Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bends Steel With His Bare Hands

Actually, I was wearing gloves, but we'll get to that in a minute.

As usual, there was a lot going on at the Museum.  When I arrived, the track guys were already mostly done with unloading a truckload or two of new ties for the next track project.  That's always good to see.

And then I got a tour of the Kansas City PCC, courtesy of Frank Sirinek and Mike Alterio.  Mike has fabricated a new spring-loaded passenger barrier as seen here.  Its purpose is to keep people from trying to escape paying the fare as they enter the car:

If you want to exit, it springs out of the way.  Mike engineered this new piece based on pictures.   These were used when the car was in Kansas City, but were later discarded.

And there are new decals applied to the interior:

Frank points out where the backup controller will go:

And this will make more sense if you're familiar with Kansas City, I suppose:

I started working on the 36's truss rods again.  Two of the four pins were loose, and these needed to have the holes for the cotter pins drilled out, since they were completely rusted.   Here we see a before and after picture:

And after some work, they are ready for installation again:

As for the other two pins, repeated applications of Kroil and torque accomplished nothing, so it was time to do something else until Gerry Dettloff appeared.

So it was back to sanding down all the various surfaces in the 319's vestibule.  I had to make some new molding strips to frame the dome light, and they look like this:

And some white primer on various surfaces, after sanding:

When Gerry showed up, things really started to happen.   We were able to heat up the remaining stuck pin on the north side and get the truss rod free.   It's a little worrisome having this blowtorch operating directly under my antique wooden car, but Gerry knows what he's doing and controls the flame carefully.  I would really have like to take some pictures of the process, but it was much more important to help him and keep an eye on things.

Once the truss rod was detached from the car, you can easily see the groink at this end:

After heating up the rod at the correct point to red hot, it can be bent straight just with normal pressure.  (Or at least "normal" for someone who is capable of amazing feats of strength!)  Of course, you need to wear gloves and not get too close to the heated part of the rod.

And when we were done, the rod looks like this, lying on the sidewalk.  The groinks have vanished.

Tragically, we then ran out of acetylene, so the other side will have to wait.  But this has gone very well, and I really appreciate Gerry's help in fixing this problem.

And of course there were lots of other projects going on, but I didn't have a chance to check them out.  That's why you have to be there in person.


Anonymous said...

Do you have to anneal the truss rods after you bend them?


Randall Hicks said...

That's a good question, I suppose, although I'm not a metallurgist. What we're doing here is basically simple blacksmithing, and in any case we don't have the facilities to run a 30-foot steel rod through an annealing process. The rod is heated up at the point of the bend to the temperature where it's slightly pliable, which you can feel just by applying manual pressure to the end of the rod. It is then allowed to air-cool, actually a combination of radiation and conduction along the rod. That seems to work fine.

Maybe someone who knows more about metallurgy could chime in.

John Heid said...

I actually live down in Kansas City now...I believe there is only one other Kansas City PCC left. It was on display at Union Station for some time, but after the development west of the depot it was put into storage at the transportation center on temporary track. There are plans to find a home for it somewhere in the city, though I would hope that they could run it on the new streetcar line.

Frank Hicks said...

There are a couple more Kansas City PCC cars still around. In addition to IRM's and the one in Kansas City, the Seashore Trolley Museum has two, one of which was acquired as a parts source for the other one. There are also no fewer than ten privately owned in Pennsylvania but all are in horrible shape and none stands a reasonable chance of long-term survival. Of these cars, the one in KC is a 500-series car that was resold to Toronto and later Muni after its KCPS career; the rest are all 700-series cars that were resold to Philadelphia.