Sunday, September 25, 2011

Inside the Triple Valve - Part I

It's time to take apart a triple valve so we can clean and lubricate it. This will insure that it continues to operate properly, otherwise we may regret it. First, let's prepare a clean surface to work on.

This is a Westinghouse M2A triple valve with graduated release, quick recharge, and quick action features. We'll see what that means later.

Here are two views of the complete triple as removed from the pipe bracket. The valve is held to the bracket with three bolts, and there is a rubber gasket (#9356) to make a nice reliable seal for all the various ports.

The view to the right shows the ports of various sizes and shapes in the face of the triple valve body.

At the other end of the body is the cylinder cap, held by three special bolts. It also has a gasket (#131A) to seal it to the body. Fortunately this appears to be in excellent condition. Inside the cylinder you can see the face of the piston (yellow arrow).

Here the piston assembly has been pulled part way out, so you can clearly see the piston itself. It has a brass slip ring to seal it to the cylinder. Diameter is 3 1/2".

The piston assembly is the most important part of the valve. The piston and its stem (black arrow)are on top. Below that is the slide valve (blue arrow) which wraps around the stem and is held down by a leaf spring. There is also a graduating valve, which you can barely see (red arrow) which rides on top of the inner part of the slide valve. The graduating valve can move back and forth about 5/16" over the slide valve.

Here is the bottom surface of the slide valve. We're not meant to know what all these various little ports do - that will cost you extra. The main point is this: a slight difference in pressure on the piston will cause it to move the graduating valve over the slide valve, but a greater difference in pressure is needed to move the slide valve itself, due to the greater friction.

And here's a view of the cylinder. You can see the square cutout at the bottom; this is where the slide valve moves, and you can see some ports in the floor of the cylinder which line up with the slide valve as it moves back and forth.

The other part of the system we need to check is the quick-action portion, shown here in the yellow rectangle. This needs to be cleaned, but we are advised not to lubricate it because it is used so seldom.

Well, I can remove the small end of the quick-action valve; here we see the cap, spring, and plug. But the big end seems to be frozen. Maybe some penetrating oil will do its magic. So we wait.... (to be continued).

Meanwhile, let's ponder what all these parts are supposed to do. The motorman charges the system by putting his motorman's valve into release; this charges the brake pipe up to control pipe pressure, 70 psi.

1. If the brake pipe pressure is greater than that in the auxiliary reservoir, the triple valve piston will be pushed all the way into the body, into Release and Recharge position. The triple then releases any brake cylinder pressure to atmosphere, and sends air from the brake pipe and the control pipe into the auxiliary reservoir, to charge it to 70 psi. The brakes are released, so we can move the train. The control pipe provides the quick recharge feature, so the reservoir will be filled quickly.

2. To slow down or stop, the motorman reduces (at a moderate rate) the pressure in the brake pipe. Since the auxiliary now has higher pressure than the brake pipe, the piston moves out to Service position. Air from the auxiliary reservoir flows into the brake cylinder (which can no longer exhaust). So the brakes come on.

3. For a moderate brake reduction, such as 10 psi, the pressure in the auxiliary at some point will drop slightly below the brake pipe. The piston then moves in, taking the graduating valve with it, but stopping when it hits the slide valve. We are now in Service Lap and all ports are closed.

To increase the braking force, a further reduction in brake pipe pressure can be made, so the triple goes back to Service, then Service Lap again.

The parts are proportioned so that when the auxiliary drops to about 50 psi, the brake cylinder has risen to 50 psi, and they are equalized. This is the maximum brake pressure you can get in Service position. Any further (service) reduction will accomplish nothing.

4. To release the brakes, the brake pipe pressure is increased. The triple moves into Release and Recharge, and the auxiliary pressure starts to increase. If we don't want to release all the way, but just reduce the brake cylinder pressure, that's called graduated release. The auxiliary pressure will rise above the brake pipe because the control pipe always supplies 70 psi, and the piston will move out slightly. But this time, it stops when it hits the slide valve, and we are now in Release Lap. The port connecting the brake cylinder to exhaust is closed, so the brake cylinder pressure stops decreasing. Without the control pipe, graduated release would not be possible. We can partially reduce the braking pressure by increasing the brake pipe, and the triple will move between Release and Release Lap.

