Choo Choo train maintenance and repairs?

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21,109
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Apple Valley, California
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My wife has a fascination with old steam trains. So now every family event has some sort of train ride. I like the mechanical side so I have been checking things out. I was able to talk to one guy and he said 1 day of driving the train equals 30 days of repairs afterwards! He said letting them heat and cool is very bad for them. We went to an amusement park yesterday. They have a train that's been there since the 50's. It runs 7 days a week. I did see them greasing the hub bearings every couple hours or so. I wonder how they keep them going? I assume they can't buy most parts. Do they have a night crew that does nothing but maintenance and repairs every night?
 
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1,677
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British Columbia, Canada
In a TV program about Indian Railways they talked about the maintenance of elderly British built steam engines. They had a crew that specialized in making replacement parts. My dad talked about steam tractors. There were problems with leaks around the fire tubes or water tubes (don't remember which). The permitted steam pressure was reduced over time as well. You do not want explosions involving steam.
 
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1,906
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Canada
1 day of driving equals 30 days of repairs sounds exaggerated, but the heavy/depot maintenance requirements are extreme. Its not unheard of a depot rebuild to take years when done by volunteers or semi-volunteers. Railways of the past had armies of men working around the clock in giant roundhouse-style facilities in the major cities performing such tasks. Parts are heavily manufactured on-site by millwrights and machinists. Things like rivets would have to be ordered, sometimes on a custom basis, from foundries. Incredibly expensive to do on a commercial basis, but volunteer efforts can keep a few of them going, at least for the time being. Technologies such as 3D printers and CNC lathes might help. But even when mostly volunteer labour is used, restoration costs can be in the millions even for just the purchased/outsourced stuff.
 

JTK

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12,869
Location
Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted by Chris142
....He said letting them heat and cool is very bad for them.
I can see that. Some of our older big reciprocating compressors at work are like that. They'll develop head gasket or valve cover leaks if left down long enough to cool. I'd love to share pics/videos, but it's not worth getting fired over.
 
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12,167
Location
Indiana
Originally Posted by Chris142
My wife has a fascination with old steam trains. So now every family event has some sort of train ride. I like the mechanical side so I have been checking things out. I was able to talk to one guy and he said 1 day of driving the train equals 30 days of repairs afterwards! He said letting them heat and cool is very bad for them. We went to an amusement park yesterday. They have a train that's been there since the 50's. It runs 7 days a week. I did see them greasing the hub bearings every couple hours or so. I wonder how they keep them going? I assume they can't buy most parts. Do they have a night crew that does nothing but maintenance and repairs every night?
I don't know much about them, but I find trains interesting as well. The Henry Ford museum has an actual roundhouse (train garage) that's still functioning with an old mill and lathe. Many, if not all, of their stuff is made in site.
 
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16,433
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NH
Originally Posted by MolaKule
Many steam railroad shops produce (or have produced) and machine their own replacement parts.
In my mind, these machines date back to when everything was basically made by hand. No automation, so, having to make something to a set of blueprints, each and every time, was probably par for the course. Yeah I'm sure some things were step and repeat, probably had molds and whatnot to speed things up: but all the same, nothing like the automation that we have today.
 
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