DULUTH Fundraising Status

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A $75,000 fundraising effort is presently underway to allow major material acquisition and some labor cost for the DULUTH to allow its restoration to move forward. This post will be updated regularly to show progress toward reaching that goal.

To help Mid-Continent restore the DULUTH to its former glory, please consider making a donation to the DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund. Donating is tax-deductible and easy to do. You can make your donation via mail or donate online using the Donate button.

Be sure to write in “DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund” on the printable donation form or check memo line if sending a donation by mail. Credit/debit card donations can also be accepted via phone at 608-522-4261 or 800-930-1385 by speaking to our staff during administrative office hours Monday-Friday.

The fundraising total shown is as of November 30, 2020. The fundraiser began in May 2019.

What’s Next for DULUTH?

What’s Next for the DULUTH?

Given the scope of the project and the resources needed to restore the DULUTH, the restoration effort will be a multi-year project that will be executed in phases. Now that the DULUTH is back on 6-wheel trucks and has draft gear, the next step will be to reinstall the brake system. Plans also call for moving the DULUTH into one of the museum’s buildings after the completion of Coach Shed #2 (in 2018) to prevent further deterioration and to assist with restoring the car. A detailed scope of work, tasks, and the restoration schedule are presently in the process of being developed. To kick off the next phase of restoration tasks, a $75,000 fundraising effort is underway to allow major material acquisition and some labor cost during the next three years.

Request For Help

Please consider making a donation to the DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund so Mid-Continent can restore the DULUTH sleeping car to its former glory. Make your donation via mail or donate online using the Donate button.

Be sure to write in “DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund” on the printed form or check memo line if sending a donation by mail. Credit/debit card donations can also be accepted by phone at 608-522-4261 or 800-930-1385 during museum office hours. All donations are tax-deductible.

DSS&A sleeping car Duluth interior, May 2017

DSS&A sleeping car Duluth interior, May 2017.

DSS&A Duluth Sleeping Car floor plan in 1924

DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car floor plan in 1924.

DSS&A Duluth Sleeping Car floor plan as of 2017

DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car floor plan as of 2017 after modifications for use as a summer cabin.

Donate to the D&R #9 Cosmetic Restoration

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Mid-Continent Railway Museum has announced plans to begin the cosmetic restoration of the Dardanelle & Russellville #9 steam locomotive starting in Spring 2021. The restoration will be more than just slapping on a new coat of paint. It will involve a number of steps, each involving expenses:  grinding, stripping, and blasting of the locomotive to provide a clean, rust-free surface, repair/replacement of deteriorated wood, sheet metal, and other custom components, primer, paint, and associated supplies, and finally the creation of interpretive display materials.

To complete this project, your help will be needed!  Mid-Continent has begun fundraising for the project, with a goal of raising $9,999 to support the #9. If you wish to see Mid-Continent’s oldest locomotive made beautiful and ready for public display once again, please consider making a contribution today.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. All donations are 100% tax-deductible and a donation acknowledgment letter will be provided.

If you wish to become a project volunteer, please send an email to inquiries@midcontinent.org. Volunteer sessions are anticipated to begin in spring 2021.

Fundraising progress thermometer last updated: 02/17/2021.

steam locomotive no. 9

D&R #9 in service at North Freedom, June 1969. Jim Neubauer photo.

May 2021 Dining Trains Canceled


All ONBOARD DINING departures scheduled in May 2021 have been canceled. The affected departures include:

  • May 8, 2021, 1:00 PM Pizza Train
  • May 9, 2021, 10:30 AM Mother’s Day Brunch Train
  • May 9, 2021, 1:00 PM Mother’s Day Brunch Train

These cancelations are being enacted by Mid-Continent Railway Museum to best comply with a recently-released Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive aimed at reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus aboard railroad passenger trains and other forms of mass transit. After careful consideration, our Dining Services and Operating departments felt we would be unable to provide museum visitors aboard these trains the quality experience they paid for and deserve while also remaining compliant with the TSA directive.

We apologize for any inconvenience these cancelations cause. Customers already booked aboard the affected trains are being contacted individually and will be offered a full refund.

The cancelations do NOT affect Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s COACH TRAINS, which will continue to operate normally while observing social distancing and mask requirements.

The current TSA directive expires on May 11, 2021; however, it may be extended. In the event the directive is extended, additional changes to Mid-Continent’s onboard dining train schedule may occur.

C&NW #1385 Update – January 2021

With January coming to a close it is time to check in again with Chicago & North Western #1385’s progress. Steve Pahl, MCRM General Foreman of Steam, provided the following list of work being performed or recently completed as of January 20, 2021.

Key areas of work on C&NW #1385 during January 2021.

  1. The auxiliary steam dome is currently being repaired. The auxiliary steam dome is where the safety valves, boiler vent valve, and whistle are mounted. The boiler vent valve is used for filling the boiler with water and serves as a vent when draining said boiler. The whistle, of course, is the epitome of steam railroading! 
  2. The cast iron blanks for the new piston bull rings have been water jet cut to rough dimensions and are ready to be machined to the final dimension with grooves cut for the piston rings. The center “donut hole” left over after the piston bull rings were cut out are being used as the blanks for the two smaller bull rings that are needed for each valve. That way there is not nearly as much waste in material lost.

