizing the need for using this equipment they way it was meant to be used. Old machine tools and things like steam cranes require a person to use their own "standard equipment" in the ways it was meant to be used, not in the dumbed down way that relies too much on having "someone" ahead to have manuals, training programs and similar in place.
We'll see where the idea goes, but it's nothing we have not handled before.
12-01-2011, 03:02 AM #10
Joe, spoken so well.
I have been asked "Where did you learn to repair a steam roller?" or "Where did you learn to operate this machine?" or best of all "What does this thing do?"
Today people know that milk comes from the supermarket. If they found out that milk came from the underside of a cow, they would not let it in their homes!
Maybe we should start a "Practical Engineering School"
I am so grateful that there that there are still folks like you and Forrest who have been there and can show the way.
Get the crane back to New York and I will help unload it.
12-01-2011, 05:49 AM #11
As for the type of bearings, I reread the old posting and I apologize as I realized I wrote ball bearings causing all the confusion as opposed to taper roller bearings. I didn't realize that you were talking about the current bearings used in rail car service and I thought you were saying the crane had the tapered roller bearings inside of it which so clearly isn't the case. So I hope you can accept such apology. I will leave my old post though for those here who don't know the difference as I think it still is useful to them.
With that being said I recall recently reading a trains magazine article about a shortline that uses a whole fleet of Baldwin switchers in the Philadelphia area. They were saying that today their crew knows how to maintain and run the Baldwin switchers, and that the price on them is so low that they can keep running them. Add to that the fact that they have a pile of spare parts they seem to buy up most of them around the country when they are retired. The switchers are from the transition era where half left the factory with plain, while the later ones got roller bearings. When they come across a locomotive with plain bearings in the trucks (all of them tend to usually sell for scrap), in order to move them home the article said that they have a set of roller bearing trucks that they can ship out to the location where they find the locomotives and send them to their railroad dead in tow.
Could anything along these lines be acomplished here? Those baldwin switchers are from the 1950's so they clearly pass the 50yr restriction by now, so how would they get them home? What does interchanging a car actually entail as I know that the railroads can occasionally move stuff even if it is not allowed to be interchanged? Does that mean they need a dedicated locomotive and dedicated train?
By the way is anyone else seeing that goofy green face on the photo i linked in. It worked for me last night at home, but now it doesn't come through at work.
Oh well time to get to work. Sorry about the confusion.
12-01-2011, 09:08 AM #12
The green face looks fine. Good observation on the steam crane. With people like Joe M. around perhaps something good will come of it. Thanks for a great post.
12-01-2011, 09:37 AM #13
Railroads are probably inclined to do more for each other than for the rest of us, kind of a professional courtesy thing. Locomotives are not freight cars, however and that probably enters into it. Later wreckers were self propelled and that would complicate the issue, although this one does not appear to be . There is a great deal of difference in such a move in the Northeast where there are numerous local moves at low speeds. The machine is in California and traffic out here moves faster. I am about a mile from the sunset route and a slow train here is 55 miles per hour. The wreck crane was never designed for speeds over about 25 MPH. Up and BNSF aren't going to go that slow and shutdown these routes for virtually any price.
The locomotives you mention would at least have operable brakes and couplers meeting current standards. This crane has obviously been sitting neglected for a long time and would need all this IF you could get them to consider it. Joe might have some pull but the best deal would be something such as he mentioned like the drop center flat that might haul it intact, or at least with less disassembly.
12-01-2011, 10:44 AM #14
I would not in my wildest consider moving that crane with a set of roller bearing trucks under it for a cross-country move. To get the car to pass FRA inspection and meet standards for BNSF, UP, and a host of other railroads would be a huge undertaking.
A partial dismantling and making up several loads to be put aboard either depressed center flats, regular flats or a gondola car is what it will take. How feasable this is, and how much pull we have and how far it reaches are all factors.
Of course, this whole thing is predicated on the crane being in something at or near useable condition. A shot boiler or worn out or heavily damaged/stripped hoisting engines and similar are show stoppers. We would not drag a static museum piece accross the country.
I'm hoping to get out to inspect the crane in February, take measurements and figure out whether it is something we want to go after.
Steam railroad cranes ARE rarer than steam locomotives, and this one should be preserved. If we can make it happen and get it to where we can use it, it will be a minor miracle, but it is something to try for. I am enough of a realist to know when to let go of an idea. If no one gives this sort of thing at least a fair shot, then things like this steam crane will be on the shelves of Walmart or back on the roads as Hyundais or Kias.
It helps to be a member of my generation- we were kids when these types of cranes were in use, and we came up at a time when we had to do a lot more independent thinking and figuring without benefit of computers, CAD, software or similar. We came up when we were still a nation with a base in heavy industry and manufacturing. We came up the hard way if we were smart enough to realize who the best teachers were and learn from them. Our ranks are growing thinner as time passes, and sometimes I fear that when my generation goes, so will any real interest in the old iron. It falls in line with overall homogenization and dumbing down that has been happening in our society, and it falls in line with the mainly helpless generation we seem to have produced. If there is no computer, no pushbuttons or touch screen, or no cell service, the new generation is screwed.
