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BCK #43 - 2016 Updates


Updates 2016
by Scott H.

January - March 2016

         Winter in Western New York is very unpredictable with a big mix of above and below average temperatures. Snow banks prevented us from driving up to the engine most of the winter and we had some very strong and cold winds however, our weather covers held tight and did their job very well. We had an organizing meeting in February when we laid our our goals for 2016.

         Of course our number one goal for this year is to start the engine. This will require refilling the cooling system and pre-lubing the engine before we bar it over again. This cannot happen until we are sure freezing weather is behind us. The BSOR has loaner batteries lined up for us to use when the time is right.

         We were not able to finish all the secondary electrical circuits last year so in early March we tried out some 12 volt, 7watt LED "Corn Bulbs" They draw less than 1/4 amp each so we can run all the lighting circuits off of one 12 volt battery. We were pleased how much light came from each bulb as you can see with the cab ceiling light.

         Both the front and rear headlights had no bulb sockets when we received the locomotive. Fortunately the wiring was all still there and in no time we had a temporary socket and bulb working off of the control stand. A permanent socket assembly will be fabricated. We also added a flexible joint to our permanent extension cord.

         On March 21st we were ready with a two newly fabricated porcelain headlight sockets. Some of the control stand switches were sticky so Rick B. removed and cleaned many of them while I wired the sockets and installed the bulbs. We had Bob M. go down the tracks to give us a thumbs up when the bulb was at the correct focal location.

         Using 12 volt DC LED bulbs required that all the fixture sockets had the same polarity using the center as positive. This required that two of our lights had to have the wires reversed. When we get our full 112 volt battery supply, the bulbs will all be switched out with 72 volt bulbs. A snow squall was just moving in as we viewed the 12 volt substitutes.

April 2016

         In the 1940's, ALCO used 12 gauge thick rubber insulated wire for all their control systems. Over the years the rubber insulation hardened and cracked with exposure to heat and oil. Sometime in #43's past, the system wiring was replaced except for the lighting circuits to the engine compartment. Two large 50amp Pyle disconnects carried voltage to the front headlight, number boards, marker lamp sockets and engine compartment lights. On our first April work session we opened a roof hatch and the doors on the engineer's side of the compartment and evaluated the wiring.

         The old lighting wire to the engine compartment was cut at the end of the 3/4" metal conduit in the bottom of the electrical cabinet. The front headlight was powered with a pair of new wires wrapped around the conduit all the way to the headlight. We had to pull all the old crap out of the conduit by removing two LB conduit covers which were way back in the corners of the cabinet with a two foot long screwdriver to reach the screws!

         Using an electrical fish, we pulled three new 12ga. THN/THWN oil and gas resistant wires up through the 3/4" conduit from the electrical cabinet into the engine compartment. We soldered ring terminal ends to the wires, threaded them through the conduit coupler, 18" of neoprene tube and then reassembled the PYLE 50amp disconnect.

         With the disconnect complete on the engineer's side, we unwound the "fix to the headlight" wires from the conduit and removed the 4 porcelain light sockets and 28 feet of old wire from the 3/4" conduit. How ALCO was able to squeeze up to five wires into some of the runs we don't know but it was not easy getting the first one out!

         Once the weather gets a little warmer and we get out of each others way, some of our crew will begin sanding, priming and painting the interior of the engine compartment. You can really see the difference on the two doors that have been refinished in the interior view above.

May 2016

         During the last week of April and the first week of May, Rick B. pulled all new 12ga. wires through the conduit in the front of the locomotive. We were also able to get four new wires through the conduit from the bottom of the electrical cabinet into the control stand. The new wires will allow us to use three circuits that previous owners chose to eliminate.

         We rerouted the new wire along side the existing wire to the wood terminal strip on the left side where all the circuits are junctioned. Rick B. did a great job adding new nylon ties to the bundles. One in place, the wires were cut to length and 12ga. ring terminals were soldered on and the wires were connected. Along the side of the cabinet are all the variable resistors used to drop the voltage to different devices. Most of the bulbs are run at 75 volts off the resistors.

