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: November 1-2, 2008

The November 2008 Work Crew
The November 2008 Work Crew.
Joe Kovalchick.
Joe Kovalchick addresses the volunteers.

The twelfth and final work session of 2008 was held November 1-2, 2008. On Sunday of this session, the railroad held a catered appreciation dinner for the employees of the railroad, FEBT volunteers and Rockhill Trolley Museum volunteers. All work stopped shortly after noon for this exceptional feast. Both General Manager Stanley Hall and President Joe Kovalchick spoke.

Attendees included Lee Rainey, Dave Dietz, Ray Davidowski, Charlie Wooton, Richard Shell, Eric Ledbetter, Dave Phillips, Bill Bloomgren, Bill Adams, Wade Woodcock, Dick Uhlery, Jim Bacon, Andy VanScyoc, Richard Morgan, Barb Morgan, Dave Richards, Joan Adams, Bob Goldby, Steve Jacobs and Chris Coleman.


Boxcar 168

#168 operating.
#168 and lucky passenger in service during the Fall Spectacular.

During multiple extra sessions, the finishing touches were put on the boxcar to make it ready for the Fall Spectacular. The car was switched into the train the Thursday before the Spectacular and operated with the passenger train all weekend.

The car was a great success and operated perfectly. Several handicapped patrons utilized the car during the weekend, including one who had been coming to the EBT for years and had never been able to ride a train! The car continued to operate in the train for the remainder of the season. Construction of short platforms for use with the wheelchair lift is in progress.


Paint Locker/Sand House

Completed paint locker
Neatly ordered supplies ready for volunteers.
Completed paint locker
A place for everything.

Last year a small metal shed near the Stone House was repaired and designated the FEBT paint locker for storage of flammables. This session the Glass Rattlers took on making the shed truly usable. Three donated shelving unit kits were brought to the session and the parts were unloaded. A number of large wood beams were rearranged inside the building to make room and a hole in the floor was patched. While some volunteers worked to clean the interior of the building, others addressed completing roof repairs. Previously the roof was coated but medium and large holes were not sealed. Fiberglass mesh and roof coating were used to make the building weather tight. The interior was thoroughly vacuumed and all debris removed. With the shelving assembled, those units and a fourth unit donated previously were moved inside and the two existing shelves rearranged to make the most of the space. All the units were screwed securely to the walls.

Next, all paints, solvents and other flammables were removed from the Paint Shop. A full cart of items was moved to the paint locker. As the items were moved in, the shelving units were labeled for specific items and each space labeled for the specific item. Next any paint that looked suspect was opened and evaluated for usability. Anything that was unusable was discarded. Paint tools, brushes and other painting supplies were organized into storage bins and given specific homes. In the end, every item had a specific home where it could now be found and returned.

The crew also worked to clean up the Sand House which had a good deal of paint supplies in it. Those supplies were moved to the paint locker, sorted and stored. The Sand House was also vacuumed and many items organized.


Boiler Shop

chains and cables.
The post secured into place.

Work was begun to stabilize the rotted post on the south wall of the Boiler Shop. The sill had rotted out under this load bearing post so badly that only one of the two diagonal braces was holding the post and truss up. The post was starting to "kick out" and was in danger doing so catastrophically, thus dropping the roof truss. In order to brace the post it was necessary to move two stacks of unused hopper height extenders blocking access to the interior of the post. The area was cleaned and vacuumed thoroughly and the thirty or so extenders were moved one at a time (about 100 lbs each). As they were being moved it was found that they were leaning against the post and causing it to "kick out".

For safety, 5/8" braided steel cable was wrapped around the post and the main casting of the power roll so as to keep the post from kicking out any further. The remains of the old sill were then removed, mostly with a shop vac. Once the area under the post was clean, a temporary structure was built under the post so that, should it drop, it would not drop but a fraction of an inch.

With the safety line and support in place, a come along was attached to the main casting of the power roll and to the post. The post was slowly cranked back toward line with the rest of the wall. With some progress made there, the post was left for the winter to acclimatize to its new position so that it can be pulled in further in the spring. Temporary flashing was attached over the exterior of the post to keep the weather out of the wall cavity.


Paint Shop

Garage work in progress.
A nice clean woodworking area.

After many months of work on Boxcar 168, the Paint Shop had become very cluttered with supplies, tools, scrap and dirt. A small crew spent the session cleaning up the shop, including putting supplies away, hauling lumber to storage in the Car Shop, scrap to the burn pile.


Boiler House/Machine Shop

Operating drill press.
The drill press does what it was designed for.

This session the Boiler House Rats attacked a number or issues. Scaffolding was erected on the east side of the Boiler house to re-visit the east flank of the Boiler House roof. The work was intended to be a quick patch of the hole opened up by the steeplejacks who painted the shop stacks in September, but turned into an all-day job. In the end a 4'x8' sheet of plywood was cemented down over a very porous area, then covered with roll roofing. Smaller patches were put in where needed around this. There was barely time to complete the work and tear down the scaffold before dark.

Also, the very last patch of bad brick was finally repaired on the inside of the east wall. Also, the loose channel iron on the east side of the boiler is now solid. It was pressed toward the boiler, and a hole excavated in the floor below it. Two steel rods were then put in the hole and cemented in place.

