From The Headlight May – June 2015

Central Pacific 29

Triplex Springs and Air Brake Parts are Cleaned and Painted

By Mike Manson

This spring the three usable triplex leaf spring sets were sand blasted, painted and reassembled, then installed on the trucks. One of the trucks is now completely fitted with the leaf springs, so the truck bolster beam was set onto the springs. The other truck will have to wait until a fourth set of springs of the proper height can be obtained. Both trucks need pedestals before assembly can be completed.
When CP 29 was built in the spring of 1869 it had only hand-powered brakes. George Westinghouse received a patent for his compressed-air-powered brake system at the same time the car was under construction. His new company, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company (WABCO), eventually supplied brake systems for nearly all railroad locomotives and cars in North America. Both CP 29 and B&O 20 received their brake system at some point in the 1870’s.
The WABCO Quick-action automatic brake system salvaged from B&O 20 includes the following components: a brake cylinder, 10 inches in diameter and 14″ in length with a stroke of 8″; auxiliary air reservoir; triple valve; brake-pipe air strainer; air-brake safety valve; and self-locking angle cocks, with hoses and couplings. These components are connected by 1¼” steel pipe. We did not get a conductor’s valve; that item stayed in Baltimore with the interior fittings.
The triple valve is attached to one end of the brake cylinder. It has three functions: first, pressurize the auxiliary reservoir; second, apply the brakes; third, release the brakes. 1
We cleaned and pressure-tested the angle cocks and other valves. They are all in good condition. The air strainer has been disassembled and cleaned. Its plain steel mesh screen has been replaced with one of stainless steel. The air reservoir remains to be cleaned and tested. The triple valve must be sent in to WABCO for an overhaul. The steel pipe and the brake hoses will be replaced with new components when the system is installed beneath CP 29.
CP 29 needs a conductor’s valve and pressure gauge. If you can donate these items, please contact the author at

Unfortunately, the Union Pacific Foundation turned down our request for funding the pedestals, so we must raise all the money ourselves. Please donate to our “Buy a Pound of Pedestal” campaign. Each donation of $10 will cover the prorated cost of the patterns, steel, sales tax, energy and labor needed to cast one pound of a pedestal for CP 29 and bring it to the De Carli Trolley Museum. Please send your donation today.

1 International Correspondence Schools, 1913, The Westinghouse Air-Brake Handbook, 1st Edition: International Textbook Company, Scranton, PA, p. 155.

Photo 1: Fresh from the sand blasters shop, 18 leaf spring sets are getting a coat of black paint by Jeff Millerick. Photo by the author.
Photo 2: The first set of triplex springs is installed on the spring plank. Another set will be positioned on the cast iron plate in the foreground. Photo by Steve Atnip.
Photo 3: Jelani, Jeff and Steve Atnip proudly show off one of the trucks with its triplex springs and bolster beam installed. One end of CP 29 will be supported by the center plate on the beam. Photo by the author.
Photo 4: B&O 20’s Westinghouse Air Brake cylinder and triple valve are seen here in Baltimore during salvage operation in January 2012. The long bolts at the top of the cylinder held it against a 2″x12″ board that was bolted to the underside of the car’s floor sills. Photo by the author.
Photo 5: This triple valve purchased several years ago from the Timber Heritage Association is being disassembled to supply a part for the valve from B&O 20. Note the 2″ diameter pipe thread to the right of the wrench; those threads were broken off of #20’s casting. Photo by Steve Atnip.