Tuesday, August 16, 2011

THE K-36 BACKHEAD - Part 1

Anyone who has looked into the cab of a K36 walks away with the impression of a nightmare of pipes, fittings and fixtures. What is all that stuff, and why does it take so much of it just to make a steam locomotive move?

In my many photo-taking and measuring visits to the Cumbres & and Toltec, the Royal Gorge(where 486 used to be on display), and Antonito, I managed to amass a large selection of material on the backheads of the K36.

The creation of accurate drawings of this piping nightmare is something I have - for better or worse - put off for years, but now its time to "get 'er done".

First, just finding out what and where all the pieces of equipment is and goes required an accurate rendition of the stripped down backhead so I could determine where all the rivets, staybolts, openings and mounting bolts are.

With that in mind, I took several photos of the the 487 backhead when it was stripped down for a major overhaul.

Here's one of them:

This is of locomotive 487, and in no way assures me that any other K36 has an identical layout, but nonetheless, it is my master pattern for everything else that follows.

The first drawing is below:

Then the sheet metal jacket which covers and protects the insulation is added.

Included on this drawing is the small shelf on the left in which typically you would find things like oil cans, etc., and a bracket on the right side which supports the Automatic Brake Valve.

The next drawing shows most of the "fixed-in-place" items that would be found on any K36: The Butterfly Fire door with its hand lever and the foot-controlled actuator for powered operation, above it the two sight glasses for boiler water level observation, the three petcocks that physically test for water level, the catch pan for the petcock drain tubes, the Independent Brake Valve, and finally, the Automatic Brake Valve.

After this, it gets pretty hairy. Seems that every locomotive is plumbed differently, some using a vast array of iron pipe and associated fittings, others using a lot of flexible and easily bendable copper tubing. Different repair shops and different maintenance crews used whatever parts and material was at hand to keep these locomotives running. The result is that today each locomotive is unique.

The reference locos I will be using are 486, 487 and 488 to plumb up the backhead, so the drawings will not be any one locomotive exclusively. However, all the connections will be correct as possible.

One other disclaimer...

The names I attach to any particular item in a drawing is the name used in the 1916 Cyclopedia of Locomotive Engineering, and may not be what today's trainmen call something.

More on Part 2.

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