Medco 4 Builder's Photo

Medco 4

Medford Corporation

Willamette Geared Locomotive

2012 Update

A major fundraising effort in 2011, including a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, allowed the Chapter to send the boiler of the Medco 4 off to Chelatchie Boiler Works in Richland, WA. for rebuilding. This marks a huge step in the restoration of the Willamette and the expenditure of approximately $115,000. As of late Summer, we're about three years from having a working locomotive IF we can raise another $55,000 for the remaining work. At long last, our goal is in sight and there's a palpable sense of excitement among the Chapter members and others associated with the Medco 4.

Loading the Boiler for Shipment

Click on an image below for larger photo.

March 23, 2012, a foggy, early spring morning. The arrival at the Medford Railroad Park of a heavy lift crane from Cook Crane and a 48' low-boy rig from Combined Transport. Both Cook and Combined donated part of their services to the Chapter.

While the truck is turning around (a surprisingly difficult maneuver in the confines of the Railroad Park compound), the crane sets up and prepares to lift the boiler.

Inside the yellow metal engine shed rests the frame, tank and trucks of the Medco 4.

Combined Transport's 48' trailer backs under the raised boiler.
Project Leader, Jerry Hellinga, poses next to the boiler as the driver prepares to chain it to his rig. After many years and thousands of hours of volunteer work, the boiler is about to head off for rebuilding.
However, the problem of having a 48' trailer inside the Park compound aren't over. As the truck starts to leave, the rear end of the trailer snags a gate post. The driver is unable to jockey around enough to disengage the gate, so Cook Crane resets and lifts the rear of the loaded trailer and shifts it into the clear.

Finally free of the confines of the enclosure, the boiler is ready for the trip to Richland, Washington.

After the departure, Jerry Hellinga will load up the flues, tubes, assorted bolts and hardware to be used on the rebuild and take them to Chelatchie Boiler Works.

Chelatchie Boiler Works

The Medco 4's boiler was at Ridgefield, WA for over four months as the work progressed. The rebuild included replacing (welding in) several pieces of steel in the fire box, installing numerous stay bolts, driving lots of rivets, installing new flues and super-heater tubes, performing several hydrostatic pressure tests and documenting all of the work. The final hydrostatic test was witnessed by an FRA inspector.

Jerry Hellinga spent several days in Ridgefield and took some pictures of the crew at work.

The process of riveting was once the only practical way to hold large, heavy pieces of steel together into structures since as boilers, bridges and buildings. After the steel parts have been lined up, drilled, reamed and counter-bored, the hot work begins with pre-heating the rivet hole.

Stathi Pappas applies a white-hot flame from an oxy-acetylene torch to pre-heat one of the rivet holes through the mud ring.

A look from inside the firebox shows the pre-heat flame shooting through the rivet hole. Note the interior replacement sheets have only been tacked in place. Bolts hold the mud ring in place while the first rivets are installed. Eventually, the new boiler plates will be bored and stay-bolts installed.
While the pre-heating is underway, a rivet has been heating in the furnace. When everything is good and hot, the rivet is taken from the furnace...
...and lined up with the hole. BW Garren (on the left) prepares to drive it in with an air powered rivet gun.
Once the rivet has been driven through the mud ring from the outside, it must be mushroomed over from the inside. Stathi Pappas mans an another rivet gun inside the fire box.
After the riveting is complete, holes for the stay bolts are prepared, first by drilling through the two sheets of steel and then by tapping the hole to receive the threaded bolts.
Once the rivets, stay-bolts and welding are finished, the flues and superheater tubes are installed and the boiler is ready for the hydro test. This is a view from the smokebox (front) end of the boiler.

Finally, the boiler is skidded outside, the hydro test is done and it's ready for shipment. Well, almost. The first few hydro tests broke stay-bolts in the vicinity of the welding work and they needed to be replaced.

The Chapter is deeply thankful to Joan Reed-Nickerson and the other good workers at Chelatchie Boiler Works for performing a lot of extra work at no additional charge to the Chapter.


Boiler Unload and Work in Medford

2012 Update Continued

Follow the 2012 progress on rebuilding the Medco 4

The Medco 4 Project Supported by the Oregon Cultural Trust

All photos and text Copyright 2012, Southern Oregon Chapter, National Railway Historical Society

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