My Life-long Dream

Discussion in 'Personal Diaries' started by Frank Sanoica, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    The railroad known as Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CBQ) ran smack dab through the center of my little hometown west of Chicago, 3 mainline tracks, count on a train on average every 15 minutes. Source of great interest to me as a kid, since my Dad, being a Tool & Die Maker, greatly appreciated the effort which went into building those enormous locomotives. There was still plenty of Steam activity still, when I was about 8 or so, 1950-ish. Sunday afternoon we three, my Mother included, parked along the tracks in Riverside, right by the favorite hometown ice cream store, Frejlach's, family owned several generations. We of course indulged ion wonderful goodies, awaiting trains!

    In high school, probably Junior year, (I already drove a car), I once spent several weekend afternoons parked facing the tracks, alone, reading Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", a book describing turn of the century conditions for a Lithuanian immigrant family living in Chicago and working in the infamous Stock Yards. The book was assigned reading in English class, I got my "A", did not fail English until Senior Year, story for another time, black time that year was, except........my good friend asked me to go along with him on a steam excursion being run especially for the Illini Rail Fans Club, from Chicago to Galesburg, Illinois, downstate, and back. My Mother thought it a great idea, Ron bought tickets, and we parked at my favorite vantage point in Berwyn to await arrival of the train from Cicero, next burb east. I have a picture taken from a book I purchased many years later, "Locomotives of the Burlington", showing that excursion highballing through the countryside somewhere. Hopefully the caption will be legible, as it's description is important.

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    TWO engines pulled the train! 6315 the front one, was a huge 2-10-4 Texas locomotive, followed by 5632, a smaller 4-8-4 Northern, which became my favorite. Note the date, if legible, it was Sunday, Sept. 6, 1959. Now, how big was a "smaller" engine? Below my friend Charlie from Chicago and I are captured by my wife standing beside the 4-8-4 Santa Fe Northern locomotive preserved in Kingman, AZ. I'm the shorter, older one; Charlie was born 5 days after I was, same hospital.

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    In the first pic, above, careful scrutiny will show the first car behind 5632's tender has big doors, two of them, wide open. It was an old Railway Express Agency baggage car, with 2X6s nailed across the open doors, ridden in standing up by the more adventurous railfans. I was IN that car when the picture was taken! Below, another of 5632 alone, doing it's more usual passenger service work, probably taken some years earlier.

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    Near Zearing, Illinois, the lead engine broke down. Everyone clambered out, at least a hundred of us, maybe more. I saw the trouble right away, walking beside the lead engine, #6315, one of her Eccentric Rods had broken in two, ends hanging there uselessly. The rod was an I-beam, steel, about the thickness of my forearm! Below, a pic of a valvegear, the Eccentric rod is the slender horizontal one above the big main Connecting Rod. Now, something is interfering here, and my keystrokes are going down about one letter every 5 seconds; has happened before. Don't know if I should post now, then come back, or wait awhile risking complete loss.

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  2. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    There's something about old locomotives - the sound is just great, love 'em
    We have many enthusiasts over here too :)
     
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    The disabled 6315 was pushed with great difficulty by effort of the 5632 behind it, dragging the entire train behind IT, until a suitable siding was reached, where the 6315, unable to move under it's own power, was abandoned. 5632 then went on to take us the rest of the way to Galesburg, our destination, and the return trip home was begun about 2 hours late. As darkness fell, the smooth clicking-clacking of the rails drumming away, I looked out, amazed to see the telegraph poles, spaced I knew several hundred feet apart, flashing by like a picket fence! Jeez, were we moving! Talk later revealed the 5632 Engineer had been cleared to "pull out the stops"......we exceeded 100 mph. for lengthy intervals where safe to do so! We got back about an hour late, no real inconvenience, considering the adventure we had had.

