Saturday, September 15, 2012

J. Neils Shay Rebuild sn-1643

Chapter 2

The hope for the future is to construct a loop of track so rides will be available.

UPDATE 04/14/2012

Had a good day working on the Shay.  Got the firetubes vacuumed out and cleaned out the firebox.  A very snug fit.  

Sheila helped on cleaning out the firebox.  Here is some pictures of her in the firebox. there is a picture of inside the firebox looking out. A couple more pictures to send. 

 Here is proof she was inside the firebox on Shay # 4.  Good thing to put on a job resume.  We have the ultrasound test scheduled for Wed. or Thursday of this coming week.  Keep you posted on that.  Tomorrow we will meet with contractors to get bids on railroad right of way

  The guys from Spokane came over Thursday to do the testing on the Shay.  They were blowed away by the Shay.  Some comments from them "what a treasure", "Got to see it run on steam".  It took a couple hours to test all the metal thickness of the whole boiler.  Got pictures of Bob coming out of the firebox.  Quite the popular place these days! They said the boiler overall is in pretty good shape.  There is one area of problem, the front tube sheet is worn pretty bad near the bottom.  May have to replace the whole plate there.  They are meeting with a boiler inspector to discuss what they found and make a decision on the best way to handle it.  Will be getting a report of the boiler inspection sometime next week.  Will get some pictures put together to send off to you.  Keep you posted. 

Update 04/28/2012

 Here is some of the pictures from the ultrasound test last week on the Shay.  Monday we had the owner from Montana Machine come over an look at the boiler,  He said they could make a new front tubesheet in-house, ready to rivet in. Just send some pictures of the boiler people from Spokane.  They will probably get back to us some late this week about what to do on the boiler.  Just got a e-mail from Mt. Rainier Scenic  Railroad Chief Mechanist about coming over to do a mechanical inspection of the Shay.  He is working up a price to do it for us.  Keep you posted on it.  The two fella's that did the testing, are Bob Dowers and his son Peter from NBI, a division of Atlas Boiler. 

Update 05/19/2012
Removing more firebrick

 Bottom row of brick, angle iron holding floor of firebox.  Quite afew bricks came out whole.  Thought about making up a plaque with info about the Engine and when it was converted over to oil-fired from coal and wood.  Might be able to generate some funds to help with restoration with sale of firebricks. 

Update July 10, 2012

 The first 3 pictures are of Ron and Jay marking out the test spots on the boiler and firebox.

This next bunch of pictures are of our work crew moving firebrick out of Enginehouse and Jay marking out more test spot for UT test. Ron had made tags to mark the valves in the cab.  More for info on all the valves.  The guys in the cab are very busy. Our youngest crew member is 15.  Hope to have him around for quite awhile.  Most of the rest of us are 50's +. 

Found this picture in museum at Troy of Shay #2 .Will be looking for pictures of Shay #1 and Shay #3 to add to our Engine pictures in the Railroad office. 

First 3 pic's are of Ron pressure washing the Shay and moving power poles for power to Enginehouse and office. Lunch time at the office, Alley wants some pizza too!. 

 Family member's of the Neil's family will be intown on the 5th of July to see our progress on the Shay will keep you posted. 

Justin Franz from the Flathead Beacon wrote a story about our friends, follow the link below to read.

Good Job Dave and volunteers!!!!

Update 08/04/2012

 Here are pictures of the Shay driveline and the cylinder covers off looking at the pistons.  Almost looks like it just came out of the machineshop.  Took these today, had 5 of us working on the Shay this morning. Lubing up all the link arm and bearings. The plan is next weekend to try and bar over the crankshaft and get things moving.  Have had a complet ultrasound test done on boiler.  The next step is getting a inspector over to let us know what repairs we need to make to run it.  Summer is really going by quick here. Will keep you posted.  Dave   First picture of cylinder and piston head is # 3 cylinder,  # 1 cylinder is by Engineer's seat.

UPDATE 09/15/2012

It was a long slow summer for our volunteers. 
Crankshaft work occurred today.

From Dave:

 #1 main is pretty dirty and stuck. #2 has a little grit in it. #3 is nice a clean and shiny. #4 have loosen up but no oil coming thru yet.

These pictures are close-ups of bearings. Picture 6842,6843 are of underside of crankshaft.  I have a couple of postcards of the Shay and a poster to send, need your regular mail address to send to . Can you put the poster and the postcard on the webpage? Would like to show people what we have to sell. We have been selling the postcards for $3.00 each.  Don't know how to set up for pay on web guess regular mail would be best for now. Have some ideas about a logo patch for a cap or shirt ,have to work up a cost for them yet. Things have slowed down a little but still working, lots of parts to cleanup and get to working.  The next big push will be to get the ends of the Enginehouse closed up for the winter. Just around the corner.

The Poster and Postcard Dave is referring to above will be posted here soon, please stay tuned.............


  1. Dean, I broke my computer, so will be a little bit before we can get pictures to you for posting. Have it going to shop for repairs. Hope it won't take too long to fix. The plan this weekend is to take out the firebrick and cleanup the cab some more, also to get the water tender tank ready to take off for cleaning and a new coat of paint. Dave E.

  2. Got the boiler report and drawings of metal thickness reading from it too. State of Montana Boiler inspector will be meeting us on the 22 of May, to go over the boiler and inspect it. Will find out what we need to do to get the boiler ready. Also what our cost will be to make it runnable. Still talking to Port board members about the property to East of Museum. Will be having a meeting sometime in June with them.

  3. Thanks for the heads up Dave

  4. Hello,

    Thanks for the great pics of the steam engine and the workers. Go Sheila and Dave!! What a fantastic project and glad to see historical restoration/preservation of the engine.

    Cool to see the inside of the firebox. Would like to buy some of those firebricks if you decide to sell them for funding the project.

    B. Etienne, Seattle

    1. Hi Sir
      Are you by any chance related to Dave and Sheila?

    2. Yes. I am his sister Barbara. :)

  5. hello, again sorry for not getting new pictures off to dean. The last couple weeks have been quite busy. Youngest son getting married this Saturday. Can't go work on the Shay this weekend. The first weekend of June was open house at the museum. Lots of people came over to look at the Shay. By the end of the day Ron had lost his voice. This past Wednesday bob from Atlas boiler came back over to do a complete ultrasound on the boiler. We have a new volunteer, a certified boiler welder retired and living here in Libby. Been a great help with the state inspector and has mapped out the test spots for bob. Will send off some pictures of the boiler ready for the test.

  6. Hay, Dean just a quick note,no work today on the Shay I just posted on trainboard site, have power poles to put in for power to Enginehouse and Railroad office. Will send some new pictures of Shay and Enginehouse .Been cleaning around to have room for laying track out back of Enginehouse.

  7. Dean have a nice 4 th of July. Members of the Neil's family will be visiting on the 5th to check on our progress on the Shay.

  8. Hi,

    why not get in touch with these guys from the preseervation scene?

    They are discussing your project and probably have helpful ideas!



  9. Hi Micheal
    Yes I went to that forum when I noticed the traffic, interesting discussion. Like all too many forums full of experts, you have to take it with a grain salt. :)
    Take care!