Friday, January 22, 2010

Reverser Blues

The 1005's reverser has gotten a lot of service and it's in great shape electrically. But it became apparent that the reverser frame is badly cracked. It was dropped for repair.

The reverser is located near the truck and on the centerline of the car. There should be no risk of the wheel hitting it as the truck pivots. However that might happen in a derailment, and from appearances, it has - at least twice.

Look at the lower right corner -- the damage is obvious. The side rail is cracked clean through, and the end case is slightly bent.

You can see the 16 wires that had to be disconnected. But that's not the hard part. The wires go through blocks -- these are not split "cleat blocks" like you saw before - these are solid blocks of wood. The wires can't be unthreaded from the blocks without unsoldering the end connectors. The best way was to remove each block, and its captured eight wires, as a set.

On the corners you see giant four-sided "bolt heads". That is exactly what they are - bolts with insulating material cast around the head. The rod is normal steel, but it's installed with an insulating sleeve and insulating washer. It insulates the hourglass-shaped casting which holds the electrical components of the reverser.

The spaghetti in the middle is important too. Obviously the wires must go to the same places. They must also be relaid in the same layers, otherwise the wires won't fit under the reverser lid! Careful notes were taken.

When the blocks of wood were removed, one cracked right down the middle. It was the damaged side, naturally.

The reverser case disassembled with ease, and soon, the side rails and end caps were separated. Off to the bead blaster. Several things are readily apparent.

The pieces are pushed together for the photo. They are broken clean. You can also see some other cracks. It's also clear one of the latches had been damaged, and was ground off and a new latch was fabricated. You can see where the part had been previously broken and braze-welded. This was surely a "shop job" done by the Sacramento Northern or Western Pacific. Brazing is used on cast iron because it is almost impossible to weld cast iron. The operative word is "almost", and the Western Railway Museum has had great success having cast iron castings weld repaired by a specialist, Lock-n-Stitch of Turlock, California. The pieces are now there, awaiting repair. The surviving good parts were sent along as well, as examples.

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