5. Finally, there's the quick action feature. In an emergency, the brake pipe pressure is reduced rapidly. and this causes the spring-loaded quick action portion to open. This puts the valve in the Quick Service position, otherwise known as Emergency or Dynamite or "Oh NO!". The quick action valve dumps air from the auxiliary reservoir and the control pipe into the brake cylinder, so that we get a maximum brake pressure of 70 psi. It also dumps air from the brake pipe to atmosphere, thus helping to quickly reduce brake pipe pressure along the train.

Well, I hope that was educational. Be sure to study this carefully - there may be a pop quiz soon!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall for IRM

It was a beautiful fall day at IRM. I thought about trying to take some pictures of the various cloud formations passing by, but there was too much else to do. I checked out the tarp on the 321 in Yard 14 and the container, and all is well.

This seems like an opportune time to clean and check all the triple valves. I'll post some more pictures as they are disassembled. In the 309, the valve is located under a seat frame, as seen here. The M2A is mounted so that the parts move horizontally. The 308's valve is under the car.

The 319 has an M2B triple. It's mounted so that the parts moved vertically, and if there's no air it would tend to fall into the release position. I'm not sure if there's any advantage to one mounting or the other; when air is on it probably doesn't make any difference.

Once in a while a streetcar motorman will get confused and start going around the loop in the wrong direction. (Actually, of course, this happens if the streetcar line is blocked for some reason. So it seemed like a good excuse for a picture.)

I started working on repainting the main compartment in the 319. I'm thinking about trying to remove all the paint from the molding strips in the ceiling, where it tends to peel for some reason.

Here's a picture of the wall before I started sanding. The marks on the wall are gouges caused by the seat back coming out the frame. This one walkover seat is not original; it was installed in 1953 when the oval window at this location was rebuilt. And it seems to never have worked very well.

David and some old friends of his from Kentucky were visiting. I also met a couple of visitors from Seashore. So a good time was had by all. As usual, there were many other projects going on, too many to list. And preparations for the Train of Terror are in full swing. You won't want to miss it!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Museum Showcase - Saturday - UPDATED

The first day of IRM's Showcase Weekend this year was an unqualified success, with good crowds, good weather, lots of equipment in operation, and so on. What more could you ask?

The star of the show was undoubtedly the Leviathan, a privately-owned locomotive recently built to 1860's type designs and visiting IRM.

It attracted lots of attention, and pulled a train of two Boonton cars for several trips full of passengers.

It's certainly great to see operating steam at IRM again. I was too busy to take pictures of everything, but the Zephyr, the silver train, a caboose train, and several electric cars were operating.

The three of us spent most of the day operating the Veracruz open car. This, of course, is very popular with the public and we had lots of enthusiastic passengers.

And there was lots more. Here's just a random sample: the Matchbox made a rare appearance. Here it is with Frank Sirinek as the conductor.

Tim Peters has a broken arm as a result of a traffic accident, but he keeps working on the 1797 anyway. I can't explain how, it's astounding. Here he is, smiling in front of the paint job on one side of the car he completed this week.

A new paint job was recently applied to CTA car 30, and it came out of the barn for the first time today. Here we see the experts discussing what needs to happen next.

And we got to see and ride the world's oldest surviving trolley bus!

CTA cars 2153 and 2154 were open for visitors, and had the lights on.

For supper, we all enjoyed Fay's Barbeque and the West End Jazz Band, as usual. We got to talk to several old friends, meet a couple of new ones, and a good time was had by all.

Operations then continued late into the night, but I don't have any pictures of them (yet). If you have some good ones, send them in!

Frank adds...

I managed to snap a photo of David with the sign that we surreptitiously placed on the back of the open car during periods when my father was running.

And here's an "only at IRM" scene heavily laden with Chicago transit. CTA 2153 and 30 are stopped at the 50th Avenue "L" station while CTA 3142 is stopped at the car stop and CSL trolley bus 84 pauses at Depot Street.

And finally, Dan Fenlaciki took Indiana Railroad 65 out for a couple of night trips around the streetcar line. The car is seen here boarding passengers at Central Avenue.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Memoriam: Ed Allen

We regret to report the death of Ed Allen, a noted expert in the electric railway field and long-time friend of the Museum, who has died after a long illness at Cleveland. We have no information on any funeral arrangements; he will be buried in Wheaton next to his wife.

