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Nike SF-88 On-going Maintenance

This page is just starting (Sept 2014), an on-going effort.
Updated/corrected through Nov 20, 2016
Our spares are at risk of being given away
Received April 3, 2016 from a group trying to restore a different Nike site -

" I do have a second request, if it isnít too much trouble. Several months ago I was in touch with Audrey Clark of the US Army Donation Office. I last spoke with a gentleman from that office who informed me that SF-88 had requested to turn-in excess equipment to his office. He said that since we might be interested in receiving such equipment, it would be much simpler for you to transfer equipment to us directly rather than turn it in and have us Request it from his office. If that sounds like a good idea to you, would you be able to give me some idea of what equipment youíre going to turn in? If we can use any or all of it maybe we can make a deal to get it transferred to us and get it moved to our site. "

Unfortunately, Susan of the Golden Gate NPS doesn't talk with volunteers who restored SF-88 and are trying to maintain it. The left hand is unwilling to communicate with the right hand :-(( We are unable to get known spares that the original restorers gathered and saved. The NPS has locked up or taken these away.

For a specific example. With photo - "Battery Control van siren. Yes, bottom back side is gone, inside corroding. NPS has grabbed "our" spare, but paperwork delays ... One is on e-bay, but is not an artifact."

Now they may disappear further into limbo.


Enough of the serious stuff - need humor. On our Nike site, the launcher guys called us IFC folks "pansies". Maybe the reason was because we didn't need 48 inch Stillson wrenches ;-)) We of course called the the Launcher guys rude crude names also.
This tool (volunteer owned) was in the van in the SF-88 Launcher Area in 2016.

Table of Contents


Recent (Post 2013) History
All these years the National Park Service has provided a ranger, porta-potties, telephone, mowing, ... of the area.

I think it amazing that such competent, caring, organized individuals were selected as site managers :-)) Definitely not the usually headquarters power grabbing chair fillers.

Painting of IFC buildings on Wolf Ridge
The IFC buildings and radar towers on Wolf Ridge looked like this in 1999.

They have been painted by contractors to the National Park Service, and "tagged" by others.
Photos and text by Greg Brown.

Launcher area, Magazines - Section B
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. (Bud Halsey tried to get some launcher cables from Tiawan, but international ocean travel is complicated and expensive.)
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.
Hydraulic Pump Unit and Control Boxes Elevator electric motor and hydraulic pump
Alec Gyorfi goes where angels (you and me) fear to tread ;-)) To look at the elevator control boxes and Circuit Breakers
and the Elevator Relays and the Elevator Time Delay Relays
for proper sequencing

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. a close up of the grimy solvent - 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.

Launcher hydraulics and power
This is the hydraulic pump assembly to power the launcher hydraulic cylinder (above) This is a stripped launcher which shows the mounted hydraulic cylinder better. The force from the cylinder raises the launcher arm to near vertical.
This unit converts 60 Hz commercial power to 400 Hertz for the launchers. It and several other unit came (free) from Pacific Bell. The converter is in this van near the launcher. The 400 Hertz unit must be close to the launchers, or the cable resistance will cause low voltage, motor stalling and protective breakers to chatter.
The insides of launcher cylinders can get pitted over time.
Alec Gyorfi by the home made cylinder honing machine. The honing "stones" and connected by a long shaft to an electric drill. The electric drill is moved up-and-down by another motor. It looks crude, but it works just fine :-)) This "O Ring" helps confine high pressure hydraulic fluid.
The front unit is the piston (with its own "O Ring" and the cylinder rod which also must have a high polish to help the "O Ring" in the cylinder head have a long life. This "O Ring" helps confine high pressure hydraulic fluid.

  • Launcher area, Buildings
    Assembly Building
    Mid-September 2014 the volunteers were invited to help repaint the main room of the assembly building, Sept 16, first coat, Sept 17, second coat.