    One of the cast iron “blanks” for the new piston bull rings, shown after being water jet cut to rough dimensions. Further machining is required. Steve Pahl photo.

  3. A valve cage is a hollow cylindrical wear element that is used as both a guide for the valve as well as the outer sealing surface for the valve so it can route both the live steam and exhaust steam to the proper places. The valve packing rings form the inner sealing surface and slide back-and-forth in the valve cage as the valve is moved.

    C&NW 1385’s new valve cages stand ready to be installed into the steam chests. Steve Pahl photo.

    There are two sets of ports that have been machined into each cage. The large rectangular ports lead to the exhaust nozzle up to the smokebox so the exhaust can be pointed up and out of the smokestack. The smaller parallelogram-shaped ports lead to the passage to the cylinder. Depending on the position of the piston valve inside the cage either the live superheated steam is routed into the cylinder to push the piston forward or back or the cylinder is connected to the exhaust passage to release the steam once it has done the work of pushing the piston. Since steam pushes the piston in both directions there are ports needed for each end of the piston travel and the need for a cage at each end of the steam chest.

    The valve cage on the locomotive’s engineer side has been previously cleaned up by boring and was found to be thick enough to still have a long service life ahead and was therefore left in place. The fireman’s side valve cage was found to be in need of replacement. The new fireman’s side valve cages are now ready to be installed into the steam chest. This will be an interesting process to install. The valve cages will be shrunk using dry ice. In the meantime, a couple of rosebud oxy/acetylene torches will be used to expand the steam chest and if everything goes correctly, the valve cage should slide right in. One cage will be inserted from the front side of the steam chest while the other will be inserted from the rear.

  4. Fire doors have been painted and await installation. A “spacing” ring needs to be fabricated that will fit between the boiler and the firedoor itself. This is necessary for operational clearance. Due to the change from threaded and peened staybolts to the now welded staybolts, which was by design of the new boiler.
  5. As mentioned in the December update, the air compressors are awaiting installation. With the new boiler design, there needs to be adjustments made to the mounting brackets and boiler studs to ensure the proper placement as it appeared when MCRM purchased the locomotive. This will also be necessary for the power reverse due to the same circumstance.
  6. SPEC Machines made a tool for resurfacing and lapping the seats and flanges on the steam delivery pipes, the superheater header, and the steam chests. This ensures a tight seal for delivering the superheated steam from the superheater header to the steam chests. Work on these existing sealing surfaces is now complete. Yet-to-be-made matching “donuts” will be inserted between the branch pipe and steam chest flanges and the branch pipe and superheater header to adjust for minor manufacturing size differences and space variations between the new and old components.
  7. The smoke box has been seal welded to the boiler. This procedure finally secures the smoke box to the boiler itself. As reported last month, SPEC Machine was busy drilling and reaming the holes that connect the smoke box to the cylinder saddle. I am happy to report that the smoke box is in fact bolted down to the cylinder saddle with 50 tapered fitting bolts custom made by SPEC Machines with 50 H2 heavy nuts.  The boiler is now officially attached to the frame!  There is still some work to be completed with the smoke box; i.e., complete the grouting at the bottom of the smoke box with refractory, install smoke stack and assorted draft appliances.

50 custom-made tapered bolts now help secure the smoke box to the cylinder saddle. Steve Pahl photo.

You Can Help Get C&NW 1385 Back in Service

Ever since the C&NW No. 1385 restoration was resumed in 2011 work has progressed steadily thanks in large part to the financial support of the 1385 project’s enthusiastic followers. That financial backing has allowed hired professional machinists to work on the project 5-days-a-week and allowed progress to occur much faster than could be accomplished by volunteers alone.

As we head in the home stretch we’re asking for your continued support so that the 1385 restoration can continue moving forward without delay. Please consider joining the growing list of nearly 1,000 project contributors by donating today. You can do so by visiting our Donation Page and specifying in the donation form that you want your contribution to support C&NW #1385.

Donating is easy thanks to our online donation form which accepts all major credit cards and Paypal, or you can use our printable donation form to send with your mailed contribution. Thank you for helping us get this far!

With your help this will soon be a common scene at Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

WC&C #1 Update – January 2021

Work continues on gathering information and reconstructing a timeline of the repairs that have been completed over the past years so we have a better idea what’s left to complete.  I am in possession of past build lists, but I am sure there has been changes. My goal is when we reopen to volunteers in April, we will have a pretty good idea where to start. Like the old sayings about eating an elephant. One bite at a time!

Member Jim Connor was kind enough to provide me with over 300 photographs of the progress of the rebuild until the great flood of 2008 hit and time stopped.  As I comb through the photos, I see a constant. That constant is OUR talented and dedicated volunteers. I see professional work being accomplished by our “professional” volunteers with some guidance from top-notch contractors.  It brings me back to the days when Mid-Continent had three steam locomotives available for service. The reason was because of OUR talented VOLUNTEERS! And if we are going to repeat that again, WE need OUR volunteers.

With that, I want to share some photos, courtesy of Jim Connor, of some AMAZING folks—-OUR VOLUNTEERS!!! Thank you and I look forward to working with you again, be it old faces or new, WE need you, YOU make it happen!

Update: Additional photos have been kindly provided by member Ken Ristow. These photos have been added to the slideshow.

Scenes from Western Coal & Coke #1 Restoration Work, 2003-2008

Click on an image for full-size version.