The Pere Marquette 1225 » 1225 crew

This photograph came from Vol. III, No. 6 of the Project 1225 Bulletin, and it shows some of the original boiler crew.


6 responses

16 01 2014
Chuck Julian

That photo was taken on the day when the MSURRC did its first hydrostatic test of the boiler. We were hoping that the boiler would pass the test. This would mean that we did not need to retube the boiler. Unfortunately, when the pressure got up to around 90 psi, the boiler leaked from one of the flues. This meant that we would end up pulling all the flues, safe ending them and putting them back in. Along the way, we replaced two rivets and some stay bolts. Ken Pelton helped us get ready for the test, by welding new staybolt caps to replace the ones rusted through. All welding on the boiler had to be done by a certified boilermaker. Ken was still active as a boilermaker for the C&O at the time. He had started his career on the Pere Marquette and had worked on this engine when it was in service.

This test was performed in the summer, so I was home and working as opposed to living on campus. I came up on my motorcycle to help with the test. I’m the guy to the far left of the photo. The photo was taken by John B. Corns of Ohio. Ken Pelton, is the fourth person from me in the front row.

3 02 2014
Chuck Julian

If you enlarge the photo, you can see some of the stay bolts without caps. They are the ones that look like they have rings around them. The rings are where the old cap was chipped off and the surface ground to allow a new cap to be welded in place. Those were welded on before the hydrostatic test took place. You can see the cable for the welder hanging on the boiler behind the group. It is tied off above, then hung down, so that Ken didn’t have to keep lifting that long length of cable while welding.

1 12 2016

What happened to Ken Pelton?

16 09 2017
Chuck Julian

Ken passed away a few years after completing the project. He did not live to see if move to Owosso or run down the tracks again, under steam.

22 03 2019
Chuck Julian

Although Ken Pelton was a working boilermaker for the C&O, the engine was no longer owned by an ICC Railroad. This meant that the boiler was covered by the State regulations as opposed to ICC (later FRA) rules. Under ICC rules, the railroad was responsible for training and certifying boiler makers and boilers did not need to be registered with the State. As the fire up approached in 1975, we were faced with not having certification to fire the boiler and having a boiler whose welding had been done by a non-certified boilermaker. Roger Scovill and Mark Campbell worked with the State boiler board to get Ken certified as a State boilermaker. Inspectors came out to the locomotive and stamped a state boiler registration number into the boiler, then approved the boiler.

We did not really need to fire the boiler in 1975. We had completed the boiler work and felt that showing that we could fire the boiler legally would be a help as far as fundraising was concerned. Unfortunately, the hoped for increase in donations did not come. The fire up also ended up with the majority of the active members of the MSU Railroad Club, graduating and leaving the area. I stayed, becoming a graduate student. Aarne Frobom stayed in the area and active, but was no longer a student, so not technically a voting member of the club. Going to the first meeting of the fall, Aarne and I met in the hallway of the Student Union and he said to me that since I was the only voting member and only one eligible to be President, I was it.

The summer of 1975 was one where I was the only person coming out to work on the engine. I knew that I could not finish this project by myself, so I started actively trying to recruit new workers. I created a new sign, advertising that the locomotive was open for inspection which brought visitors to the engine. I would give visitors a tour, and if they showed any interest, I would ask them to give me a hand with what I was working on. I would show them how to do the job, getting all the tools out and thanking them for working on the engine. Over time, some of them would come back for more. I then viewed my job as the one who set out tasks, assigned people to work on the tasks, getting out all the materials needed to do the task and putting away all the tools at the end of the day. This way, when people came, they felt like they actually accomplished something. I started bringing water for the kettle I brought in, and bought instant coffee and cocoa for volunteers. I made sure we ate lunch together so that new volunteers felt like a part of the group and got to know the others involved. I instituted year round work on the engine, including when the engine was surrounded by snow. One winter, we built a wooden structure around the engine, covered with plastic, to keep the snow and wind off. Jack Breslin wanted it removed in the spring, so we did not end up rebuilding it the following year, but the pattern of year round work continued. Year round work accelerated the progress on the engine.

19 02 2020
Chuck Julian

The black and white photo of people standing in front of the engine was taken when we did our first hydro-static test of the boiler. We wanted to see if we needed to re-tube the boiler. Ken Pelton spent the day welding on stay-bolt caps. We kept ahead of him, chipping off the rusted out caps and grinding the surface flat so that a new cap could be welded on. We used weld on pipe caps as replacement for stay-bolt caps. [The firebox in a locomotive sits inside the boiler, surrounded by water. If it as not completely surrounded by water, it would melt. On the side of the firebox, there are threaded rods, called rigid stay-bolts, that connect the inside sheet of the firebox to the outside sheet of the boiler. Holes in both sheets are threaded and the bolts are threaded into those holes. Those bolts have holes drilled through the center of the bolts. If a bolt breaks, steam can be seen coming out the telltale hole, telling you it needs to be replaced. On top of the firebox, the stay-bolts have a different design. One end sits in a ball socket and has a cap welded over that socket, to seal it. These are called flexible stay-bolts. Only the end in the firebox has threads. The caps over these ball ends were what we needed to replace. Many had rusted out over the years of sitting under the jacket, covered by wet insulation.] They were the right size and well within the required specification for strength. By evening, we had the boiler full of water and started the pressure test. We had every light we could find shining on the boiler, looking for any leaks. We even had my motorcycle running with the headlight aimed at the engine. At about 90 psi, one of the flues started leaking, we could see water leaking out into the smoke box. The test had failed and the engine needed a flue job.

I was dressed in leather because it was summer. I came up that weekend on my motorcycle to help with the test. I worked in the foundry my father owned during the summer to pay for school, so was not staying on campus at that time.

To prepare for the hydro-static test, we needed caps to replace the safety valves that normally sat on top of the engine. I was able to make a pattern at Julian Aluminum Foundry, cast it in Aluminum Bronze, then take it to the MSU Engineering machine shop, where Don Childs taught me to machine the bore and then thread it with a lathe. The Trust uses those caps to this day each time they need to do a hydro-static test of the boiler. (Currently, my brother and I own City Aluminum Foundry, but no longer cast brass and bronze. Family traditions go on. I was able to make the pattern and corebox to make iron overfire jets for the locomotive, but had to have another foundry actually make the iron castings.)

When we were eventually ready to fire the boiler up, after having safe ended the tubes, reinstalled them, and replaced a broken rivet. At that point we discovered that since the railroad no long owned the engine, it was now a state boiler, governed by a different set of rules and a different agency. A state boiler needed to be welded by a state certified boilermaker. Ken was a railroad boilermaker. He worked under ICC rules that allowed railroads to do their own certifications for ICC regulated boilers. When he did our work, he was an active boilermaker for the C&O, repairing steam cranes and stationary boilers in the shops, but not a state certified boilermaker. Quick work by Mark Campbell, getting the State Boiler Board to review Ken’s qualifications, got Ken certified and the boiler was assigned a State Boiler number. Two boiler inspectors came to the engine, stamped in the number, allowing us to proceed with the fire up after getting permission from the University.

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