I'm heartened here at the powerplant. I've got my 30 years in and am 61, so am more than eligible to retire. I am having too good a time in my work. A young engineer (about 40) was hired and he is like a breath of fresh air. He's a degreed Mechanical Engineer, but he worked as a coop, and worked as a machinist and welder/fabricator. He came up in fossil plants, worked as a shift operator and in the maintainence gang. He's given to making drawings with a pen and paper as I do, has a lathe and welding equipment at home, and rides a Hog. His dad before him was a shift operator in a conventional fossil plant, so this young man has it in his blood. His dad was a USN snipe on a destroyer, so volunteers at Battleship Cove.
To have someone who will take over a job I hand him and not bug me for details or come up with all sorts of reasons why he can't do it, and to have a guy who immediately is accepted by the mechanics in the plant- as well as the contractor's ironworkers and crafts- is a pleasure. He shows respect to the crafts, and he gets theirs, which is more than most of the younger generation does. The crew is kidding that now I can ride off into the sunset as a younger version of me on the loose in the plant. How many young engineers walk up to a big LeBlond lathe and know the name and what it is ? This young fellow damned near drooled when he saw Marlene, our bigger Leblond. He gets up to New England Museum of Wireless and Steam, and knows his way around the oldtime stuff like firetube boilers and Corliss engines, and he built his own ham radio gear. Now, he is fabbing a 60 foot mast for his ham radio station. I told him to come play with my toys as he needs to poke some large holes in some baseplates and burn some serious rod to make the base assembly. He's glad to meet a kindred soul as he'd been using his wife as his helper on projects. My wife is tickled I have a young person to pass what I can of my profession and experience along to.
Guys like this young Engineer are few and far between. He is the hope for this next generation. I have no doubt if I turned him loose on a steam crane, he'd figure it out and run it. I told the young engineer I'd be his "rabbi" ( a NYC police department expression for an older hand who shows a new person the ropes and tricks). I'm enjoying the role, and we are both having a blast designing iron and seeing it go in, and teaching him the plant's workings. Guys like this young engineer are about the only chance for old iron in the future, I think. He formed a study group with another couple of young engineers like himself- hands on guys- to study for their PE's, which is also heartening. These guys will be the REAL engineers coming up. I try to teach them all I can, and we are having a great time in the process. It's part of why I am in no rush to retire. But, if I DO retire, there will be endless projects like steam locomotive work, maybe even a steam crane.....
12-01-2011, 11:36 AM #15
"...has a lathe and welding equipment at home, and rides a Hog."
Don't hold it against him. There are those who claim those can be made into
reliable two wheeled transport.
And, how come the 500 year floods keep on coming every other year these days? Still
cannot figure that one out.
You should go see the new motorcycle museum in newburgh Joe. It's quite a sight.
12-01-2011, 12:41 PM #16
A bit Off Topic, re: 500 year floods: Not to get into some wild speculation about global warming or climate change, I can offer some local insight.
It comes down to environmental regulations having a stranglehold on work in and near streams and rivers combined with wanton over-development. In years past, contractors and local highway departments went into streams, creeks and rivers during low-water periods to mine gravel, item 4, or rock fill material. This maintained the normal water course and maintained the normal stream bed elevation. In addition, highway departments and property owners went into the streams to pull out snags (dead trees and limbs), and debris that was accumulating around bridge piers and abutments, around culverts, and along the banks. In the past 10 years or so, environmental regulations reached new heights in the stranglehold they placed on anyone wanting to work in a stream. If the streams were part of the NY City Watersheds, then the stranglehold was raised to an exponential power.
The result is stream bed elevations rose as alluvial material piled up. Streams changed course, widening since they no longer had the depth, and scouring banks. Debris jams made cofferdams at bridges or at narrower areas of the streams. What should have been routine heavy rain storms started producing local flooding with regularity. It took Hurricane Irene to hammer the point home and now, belatedly, there is a massive effort to dredge, realign and clear the streams.
A friend who was our town Highway Super in the past and is still an excavating contractor and logger has his own observations. He said that 10 years ago, he would drive a large Cat rubber tire loader under a highway bridge to mine gravel on the stream bed. He and other contractors pulled thousands of yards of creek run gravel and cobbles out each season. The US Army Engineer Corps built a flood control berm in that area of the stream as there is a bend. The environmental regulations tightened and mining in the stream bed was halted. Soon, despite the flood control berm built for the 100 year flood, any heavy rain was producing flooding of homes that were supposed to be protected by that berm.
As my friend told it, he tried to walk under that same highway bridge this past summer during low water. He had to stoop to get under it. It's amazing how fast the stream piled material into that area. It's also simple arithmetic; if you decrease the depth and width of a channel, then the water has to flow at a higher velocity and has to find somewhere to flow.
