This previous weekend was crew training up at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, so my dad met me in Davis Friday night, crashed on our futon, then 5AM Saturday morning the two of us took off for Portola. After spending the morning sitting through the annual safety training class, I spent the afternoon getting my hands wonderfully dirty.
Quincy Railroad #3 locomotive (museum roster page) with water and antifreeze. QRR3 is a GE 44 Ton locomotive, which was specifically designed and built for light industrial use during the 1940s and early 1950s. The museum is trying to get this locomotive back in service for a very similar purpose. The lower power engines in this locomotive use less fuel than most of our larger locomotives, so to be able to use this for most of our light-service requirements will hopefully save the museum quite a bit of money.
Filling a locomotive's radiator system is much like filling the one in your car, except that everything is just bigger, so instead of buying antifreeze in quart bottles, we buy it in 55 gallon drums and use a forklift to get it into position.
Upon closer inspection, it appears that pretty much every rubber hose and gasket in the entire system is at least dried out, and many cracked. All eight piston heads leaked water around the main head gaskets, which appears to have been replaced at some point with Form-A-Gasket, which doesn't bode well.
Less fortunately, it appears that this engine suffers from an additional leak which isn't rubber-based. On the side of the engine (below the #4 cylinder) is a heat exchanger between the water and fuel system. Our theory is that it is used as a fuel pre-heater (does anyone have any additional information on this exchanger? Can we bypass it?). In the picture below, it's the box below the exhaust valves and to the left of the red wire.
On the bright side, the fact that the radiator system can at least retain some water means that we can start firing it up and look for the next set of problems, most likely in the electrical and pneumatic systems. Please feel free to make a donation to the museum to help support this and other restoration projects which I and many other volunteers are working on. This museum is the reason why I'm a mechanical engineer, but I can't support them without funding to buy the parts and supplies I need to move forward.
Update from Seth A (5/18/10): "We got the No. 1 engine to fire up over the weekend. It leaks like a sieve, blows exhaust out of the crankcase breather but all in all runs pretty well. It moves too, except the batteries aren't getting a charge. And the train brakes don't respond to the regulator valve. The photo you have of the head, is actually the cylinder rocker arm cover. I didn't notice any water coming out of the head area."