Saginaw Timber
Company No. 2
Restoration Journal

steam locomotives number 2, number 1385, and number 1

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Year: 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011

The Year So Far

July 3, 2012

Despite the recent buzz surrounding the resumption of the C&NW No. 1385 restoration project, progress on the Saginaw Timber Company No. 2 has continued in the background throughout the winter and spring months. The Baldwin 2-8-2 is a privately owned locomotive which has called Mid-Continent Railway Museum home since 1982 and has spent a good portion of those years at the lead of Mid-Continent’s trains. Work on the engine is led by owner Skip Lichter who can be found working near the engine house on an almost daily basis.

During colder winter weather, efforts were focused largely on the locomotive’s running gear. A visit to the engine house shop on March 15, 2012 revealed the progress on the creation of knuckle pins, used to link the back side rods. The new pins were created built by member Jim Eng. These heavy-duty pins illustrate the scale of railroading hardware and the price tag that goes with it. A set of two custom-made pins required $145 in just the steel. Without volunteer labor, the costs would have been substantially higher.

Old and new knuckle pins.

Rods for which the pins were created.

Knuckle pin position in rod.


Meanwhile, brasses for the axles have been machined and fitted to the driving boxes. This time-consuming task kept Skip busy for much of the winter and into the spring but is now complete. Part of this process was testing to ensure proper axle fit. The inside of the brass is curved to fit over top of the axle, however, the curvature is not perfectly circular as one might expect. The slight deviation from a perfectly circular shape is done so as to allow a small space for journal oil to be drawn up and fill in the area which then keeps a thin film of lubrication between the axle and the brass. Testing for proper fit includes placing red dye on a cylinder of the same diameter as the axles and rotating it within the brass in the same fashion as the axle will when the driving box is installed. The red dye reveals the contact points between the axle and the brass.

Driving box with brass installed.

Dye test of brass-axle fit.

Efforts during the spring months also included adjusting the fit of the driving boxes to the locomotive frame. The driving boxes require a small degree of freedom to move as they adjust to the rails’ curvature and minor undulations in elevation. This movement is allowed via the use of a “wedge” between the rear side of the driving box and the frame and a “shoe” between the forward side of the driving box and frame. Inspections revealed a minimum amount of wear on the brass faces of the shoes and wedges where they contact the driving boxes. There was, however, an unexpected level of wear on the reverse sides, where the shoes and wedges contact the frame. This is thought to indicate that the shoes and wedges received repairs in the past, but only on the sides contacting the driving boxes while the frame sides were left untouched during those previous repairs.

Skip Lichter in Mid-Continent Railway Museum's machine shop.

Shoe and wedge.

Among the more visible signs of progress, at least seemingly, was the return of three of the four driver sets (all except the number 3 driver set which requires the wheels to be pressed on to a new axle). The wheels had been sent to a Milwaukee area shop for machining. A deal was reached with the shop agreeing to lower the price of the job in return for allowing them to only work on it when there was a shortage of other projects for them. While this this saved money, the shop became unexpectedly busy and this step went from taking a few months as expected to instead require over a year. Although three of the four driver sets had been returned to MCRM property by March, this step of the project would prove to be far from over.

Saginaw Timber Co. # 2 driver sets returned from Milwaukee.

A measuring error by the Milwaukee shop had caused a mismatch in driver diameters. The wheels on axle no. 2 were machined 100/1000 inch smaller than the others drivers. While such a diminutive size difference seems like it would be insignificant to something as a large as a locomotive, the problem could not be ignored. If the wheels were installed and run as-is, it would lead to excessive wear. Because all wheels are locked together by connecting rods, they are thereby forced to turn at the same rate. If the circumference of all the wheels is not precisely the same, the smaller diameter (and thus smaller circumference) wheels would be dragged a short distance during each rotation. This would lead to excessive wear of both wheel and rail.

As a result, as witnessed during another shop visit on June 2nd, the team of Skip, Richard Dipping and Roger Kramer were found taking on the task of removing the three “completed” driver sets from under the locomotive frame where they had already been installed and the driving boxes mounted. With each driver set weighing in around 5,600 lbs., great care has to be taken to make sure control was maintained over them. The counterweights built into the wheels can make the drivers want to roll away in an unpredictable fashion. The incorrectly-sized driver sets will be returned to the Milwaukee shop where they will be machined to match the slightly smaller dimensions of the axle number 2 driver set and then again be returned to Mid-Continent along with the completed axle no. 3 driver set with new axle installed. A hold-up at the moment is working out an arrangement for trucking the wheel sets back to Milwaukee. While waiting for the drivers to be re-machined and returned, Skip, with help from Richard Dipping, has shifted attention to the pilot. During this process, numerous broken bolts were discovered on the pilot and are being replaced.

From left to right, Richard Dipping, Skip Lichter and Roger Kramer carefully roll a 5,600 lb. driver set from under the frame in preparation for shipment to Milwaukee.

Looking down the length of the tarp-covered frame, Skip Licther, Richard Dipping and Roger Kramer work to free the last set of drivers.

What’s next for the No. 2? A big test of the boiler is expected in the near future. A pressure test which will bring the boiler to 250-260 lbs. of pressure was initially scheduled for June 26-27, but the Federal Railroad Administration inspector had more immediate matters to attend to and had to cancel the planned visit. A new date for the pressure test has not yet been established. Given a successful pressure test, additional tests will follow.

If you wish to make a financial contribution toward the Saginaw Timber Co. No. 2 project, please send a check with “Saginaw Timber Co. No. 2” on the memo line to:

Mid-Continent Railway Museum
P.O. Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951

All work is being initially financed by locomotive owner Skip Lichter, but under the terms of the agreement, Mid-Continent Railway Museum is liable for the first $200,000 in restoration costs which is to begin being reimbursed to Mr. Lichter after the locomotive is approved for operation. All donations specified for the No. 2 will be used to help cover Mid-Continent’s obligation to the project.

Year: 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011

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Saginaw Timber
Company No. 2
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