Today I was able to run the 309 over to the pit for inspection. It's been known for a long time that the motor bearings on the #1 truck were loose, and there was much more vertical play than is desirable. So I started by removing one of the axle caps, with the essential help of Gregg Wolfersheim. Unfortunately, the situation is pretty grim.
Not only are the bearings loose on the axle, the holes in the outer half are badly worn in all directions. I suppose the good news is that we're managing to keep oil over the bearing surfaces, or the bearings would have worn through long ago, but there's way too much motion taking place between the frame plus axle caps and the bearings themselves.
This next picture is fuzzy, due to the bad lighting, but the pins on the axle cap seem to be wearing out too.
As best we can determine, the bearing surfaces on the axles of this truck were turned down somewhat at Wheaton. The CA&E then should have used thicker bearings with a smaller inner diameter, but didn't, because money was tight and the railroad was heading for abandonment. The bearings have been loose ever since. I have no reason to expect the other bearings on this truck to be any different.
We also showed the situation to Paul Cronin and Tim Peters, who happened to be around. Both Gregg and Paul have professional experience with Diesel locomotive traction motors. Everybody agreed that this was well beyond usual tolerances. Our friend Jeff Hakner is an expert and gave a seminar on this very subject last year at the ATRRM convention, and I'm sure he'd have a heart attack if he saw what we were running. So I decided to put the bearings back together and run the car back to the barn.
The 309 is probably out of service for at least the rest of this year. The 308 and 319 will be ready for service this weekend, and once the air tanks have been hydroed and reinstalled, the 36 should be able to substitute for the 308. Switching moves for the 309 should not be a problem, but I do not want to risk any sort of malfunction during sustained running. The Car Dept. experts will have to determine what happens next. The simplest and best solution would probably be to have new bearings cast, but how much that would cost I have no idea. Stay tuned. I should point out that the other cars do not appear to have this problem.
Well, that was rather depressing, but if I were easily discouraged I would have quit this hobby long ago. So let's change the subject.
Buzz, buzz.... Maybe you haven't heard, but all of the CA&E cars, both wood and steel, have electric buzzers for communication, instead of gongs like on streetcars or the North Shore cars. The rope down the middle is attached to a switch, and you do NOT get a louder sound by yanking harder on the rope. Last week the rope was pulled out of the hook on the 319, which really shouldn't happen. It's not a big deal to fix. We all just need to contain our inner rage.
It was also reported that the buzzer at the #1 end wasn't working. I found that it was actually buzzing very softly, which isn't useful when the train is running. There's always lots of background noise. This buzzer is in a rather inaccessible location, so rather than replace it, I tried loosening up the flapper with a nail. It now works much better, although some may think it should still be louder. But this is not the end being used by the motorman at this point, so it will have to do.
The 308 and 319 should be running both days this weekend, so come on out and see us!