         For some reason, all the lighting in the electrical cabinet was also removed. We added two new 4" steel boxes to which outdoor spotlight fixtures will be attached. While Rick and I pulled and soldered wires, Bob M. was busy assembling eight new Leviton #9885 porcelain sockets to mounting rings. Although most of the old sockets were usable, they were very beat up and fragile. New sockets will ensure many more years of dependability.

         We also purchased eight new RAB Lighting GL-100 "vapor proof" glass globes that screw right into the existing fixtures. Like other "unnecessary" items previous owners removed, not one original globe remained. Bob M. installed new rubber gaskets on top of the globes which will protect the new bulbs and sockets from oil and grime.

         As noted above in January, we are using one 12 volt battery as our power source. The 12 volt "corn bulbs" work great but will be useless once we have a full 112 volt electrical supply. After some research, we found out that household 120 volt "dimmable" LED bulbs will work on DC. With much satisfaction, we found that our 12 volt battery was enough to light the bulbs.

         On May 23rd with a predicted high of 80' we decided it was time to refill the cooling system. Thanks to Rick Fisher of Artcraft Trains, he allowed us to "borrow" 285 gallons of water from his Hobby Store. Rick B. ran over 200 feet of hose from the Depot, under the BSOR tracks, and to the expansion tank on top of the engine. Jim L. and Bob M. continued work on the engine compartment doors on the shady firemans' side of the locomotive.

June 2016

         While Rick B. and I continued electrical work inside, Jim L. and Bob M. took advantage of the beautiful weather outside. Sometime in #43's past, a layer of industrial grey was sprayed on all the interior metal with no prep work. As seen in many photo's, this grey paint is flaking and falling off revealing the original ALCO green. Jim and Bob continue to vacuum, wire brush, sand, prime and repaint each engine compartment door. Bob M. also removed the trash bags we used over the winter to seal the journal boxes.

         Last year we started weather stripping the eight journal boxes to prevent debris and water from getting into the oil. After we removed small amounts of water with suction pump, Bob M. thoroughly cleaned the interiors and edges and finished the weather stripping. He then added seven gallons total of fresh oil to bring the eight journals up to the proper level.

         On June 7th, Rick B. and I finished the last of the wiring for the interior lighting. In the photo to the left we see Rick standing in the back of the electrical compartment. I added the last socket to fixture in the radiator cabinet and screwed in a "corn bulb." We now have three electrical compartment lights, four engine compartment lights and four number board lights, all operating from the control stand.

         On the 13th, our friends at the BSOR allowed us to borrow their portable oil pump to pre-lube the engine. We removed the left front crankcase cover and sump screen to insert the suction tube into the bottom of the crankcase. In 10 minutes we had fresh oil dripping from the connecting rods back into the sump. We all took turns completing two revolutions of the crank to ensure all bearing were well lubricated. The first
revolution was pretty easy, but after that compression built up and each subsequent hole in the flywheel became more and more difficult.
With the pre-lube and "barring" process completed, we are one step closer to our much anticipated engine start up day. After disconnecting the oil pump and reinstalling the crankcase and flywheel covers, we added two 12 foot, 2/0 "jumper cables" to the engineer's side battery case. These will be used to connect to a battery bank of six 8 volt batteries on a trailer that will be added to the 64 volts from the BSOR's locomotive to give us the 112 volts needed for the starter motor.

Jim L. and Bob M. continued work on the engine compartment doors getting two more primed and one finished with the "Industrial Grey" enamel. With diesel fuel at $2.33/gal, we added another five gallons of fresh fuel to the 600 gallon tank.

July 2016

Our to do list included "replace air filters" since they had not been changed for many years. Rick B. removed the two air filter assemblies so we could change the media which was very full of soot typical of ALCO locomotives. The air filter banks were pretty beat up from previous maintenance so they were sanded, stress cracks in the corners mig welded and primed.

We used a double layer of bulk 3M filter media cut to fit the six cavities. An outer layer of welded hardware screen was installed on top of the filters to keep them in place.

On Saturday July 23rd, our wait was over. Pat Connors from the Buffalo Southern Railroad brought over a group of 10 - 8 volt batteries giving us 80 volts of starting power. The batteries were connected to our battery switch via two large 3/0 cables. Unfortunately, even with the shops 36 volt high current charger, we never got enough cranking speed to start the prime mover.