On Sunday some measuring was done to determine the proper height of the 12x12 post that will support the center of the new beam (over the shop engine), then the post was cut to length. The post was then rolled, on pipe rollers, into the shop and set between two lathes for the winter. Also, the 2x12 planks that will form the new beam were moved indoors. The remainder of the woodpile was organized and covered. Much other clean-up was done. Some more machines were oiled in preparation for future reactivation.

The Drill Press restored earlier this year is the first machine to see revenue service when it was was used to drill some holes in steel plate for the ongoing Combine #14 restoration work.


Paint Shop Lead

Tie installation.
Ties are slid into the trenches.
Installation of ties nears completion.

With the Jordan Creek retaining wall completed earlier this year, a crew worked several hours on Saturday to install 29 ties in the adjacent Pant Shop Lead track between the Turntable Lead switch and the Escape Track switch. The ties were shovel tamped and will be power tamped at a later session. The additional ties will make the track safer for travel by diesel locomotives and closer to be steam locomotive capable.


Coal Dock

Garage work in progress.
With the right doorway cleared out work stops for the day.

Preliminary cleaning continued under the Coal Dock. Old track supplies were moved to the north end of the storage area under the dock and removal of coal debris from the interior was begun.



Garage work in progress.
Garage woodwork continues.

Five volunteers worked to push the repairs to the garage closer to completion. Inside, two volunteers tackled the radiator. As the north wall had sunk and leaned outward, it dragged the radiator with it. Rather than fighting the wall and radiator together, the radiator had early on been unbolted from the wall and pulled back upright with a come-along, leaving the wall unburdened for its repairs. With the wall now back in place, the bolts no longer matched the holes in the radiator brackets, and the radiator's supply and exhaust pipes prevented free motion. The west bracket being closer, that end of the radiator was levered upward and blocked in place. To correct the horizontal alignment, a wooden block was clamped to the belt rail and a lining bar used against it to leverage the bracket into position. The bolt was slipped through, the nut started, and then tightened up. This operation improved the alignment of the east bracket as well, but not enough to bolt it. The wall was found to still be bowed out, and the radiator bent slightly inward. The east of the radiator was similarly leveraged upward to match the bolt height, with the help of a bigger lining bar, and blocked in place. After an initial attempt to used longer bolts to draw the two together proved unsatisfactory, a renewed attempt to correct the alignment was made. The radiator was pushed back toward the wall by using a block anchored to the floorboards and the lining bar as a lever against it, pushing on a stout board angled up to the top radiator pipe. The wall was simultaneously pushed inward and a bolt of original length inserted and the nut started. The nut was then tightened to bring the two together.

Inside the garage, weather boards along the top of the walls kept out birds and the breeze. Many of these were rotted beyond use or were damaged when removed for the wall header and roof repairs. One original weather board was reinstalled, and ten new weather boards were cut to matching size and installed, fitted to the rafters and around bolt heads and braces.

With the radiator work complete, exterior trim boards were installed along the bottom of the north wall. Before repairs were begun on the garage, the north wall had sunk into the ground, rotting the sill and the lower 8 inches of the siding boards. After raising the wall and replacing the sill, a gap existed between the shortened siding and the floor boards. The new 9.25 inch wide trim boards, sized to fit under the existing vertical trim and flush with the bottom of the sill, were just wide enough to cover the ends of the siding boards and block the gap. Spacer blocks were installed between the sill and the lower trim to occupy the space that was vacated by the rotted siding and allow the trim to sit flush against the wall. The lower right trim of the east wall was replaced with new wood in the same fashion, however the siding board rot extended further up the wall. Any solution to close the gap would involve some amount of change in appearance or construction, so the simplest approach was taken. The new trim board was cut from a wider board, with the ends notched to fit the original vertical trim, and the center left wider to extend an extra 1.5 inches up the wall and meet the siding boards.

New replacement vertical trim boards were installed on the previously rebuilt south wall. One lower trim board was installed on the west wall to replace the missing original. On the east wall, a previously applied replacement trim board was readdressed, as it was a poor fit, was improperly applied to capture a bolt head, and had split because of the stress over the captured bolt head. The middle hinge bolts passed through this board, so those bolts were first removed, then the trim board was removed and the captured bolt unbolted. A replacement board was cut and nailed in place, and the holes for all bolts re-bored. The hinge bolts were reinstalled, and the formerly captured bolt was installed over top of the trim board as originally built.

One last area of trim needing repair was the lower east corner, where the need to widen the door led to the siding being cut at top and bottom and bolted onto the door, and the door hinges moved. The result was the cut edge of the leftover siding boards and covering trim board, cut off at the floor. The original stubs were too rotted to reinstall on the new sill, so matching stubs of the reproduction siding were cut and installed, and a new trim board cut to match, retaining the original appearance left from the door widening. The last bit of carpentry was the reinstallation of an original piece that simply fell out from above the east doors. The piece was some siding that was originally part of the door lintel, sandwiched between the interior and exterior door casing, and had rotted down to its last nail from the roof leak above. The hammering from weather board installation jarred it loose and it slid right out. It was inserted back into place and a new nail driven through good wood to hold it.

Work concluded with a cleanup of the roofing and wood scraps from around the building.


Next Work Session

The next Rockhill work session will be held Saturday and Sunday, January 5 and 6. See you there!

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