Pilot Made on WC&C #1 Pilot

Progress is being made on the WC&C #1’s pilot. The structural elements of the base assembly have been cut and fitted along with the uprights for the supporting members. The retaining ring for the base has had the old finish and rust ground and/or sanded off, primed, and painted. Bob Ristow has fabricated or machined all new hardware with the exception of the cast pieces and connecting rod that rest on the top of the pilot. All of the new hardware was returned to my shop where it has been cleaned, primed and painted. All of the old nuts, bolts, and washers that were salvaged from the old pilot have been cleaned with a wire wheel on the grinder.

Tomorrow (Thursday, December 7, 2006) I hope to start drilling through the base of the pilot and the uprights to begin reassembly. This may take all day as caution must be taken to line everything up accurately. There are no second chances, and oops makes it firewood.

Now for the bad news. I’ve run out of usable lumber and will have to purchase more cured white oak to finish the front of the pilot. Hopefully, Endeavor Hardwoods (Lyndon Station) will have the 8/4 white oak I need.

More as it happens.

–Roger Hugg

Riveting Work Weekend

Work this weekend included installing 8 rivets in the WC&C #1 fire box patch. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning was spent in preparation. A backer plate was fabricated. Then a test plate with 4 holes was formed and used to determine the rivet length needed. All the tools were lined up and test hole riveted. Testing went perfect and all 8 rivets in the patch were installed in an hour and 15 minutes.

Rivet crew of five; Bob Ristow, Pete Deets, Roger Hugg, Ed Ripp and
Jim Connor.

Pictures show Pete Deets welding on the backer plate. Pete and Bob Ristow reaming rivet holes. Ed Ripp running the rivet gun. Completed patch with 8 rivets installed. The patch will be welded in place in the near future. Also a picture of Bob’s progress on the boiler check valves.

–Jim Connor

Lund Machine and Tool Works on Firebox Replacement Pieces

Some progress finally to report. Jim Connor took some photos and hopefully will forward them to you. Lund Machine and Tool arrived Monday after noon. Work started immediately on the firebox replacement pieces. The old sheet pieces were removed in the area of the new rear tube sheet, a 1/2″ thick plate with the keyhole shape was fitted into place. The engineers rear corner patch was fabbed and is ready for 9 rivets. The front tube sheet was removed.

The swing links for the front truck have new bushings installed and work continues on disassembling and inspection.

–Bob Ristow

Photos by Jim Connor.

Dome Surfacing Machine

New member Randy Way, Jim Connor, and Bob Ristow where able to set up the dome surfacing machine enabling truing of the gasket surface. Mark Jones joined Bob on Sunday, the ‘cut’ on the dome was dressed up and a ‘new’ storage box was built for the surfacing machine. The new box is about 3/4 the size of the old one and will facilitate storage since it can now fit thru a door. Several front tube sheet rivets were drilled in preparation for removal.

–Bob Ristow

Jim Connor photos.

C&NW 1385 Steam Status

C&NW #1385’s initial restoration efforts were documented within the pages of the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette and Mid-Continent’s The Steamer! newsletter and were not documented online. The following is an overview of #1385’s status written for the website as of June 29, 2006.


The image most people have of Mid-Continent involves the Chicago & North Western #1385 under steam, pulling either the Prosperity Special or the Circus Train or one of our own special excursions like Snow TrainTM or the Santa ExpressTM. The power of this image is so strong that museum guests still come here expecting to see the R-1 sitting in front of the depot, ready to make the day’s runs, even though she has been out of service since June of 1998.

We knew several years ago that her time was limited and began a fund raising campaign in 1996 entitled “Help Steam Live.” The campaign goal was a mere $250,000, when we thought the needed repairs would simply be tube and flue replacement plus patching the interior side-sheets of the firebox. But once the work commenced, the extent of the firebox damage from over eighty years of service became apparent. The result of a visual inspection by the State’s boiler inspector was the condemnation of the firebox.

While Mid-Continent’s volunteer shop crews wrestled with the decisions on how to proceed with the repair work, Federal guidelines for steam boiler operation changed, mandating even further major repairs. The museum engaged Steam Services of America in 2001 to perform a complete inspection of the boiler in light of these new requirements. The result was a significant expansion of the repair plan to encompass a major overhaul of the entire boiler. And the new price tag approached $750,000, well beyond the money raised by the “Help Steam Live” campaign. The R-1 was parked in favor of repairing less costly locomotives.

Still the museum was holding a significant amount of money restricted for the purpose of restoring this specific locomotive to operating condition. So in 2004 an agreement was entered with Deltak Construction Services of Plymouth, MN for the manufacture of a completely new boiler using all-welded construction techniques. The cost of $415,000 proved to be significantly lower than the cost of repairing the old boiler. And the long-term maintenance cost would also be less, insuring the R-1’s ability to operate far into the future.

Phase 1 of this program is now complete with Deltak delivering the engineering study and approved boiler drawings to the museum. Phase 2 will be the purchase of the needed materials. And Phase 3 will involve the boiler’s actual construction at Deltak’s shop, concluding with a successful hydro test.

When finished, the C&NW #1385 will be the most expensive of the three steam locomotives currently under repair. And that is why she is at the end of the list in terms of priority. But no concept of a steam program at Mid-Continent has ever been considered that would exclude the R-1 from being returned to operating condition. She is the gem of the steam locomotive collection.

View a history of C&NW #1385 here.