After Hurricane Irene, Governor Cuomo heard from people in our region. He responded by suspending regulations for working in the streams. There was a nice little show down near my house over this. The Esopus Creek had taken out a bridge and wiped out some homes. A number of people on the other side of that bridge were cut off. The National Guard and our local highway department showed up to do emergency repairs. They had the heavy equipment and they had two old railroad tank cars with the ends burned out to make large culverts. A NYC DEP guy showed up and tried to stop the work, saying there were permitting issues, working in the stream bed needed review, etc. The highway department guys and the National Guard told the NYCDEP guy a few things and he left the scene. Within 24 hours, the road was passable for the people who were cut off.
Overdevelopment of rural lands cuts the drainage basin area, and paving tends to channel runoff into places it would not normally go, with resulting flooding.
While I would not rule out climate change, I hold that environmental regulations and overdevelopment are major local factors. A simple thing like a driveway can be a contributor. Used to be that people in our area had "shale" or "item 4" driveways. It took some maintainence and from time to time, you;d have to get a 10 wheeler load of "choke" from the local crusher plant, or a load of ripped gray shale. You had the trucker "tailgate spread" the stuff, then you pulled it out with rakes and compacted it by driving over it. It tightened up into a nice surface. It drained handily and acted as a velocity breaker when there was heavy runoff. Come winter, you plowed some of this material off, and come spring, you put some back. Now, people do not want to be bothered with this type of driveway or apron outside their garages or houses. They blacktop these areas. Farming is almost a non issue anymore, so second homes and subdivisions for them are what's happening. More pavement, and resulting impacts to the drainage of the land. Suburbia sucks.
Sorry if I am OT, but wanted to answer your question. As for the steam crane, it WOULD come in handy for rebuilding a four span steel bridge that was partially lost in the flooding !
12-01-2011, 06:35 PM #17
Sent you a PM Joe. Cheers, John.
12-01-2011, 09:11 PM #18
Interesting to see this old steam wrecking crane so close to home. SP, now UP still has a more modern version of this one sitting in the Roseville yards just about where the ammunition train blew up back in 1973, which technically is Antelope, although the post office is no longer there.
It is a more modern six wheel version, is self propelled at least around the yard and is 200 ton capacity as I recall. Not even sure it is still steam powered, although once watched it work under steam some 25 years ago.
12-04-2011, 07:11 PM #19
Just wondering I have been running this through my head on an off all weekend. If I were to be tasked with going out from my museum to inspect this machine and report back whether or not there was life in it to justify a move back east that would cost $10's of thousands of dollars how would I inspect it in order to determine whether or not it is too far gone for restoration if the rest of the group was waiting to hear back from me?
Here's what I am thinking, on the boiler end the issue as I see it is that from reading the other thread it would sound like the museum got it from SP RR when someone asked if they would want it as it was removed from service. I am guessing that by what I read it arrived and then it sat there. I would think 80-90% chance that there is asbestos all over the boiler. There for i am guessing that doing a comprehensive UT just isn't going to happen. With that said I am assuming that it should be a water legged vertical boiler. So I would think if one could do some UT in the fire box alone where one would expect much of the worst damage to occur. Do you think this would be good enough to determine the condition of the rest of the boiler? At what point would you consider the boiler too far gone?
Also when it comes to fixing a vertical boiler, how difficult to fix is a vertical boiler like this as opposed to a locomotive boiler? Do they have stay-bolts on a vertical boiler like this or is it just a tube inside a tube more or less probably with a riveted seam? If there are no staybolts and you need a patch or two would a vertical boiler like this be a lot easier to work on or would it actually be a lot harder as putting in patches along a non stayed surface may require more in terms of NDT and post weld heat treat?
Next question comes how would you inspect the hoist mechanism for wear? My guess is that this is likely an area where unless you can actually see it run and preferably under steam it would be a hard task to establish any real condition. I suppose a look inside the cylinders to see what shape they were in and lifting the covers on the steam chest would possibly help. Outside of that I would expect that the wear on this type of gear would be mainly due to ovaled bearings and the like, something you will have a hard time seeing. So in that case I would think you have two choices. #1 run it and see if it is tolerable. #2 a complete tear down and see what needs fixing. Either one of these 2 I doubt you will be able to do in the field.
So how would do an inspection like this when in the end large sums of museum resources will hinge on your report? Is my thought process similar to what yours would be on such an inspection?
I am guessing that the shape of this equipment is not brand new no work needed. So I would guess this is likely to fall into the grey area. I know unless the museum was ready to accept a full rebuild type restoration at worst case I sure wouldn't feel comfortable making that call if it were me doing a 1day inspection out in San Francisco. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to do such an inspection.
12-04-2011, 09:57 PM #20
Will leave the boiler issue to the experts but offer this thought.
It seems unlikely that the hoisting mechanism has much wear on it as this is a wrecking crane and they don't see much regular service like a maintenance crane would.. I know the larger one I mentioned above sits for months if not years at a time. Suspect the only time it is called out is if there are derailments in areas that cannot be accessed by truck mounted cranes.
I did a bit of a search and found that the 250 ton capacity Bucyrus Erie "steam" wrecking crane has been donated to the Calif RR Museum in Old Sacramento, CA and it is operational. There is still a 250 ton BE sitting in the yards in Roseville, but it has been converted to diesel.
Last edited by Dave A; 12-04-2011 at 11:15 PM. Reason: added