Rebuilt Tender Arrives at Mid-Continent, Restoration Moves on to Next Phase

This past weekend featured a buzz of activity on C&NW 1385. The tender tank, new (former freight car) trucks and frame were loaded first thing Friday morning (11/15) at DRM Industries. It was then trucked to Mid-Continent where a crane was waiting to place them under the rebuilt display structure north of the depot which also houses the Shay and narrow gauge boxcar.

While the wheels and frame were being placed, a second tractor-trailer arrived with the rebuilt tender tank. Beginnings around 11:30 a.m., the tender tank was moved into position and lowered onto the frame. Even though the tender is at North Freedom, is not quite done. Grab irons need installation, the rear headlight needs to be installed, the tank hold-down brackets need to be installed and bolted tight, and the tank interior needs the protective coating applied. Final touches will need to be completed when the tender is married to the locomotive. For now, it will enjoy prominent position under a covered display area while it waits.

Tender tank hoisted by crane

Photo by Brian Allen. Click on image to browse Brian’s entire Flickr album from the day.

The work on C&NW 1385 continued throughout the weekend. On Saturday loose parts were rounded up from their storage places and placed on shipping pallets. Then on Sunday, the crane was at work again, this time lifting the C&NW 1385’s running gear onto trucks for delivery to Spec Machine in Middleton, Wisconsin for restoration work there. The frame and two sets of driving wheels were loaded onto the first trailer around 2:00 p.m. The immense weight of these components required that one set of driving wheels and and the leading truck (i.e. the small wheels in the front that help steer the locomotive through curves) be separated, temporarily converting the 4-6-0 locomotive into a 0-4-0 wheel configuration. Project volunteer Pete Deets explains:

That conversion wasn’t by choice… On the day of the pick, the operator quit lifting at 84,000 lbs. and the running gear hadn’t budged from the rails yet. They dropped the front truck and the operator stopped again at 79,000 lbs. without lifting off. The #3 rods and driver were dropped and the lift was made at about 72,000-74,000 lbs. The truck and driver came in at 10,000 lbs. apiece.

The first tangible evidence of restoration progress returning to Mid-Continent was enough to entice reg in al media to come report on the 1385’s restoration, including a story by Capital Newspapers (publisher of Wisconsin State Journal) which includes interviews with Mike Wahl, Project Manager, and Don Meyer, former General Manager and now serve ring as the project’s fundraising consultant. There is also a nice video report by NBC 15, Madison’s NBC affiliate in which Pete Deets and DRM Industries’ Matt Hillmer do a great job conveying the challenges of the restoration and uniqueness of the 1385.

Our Steam Task Force team deserves a hand for delivering on the first major component of the restoration. They have put in countless hours in the nearly 2-1/2 years since the Wagner Foundation grant was announced, resuming the restoration. There is an even greater amount of work yet to do as the tender is only the first step in the returning of the 1385 to service. Aside from the running gear work alluded to earlier, the cab is about half done at a Fond du Lac woodworking shop. The new boiler will begin to be built after all the required calculations are complete to create the Federal Railroad Administration Form 4.

For things to continue humming along, continued financial support is needed. Please consider visiting our donation page to learn how easy it is to support the C&NW 1385 restoration.

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