    Happily, for us volunteers, all the cleaning and prepping the building interior had been accomplish Monday Sept 15 by
    Museum Management Branch employees (Nicole Hayduk, Justin Cleveland, Lulu Chye, and Josh Willis) :-))
    As you know all too well, half (or more) of a paint job is "Prep Work"
    - If you don't know, ignorance is bliss !!      ;-))

    All we volunteers had to do was spread white paint on the desired surfaces :-)) excluding wires and pipes not already painted.
    The painting crew was:
    - Al Blank, site manager (Wednesday)
    - Nicole Hayduk, NPS Museum Management Branch employee (2 days)
    - Justin Cleveland, NPS contractor on the Nike Site Preservation Project (2 days)
    - Greg Brown, volunteer (Tuesday) brought extra ladders and equiment
    - Sarah Koenen, NPS (Wednesday)
    - Gordon Lunn, volunteer (2 days)
    - Ed Thelen, volunteer (Tuesday)
    - Mary ???, Interpretation Division Intern (Wednesday)
    with a cameo appearance by
    - Susan Ewing Haley, curator, who brought brownies :-))

    The following pictures were contributed by Nicole Hayduk and Greg Brown


    Ready?? Paint !!

    Ed, "Me? Work?"
    Others Nicole, Justin

    Greg "getting hi"

    Justin & Mary
    Beams don't roll well

    Gordon & Al
    Al, after getting formal

    Nicole, carefully

    Sarah, "rolling"

    Done! Beautiful!
    The bad news
    The rest of the site
    is corroding away.
    The west side
    of this building.

    West side Assy Bldg

    West side Assy Bldg

    Alert Siren - for the IFC BC van.
    One of the fun features of the SF-88 Nike Site is the Alert Siren. Raising the US flag and a hoot on the siren signal the start of visiting hours ;-))

    Unfortunately, in the summer of 2014, the old reliable IFC BC van siren quit.
    Oddly, the trouble shooting was confusing. A collection of probes, volt meters, ohmmeters to no avail :-(( - lets blame van schematics we couldn't find, and operating atop a ladder - not shaky trouble shooting skills ??

    Then one day, in late August 2014, the siren would howl again. Some one (who?) found a loose/corroded wire in the rusted out back of the siren and "fixed" it.

    Note the newly taped up power cord and fresh ground connection.

    But clearly the lower back of the siren body is in serious corrosion trouble. Popular rumor indicates that Golden Gate NPS should have two of these sirens, spares obtained from China Lake in 1996 - somewhere - but the likely foot dragging and paperwork ...
    Possession is power, I got 'em, I got the power.
    Dare we tape a protective clear plastic bag over the whole assembly until ... ??

    Greg Brown found several RED sirens on e-bay for $300, which claimed to be 24 volt - just the voltage we need.
    Maybe sandblasting the red plastic would enable white paint to adhere adequately ?
    Unfortunately, Federal Signal says that model is 120 volts. A question to be resolved.

    Sample sound ;-))

    Launcher Hydraulic Cylinder Bearings Jan 2015
    Greg Brown and I (Ed Thelen) showed up early for the open house - and found Jerry Freight and Alec Gyorfi in the Launcher area, near B pit (magazine) with large wrenches hard at work. (Pictures of Ed Thelen standing about "stupervising" have been deleted ;-))
    Greg and I came upon this scene of honest men doing honest work. Close threads, long shaft, lotsa tiny turns :-((
    Almost at the end of the 1 foot threaded shaft Now, all "we" have to do is get that center shaft out. This whole exercize is to get some Hydraulic Cylinder Bearings that are no longer stocked by Ordnance :-((

    Magazine Elevator & Door Sequence and Timing Relays -from Greg Brown - Feb 2015
    Very Preliminary, pictures to be added and verification sought
    Background: by Ed Thelen
    As originally planned, Nike was to be all above ground. Apparently before the first sites were installed, existing Army rules of explosives above ground in civilian areas were discovered. To satisfy the distance requirements in suburban areas would have required procurement of several hundred acres of expensive property for each launcher area. (Or totally impractical on various waterfronts in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, New York etc.)

