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: March 7-8, 2009

The March '09 work crew
The March 2009 work crew, the Combine #14 Bumper and the Shops Steam Engine governor.

The second restoration session of 2009 was held March 7-8. The weather was unusually mild with highs in the upper 60's and lows in the 50's. The sky was overcast all weekend and a gentle breeze was blowing making it ideal for outdoor work, perfect restoration weather. A few sprinkles came through Sunday but not enough to cause problems.

Attendees included Richard Shell, Dave Dietz, Dave Phillips, Wade Woodcock, Lee Rainey, Harold Mohler, Nick Parsons, Robert Mohler, Dave Richards, Charles Wootton, Jim Bacon, Jim Esposito, Brad Esposito, Rich Wickett, Bob Harris, Dick Ullery, Steve Jacobs, Chris Coleman, Bill Adams, Andy VanScyoc, Matt Rader, Mike Gray, Ray Davidowski and Chris Webster



The governor
The Shops Steam Engine governor.
The freshly refurbished lubricator with the governor in the background.

We would like to welcome new volunteers Jim and Brad Esposito, Matt Rader, Mike Gray and Chris Webster. Welcome to the Rockhill Furnace Work Crew!

The centrifugal steam governor from the shops stationary engine has been stored in a safe location since the National Park Service funded cribbing was erected atop the engine to support the rotting roof beam. That is the same beam that the FEBT Boiler House Rats are now working to replace. With the beam work progressing and the successful rehabilitation of the Locomotive Wheel Lathe and W. E. Shipley Drill Press, FEBT has been given permission to rehabilitate the stationary steam engine for demonstration runs on compressed air. "Rat" Dave Richards was allowed to clean and rehabilitate the governor at his home shop. The governor returned this session and posed with the restoration crew group photo. The governor was returned to safe storage until the beam is completed and work on the engine begins. Arriving with the governor was the lubricator for the steam engine, also freshly reconditioned.

FEBT Volunteer Dave Deitz brought a new bumper for Combine 14. The five foot section of solid oak was expertly crafted with a chainsaw and came out as smooth as glass. It was fully drilled, notched, primed and painted for installation.

Volunteer Chris Coleman brought an extension ladder, strapped to the car roof for the 330 mile trip from Ohio. The ladder is for use by the FEBT Glass Rattlers as they work along the shops walls.

Combine 14

Trimming started
Trimming of the wall members has just started.
Completed routing
Routing of the car members is completed.
Platform progress
Progress on the South Platform at the end of the session.

The plan for the combine car is to reduce the width of all the side members by 3/4" so that plywood girders can be installed under the siding for the length of the car. The principal work this weekend was performing the routing of the members. This sounds easy but was tricky to set up a router jig in the vertical. Also there were many issues with areas the router could not reach due to obstructions and the need to remove many metal fasteners driven into the members over the years.

Also, the newly made Bumper arrived this weekend. In preparation for its installation work on the Combine south platform was continued. Three of four tie rods were completed and installed that will tie the bumper to the car bolster. Two of the rods had to be fabricated to replace rods with severe rust or other structural issues. Metal plates buried in the middle of the car bolster had caused problems in installing the two longest rods, but a solution was found. One side is installed the other will be completed next session. The coupler bolt up is was completed and the car can be moved whenever required.

Machine Shop/Boiler Shop

Window repairs
Windows on the Machine Shop are primed and puttied.

The windows on the west wall of the Machine Shop and Boiler Shop were repaired several years ago, but most were still in primer and many lacked putty because only one month a year (May) is it usually warm enough to paint them and the track by those walls is unused. In a surprise weather turn, the temperatures this session were warm enough to perform finish painting on the windows.

Last May work session the first two windows on the Machine Shop were completed. This session the Glass Rattlers were able to completed the second two including being re-primed, puttied and finish painted. The crew then moved on to the Boiler Shop and was able to complete two windows and make substantial progress on a third. With the two of the eight windows completed last May, four and a half remain to be completed.

Also on the Machine Shop, the base trim was missing a three foot section. Recycled oak planking was planed and cut to fit and installed to replace the missing section.

Inside the Boiler Shop, the rotted post that was addressed last year was pulled further in to vertical using two come-alongs.

Car Shop

Roof repairs
Sheets being repositioned on the Car Shop roof.

