News Article: Big (and Expensive) Period for Steam Locomotive Begins

Wisconsin State Journal reporter Barry Adams dropped in for a visit to SPEC Machine late last week to see what was new on the Chicago & North Western No. 1385’s restoration since his last visit to see Mid-Continent’s flagship steam locomotive one year ago. You can read the full Wisconsin State Journal article and view the numerous photos at Madison.com.

A few highlights from the article:

  • Steel for the new boiler will be cut this week (February 20, 2017) at Continental Fabricators in St. Louis.
  • Additional steel will be cut and shipped to Tennessee Valley Railway Museum where the new firebox is to be crafted.
  • The firebox will be delivered to Continental Fabricators in St. Louis, Missouri, attached to the boiler, then shipped to SPEC Machine in Middleton, Wisconsin where it will join the running gear and cab for final assembly.
  • Arrival of the finished boiler is now expected for June 2017.
  • This is the most costly phase of the locomotive’s restoration. The new boiler and firebox will cost roughly $700,000. (Please consider visiting our donation page!)
  • SPEC Machine is building a 1,500 square foot expansion to their shop to facilitate final assembly of the 1385 on-site.
  • Other upcoming projects at SPEC Machine include refurbishing brakes, installing pistons, rehabbing the superheater header, refurbishing the sand dome, and the many other parts that are yet to be installed.
  • Mid-Continent’s goal is to have No. 1385 fully assembled and returned to the rails in 2018.

 

C&NW 1385’s Boiler Design Review Meeting Held

A design review meeting was held at Continental Fabricators in St Louis, Missouri on Tuesday January 24, 2017  Members of Mid Continent’s 1385 Task Force were in attendance as were Gary Bensman of Diversified Rail Services, Steve Roudebush from SPEC Machine, and Brett Morley of Performance Engineering. The meeting covered all of the details necessary to build the new boiler as well as provided a platform for everyone involved in the design process to review the fabrication plan with the team at Continental.  It was a very productive meeting with everyone having input into the planning of the new boiler and Continental coming away with some clear direction enabling them to proceed with the task at hand.

Action items to come out of this meeting include the development of Continental’s final production schedule. Fred Steinkuehler, Vice President of Plant Production at Continental is currently developing their schedule. He is basing the plan on Mid Continent’s detail drawings and expects to be finishing up within a few days. While the production department work out their timeline, the engineering department will continue the preparation of internal shop drawings. We expect Continental to be wrapping up their engineering phase over the course of the next few weeks.

With the boiler process well underway with Continental Fabricators, and the major parts of the running gear and cab near completion, the Task Force identified the many remaining accomplishments still needed. Completion times were assigned to each and a general schedule was outlined. It has been determined that, excluding any major unforeseen concerns, the 1385 can be returned to Mid-Continent next year (2018).  Timing can be determined more accurately as these projects move along.

 

CNW 1385 Boiler Drawing 3D View

CNW 1385 Boiler Drawing 3D View

At this juncture of the 1385 restoration, it was decided to forgo hosting an Open House this year. The many hours otherwise required by Mid-Continent volunteers and staff to organize and host the event will instead be spent toward expediting the completion of 1385. In place of the Open House, there will be additional volunteer work day opportunities during the year.

The Task Force is very enthused and motivated, and thanks everyone for their support.

Order Placed for C&NW 1385’s New Boiler

New Boiler Ordered

A purchase order has officially been issued to Continental Fabricators in St. Louis for the construction of a new welded boiler for Chicago & North Western No. 1385. Delivery is anticipated to occur at the beginning of March 2017. Once completed, the cab will be delivered directly to SPEC Machine where the boiler will be mounted on the frame.

Continental Fabricators has previously built a boiler for a similar-sized coal burning steam locomotive at another midwestern railway museum with good results. Their experience and the positive reviews received played a large part in the change from the previous plan to use a Minnesota-based company to construct the new boiler. Continental Fabricators is excited to join with us in making this happen.

Project Funding Update

With the boiler manufacturing – the single-most expensive portion of the locomotive rebuild – now underway, the war chest of cash that Mid-Continent has built up in advance for this stage of the project will begin to disappear very, very quickly. In order to allow work to continue toward completing the  rest of the locomotive, we need your help! Please consider donating to the “C&NW #1385 Fund” by visiting our Donation Page.

We’ve come a long way since the 1385 project was revived in 2011! We’ve collected nearly $1 million for the project since then. While we’ve benefitted from several major grants, the project has succeeded thus far because we’ve also had strong support from individuals like YOU. Half of all donations received for the 1385 were $100 or less.