    I imagine, without "proof", that this major upset caused quite a stir - the solution was to dig "magazines" into the earth, and use elevators (40 ft. long) to lift the missiles, with their on-board explosives, from the underground magazines to the above ground launchers and racks.

    Common experience with building elevators indicates that there are "rules" build in concerning
    - opening and closing doors
    - interlocked with the vertical movement of the elevator
    under automatic control so people don't hurt themselves or equipment.
    The automatic control in that century was by relays.

    Greg Brown is helping maintain and/or change out door and elevator control relays in the magazines. He purchased some "time delay" relays then went up Sat Feb 21, 2015 to help Alec Gyorfi.
    Here is Greg, checking things out. (Candid Camera ;-) That black conical thing is a lamp to illuminate the dark corners.

    Relays wear and age. Time delay relays especially are sensitive to age related timing errors. Here a page of a Granger catalog Greg Brown uses. Some of the relay types used in the original Nike Magazine installation are still avalible, but now EXPENSIVE.
    Note that the doors swing down slightly so that the Locking Lugs can lock the elevator. Clearly, with so many interacting components, automatic sequence control is required for save operation with possibly sleepy, hurried, just being trained recruits.
    Part of the hydraulic system which powers the elevator up and down, and powers the Locking Lugs.
    • Small motor opens the doors
    • Starts the elevator lift for 1.5 sec.
    • Then the big motor takes over during the lift sequence.
    • When the elevator gets near the top, a limit switch trips and the small motor finishes the sequence and sets the locking pins.

    Greg Brown's Feb 21, 2015 report

    • The relay change out went well, but I only got one changed in B pit.
    • They have two motors, one small, which starts and slows near the top.
    • The big one kicks in 1.5 sec after the small one starts.
    • Spent more time researching and testing the old one to figure out the switching and times with a AC cheater cord.
    • So the small motor, # 1 is new and works.
    • 3 more to go in B pit.
    • The next ones should go quicker.
    Alec really knows the sequence of events, I can tell you what I think it is, but I could be wrong. Trusting to memory isnít the best.
    • Small motor opens the doors
    • Starts the elevator lift for 1.5 sec.
    • Then the big motor takes over during the lift sequence.
    • When the elevator gets near the top, a limit switch trips and the small motor finishes the sequence and sets the locking pins.
    Old pneumatic time delay relay, units being replaced. New Relay
    Old relay New time delay relay in Motor cabinet 2 (big motor) see huge contactor, 480 volt 3 phase.

    March 14, 2015
    Time delay relays for the magazine elevators have deteriorated. Need replacing.
    Alec Gyorfi and Greg Brown went after "B Pit". Here are Greg's pictures.
    Elevator control buttons on elevator. View from the bottom of B pit. This is the workshop and storage area for site SF-88
    Picture of elevator hydraulic pump motors, foremost motor is the small motor # 1 Motor to the back is motor # 2, which does most of the lifting. Three electrical control cabinets, Left is Motor # 2, Middle is Motor # 1, Right is Control relay cabinet.
    Motor control cabinet #2, white device on left is the new time delay relay. Control relay cabinet. red relays are the new time delay relays.
    This type of relay is replacing the weary pneumatic type When all of the above, and more, work correctly, we get to see the missile on the surface.

    Merge into above section
    SF-88 Launcher Elevator Time Delay Relay Replacement.

    Several years back, Historic Nike Missile Site SF-88 volunteer Alec Gyorfi Told me they had problems with the old pneumatic time delay relays in the elevator control cabinets. They were failing, or could not maintain a consistent delay time. Direct replacement relays were hard to get and expensive. The elevator controls are dated 1954, which makes them 61 years of age.