On Saturday July 30th we brought in reinforcements. In addition to the 80 volts from the battery trailer, Pat brought down BSOR #100 ALCO-S2 built in 1945, to supply extra starting power.

With the extra current supplied by #100 continually recharging 8 of the batteries on the trailer we were able to turn the engine over numerous times. First, I removed the six compression plugs on each cylinder so that we could bring the oil pressure up to thoroughly pre-lube all the bearings and other moving parts.

After all the bearings were oiled up we replaced the compression plugs and tried our first start under load. After only a few revolutions the first and then a second cylinder came to life. Within a few seconds the engine was firing on all 6 so we shut it down. This was to prevent the 112 volt system on #43 from back feeding the electrical system on #100, which is 64 volt, and doing damage. We had the voltage regulator turned down as low as possible but didn't want to take any chances.

         With the cylinders warmed up and good oil pressure we were confident the engine would start on its own. BSOR #100 was disconnected from the battery trailer and moved up the track. With 80 volts of cranking power we were ready for the first start up in 17 years! We were not disappointed.

         What a wonderful sight and sound it was to have all the hard work we put into prepping the engine pay off. With the prime mover rumbling at a smooth slow idle we checked out all the systems for problems. A small oil leak was observed at the top of the large 5 gallon oil filter and the belts need tightening on the small auxiliary generator. Without the radiator fan running the water temperature only rose to 160' and there were no leaks even from the water pump. After 15 minutes of running we shut down and started it again with no problems.

Our electrical generators are not self exciting so they need battery power to operate. Since we were tethered to the battery trailer by the cables, we could not try to move the locomotive. We look forward to having our own batteries on board so we can make our first move on the track.

We again wish to express our sincere thanks to the Buffalo Southern Railroad management and to Chief Mechanical Officer Pat Connors for all their help on making this event happen.

August 2016
By Scott H.

We were back at it on August 11th to address the concerns we had while the engine was running. The previous week, the James E. Strates Fair train came to town and with it huge crowds. As mention before, the large oil filter had a small leak so we removed the cover. Bad news, there was no gasket, good news, the filter was almost brand new with a manufacture date of April 9th, 1999. Keep in mind the locomotive came out of service in October 1999. After Rick B. and Jeff L. cleaned the mating surfaces, a new gasket was installed and the cover locked down.

We also noticed there was too much piston travel on the brakes. During the trip up from North Collins in 2009 the replacement brake shoes conformed the new wheel profiles and created too much play. Adjusting the brakes is a lot like on a pre-1955 car or truck. Drum brakes were not self adjusting so you had to periodically turn a 2-1/2" adjuster to close the gap between the brake drum and the shoes. However, on a locomotive the adjuster is 2-1/2 feet long and you need some big wrenches to turn it!

All of the wiring on #43 showed signs of age and quick fixes. The wiring to the governor on the engine was no exception. We had seven crimp splices between the governor and the control stand with the wire dangling in the air. We ran two new 25 foot runs of 12ga. THHN wire from the engine to the control stand through flexible metallic conduit or "BX" where needed and soldered all the terminal ends.

September 2016

#43's original builders plates were removed sometime after the Buffalo Creek railroad sold the locomotive in 1966. Until new metal reproduction plates can be made I thought vinyl replacements would add a nice touch. Using a high resolution photograph, I digitally changed the date and build number to match our originals. A local sign company printed the plates using weather resistant ink on 3M vinyl.

While Jim L. & Bob M. worked on the engine compartment doors, 100 feet down the tracks, a couple of us started working on the new boiler jacket for  PRR #4483. 

October 2016

Jim L. & Bob M. have almost finished priming and painting the interiors of all 14 engine compartment doors. With colder weather approaching, we drained and using a compressor, blew out the cooling system. We also reinstalled the aluminum weather covers on the radiator and electrical compartment roof vents.

The WNYRHS greatly appreiciates all the generous donations to this project to date. However, we could still use your help! All Donations to the WNYRHS, Inc. are Tax-Deductable! If you would like to mail in a donation, send it to

WNYRHS Inc., PO Box 416, Buffalo, New York 14231-0416
         Click the PayPal Button to make a Secure Electronic Donation. THANK YOU!

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