Upon completion of the boiler, the C&NW 1385 will become the single most expensive restoration project Mid-Continent has ever undertaken (surpassing Badger #2). With a project as large as the C&NW 1385 which spans years and has encompassed many steam status updates, it is easy to get lost in terms of where the project stands overall. The below graphic should help with provide a quick overview. Click the image to see it in full resolution.

1385 diagram view with date labels

C&NW 1385 Project Progress Overview, September 2016

We thank you for helping us get this far and hope you’ll join us in getting C&NW 1385 under steam once again!

C&NW #1385 Wins Grant from John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust

Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s restoration of Chicago & North Western #1385 was recently named one of the winners of the first ever round of grants offered by the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust. The grant gives the C&NW 1385 project a $10,000 boost toward the production of a new boiler. A new boiler is major component of the 1907 locomotive’s overhaul to make it steam-worthy well into the 21st century.

check presentation

Tom Sharratt and Naurine Lennox present a $10,000 check from Emery Rail Trust to Mid-Continent Railway Museum, accepted by museum President Jeff Bloohm. The grant is in support of Chicago & North Western #1385’s new boiler.

Sometimes referred to as Mid-Continent’s “ambassador of steam,” the C&NW #1385 was the first steam locomotive ever operated by Mid-Continent Railway Museum in 1963. In the 1980s it was used by the Chicago & North Western Railway as their goodwill ambassador to the public, traveling extensively on the C&NW network and bringing operating railroad history to many thousands of people in their hometowns. At Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s North Freedom, Wisconsin location, the locomotive was often seen in service pulling museum visitors up and down the former C&NW branch line which Mid-Continent calls home.

These past achievements and future plans for the locomotive fit perfectly within the goals of the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust. Among the criteria Mr. Emery established for the Trust were:

  1. To help re-create and preserve, to the extent possible, the rail passenger travel experience as it was in the U. S. from approximately 1920 through 1960.
  2. To preserve and restore to working order rolling stock and other working artifacts from the “Golden Age” of the U.S. rail passenger service.
  3. The emphasis shall be on organizations that offer the general public an opportunity to ride historically significant equipment over historic rail lines. The Trust may, however, support organizations that would use modern equipment to restore passenger service over historic rails, or to build new rails on which to operate historic equipment in passenger service.

John Emery, a native of Chicago and lover of classic passenger trains, founded the Trust as way to support ongoing efforts to preserve examples of America’s great passenger trains. Emery was a world traveler, visiting over 125 nations. As an avid railway buff both abroad and in the U.S., John rode the rails as often as possible. Utilizing his talents as a businessman, investor, and accomplished writer, he grew to become a great philanthropist, sharing his success through multiple foundations. Emery passed away peacefully in 2012 at the age of 75. Now his legacy lives on through the foundations he established and the Advisory Committee now appointed to continue his philanthropy.

In all, 11 grants totaling $162,500 were awarded in this first series offered by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust. Grant winners spanned the country from Tennessee to New England, New Mexico to Michigan. Among the grant winners were several other steam locomotive restorations, rolling stock, and infrastructure projects.

Mid-July 2015 C&NW 1385 Update

Although updates have been a bit sparse of late, activity on the Chicago & North Western #1385 has continued forging ahead. The work completed in the last few months is not the kind that make great headlines, yet all of it is equally important toward achieving an operational 1385. Without further delay, here is the latest:

  • The driving boxes, shoes, wedges and hub liners are all now complete, save any modifications needed for grease or oil lubrication and any adjustments found necessary at final assembly of installing the drivers into the frame.
  • The footplate has been fitted, holes reamed, and tapered bolts installed to hold it place.
  • The locomotive’s spring rigging has been fully rebuilt. It is being installed onto the frame and will be stored in place unless it proves to be in the way of other work.
  • Most recently, work has begun on the machining and renewal of the connecting rods and bushings.

Other tasks coming up in the near future (In no particular order) include:

  • Rebuilding of the front truck.  The wheels on the front truck are currently being assessed as to whether they can simply be re-profiled and still offer adequate service life, or whether replacement is necessary.
  • Renewal and machining of the valve cages.
  • Cleaning/polishing of the finished rods.
  • Boring of the cylinders.
  • Cleaning and test fitting of the valve gear to determine wear and repairs needed.

The 1385’s new boiler is nearing the end of the engineering review phase and is expected to enter the build phase within the next several months. The boiler will be discussed further in a future post.

Photos provided by Brian Allen. View full album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/7777754@N08/sets/72157655692852722

1385 rebuild_07102015_spec machine_004

 

1385 rebuild_07102015_spec machine_009

1385 rebuild_07102015_spec machine_00101385 rebuild_07102015_spec machine_0023