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SF-88 Maintenance

There is an excellent book "The Last Missile Site - An Operational and Physical History of Nike Site SF-88 Fort Barry, California". Highly Recommended - and a real bargain !!
However, this book does not cover the restoration (heavy duty maintenance ;-) nor current maintenance of Site SF-88.

The restoration was organized and led by Bud Halsey, also, a retired Infantry Colonel. Bud was a large, imposing, determined, persistent, "horse-trading" individual who spent his abundant energy and probably not so abundant retirement money on the restoration of SF-88. At some time, the National Park Service appointed/hired him to be manager of the site.

Bud attracted about a dozen Nike veterans with various skills into the restoration effort.

The story of the restoration of SF-88 from 198? through 1995 will have to be told by others. I (Ed Thelen) blundered into SF-88 in about 1995 when it was almost at its current state of restoration. The last remaining major problem was inability to raise a missile. This was soon solved by eliminating the voltage droop to the launcher due to long cables.
This was the solution - place the source of 400 Hz power much closer to the launcher motors, much reducing cable length and line resistance.
And for techies who want to see everything ;-)

Launcher Section B (pictures taken December 7, 2013)
is not on the regular tour - just off to the south-south-east. This is where much of the launcher area restoration/maintenance/storage currently takes place.
This panorama is of one corner of the Section B area. It is intended to stress cabling. A Nike site has lots and lots of cables - more than you are likely to imagine. There is quite a shortage of cables for this restoration. Enough for one launcher in A section.
This is a 360 degree panorama of the Section B area. It shows some of the equipment stored above ground.

You might ask what drives the missile elevator up and down, and when raising the elevator performs the sequence of raising the elevator a little too high, activating the locking bars, and gently lowering the elevator onto the locking bars - and related sequences.
This corner holds the elevator pump and controls. More detail of the electric motor, drive belts, and hydraulic pump.
A new time delay relay, called an Agastat, (via Greg Brown) and an old time delay relay. A box full of control relays-
A box of heavy duty circuit breakers - sufficient to run that big electric motor. Alec Gyorfi, who took these pictures of the controls - preparing to descend -

You might ask what drives the launch rail and missile vertical and horizontal, hydraulics again.
This gives a hint of how the launch rail and missile are elevated to almost vertical from horizontal, and back again. And this is the housing for the hydraulic pump and controls.
Here are two hydraulic pistons and piston rods. And the cap or sleeve end of a hydraulic cylinder.
This O Ring (when intact ;-)) prevents hydraulic fluid from leaking past the piston rod. Alec Gyorfi for scale with the hydraulic cylinder honing machine. Note the electric drill for rotation, and the drill and honing assembly is raised and lowered rapidly and noisily by other mechanisms.

We need a smile - the above is serious business.
How about overhauling the carburetor for the 5 ton truck so that it doesn't cough and sputter so much ?? Here is Frank, enjoying a day off, with smelly chemicals, grimy glop, tiny parts to lose, "rebuilding" that carburetor. Do you get the idea that restorers are a bit deranged ??
Look at that big smile. The fumes must have gotten to him. And here is Frank, trying to keep his hands clean with those awful gloves, using an air blast to clean the cleaner out of the carburetor. The nearby box is the carburetor re-build kit with new gaskets, metering jets, etc.

If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen

Originated Dec 7, 2014
Updated Dec 8, 2013