    Greg Brown and Alec had looked at some solid-state replacement units. An initial test in B-Pit with some solid-state units purchased on EBAY. They worked well. We submitted an order to SF-88 Ranger Al Blank for replacement units to retrofit both A and B Pit elevator controls. They were received in record time for government work, (one week). They were installed on May 16, 2015

    GB-B01AuxElevatorControlCabinet
    New Relay - Auxiliary Elevator Control Cabinet
    GB-B02ElevatorControlButtons
    Elevator control buttons

    GB-B03ElevatorControlCabinets
    Elevator Control Cabinets
    GB-B04ElevatorHydraulicsSide
    Elevator front view

    GB-B05ElevatorPump
    Elevator A Pit
    GB-B06HydraulicControls
    Internal Pneumatic Controls

    GB-B07MissileReadyToRaise
    Nike inside the magazine
    GB-B08MissileTopside
    Nike at above ground

    GB-B09NewRelay_fullCabinetView
    New Relay - full cabinet view
    GB-B10NewSolidStateRelay
    New Solid State Relays

    GB-B11NikeElevator_door0pen
    Elevator doors open
    GB-B12OldRelay
    Old Time Delay Relays

    GB-B13PumpDataPlate
    Elevator data plate
    GB-B14PumpMotors
    Pump Motors

    GB-B15PumpUnitRear-.jpg
    Pump Rear Pneumatic Controls - side view . .

    Magazine Relay Logic
    Line Diagram 151022-D3
    "Connections for AAA Magazine Hydraulic Elevator & Door Controller Relay Panel"

    Magazine Relay Tester - July 2015
    from Greg Brown
    The Timer Relay Kludge
    Left Photo is relay in idle state.
    Right is relay in energized state, after delay.
    DPDT
    I love making KludgesÖ

    August 1, 2015, Greg and Ed Thelen arrive "early", but Alec Gyorfi and Jerry Freight were already working - on our only working launcher.
    Pictures by Greg Brown, text by Ed Thelen (knows the IFC, not the Launcher area)

    Nike, Tip It Up
    A launcher's basic task is to tip the missile, with its 1,000 pound war-head, hydraulic system for the fins, guidance package, sustainer motor, and booster, and launching rail - to almost vertical, in a timely and reliable maner
    Nike - Being Tipped Up
    Jerry Freight (red cap) and Alec Gyorfi are chasing a groaning sound, which indicates a problem. Asked about the wheel/box pointed to by the white arrow, Alec said that is the "Inching Wheel" to exactly position the launching rail on the launcher.

    Tools For That Big Thing?
    These dental size tools do not seem appropriate for that monster missile and launcher.
    Alec, Typical Worship?
    Here is Alec, in a typical pose. Hard to get votes this way ?? But he keeps the launcher area functioning. By the way, there are four mighty hydraulic cylinders to hoist the missile, one is off picture to the right.

    Alec Still Praying??
    Apparently it takes a lot of prayer to keep this 60 year old launcher painted, maintained, and functional !!
    I wonder if Alec has tried fasting as well ??

    Whats That Noise?
    Ah, a view port is now open - things getting serious ??

    Don't Ask
    Don't Ask, I didn't!
    I did ask why not use electric motors and a screw hoist? The official answer is "too slow", but the hydraulic is powered by an electric motor -

    Elevator Alarm Bell
    Greg Brown, who does Launcher Area electrical things, would like to get the launcher elevator alarm bell (warning, about to go up/down) going again. I don't think I ever heard one go off.

    More Siren - Dec 2015
    I mentioined "somewhere" that Greg and I had tried to get the siren working. The problem was voltage into the switch, (the siren works fine when the switch gets proper power supply voltage).

    "Michael Keller" < MiKe_Os @ web . de > responded
    Hello Ed,

    i just read about your trouble with the siren in the BCT of SF-88.