    At that time, I vowed that SOMEDAY, SOMEHOW, I would build a working, live-steam model of the 5632, to scale, of course. But, it absolutely HAD to be big enough to ride on. Then, the years started slipping away. At 14, I had bought my 2nd. metal-cutting lathe, Sears Craftsman 12" model, much to my Dad's consternation; he did not want me to follow in his footsteps. That lathe still resides in my shop today, having turned out more parts over the years than imaginable. Late teens through late 20s, I built fast cars. Always in the back of my mind, the 5632 locomotive. At 30, disgusted with the endless politicking in "Crook" County, Ill, we sold the house I had been born in, purchased from my retiring Folks, and moved to Nevada. Bad idea, I took over a service station 6 months before the Arab Oil Embargo! My wife was productive, smart and intuitive, encouraging me to return to school to secure my Engineering Degree; I was then about half-way there. I enrolled, studied, built a few odds and ends, old pickup truck, modern engine, etc. Without becoming too graphic, my wife's brother Rick died at 25 on his birthday, victim of ulcerative colitis, brought on by the murder-suicide deaths of his (and my wife's!) parents 9 years earlier. She was stricken beyond help, asked for separation (granted), my hopes to finish college diminishing. My Mother stepped in. After Wife & I had easily sold our beautiful custom home, place of a lifetime dream, we split the proceeds, I wrote up a divorce decree (hating lawyers passionately), we signed, the judge signed, and I moved into a cute little house with my Mother, still in Vegas, and I continued attending college. Cutting many corners here, I got my Engineering Degree, wound up back in Indiana working for a previous employer as Chief Facilities Engineer, in 1978. There, I met, as a single man, a really nice young woman, she then 27, me, 36. We hung out, made friends, while I explained how I yearned to live in the Desert Southwest. Destiny beckoned, and I took a job in Phoenix, AZ. It was there that the REAL problems began.

    The years dragged on, my Mother passed away some 30 years after the steam excursion trip, and amongst her things, I found this:
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    The original train trip ticket! She had saved it all those years. This drove me even more positively to build a 5632 CBQ replica, in scale size, of course!

    Then, I was laid off, Reagan Recession. The 2 of us lived a year in a cabin I built in northern AZ without power or water. It was actually the best year of our lives. Circumstance brought us back to the Phoenix area, where I finally acquired an old Bridgeport Vertical Milling Machine. My perspectives were burgeoning! Maybe Now! Nope, wasn't to be, YET.

    Interim, we built our own beautiful custom home, my wife working full-time, me part-time at Sears Roebuck. Took 3 years.

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    We lived in it10 years, then as Y2K loomed, sold it and bought the place I've talked about in Missouri Ozarks. Another massive move! That milling machine weighs 2500 Lbs. alone. Finally, alone in the wilds of Mark Twain National Forest, I began to think seriously about engine-building. Needed a shop. Money was tight, S/S benefits 7 years off. Jobs in the area were sparse. Good fortune struck when the local school district sought me out, almost pleading that I teach High School Math the coming year, which actually was starting in 2 weeks! Unsure of myself, but remembering my own high school days studying Math, I accepted. What an experience! But, the dough was welcome. I started design work on the engine in 2002. I had no Internet, no idea beyond very basic PC knowledge, anyway, so research was out. I had a few pictures in the locomotive book, and line drawings of many of CBQ's locomotives, giving basic dimensions for size perspective. The following are the only drawings I had to work with:
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    I realize this is becoming a biographical novel. Will be shocked if some made it this far! Ha! I feel the need to explain how, over so many years time, the drive to build this stuck with me. Time for intermission: to be continued. Frank
     
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    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
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  4. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    So, here's the start. Needed a shop building, no money for building block, but plenty of experience building with stone & rock. Creek passing through property was full of rocks, thousands. Began gathering them daily. After about a month, there was a mountain of them in our pasture. Poured foundation and concrete slab, brought in electric power, the rock-laying looked like this:
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    The finished shop, with RR track entering to allow engine to roll in and out. The road crossing shown was for a neighbor across the creek, only access he had to his place, across our property. That pile of firewood to the right served both the farmhouse and shop.
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    Machining a drive wheel in the milling machine. They were 9-3/8" in diameter. 8 of them. The real locomotive's wheels were 8 times that diameter, 6 feet!
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    Making a main connecting rod. The full-sized ones experienced 100,000 Lbs. + of force each stroke to the giant wheels. My baby ones got about 1200 Lbs, not skimpy by any means!
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    The chassis, upside down, with drivers and side rods attached. LOTS of parts had to be designed and made.
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    This is the cylinder assembly with one endplate removed. All parts of the engine, save for it's knuckle couplers, were machined from metal stock. No castings were used at all. This made cosmetic duplication of exact appearance of parts sometimes almost impossible.
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    The assembled cylinder block, with cylinder liners below, main steam cylinders and piston-valve cylinders.
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    I think the forum limits posts to a certain number of images, so I'll continue in another. Glad to answer any questions/comments! Frank
     
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    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  5. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Well-Known Member
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    @Frank Sanoica I have read completely through it and will again. Fascinating! Trains have been in your life from a very early age. The actual engineering mechanisms are out of my scope of intelligence. I still can't imagine building something like this but you did! Amazing.
     
