Friends of the East Broad Top
A nonprofit society dedicated to the preservation and restoration
of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark
Things we do

Rockhill Furnace Work Session: May 19-23, 2008 (Work Week)

The 2008 FEBT Rockhill Work Week was held May 19-23. Several special projects were tackled.

Attendees included Charles Wootton, Steve Jacobs, Dick Ullery, Bill Adams, Dave Richards and Dave Dietz.


Sand House

Power washing
The Sand House siding gets a good washing.
Fifteen sections of scaffolding were erected to reach the Sand House tower roof.

Virtually all the scaffolding owned by FEBT was erected around the Sand House to allow roof coating to be applied on the upper roof. The north, west and part of the south sides of the tower roof were coated. The east roof could not be coated due to unplanned train traffic. All of the lower roof was coated.

While the scaffolding was up, the power washer was used to clean the siding where the scaffolding was erected. This will allow priming to begin at a future session.

Inside the building, the area used for FEBT storage was cleaned and rearranged to allow easier access and to accommodate the additional scaffolding pieces acquired earlier this year. Under the tower, a large amount of sand, which has drained from the tower to the lower section, was removed, sifted and placed in drums for storage and use by the railroad. The removed sand allows the door to that section of the building to be used again and allows better access to structural members that are to be addressed at a future session.


Wheel Lathe

Wheel Lathe
Machinist Dave Richards shows the status of the wheel lathe to Restoration Coordinator Lee Rainey.
Wheel Lathe cutting
Dave Richards stands over the lathe after it has made its first cuts, visible on the left wheel.

With the recent success we had rehabilitating the Shipley drill press, work on the shop machine tools moved on to the large William Sellers Co. locomotive Wheel Lathe.

It was last used more than twenty years ago to turn some wheel sets for the nearby Rockhill Trolley Museum. At that time it was believed to be broken. The lathe is one of the largest tools in the EBT shops, being about fifteen feet long and face plates five feet tall. It is equipped with three speed drive, dual tool posts and an auto tool advance mechanism. The "broken" part turned out to be broken tooth corners on one faceplate. Upon further investigation the gears on the lathe were found to still be fully serviceable. The lathe was restored to operation by FEBT volunteer and machinist Dave Richards, who also built the mobile power rig which is operating the machine. Being portable, the rig has only a 1/4 HP motor so the machine is run at a very slow speed. The rig is designed to step down the motor's speed and convert the V belt drive to the leather flat belt drive that the machine used traditionally.

The first video shows a test run after the machine was rehabilitated and brought back into service in the spring of 2008. FEBT volunteer Tom Diehl, FEBT's main shops tour guide and a machinist, is operating the machine in the video. The wheel set in the lathe for testing is a freight wheel set that has been on display in the machine for several years. It is much smaller than the locomotive wheel sets the lathe is capable of turning. Also, only one of the two cutter attachments is being used so far, but the other is fully functional. In this video the mobile power rig and drive mechanism can be seen.

In the second video the cutting tool holder and machined surface can be seen clearly.



Wheel Lathe
The repaired gantry portion of the foundry with a fresh coat of primer.
Steve Jacobs photo

Woodwork on the gantry portion of the Foundry was completed in 2007. During the work week the gantry area was primed in preparation for painting at a later session.


Locomotive Shop

Three sashes were removed from the west wall of the Locomotive Shop for rebuilding. The openings were covered with temporary OSB panels. Stone splash guard was spread along the base of the Locomotive Shop and Boiler Shop walls. Some cleanup was performed inside the Boiler Shop with removal of old plastic sheets, tack strips and other refuse.



Robertsdale track work.
The crew inserts ties

With the permission of the railroad, a crew went to Robertsdale to repair track for use by the FEBT's historic EBT handcar. The handcar received mechanical and structural repairs last year in the FEBT's restoration shop.

The work this year followed from last year's work. In 2007 the track was cleared from the station to the Mine #1 tipple and put in basic gauge. This year the rail in front of the station was excavated. Ties were installed and the track gauged. The grade was returned to original so that the area could be kept mowed, but the flange ways were left clear.

Just south of the station, a mini-bridge which originally consisted of spare rails with ties, rail and planking on top, was rebuilt with new ties and planking. Some gauge issues further south were also corrected.


Next Work Session

The next Rockhill work session will be held June 7 & 8. See you there!

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