...begins with two chain falls and a hydraulic ram. Bob DeWachter, Paul van Steenberghe, and Leverett Fernald applied tension to the main driver counterweights, and put them under tension. Steel plates formed a resistance for the ram. 50 tons of ram pressure was applied to the crossheads and slowly, punctuated by creaking and occasional snaps, things started to move.
The story goes back to 1970, while 470 was being towed up from Waterville yard to be placed on display by the College Avenue bridge. The locomotive was rolling freely then locked up solidly. After greasing the rails, Maine Central shoved the bound up locomotive onto its display. 470 sat in that condition for forty-six years while sand, dust, and rain water further locked up the parts. Before New England Steam Corp. even existed, Leverett Fernald would occasionally oil the engine in the park. When NESCO took over the locomotive, an intense program of lubrication and cleaning was begun. The oiling, the cleaning with putty knife blades, finally paid off.
470's cylinders have been opened and oiled. Dick Glueck describes them as looking like gun barrels, gray and smooth, devoid of knick or gouges. Again, heavy lubrication has been applied to the interior of the steam cylinders. What we don't know (yet) is what's on the back side of each piston. When 470 locked up in 1970, it did so in what may have been the worst position. The rods are against the driver centers and the valves are blocking the passing of a fiber-optic cable. The back sides may be full of gravel and sand or smooth as the forward portions. This will remain a mystery for a few more weeks.
Today we got a movement of 1mm and were thrilled. More oil and cleaning, and Bob pressurized the pump. Paul tightened tension on the chain falls and we saw the crosshead slowly slide forward. By the time we knocked off in the afternoon, the crossheads on both sides had slid about two inches - That's quite trip after 50 years of being rigidly locked. Leverett aptly compared it to the Tin Man, from "The Wizard of Oz". Bet 470 felt good after that short stretch!
In other work, Dick and Alex Fogg continued to removed old paint from the drivers and rods. In the photos, you'll see the original red primer from 1924 has been exposed. As the layers of paint peel off, so does most of the graffiti which visitors scratched into the finish over 62 years.
Each driver will been inspected for possible cracks or other damage before eventually being turned. Along with the paint comes pounds of railroad grime and hardened grease. Underneath, we're finding numbers, both cast and stamped into the steel. All of it has meaning, whether they indicate service dates or to which locomotive the part originally was assigned. One old spoke repair has been located, but no other damage from her service years. As for the rods, a tap with a ball-peen hammer results in a bright "ting", indicating the rod is solid and probably in great condition.
There will be weeks more of paint scraping and loosening up the drivers, but thus far, we are, in fact, moving forward.