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  6. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I totally agree with @Kitty Carmel , and this was an awesome undertaking ! I also love the looks of your stone building/shop where you made and stored the train engine. I remember that my farm in Missouri was also full of rocks, so I am sure you had a good selection to choose from.
    In the first picture, is that an older Bronco In the background, @Frank Sanoica ?
    It doesn't look like the same vehicle as the one parked in front of the finished train shop.
    It reminds me very much of my old 1962 IH Scout, which was what my dad bought when he retired , so he could use it to go hunting and fishing with.
    After he passed away, I drove it, mostly as a off-road or farm vehicle, and that low-range 4x4 would just crawl along and do almost anything I needed it to.
    It only went about 35 MPH ,even in high-range, so it wasn't made for highway driving; but wonderful for toodling around out on the Wayerhhouser logging roads out in Western Washington.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
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  7. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    @Kitty Carmel @Yvonne Smith
    I appreciate the kind remarks, thank you both! The engine pictured above was of course a modern fuel-injected, computer-operated engine. The job served to provide me with the needed education and understanding to work effectively with today's cars. Getting the Bronco running took 3 months of poring over Ford wiring diagrams, and essentially wiring the entire vehicle to suit. Sorry if off thread a bit. I will this evening add more info to the locomotive build. Frank
     
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  8. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    A bit late, dollar short and weary, failed in promise (to post yesterday evening), many "irons in the fire", I have lost most of my "multi-tasking abilities". Regardless of minor tragedies, here's a bit more.......

    As I plodded along, the gradual shape of a steam locomotive began to emerge. This shows detail of the side of the working mechanism
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    The system of levers shown is the Valve Gear, which activates the steam valves allowing steam to push the piston at the correct time and in the correct amount. Abner Baker designed this type of valve gear, patented in 1906, it was quite effective, earning the name "Baker Valve Gear".

    The boiler was about the most difficult, large, heavy, and demanding component to be built. After much deliberation, I chose to use a discarded Nitrous Oxide tank, donated by a kindly Dentist, as the starting point. Below, I am sawing off it's top.
    [​IMG]


    The completed boiler looked like this. Looking into the "smokestack" end, seeing the Steam Exhaust Stand", which blasts used steam up through the Pettycoat and out through the smokestack, creating the "draught" to maintain the fire. The locomotive boiler is actually a chimney lying on it's side, a completely non-functional prospect were it not for the "forced draught". Early steam driven locomotives like the Tom Thumb (qv), had vertical boilers like regular chimneys, not too handy for the Big Age steam machines. Boiler was the heaviest part of the engine, perhaps 300 lbs.
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    This ridiculously complex-looking mass is the "Superheater" coils, which, nestled within the Smokebox which forms the front portion of the boiler proper, exposes the contained steam to smokebox temperatures as high as 500 degrees or more, imparting more energy into it's abilities.
    [​IMG]

    So, finished up (almost), the loco looked like this. Still lacking some cosmetic details (which were non-functional). But what of that trailing car, the "Tender", or Coal Car?
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    Here is part of the 750 feet of track I layed down, a series of loops with a switch to allow the train to return to it's "barn". This was a Herculean effort, as the uneven pasture ground required much grading and leveling, and gravel for track ballast, greatly aided by a neighbor and his big tractor. Harley Hasten was probably the best neighbor I've had in all my life.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the tender standing on the track way out in the pasture. I feel it resembled the real one acceptably.
    https://i83.servimg.com/u/f83/12/83/58/56/tender11.jpg

    Some problem has stopped me here. Perhaps too much "gigs" used?. I'll try tomorrow. Frank
     
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  9. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Well-Known Member
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    Wow Frank. Thank you for the additional pictures and information though much remains over my head in understanding something of this magnitude. I still can't believe someone single handedly made this finished project, including the large around of track!
     
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  10. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
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    What a grand undertaking. Yours make my world look small.
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    #11
  12. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I agree!
     
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  13. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    I thank you all! It's simply what I was trained to do: design and build stuff. Never ran a lathe or milling machine for a living; that I refused to do, in deference mostly to my Dad's wanting better for me.

    I reveal hesitantly that I was hired by Penn Athletic Products Co., Division of General Tire & Rubber Co., Phoenix, to design and build several production machines which further automated the making of tennis balls. The two main ones saved direct labor of $1.6 million per year, at the cost of jobs eliminated, of course. OTOH, had I not done it, they would have contracted the job to machine builders.

    The sad finality: They laid me off after my successes there, putting my life, as well as my wife's, into deep turmoil. Took years to recover from that one, which we attribute mainly to building our own custom home, which sold after 10 years living in it for almost ten times the amount of materials cost.
    Frank
     
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