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: April 4-5, 2009

The April '09 work crew
The April 2009 work crew.

The third restoration session of 2009 was held April 4-5. The session proved the volatility of the Mountain weather in the Alleghenies. Sever winds and chilly temperatures buffeted the are throughout Friday and into Saturday. Temperatures were in the low 40's but felt much colder. By noon on Sunday the sky was clear, calm and temperatures in the upper 60's.

Attendees included Dave Richards, Charles Wootton, Bob Harris, Jim Sucke, Jim Bacon, Dick Ullery, Dave Phillips, Richard Shell, Wade Woodcock, Robert Garlan, Mark Yahner, Tom Diehl, Nick Parsons, Steven Jacobs, Brad Esposito, Dave Dietz, Lee Rainey, Aaron Schwartz, Lawrence Biemiller, Chris Coleman, Bill Adams, Andy VanScyoc, Matt Rader, David Brightbill and Reggie Arford


We would like to welcome new volunteers Robert Garlan, Mark Yahner. Welcome to the Rockhill Furnace Work Crew!

Four rebuilt sashes returned to the railroad, two for the Sand House, one for the Garage and one for Orbisonia Station.


Combine #14

Moving the north truck
Three pushing and four pulling the north truck.
The crew jacks and cribs to level and straighten the car body.
Combine trucks
The trucks are inspected after being removed.

The first order of the weekend was to remove both trucks from under the car. The steel crew and the car crew cooperated on the project. First the south end of the car was jacked and the truck rolled out. This one was easy enough to remove as it was rolled out onto the concrete pad. The south end of the car was lowered onto cribbing. Next the north end of the car was jacked up. Although the track in the Paint Shop extends all the way to the North door, that is the end of the track. Several volunteers were needed to move the truck through the foam that has filled the flangeway since the new floor was poured. Once to the south doors, the truck was rolled out the door onto the ground. With the assistance of a Bobcat, it was then pulled down the driveway paralleling the shop and re-railed.

Both trucks were placed on the escape track to be cleaned prior to being placed on the restoration pad for repairs. Initial examinations reveal several areas of wood were damage or missing that will need addressed and three of four side bearings have parts broken off.

The remainder of the weekend was spent working on jacking and cribbing the car to straighten the body. It was found that traditional levels were not useful as they gave different readings in each position. A water level was set up such that readings could be taken throughout the car. The readings were then used to jack and crib the car at different points. This process will continue into the next session.


Boiler House/Machine Shop

layer three in.
Layer three of the new beam goes into the building.
Attaching a layer
One of the beam layers is screwed securely to the previous layer.

The Boiler House Rats continued work on the composite replacement beam installation. The Beam supports the upper west wall of the Boiler House and the eastern end of the Machine Shop roof trusses. With two of the seven thicknesses of the beam installed last session, layers three through six were installed this session. The growing thickness of the beam required removing the bottom parts of the Boiler House west wall to clear the beam. The remaining window sashes in the west wall of the Boiler Shop were removed for restoration.



Applying stone.
Stone is applied around the perimeter of the Garage.
Paint is applied to the walls of the garage.

Work on the Garage is entering the home stretch. Three new 6x6 pressure treated intermediate floor sills were obtained, cut to length, and placed on the piers after some additional shimming for proper height. A crushed block under the east wall sill was replaced with a new, solid block. Crushed stone was placed under and along the inside of the wall sills, followed by more stone around the exterior of the building. The three original walls were scraped and wire brushed, and the east and west walls and doors were given a thinned coat of paint as a base coat. The restored window sash was fitted into the frame and attached to the hinges. Some additional reinforcement on the window frame took out some excessive play. The window now opens, closes, latches, and keeps out the weather.


Locomotive Shop/Boiler Shop

Piles of dirt.
Soil is piled up in the center after grading away from the buildings.
Setting floorboards
Floor boards are set on a thicker gravel base.

In order to address the issues of rotting sills and siding, excavations were started last session to lower the grade in the alcove between the Locomotive Shop, the Boiler Shop and the Shop Privy. This session the Glass Rattlers continued the grading all the way along the perimeter of the alcove and extended out from the buildings for at least four feet. Crushed stone was spread along the buildings to cover the grade and soil was piled in the center of the alcove. Next session the piles will be removed and the grade set to drain the water out of the alcove.

Inside the Locomotive Shop west wall and Boiler Shop south wall, the pipe unions connecting the wall mounted steam radiators to the steam systems were loosened. This is in advance of removing them from the walls at a later session. This will allow access to the wall posts and sills for structural repairs. This required a great deal of "persuasion" but will avoid having to cut the lines and allow their later reinstallation.

The steel crew continued work on the replacement floor along the west wall of the Locomotive Shop. Boards on the south end cut and laid last session were pulled up to add additional stone support and re-laid.


Coal Dock

cleaned floor.
The floor of the coal dock sees daylight for the first time in a long time.
debris removed.
Piles of debris outside the dock which were formerly inside it.

A multi-year project to rehabilitate the Coal Dock at the south end of the yard has been approved. In preparation for that project, the Glass Rattlers traveled to the dock on Saturday and began cleaning out the interior and doorways of the room under the dock.

The coal dock is built into a hillside along track 3. Beneath the bins of the concrete structure is a large two and a half story room that was used for storage of track materials and other supplies. Over the years a great deal of debris had accumulated inside, including blown leaves, coal leakage from the chutes, dirt filtering in from the rear doors, and rusted track bolts. With the two doors into the dock directly below two of the three chutes, coal that fell accumulated at the doors and eventually forced them off their tracks. Also with the loss of the hopper dumping building atop the bins in 1996, water started leaching through the coal and creating sulfuric acid. The weak acid has been eating away at the doors and door framing for several years.

All steel parts were accumulated into two piles near the center support so that the remainder of the debris could be removed. It was initially unclear if there was a concrete floor inside the building due to the amount of debris inside. As it turned out there was a concrete floor in the entire room and it was covered with at least four inches and up to two feet of "cort" a strange mix of coal and dirt. Many wheelbarrow loads were moved outside for later removal by power equipment.

The two doors at the rear of the dock once led outside but the grade was filled in over the doors and to the top of the bunkers so that trucks could dump coal into the dock. One opening was covered with steel plate and is secure, but the other was covered with timbers, which have rotted and are allowing soil through. With the door and frame rotted from the leakage, both were removed from the opening and the soil accumulated behind it. The balcony below the door was then cleaned of debris and dirt.


Orbisonia Station

Window out.
The station with sash ready to go in.

The repaired window sash removed last session was reinstalled in the south window on the third floor of Orbisonia Station. With that sash in place a damaged sash was removed from the north window of the third floor of the station for repair.

Lumber Shed

With the wind storm subsided, it was found that some sheet metal was working loose from the Lumber Shed roof, though none had come off. Sunday morning the Steel Crew and the Glass Rattlers worked together to secure the roofing. All the loose roofing was secured, then the crew worked over the entire east side of the roof, securing sheets with screws at each corner, and in some cases up to ten per sheet. Thirty pounds of screws were used, and hopefully this will put an end to loose roofing on this section.

Car Shop

There had been damage to sheets on the west side of the Car Shop from a wind storm in January. Unfortunately the panels were deteriorated enough that the wind tore them apart rather than just blowing them off. during the February session the east side of the Car Shop roof received sixty pounds of screws, but the west side was not addressed due to the sheets not being repairable. This session the Glass rattlers placed a spare sheet over the hole caused by the windstorm as a temporary patch. Plans call for the replacement of the panels on this section of the roof during a session in the next couple months.

Next Work Session

The next Rockhill work session will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3. See you there!

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