Since the February session three roof sheets had been blown off the east side of the Car Shop roof. A crew hoisted the sheets back on the roof and into position. All were securely screwed back to the roof. To prevent additional incidents of this kind, four 20 pound bags of roofing screws were installed across the southern half of the east roof to fasten the sheets where they intersected and in any seam where the sheets were loose. This prepares this section of roof for tar during a later session.


Locomotive Shop

Loco Shop Floor
The floor nearing completion.

With the recent re-decking of the EBT's Jordan Summit bridge, a large amount of oak planking in reasonable condition was available on site. Over two days a small crew worked along the west wall of the Locomotive Shop using the planking to relay the flooring. This area was cleaned up in early 2008 removing tons of debris, supplies and tools to their proper storage locations. The flooring underneath was almost completely rotted away from 2" thick down to nearly nothing. All the old rotted flooring was removed and the grade excavated down to an even level. Crushed stone was added for drainage and the oak planking was cut to length and installed. The floor is about 85% complete and will be completed next session. This will give a good work surface here for the first time in many years.

On Sunday members of the Glass Rattlers began addressing the sill and foundation issues in the west wall. Over the years the grade outside the building had been built up to the point that it had caused the siding and the sill to rot away. The crew worked to lower the grade beside the building by several inches and covering it with crushed stone. The soil was set away from the building for later removal.


Machine Tools

The large planer
Cleaning and lubrication begins on the large planer.
Bench sander
The bench sander nears completion.

Work had begun on the large planer in the Machine Shop. Although it will be some time before the machine will be operable, significant progress has been made to clean and lubricate it.

Shop Tools

A disused bench sander that was in the Paint Shop when FEBT set it up as a restoration shop was rehabilitated. The old three phase motor was replaced with a single phase motor along with a new switch and new wiring. The mechanisms were rehabilitated including three new bearings and safety guards were added.


Boiler House/Machine Shop

New beam section.
The first section of the new main beam is slid into place.
Installing beam.
The beam section is slid into place.

With prep work completed last session, the The Boiler House Rats began the construction of the new built-up 36 foot beam that will support the eastern Machine Shop roof and the western Boiler House roof. The first two layers of the beam were moved into place, making a continuous 12" tall beam where one thousand pounds of rotted "mush" had been, if only 4" thick. Some major complications were found with regard to clearing the upper Boiler House Wall that will be addressed next session. Over the next few sessions, five more layers will be added, ultimately making the beam 14" thick. After this is done and the trusses are bolted to the new beam, the twenty-year-old "corn crib" will be removed, uncovering the shop stationary steam engine for the first time in twenty years.



Garage floor
Garage floor rebuilding in progress.

The lower left trim on the east wall was re-visited to better match the original appearance. Scrap and excess wood that had been stored inside was moved to appropriate disposal piles or long-term lumber storage. The rotted east half of the flooring was removed . Unlike the side sills, the intermediate sills were found to be made in two 8 ft 6 in sections. Rather than replacing the planned 7 feet and leaving a stub, the entire east sections of the intermediate sills were removed. Excavation revealed the original dry-stacked brick piers supporting the intermediate sills in the center of the garage and at the east sill. These piers were partially uncovered, those bricks which were crumbling were replaced, and the piers were built up in height as needed. The west section of the intermediate sills had some rot along their bottoms where they had been in contact with the ground. The worst of the rot was removed and mortar added to fill the irregular cavities. An additional single cinder block was added mid-span under the eastern sections to minimize deflection under future loads.


Orbisonia Station

Over the winter one of the third floor windows in Orbisonia Station was broken. The glass had deteriorated to the point it was falling out of the sash. Sunday a small crew traveled to the attic and removed the sash to install replacement glass. When removed it was found that there were structural issues with the sash. Work was done on the sash but the damage was too severe to be repaired in a few hours so a temporary window blank was cut to size and installed in the station window until the sash can be completed and reinstalled.

Shops Drinking Fountain

Long missing from the shops was the vintage 1940's drinking fountain. Although the original drinking fountain in the shops is long missing, an identical one that was once in the station was in storage. The stored fountain was transported to the Machine Shop, placed in the original location and reassembled.

Next Work Session

The next Rockhill work session will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 4 and 5. See you there!

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