Every winter we do some restoration work on our steam locomotive No.9 to make sure everything is in good working order for the next season of operations. This year we did a lot of work on the boiler to ensure it is in tip top shape and can run for years to come.
The major task that our volunteers are taking on this year is replacing the boiler tubes. These are long pipes that run the length of the boiler, carrying the hot gases from the fire, through the water to make steam. Before we could access the tubes however, we first needed to remove the superheaters which are located inside the large tubes in the boiler, which are called flues. Superheaters are pipes that pass the steam back over the fire, before it is used, to increase the temperature. This gives the steam more energy, making the locomotive more efficient. Once the superheaters were out we could then remove the tubes from the boiler, all 136 of them! To help remove the tubes from the boiler, we used the Lull a telescopic forklift to make it easier and faster to pull out the tubes. It also cut down on the heavy lifting which is great when you have so many to move around! It was about a six-week job to remove all the tubes.
With all the tubes out, the next step was to get No.9 ready to flush the boiler. We pumped clean water from the locomotive’s tender into the firebox, allowing the sooty water to flow out the smokebox. Since the boiler was empty, this task went quickly and we were able to progress to washing out other normally difficult to reach places, including the crown sheet and the mud ring. The crown sheet refers to the roof of the firebox. The mud ring refers to the lowest point in the boiler. It is the space between the outer and inner layers of the firebox walls and as the name suggests, this is where all the mud and scale produced from heating water collects. This is why it is so important that this area gets a good cleaning.
The new tubes are being cut to length at the shop of one of our dedicated volunteers. It is important that every tube is cut to a precise length and numbered with its location in the boiler.
The next step will be to put the tubes back in place and finish putting everything back together. Stay tuned for part two of our Number 9 Restoration Update 2018. This is a very exciting time for Waterloo Central Railway to have all our talented volunteers assist with ventures like this restoration as well as now have the funds to be able to move forward.