    First i want to thank you for scanning all the pages. I did this tabloid format once by myself with a normal scanner...

    I looked over the schematics and tried to trace the wires of the siren. Maybe you have found it out by yourself, but i made a rough sketch about the connections.

    Hope it helps, as a certified electrician i would give my left arm for digging in the BCT...

    happy holidays,
    Michael.

    Greg Brown < gregorio_cafe @ comcast . net > responded that this is a GREAT help :-))
    We were having serious trouble finding the correct schematics with the correct updates :-((
    The intercontinental help is wonderful :-))

    And More Siren - Jan 2016
    With words and music (text and pictures) by Greg Brown < gregorio_cafe @ comcast . net >

    BC VAN Power Distribution Panel. Siren Power origination from Sig Sys fuse position 24 VDC Back-Side of BC VAN Power Distribution Panel. Siren wire to Sig Sys fuse BC VAN Power Distribution. High Voltage supplies and 24 & 27 Volt DC supplies
    Siren Button in BC Van Siren Button Siren Switch - Red wire is the new 24 VDC supply feed
    Inside Vert Plotting Board Siren Switch BC Console
    BC Van Siren - Rusted out and needs replacement Battery Commander Ed Thelen
    Greg is teasing me !!
    BC VAN Power Distribution Panel

    Generator Building Conversion Mar 2016
    Ranger Al Blank says "The conversion will be for a Welcome Center and a small museum. A place to meet!"

    A little background:

    1. The Nike systems were usually powered from commercial power when available. But during alerts, power was generated locally in case of interruption of commercial power.
    2. This building originally contained several large petroleum powered engine/generator sets to power the launcher area, including the 60 Hz missile elevator motors.
    3. There are currently several 60Hz to 400Hz converters to power the Battery Control van, Radar Control van, and radar which were normally in the IFC area at the top of Wolf Ridge almost a mile away.
      (These particular converters were secured by the ever vigilant Alec Gyorfi from AT&T San Ramon during some change over.)

    Ranger Al Blank sent the following e-mail - to the more active volunteers Mar 18, 2016
    The Generator Building conversion is under way. We have been asked to clear the place out by mid-May. Not that far off. I'm hoping to get a group of corporate volunteers to help with this project. Also, I am hoping that we can arrange a date for us to inspect the contents of the building and figure out what to do with it all. Perhaps some of the stuff will go to "B" Pit, others to Battery Alexander, some to the dumpster and some back to you all.
    I will keep you posted and hopefully we can arrange something.

    I (Ed Thelen) took this panorama of the inside of the generator building May 7, 2016. The game plan is to enclose a single frequency converter (and the electric wall fixtures) behind a (new) west interior wall. The tools, equipment, spares, ... in rest of the material need to be moved - ?to the "B" pit?

    Wednesday May 11th, we are just starting an inventory and toss junk party, with Ranger Al Blank supervising. Most of the material in the east part of the building was moved/examined. About 7 NPS rain suits, one piped air ?fire fighting? suit, 2 cu. ft. incandescent light bulbs, ... were found. One pick-up truck of "junk" was removed. The pervasive smell of mouse poo and pee was surprisingly unpleasant.

    Greg Brown sent these pictures of the current electrical business of the Launcher Generator Building

    Loud Fan Bearing in BC Van May 2016
    If February, Donald Echeverria who likes to docent in the BC Van, noted that suddenly a rather loud noise started in the BC van and he had to talk over it to inform visitors of the functions and stories of the van. Techies figured this sounded like a fan whose bearings failed -

    It turned out that Open House days were too busy to localize and fix the problem. May 11 turned out to be an ideal time after getting nauseated by mouse poop and urine in the Generator Building (see above).

