Nickel Plate 765's 15-year inspection is a prelude to 2018 operations

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Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, shown during a 2009 visit to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum at North Judson, Ind., will be steaming again in 2018 after its 1,472-day inspection is completed.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
FORT WAYNE, IND. — The excursion off-season gives railway presrvationists an opportunity to address repairs that can not be performed without taking equipment out of service during the operating season. It is also an ideal time to carry out a steam locomotive’s required boiler inspections. This winter, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is taking advantage of the lull to perform a 1,472 day inspection on Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.
The 1,472 day inspection takes its name from Federal Railroad Administration regulations that specify that any steam locomotive operating on a railroad under their jurisdiction must undergo a thorough boiler inspection and rebuild every 15 years or 1,472 service days.
“This is the most thorough kind of inspection we have to do,” says Zach Hall, operations manager for the society. “Between the required tube replacement, ultrasonic inspection, and hydrostatic test, our crew has a lot of work to do in a short time.”
The process can be expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive, so society vice president Kelly Lynch says that planning the process around breaks in the service schedule is essential to the operation’s finances.
“Being unable to use an engine to generate revenue can be problematic,” Lynch says, “FWRHS has money sent aside to cover the cost of No. 765’s 1,472 [day inspection] and future maintenance. A percentage of each trip contributes to this fund. Our mission is still to operate steam every year.”
Lynch says that the way the society is carrying out No. 765’s inspection process is somewhat unusual: The FRA permitted the organization to perform the required work over two years, instead of being carried out all at the same time.
“Through the course of normal operations in 2015, we discovered a leak in one of the tubes,” Lynch says. “Rather than wait for other leaks to develop and being so close to the end of the 15 years, we decided to start the 1,472-day inspection in 2016 and the FRA permitted us to carry out the work over two years, ensuring we wouldn’t have the engine out of service during an operating season. We had replaced all of the tubes and flues by March of 2016.”
The permit allowed the society to put the hydrostatic and ultrasonic testing off until 2018. By mid February, staff and volunteers have made significant progress through the rest of the 1,472 process.
“This winter, our volunteer crews have been diligently working to complete the external and ultrasound inspection of the boiler,” Hall says. “The boiler remains in great shape and we’ve found little or no deterioration of the steel when we did the ultrasound.”
“We’re about 99 percent finished with the the ultrasound survey of the engine,” Lynch added, “All of the readings show little-to-no-variation compared to the numbers on our Form 4 from the 2000s.”
There is good reason why the railroad society is diligently working to complete the the work: On Sunday, the organization released its newsletter stating that within 30 days, it should be ready to announce details of excursions in September, October, or November. Lynch also told Trains that the society will host a training event for members in May at a tourist railroad in Ohio.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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