In this week’s Bob Grebe’s Virginia, we traveled to Spencer, N.C., for an up-close inspection of the restoration of the legendary 611.br/
In early June, Larry Stanfill arrived at Streamliners at Spencer to see the incredible line up of locomotives. He expected to stay a few days.
He’s still there.
That’s because he took one look at the 611 and knew that he wanted to be a part of her restoration. “I heard the call for volunteers and decided to fill out an application,” he says. “I’m glad I did.”
Larry volunteers two days per week and is enjoying the tedious process of restoring the locomotive. “I’m impressed most by her size,” he says. “It’s amazing to see how the 611 was designed and engineered.”
Larry’s time in the restoration bay has seen him sorting through mechanical drawings, cleaning and inspecting staybolts and helping in any way he can. “I’ve gotten to know all 2200 of those staybolts,” he says. “That’s a lot of staybolts.”
Larry has loved trains since he was “knee high to a grasshopper,” he says. “I love steam locomotives. It’s almost like they’re alive – you can hear them breathing. I think it’s a good thing we’re restoring the 611. It will remind people how the railroad helped build our country.”
Late last week, the flues for the 611 arrived in Spencer. The flues help to heat the water that creates the steam that powers the locomotive.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Fire Up 611! Committee are pleased to report that the restoration of the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive is approximately 45 percent complete.
“We are pleased with the professionalism, technical expertise and passion our mechanical team and volunteers are bringing to this project,” says Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
Busy weeks ahead
In the next few weeks, the mechanical team, led by Scott Lindsay and Tom Mayer of Steam Operations Corp., will install a new rear flue sheet and finish installing the stay bolt caps. Bob Yuill is continuing the repairs to the superheater units. The air compressors are close to being reassembled and the feed water systems are being inspected and made road ready.
Work also continues on 611’s tender. Within the next few weeks the tender’s stoker screw and tender deck will be made as good as new.
Bob Yuill, a former Norfolk Southern General Foreman for Steam — is tasked with inspecting and repairing all 60 of the 611’s superheaters.
The Elesco Type E superheater units re-heat the steam generated by the boiler, increasing its thermal energy and giving the 611 more efficient power. Bob inspects each superheater carefully, looking for any defects or thin spots in the steel tubes. After the superheaters are inspected and fixed, Bob fills the superheater with water and hydrostatically tests the units. If a superheater does not pass the test, Bob rebuilds the unit to its original design specifications.
A requirement of 611’s 1472-day inspection is the inspection of each staybolt. To perform the inspection the cap must be removed, bead blasted and have its pressure bearing seat ground. The bolt is tested and if it is not broken a new copper washer is installed and the cap is reinstalled. With over 2,200 flexible staybolts the job is time consuming for the 611’s mechanical crew.
Arts & Extras: 611 steam engine undergoes ultrasound as restoration continues – Roanoke Times: Arts & Extras.
The Roanoke Times’ story on the restoration and the boiler inspection.
Ultrasonic testing is complete (and results are being analyzed). Superheater testing and repair is underway. So what now? The 611 mechanical team is moving on to other projects — like the valves and cylinders.
The Class J locomotives were designed with piston valves (manufactured by Baker), and has two cylinders, both 27 inches x 32 inches.
The valve and cylinder heads are removed and a cardboard cover installed to keep dirt out. Photo by Preston Claytor.
June 4, 2014: As soon as Streamliners at Spencer ended, the restoration work began — quickly. Within days, the iconic nose was off and the skirts removed. A crew from the Age of Stream Roundhouse made the trip to Spencer, NC, to give us a hand.
The work was summed up by a fan on Facebook — “Jewelry off. This is getting serious.”
The restoration was underway.