Ed worked in the Wheaton Shops of the CA&E, and was on duty the day passenger service was suddenly terminated. He was tasked with going to Forest Park to close up the station and return the cars stored there. He was later the chief mechanical officer for the Iowa Terminal RR, and then worked for the RTA in Cleveland, where he retired. I believe he is survived by two sons.

Any further information, or personal recollections of Ed Allen and his accomplishments would be welcome.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Out on the Maine Line

In late July, Katy and I visited my aunt and uncle in New Castle, New Hampshire, where they have retired. The trip was welcome as all of July, St. Louis had experienced temperatures around 95-105 degrees. While on vacation the "hot" day was 83.

New Castle is located near Portsmouth, and is across the harbor from Maine. One day, we visited Portland and Freeport, Maine. Portland is home to the Maine Narroww Gauge Museum. Railroad history-wise, Maine was noted for having several 2 foot gauge railroads, the largest of which was the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad. The museum itself is located on the grounds of the old Portland Company, a large industrial concern that even made narrow gauge locomotives and freight cars for the various 2 foot gauge railroads in Maine.

On display inside the museum were several cars, including the world's only 2 foot gauge parlor car. The car, build for the Sandy River Railroad, saw service with that line and the Sandy River and Rangely Lakes Railroad in Maine. After abandonment, a physician in Phillips, Maine purchased it and had it placed on his property. After World War II, Ellis D. Atwood purchased the car for his Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts. The car is simply beautiful.

The museum also operates a short run using the narrow gauge equipment on trackage along the Portland waterfront. We took a ride and managed to see these beautiful views.

Of course, the real highlight of the vacation was visiting Freeport, Maine, home of L.L. Bean. I managed to purchase this Madras jacket for fire-sale prices.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Mt. Pleasant Visit

We've just returned from a vacation in Iowa to attend the Old Thresher's Reunion in Mt. Pleasant. This is a huge festival that occurs every year over the Labor Day weekend. If you've never been there, it's well worth a visit. The main focus of the Reunion is on antique farm machinery, such as steam tractors, older gasoline tractors, combines, and so forth. But there's much more: food, antique automobiles and trucks, animals, saw mills, stationary steam engines, food, arts and crafts, clothing, country music, food, books, toys, church services, preserved buildings which were moved onto the site, a log cabin village, concerts, gun fights, dancing, marching bands, food, and so on. What am I forgetting? Oh yes, probably of greater interest to us are the railroad operations. There's a standard-gauge trolley line and a narrow-gauge steam line, both of which operate on separate loops about a mile and a half in circumference. The main purpose of each of these is to provide transportation around the property for the thousands of visitors, rather than as museum displays.

The trolley line has about six operating cars, running continuously around the loop. This is CA&E #320, which was completely rebuilt and restored between about 1990 and 2005 to its appearance during the 1920's.

This is one of the two Rio open cars. This is an operating favorite because open cars can load and unload so quickly, which helps keep traffic moving. The trolley line even provides owl service: one car provides service through the night for people who want to get back to their campers.

This is car #381 from the WCF&N, the last streetcar to operate in Iowa. It's a 1930 Perley-Thomas car originally built for Knoxville.

During the Reunion, every available open space near the trolley loop is crowded with RV's, tents, and campers, up to a few feet from the track. And I should mention that the line includes some steep grades and sharp curves.

This is a car from Milan, Italy.

Finally, they also have this cab-on-flat which operated on the Keokuk dam until 2002.

Separate from the trolley operation is the narrow-gauge steam line. This is Surrey, Sussex, and Southhampton #6, an 1891 Baldwin. It's a beautiful locomotive with good exhaust sounds and a very nice whistle. The whistle gets lots of use because the track is not fenced off and is usually occupied by people and vehicles until the train approaches.

The other train was being pulled by a Plymouth from the WP&Y. Due to the large number of people, the two trains run continuously, and load-and-go at each of the two stations throughout the day.

The passenger cars were all built in the shops on flat car frames. Those seats are from the Blue Bird Bus Company, based in Mt. Pleasant. Much of the equipment seems to have come from the WP&Y.

This is an outside-frame 2-8-0 from Mexico (FC y Z) on display in one of the barns. There's also a German 0-4-0T which was temporarily out of service for maintenance.

Finally, there's a building which includes a number of stationary steam-powered engines of various types, most of which operate. This is an electrical generator that was originally installed in a Mt. Pleasant hospital. Zoom in to read the details; it's quite interesting.