    After removing the already disconnected PPI scopes, Greg Brown and Ed Thelen localized the loud noise to one of four fans. (Another fan motor was very hot, and not rotating.) It turns out that there are fan assemblies mounted on the back wall of the BC Van display console blowing air into the PPI Scopes. As these scopes are disconnected, and likely never will be reconnected we might as well disconnect the fans (including the very noisy one) to solve the audio problem.
    Greg (our ace electrician :-) disconnected the 120 volt power wires, tagged and insulated the copper.
    He also disconnected the two fans for the other PPI scope, which contributed a low noise to the BC Van. Now Don will not have to shout to get his message out :-))

    and of course there is grass to mow and trim - June 2016
    "the administration" cooperated in getting some replacement batteries, so Alec and Jerry got gasoline and activated three mowers (two shown here)
    Jerry Freight practicing with the John Deere. He then mowed for half an hour 'till lunch time. I (Ed Thelen) mowed tight corners with this for 15 minutes, 'till the cutter plastic "string" was used up
    Gordon Lunn likes to keep the little "IFC Area" neet and trim. He brings this edger from home. Goats had been brought in earlier this spring to eat their fill. Goats may be best on steep hillsides and the steep berm around the warhead building.

    Elevator Down Alarm Aug 2016
    Greg Brown has been replacing the A Pit Elevator Down Alarm Bell which rusted into failure.
    This is the new "electronic" bell, (it has a speaker, not a bell). The real one rusted into oblivion :-(( The bell was used to warn people when the elevator was about to go down. Greg Brown is wiring power for the new bell.

    B-Pit Elevator stuck in up position Oct - Nov 2016, mostly fixed Feb 16, 2017 :-))
    There has been a long battle with the B Pit (Magazine) elevator which is currently stuck in the "up" position - the elevator will not come "down".

    Although B Pit is not shown to visitors, it is very useful as a work room, equipment storage shed ( example, lawn mowers ) and long term storage of equipment too heavy for Susan to steal.

    Alec, Greg, Jerry and Al (Parshall) have been coming to the site for at least 5 successive Saturdays (as of Nov 16) measuring, examining, testing, ... trying to find the problem.

    Here is a "trip report" from Greg, dated Nov 16, 2016
    Ron, Iím good for next Saturday.

    I sent you a picture of the bad terminal connection for the power input 3L1
    There were 2 solid conductor wires on top of the 2 factory wires with terminals.
    The solid wires did not have terminals, and the top one had insulation on the screw connection.
    This is why the relays pulled in when I put my meter lead on the connection.

    The bad connection on the SA2 solenoid that Alec found may be the reason why Jerry would hit the housing with a hammer and things would work?

    It seems that bad connections are a problem.

    I think the 3L1 connection was the root cause, and it stopped the locking bars before completely engaging.

    Now we are pumping against a closed solenoid, if we can open it and get pressure to the doors and elevator from pump 1,
    I think we will be in business, If we are luckyÖ..

    Greg Brown


    Bad Connection


    partial electrical diagram

    "Trip report" from Greg, dated Nov 20, 2016
    The good news,

    Greg rewired the 3 pressure switches and CR9, lo and behold, elevator moved.
    Now we can raise and lower, with the pushbuttons, in the normal fashion. The elevator doors continue to work in normal fashion.

    The bad news,

    The elevator doesnít lower completely, stopping about 1 foot before reaching bottom, the leveling solenoid S3 does not activate.
    Two limit switches come into play, thatís where we are at now.
    I can apply power ahead of the limit switch and the elevator will gently drop to floor level.

    So the elevator is down and the doors are closed.

    Just gotta fix the leveling problem.

    Dec 3, 2016
    The problem remains - much try this and scratching of heads.
    Me, (Ed Thelen) being way behind the curve, contributed by going to the surface and cutting weeds growing up between cracks in the asphalt in the B Pit area -

    Feb 17, 2017
    From Greg Brown, Feb 17, 2017

    I went out yesterday and replaced the pressure switch. Everything was working. There is an intermittent problem with one of the locking bars but that is a different issue.


    updated through Feb 17, 2017