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Old 01-11-2018, 05:11 PM   #41
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Apparently the cast iron bell housing was used as the rear support for the engine, which is not a good idea..
Probably a dumb question, but the reason being the weight of the housing?
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Old 01-11-2018, 05:26 PM   #42
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Probably a dumb question, but the reason being the weight of the housing?
It was not a good design. The only supports for the engine/ generator combination were a front engine support and the generator mounting.
As you can see from the photo. the rear of the engine is mounted to the bell housing which is bolted to the generator.
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Old 01-11-2018, 06:08 PM   #43
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A mid mount is a good idea. Unless you can find a replacement bellhousing, welding that one up is very difficult being cast iron.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:34 PM   #44
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A mid mount is a good idea. Unless you can find a replacement bellhousing, welding that one up is very difficult being cast iron.
You are correct. I found a place called Lock n Stitch that has special bolts to fix cracks. Otherwise you have to furnace braze the unit.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:56 PM   #45
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It is possible to arc weld cast iron, I had a tractor that I broke/cracked the bell housing on using a 3pt backhoe without a subframe. A friend who owned a welding shop brought his truck out to the farm and welded the bell housing, never had a bit of problem with it. He was a very good welder with about 50 years experience around big equipment. He welded it in place so that I only seperated the engine from the transmission a few inches to allow him a little room. You could always try the bolts first then if they fail try welding.
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Old 01-11-2018, 08:33 PM   #46
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You are correct. I found a place called Lock n Stitch that has special bolts to fix cracks. Otherwise you have to furnace braze the unit.


Those cracks are likely fatigue cracks, and have substantial corrosion. Corrosion will prevent a good braze.

Welding is tough because of the high carbon content of cast iron. I am a metallurgical engineer by degree. I wont get too technical, but the basic problem welding is forming carbides along the fusion line which leads to cracks. Carbides are brittle and low ductility, which is bad when you have shrinkage stresses during solidification of the weld metal. The usual tricks are ductile filler metal and lots of preheat and slow cooling/post heat to try to minimize the fusion line cracks.
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Old 01-11-2018, 09:29 PM   #47
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Those cracks are likely fatigue cracks, and have substantial corrosion. Corrosion will prevent a good braze.

Welding is tough because of the high carbon content of cast iron. I am a metallurgical engineer by degree. I wont get too technical, but the basic problem welding is forming carbides along the fusion line which leads to cracks. Carbides are brittle and low ductility, which is bad when you have shrinkage stresses during solidification of the weld metal. The usual tricks are ductile filler metal and lots of preheat and slow cooling/post heat to try to minimize the fusion line cracks.
I appreciate your comments. I got a Power Point presentation from Lock n Stitch saying the same thing. I believe that either their special method, or furnace brazing of the entire bell housing is the only way to repair the unit.
The alternative is to luck out and find a replacement bell housing somewhere.
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:20 AM   #48
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Given that the switch engine is 70+ years old (44 yo engine replacement) and most of the extreme stresses have already been placed on the bell housing and only fatigue cracks are appearing is encouraging. Its new life will be at minimal stress comparably in not moving heavy loads shift after shift. While I was not recommending brazing, which would probably work to bridge the minimal stresses it will see in its new role and finding a replacement housing would be the most preferable, welding or drilling and bolting would more than suffice . Worse case scenario would be that it cracks completely, with the amount of beef and number on mounting bolts in the housing it would more than likely still be operational especially if you could fabricate a mid mount to help relieve stresses.

Link to Lincoln Welding site referencing cast iron welding:

Guidelines for Welding Cast Iron
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:36 PM   #49
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You might check with an industrial motor rewind shop for ideas on the cracked generator housing.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:40 PM   #50
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You might check with an industrial motor rewind shop for ideas on the cracked generator housing.
Thank you for your suggestion, I do appreciate it. However, the bell housing is a separate part from the generator.
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:08 PM   #51
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Thank you for your suggestion, I do appreciate it. However, the bell housing is a separate part from the generator.
I think the suggestion was that a motor shop knows where to get similar castings repaired.
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:47 PM   #52
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I think the suggestion was that a motor shop knows where to get similar castings repaired.
Great suggestion! Thank you
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:08 PM   #53
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Good Day!

Today was the day we were to manually turn the engine. Last week we poured a little oil in the cylinders to help loosen the engine up.
We tried doing it with a big pipe wrench, to no avail. I went over to the railroad steam shop and borrowed a 2 1/4 inch socket, an extender, and a breaker bar.
We tried turning the engine, but it stuck after about a half turn. We then tried turning the engine both directions, and all of a sudden it turned
We made a number of revolutions to get the oil distributed on the cylinders.
Later this week we plan to put a little transmission fluid in the cylinders as a penetrating oil.
This was a major step in the restoration of the engine. The next step is to fabricate an adjustable bracket to support the back of the engine and remove the stress from the bell housing.
When we jacked up the back of the engine last week, we could see the cracks closing.
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:38 PM   #54
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I vote for furnace brazing AND a supplemental support bracket. Alignment of whatever coupling is in the bell housing is usually critical. Have you had an opportunity to see inside the bell housing ? Any access plates ?
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:19 AM   #55
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We then tried turning the engine both directions, and all of a sudden it turned
Congrats! That must have been a treat seeing that happen.
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Old 01-29-2018, 07:33 PM   #56
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Tomorrow, I am going out to the engine armed with the original wiring diagram and an envelope of wire markers to trace the modifications done to the engine.
I just discovered much to my surprise that the engine has a positive ground system. I was alerted to that by a man who maintains the engines at the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai. Strangely enough, I rode that train in 2011 and took pictures of his engine!
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Old 01-30-2018, 08:14 PM   #57
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Is this your switch engine?

Railway Preservation News • View topic - GE 1941 23 Ton Switcher
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:05 PM   #58
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Yes, I use a different screen name there. The people at RPN have been very helpful with advice.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:57 PM   #59
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Tomorrow is going to be the big day. We designed a support system using one inch pipe, pipe flanges and a one inch threaded rods with nuts and washers to jack up the rear of the engine. Total parts cost was about $50.
I will post a picture when we are done.
We are also going to put a little oil and transmission fluid in the cylinders to lubricate them.We will then turn the engine manually to distribute the oil.
The next step will be to remount the starter and reinstall the injectors. We have the engine manual that details how to set them.
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Old 02-13-2018, 06:17 PM   #60
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Tomorrow is going to be the big day. We designed a support system using one inch pipe, pipe flanges and a one inch threaded rods with nuts and washers to jack up the rear of the engine. Total parts cost was about $50.
I will post a picture when we are done.
We had to redesign the support brackets to shorten them and change the orientation of the angle brackets. I had to buy this monster 1-1/2 inch open end wrench to turn the nuts.
We installed the brackets and jacked up the back of the engine to a point where the cracks closed up. We then went to the rear of the engine and were able to easily turn the engine over with a wrench.
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